Los Angeles’ famed Hollywood Bowl closed its doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, but for the first and only time this summer, the venue reopened for a one-night benefit concert.
On Saturday, Richard and Demi Weitz were set to host their 10th “Quarantunes,” a series the pair started over Zoom during the pandemic. More than 100 artists have joined the series – including acts like John Legend, Barry Manilow, and John Mayer – raising $2.6 million for non-profits. However, for Memorial Day weekend, Richard wanted to do something special. Before starting their performance, the legendary John Williams appeared on-screen.
Williams was shown in front of his piano at home, noting that “we all need the force to be with us right now.” Then, he began to play “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” from the Star Wars franchise.
“Many of you might know that I’ve conducted at the Bowl for 40 years and I’m very sad that we won’t have concerts this year because of the COVID-19 virus but I look forward, with you, to next year 2021 when the Los Angeles Philharmonic and our beloved conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, will again have fabulous concerts and a lot of fun with great evenings at The Hollywood Bowl,” he said. “I will be there next year also so be sure to bring your lightsabers with you. Meanwhile, stay safe and well and be sure the force will be with you also.”
From there, Demi took back the screen, noting that “it’s unbelievable” that the venue is closed for the first time in 98 years. She revealed a Star Wees tee and stepped back to show that they were broadcasting live at the empty 17,500-seat Hollywood Bowl. The venue had been opened exclusively for the father-daughter duo to raise funds for L.A. Phil’s music program, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, as well as No Kid Hungry.
While the duo were on stage, other officials paid a visit to the venue – while social distancing – including L.A. Phil star Dudamel, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Texas state representative Beto O’Rourke was also in attendance, as well as Board of Supervisors’ Sheila Kuehl and Johanna Rees of L.A. Phil. Pop superstar Billie Eilish also appeared during the Zoom call, talking about her new vegan charity.
Garcetti thanked everyone during the event.
“You have been doing such amazing work especially you, Demi,” he said. “What you have built is phenomenal. All the donations from everybody in here has helped show L.A. love. I love you guys for what you have done to show the spirit of this city.”
Throughout the event, Dudamel introduced the L.A. Phil’s trumpet section – who stood on stage to play Williams’ theme from Raiders of the Los Ark – followed by two YOLA students who performed Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke.” Kenny Loggins appeared next, surprising everyone to play a set of hits including “I’m Alright,” “Danger Zone,” “Conviction of the Heart,” and “Footloose.”
These were the only performers who took the Hollywood Bowl stage, however, throughout the night, countless acts appeared on the Zoom call, including Beck, Elvis Costello, The Killers, Carlos Santana, Rob Thomas, and Manilow. Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer closed out the show, just as the sun was setting at the Bowl with Demi and Richard.
This is the first show streamed at the Hollywood Bowl. Earlier this month, the iconic concert venue announced that it would close for the remainder of its 2020 concert season in order to “protect our artists, audiences, staff, and community from the spread of COVID-19.” Over the summer, the venue would have featured performances fro acts like Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Ozzy Osbourne, and Janelle Monae, as well as performances from the Los Angeles Philharmonic.