THOUGH some say the only living culture in Los Angeles is in its yogurt, the city has just added another fine feather to its cultural cap. While many American symphony organizations are struggling to make ends meet, officials here announced the formation of an entirely new orchestra, separate from the world-class philharmonic it already has. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra - introduced Wednesday - will be made up from the pool of top freelance musicians who thrive in the entertainment industry here. Dedicated to the preservation of American musical heritage from Hollywood to Broadway to the concert hall, the new orchestra already has a top recording contract, a planned international tour, and a dashing young conductor - all of which are raising eyebrows in the musical community.
``It's extraordinary,'' says Catherine French, chief executive officer of the American Symphony Orchestra League. ``To emerge moving full steam like this is very unusual. It shows the wealth of musical resources and hungry audiences to make it happen - [it] couldn't happen anywhere else in the country.''
``Many people don't realize the movie studio musicians in L.A. are among the very finest players in the world,'' says Jay Decker, a professor of music at Witchita State University. ``There's every reason to expect they'll be the next Boston Pops.''
Run under the same corporate umbrella as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the new orchestra will debut this summer, relieving the Philharmonic of some of its hectic 45-concert summer season. A five-year contract with Philips Classics will produce 15 compact discs. The orchestra will also tour Japan in 1992.
John Mauceri, currently music director of the Scottish Opera and a conductor well known across Europe, will be the new music director. Not since Leopold Stokowski in 1945 - who led an ensemble known as the Hollywood Bowl Symphony - has there been a conductor-in-residence at the Bowl.
``Mauceri has incredible versatility across the wide breadth of genres he'll need for this post,'' says Michael Steinberg, artistic director of the Minnesota Orchestra. ``He's a real class act.''