By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
Less than three months after being dumped by the Los Angeles
County Arboretum, the California Philharmonic will shift a quarter-mile east to
the Santa Anita Racetrack for its 2012 “Festival on the Green” concert series.
Music Director Victor Vener made the formal announcement to
the audience at tonight’s first concert in the current summer season, which
will be Cal Phil’s 15th and last in the Arboretum. The Pasadena Pops
is scheduled to move into the Arboretum in 2012.
In a preconcert media conference, Vener and racetrack
officials said a multi-contract would be signed that would, as Vener termed it,
be a partnership, not a tenant relationship as the Cal Phil had with the
Arboretum for 15 years. Further details are expected to be announced in a few
Racetrack officials indicated they would “move dirt” in the
infield to create a space specifically designed for the orchestra that would also
include BBQ pits for corporate preconcert use and several family-oriented
options, including a children’s playground, musical instrument petting zoo and
Seating will be similar to the setup at the Arboretum, with
tables, chairs and lawn seating, and Vener said he hopes to add large video
screens adjacent to the stage for next season’s concerts. Among the Santa Anita
amenities Vener cited were substantially increased onsite parking, permanent
restrooms, four full-service bars (including liquor) and access to Santa
Anita’s current food vendors.
The 2012 season will open June 30 and will continue every
two weeks: July 14 and 28 and Aug. 11 and 25. The orchestra also expects to
continue its summer series indoors at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
One of America’s most famous racetracks, Santa Anita was
opened on Dec. 25, 1934, making it the oldest racetrack in Southern California.
With spectacular views of the San Gabriel Mountains (haze and smog permitting),
the track has been scene of many memorable racing moments, including Seabiscuit
winning the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap (made famous in the movie Seabiscuit). The track, through its
tenant, Oak Tree Racing Association, has also hosted five Breeders’ Cups; the
last was in 2009. Oak Tree left Santa Anita and held its fall meeting last year
at Hollywood Park.
Santa Anita has also had its share of less-memorable
occasions. From 1942 to 1944, Santa Anita was used as a Japanese-American internment center with up to 17,000 people living in horse
stables. In 2009, the company’s Canadian owner, Magna Entertainment, filed for
bankruptcy, although racing continued.
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.