After living in LA on-and-off for thirty years, I’ve fallen in love with the Hollywood Bowl. Many nights this summer if you trek way up to the cheap seats, you’ll find me sitting with any number of friends drinking a little wine, eating a little snack, and luxuriating in world-class music for a buck. At least once during the program, I’ll consider how I’m the luckiest person in the world to be lounging in perfect LA weather, admiring the silhouette of the hills against the sky, and enjoying all the other people enjoying the same. I’ll go to anything; I don’t care. I just want to be there, under the stars, at the Hollywood Bowl.
Since I grew up with rock ‘n’ roll, my musical tastes have mostly been: if it made me want to dance, I liked it. Blues, Funk, World, and later on Electronic Dance Music fit the groove. But these days, I’ve been trying to cultivate a taste for classical music so I can attend the Hollywood Bowl more often.
Last week, Yo-Yo Ma was on the bill with our new-ish wunderkind conductor, Gustavo Dudamel. The concert was sold out, with traffic stalled all the way down Highland past Fountain. I’d seen Mr. Ma perform before on MTV and was impressed by how alive he seemed, so I knew it would be a good show to attend.
Dudamel is only 31 and as charismatic as they come. You see, “The Dude,” as we affectionately call him, well; his English is quite bad. But when he starts speaking in his patois all excitedly about the next piece, his enthusiasm is so infectious it makes your eyes water.
Yo-Yo appeared elegant and reserved, and I have to admit I didn’t understand or enjoy the pieces he played all that much. (Hopefully I’m acquiring more sophistication by osmosis.) But what I wanted to tell you is this: While Yo-Yo was playing; he was on the big screen, of course. Behind him, if you were looking, you could observe the first cellist of the LA Phil who was beholding Mr. Ma with utter respect and admiration. It was a beautiful sight to see the younger Asian man, no small potatoes himself as the first cellist of one of the top-ten orchestras in the world, awed by Yo-Yo’s greatness.
But afterwards, when Yo-Yo Ma was taking his bows, when the crowd was on its feet lauding him with rapturous applause, I watched as he turned to the first cellist, brought him to the fore, and asked the crowd to honor him. After a lifetime of acclaim, he was happy to share. It was incredibly generous. I learned a lot from that.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth