PasadenaStarNews.com - click here to see photos from the night. By Diana Palmer, The Pasadena Star-News The Hollywood Bowl’s 96th season began on June 17, featuring the classic-rock group Moody Blues. Some traditions are so iconic you can’t recall a time without them; The Rose Parade, fireworks at the Rose Bowl, and opening day at Santa Anita are just a few of the time-honored rituals bringing generations together and creating lasting memories. For millions of Southern California music lovers, the opening of the Hollywood Bowl is another of those established traditions, which unofficially heralds the beginning of summer and starts after you’ve hauled your picnic basket and wine up the hill and settled down to enjoy a perfect evening under the stars. This year’s benefit concert raised more than $1.5 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s many education and community programs (including YOLA), which serve more than 150,000 youth, families and teachers every year, by providing students ages 6 to 17, from underserved neighborhoods, free instruments, and high quality instrumental and orchestral education. El Sistema, the Venezuelan education system that nurtured LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, was the inspiration for YOLA. Co-Chairs Teena Hostovich, Doug Martinet and Michael Martinet chaired the concert; Kaiser Permanente was the Opening Night Title Sponsor; Premiere Sponsors were Live Nation/Ticketmaster, and the Muse Sponsor was Wells Fargo. Prior to the concert, Opening Night Patrons were treated to cocktails and a bit of bonhomie at a VIP reception on the Box Office Terrace followed by a heart-healthy dinner created by The Lucques Group. The menu for the night featured fava bean and chickpea hummus with zatar lavash, spiced carrot salad and labneh with olive oil, parsley and three seeds, Moroccan Chicken Taginewas complemented by saffron cous cous, harrisa, apricots and toasted almonds and bittersweet chocolate torta with mascarpone and caramel hazelnuts, for dessert. The concert began with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO) playing the National Anthem led by Principal Conductor Thomas Wilkins. This was followed by composer Peter Boyer’s “Silver Fanfare,” during which a video montage of highlights from 17 past opening nights and a video celebrating YOLA’s 10th anniversary were shown on the Bowl’s big screens. At the video’s conclusion, 28 senior members of YOLA performed Shostakovich’s lively “Festive Overture,” along with the professional orchestra. The first half of the program concluded with The Moody Blues taking the stage to perform “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band),” “Wildest Dreams,” “Isn’t Life Strange,” and “The Story In Your Eyes” featuring guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward, bassist/vocalist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge. The Moody Blues have sold over 70 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold records. Their chart-topping, multi-platinum, platinum, and gold albums and singles have generated sold-out tours over the course of several decades, making them one of the top-grossing touring bands of all time. After an intermission, the Opening Night Concert resumed with the band performing its album “Days of Future Passed,” backed by the HBO, in celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary. The band’s first full-length studio album, released in 1967, blended classical music with rock. Written to the band’s own soundtrack, it resulted in an album without breaks, which is considered a masterpiece by many today. Their next song, “Tuesday Afternoon,” was a worldwide hit, and “Nights in White Satin” marked one of the first four-minute songs played on the radio. It became one of the biggest-selling singles in history and was No. 1 three separate times on “Billboard.” The band and HBO continued with the 1970 single “Question,” accompanied by a spectacular display of pyrotechnics. For an encore, the band remained on the stage for its popular 1968 single “Ride My See-Saw.” VIP and City Hall constituents on the scene included Quentin Tarantino, Los Angeles County Board Supervisors Kathryn Barger, Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, Los Angeles Philharmonic Board Chair Jay Rasulo, Los Angeles Philharmonic Acting President and CEO Gail Samuel and Los Angeles Philharmonic COO Chad Smith. Part of the San Gabriel Valley crowd were Karen and Steven Bristing, Susan Disney Lord and Scott R. Lord, Barbara Damerel, Dana Marevich, Lyn Mehl, Linda Zimmer, Suzanne and Joe Sposato, Sally and Ken Dulin, and members of the Warren Williamson family who have maintained boxes at the revered landmark for decades, by right of primogeniture. *Slightly flummoxed by recent Opening Night band choices reminiscent of musical eras that were popular then but not so much now, I took a straw poll and canvased my neighborhood for 2018 Hollywood Bowl Opening Night headliner suggestions. The result, in no particular order: Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Crosby Stills and Nash, Queen, The Doors, Doobie Brothers, Gipsy Kings, Ozomatli, Alabama, Maroon 5, Sugarland, Dixie Chicks, The Eagles, Rascal Flatts and last but not least, Freddie and the Dreamers. It’s a strong list; I hope somebody reads it!