Hollywood Bowl Opening Night-A Vibrant Night Under The StarsEvents — By Tania Anderson on June 21, 2011 at 6:07 am
By Tania Anderson
June 17, 2011- Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl was fun, magical and vibrant.
Harry Connick Jr. was as charming as always. He reminisced about his early days as a musician, pondering the fact that after hearing his songs on the radio, at least 10,000 people might buy his records.
His engaging New Orleans romantic jazz sound recalled a time when America felt innocent and life wasn’t so complicated with issues charging at you from every direction. Eyes of the elders around us glistened while Connick’s music invoked memories of decades ago.
Connick was joined by a trombone player and trumpet player who enriched the overall sound even more. At one point, Connick and one of the horn players turned their backs on the capacity 17,400 audience and performed a wiggle dance from one end of the stage to another, invoking a wave of animated laughter throughout the crowd.
Next up was the Tribute to the L.A. Philharmonic Music Education programs. Wearing multi-colored T-shirts, the West Adams Preparatory High School Orchestra performed beautifully, playing “Heaven’s Valley.” This philanthropic program teaches children to express themselves through musical talent for positive purposes. Overall, more than 120,000 students have benefited from this remarkable program.
Andy Garcia approached the podium to introduce the second Hall of Fame Inductee, his dear friend singer Gloria Estefan, whom he referred to as “The Queen of Latin Pop.” Sporting a mostly silver-colored beard, Garcia told the story of how both their families had fled Castro’s Cuba, finding new lives in Miami. Noting that “America is the land of freedom and opportunity” he quipped, “Nobody is leaving, they are all coming in.”
Describing Gloria as a dynamo, he explained what an extraordinary philanthropist she has been all these years, an integral part of fundraising for victims of natural disasters such as the devastating category 5 hurricane Andrew which struck Miami in 1992. She not only organized distribution of supplies right away, but pulled together a benefit concert which raised substantial funds for victims and those made homeless by the voraciousness of the storm. Highlights of her career shown in an intriguing video richly illustrated her musical accomplishments.
Before performing one of her hit songs, “Conga,” Estefan declared, “I will be playing this song until the day I die!” As the song began, nearly everyone in the audience jumped to their feet, vigorously moving to the beat in every direction. In the back of the Bowl, a large contingent of attendees, all waving large blue florescent sticks to the rhythm of her tunes. In between songs, Gloria mentioned that “Music is the sound track of our lives.” She dedicated the next song to Andy Garcia and “any person who is an immigrant and misses their homeland.” Vibrant in a fire-engine red dress with a deep V-neck, surrounded by her band and the large Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Gloria was certainly easy to spot from way up in the rafters “with the Sherpas” as someone had commented earlier.
Garcia played the congos as Gloria, with her low-cut dress, wiggled her breasts at him and he pretended to swoon and fall off the bench.
A well known, bi-lingual singer, Gloria proved onstage that she could sing equally as well in Spanish and English; she was perfect in both languages, back and forth with smooth-as-silk ease.
“It has been my dream to sing with Harry,” Estefan exclaimed as Connick strode across the stage to her side to sing a duet.
Teasing Connick about his earlier impromptu jig, she asked, “I want to see some of those dance moves you were doing!”
A magical evening drew to a close as thousands swarmed out of the Bowl under the auspices of a vibrant but waning full moon.