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Hear ‘La La Land’ under the stars, live-to-film at the Hollywood Bowl

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in "La La Land."
Dale Robinette

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And the “La La Land” fever continues.

The modern-day movie musical has swept up Hollywood by its feet, and now fans have a chance to see and hear Oscar-winning composer Justin Hurwitz conduct his score live-to-film, for two nights at the Hollywood Bowl this Memorial Day weekend.

The film’s soundtrack will be conducted by Hurwitz both nights, featuring a 100-piece symphony orchestra, jazz ensemble, choral groups and firework finale.

Concert director Richard Kraft, who also directed Disney’s “The Little Mermaid’s” live-to-film concert at the Hollywood Bowl, has teamed up with veteran creatives of the Tim Burton music concerts, “A Whole New World of Alan Menken” and more to bring Angelenos “La La Land in Concert: A Live-to-Film Celebration.” The Technicolor movie marvel is the premiere launch of a world tour to debut in the UK, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland and other cities yet to be announced.

But what goes into all the prep for performing live music under a motion picture on the big screen? And how will the voices of Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and John Legend play out during the night? Host Larry Mantle speaks with Hurwitz about the challenges of timing arrangements to scenes in the film, what rehearsals have entailed and more.

Composer Justin Hurwitz has worked with director Damien Chazelle for years, and the pair set their sights high when it came to creating the music of 'La La Land.'
Composer Justin Hurwitz has worked with director Damien Chazelle for years, and the pair set their sights high when it came to creating the music of 'La La Land.'
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

“La La Land in Concert: A Live-to-Film Celebration” comes to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday and Saturday, May 26 and 27, 2017. For more information about the event, visit here.

You can hear the full interview above by clicking the blue playhead, or read more highlights below. 

Interview Highlights


Hurwitz: Well I remember a few years ago before we even made the movie, Damien and I talked about it. We talked about, "Wouldn't that be cool one day to do it at the Hollywood Bowl." This is before we had even made the movie (laughs). I mean the whole movie was kind of a pipe dream at one point...everything was kind of pipe dream, and that was one of the lofty sort of dreams [...]

It came up a couple of times later in the process...and then it became a very real thing a few months later as we were actually launching the movie...a few people from the studio and producers came up to me and asked if we could do it and if I could conduct it, and I was delighted to do it. Very excited to show people what went into making that music and what the musicians brought to it.


Hurwitz: There are not many changes because it's the kind of score that really was played in the room by an orchestra. We didn't stripe the orchestra, we didn't record the brass separately and then the strings separately and then the winds separately. It really was 95 musicians making music in a room together. So a lot of the score converts very well. 

There's a little adjustment you have to make in that, when you're recording a score, you're stopping and starting for different sections, and this has to flow all the way through and you need to think about how the wind and brass players are breathing, and make sure that they have a second to get their breath. So there are little moments where things need to glue together slightly differently because it's flowing straight through, but generally it's the same thing [...]

And there's a little bit of new music actually that I've spent some time on. There was always going to be an overture in the was in Damien's script from the very first draft of the script. His script started in instrumental overture based on the theme of the movie, "Mia and Sebastian's Theme." This instrumental overture plays over the imagery of I think it was a sunrise or something, and this was before the camera tracks down into the "Another Day of Sun" was always the plan for the movie and it was literally the first piece of music I composed back in 2011, the first piece of music that I orchestrated.


Hurwitz: It's tricky because we put so much care into the lead vocal soloists. We spent a lot of time finding the right voices, calibrating the singing, and Damien and I are so proud of where we ended up in the movie that we want to preserve as much of that as possible, but we also want to give people a window into the amazing talent that went into making it. So we're finding kind of a middle ground with the opening number and we're going to show some of the singing live.


Hurwitz: I grew up playing classical piano doing recitals so I've been in front of people, but I'm most comfortable at my piano, alone, composing. That's why I'm a composer, not really truly a performer and that's why I'm not doing that with my life. This is obviously the biggest crowd I've been in front of in my life so it's a little scary, but the Hollywood Bowl crowd is always such a great crowd and they love music and they come to see orchestras, so I think it'll be fun and I'm putting a lot of preparation in for it.

Interviews have been edited for clarity. Hear the full discussion by clicking the playhead above.


Justin Hurwitz, Oscar-winning film composer and television writer; Hurwitz won best original score for “La La Land,” including best original song for “City of Stars;” he also composed the 2014 Oscar-winning film “Whiplash”