(Revised) OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Marvin Hamlisch and Pasadena Pops conclude season at the Rose Bowl

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

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Pasadena Pops
Orchestra; Marvin Hamlisch, conductor

Saturday, August 27, 2011 The Lawn Adjacent to the Rose
Bowl

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Marvin Hamlisch and the Pasadena Pops Orchestra concluded
their 2012 season last night, Hamlisch’s first with the orchestra and the
ensemble’s second and last at The Lawn Adjacent to the Rose Bowl (they move to
the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia next season). What appeared to be
the largest crowd of the season came out on a balmy evening to hear music from
the movies.

 

Hamlisch spent somewhat more time regaling the audience with
funny stories than he did in his last concert and the musical selections were
longer than has occurred this summer; the evening included, among other things,
multi-work pastiches from composers George and Ira Gershwin and Max Steiner.
One of the evening’s highlights was a tribute to dancer-director-actor Gene
Kelly, which featured a “tap-dancing” display by percussionist Jason Goodman who
had the shoes (and argyle socks) on his hands so that the audience could see, as
well as hear.

 

Vocalist Susan Egan was a sparkling soloist in pieces by
Judy Garland (ending, of course, with Over
the Rainbow)
and from the musical Cabaret
(Egan played the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway in the 1988 revival).

 

As has become standard for Hamlisch concerts with the
Pasadena Pops, he offered a “special unannounced guest,” in this case, Melissa
Manchester, who sang Through the Eyes of
Love
(the theme song written by Hamlisch for the movie Ice Castles) and the title song from The Way We Were, for which Hamlisch won an Academy Award in 1973.

 

The second half opened with the music written by John
Williams for Star Wars, which was
supposed to be accompanied by space images from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
but they never appeared.

 

The evening’s “official” program closed with George
Gershwin’s An American in Paris, the
most extensive piece Hamlisch has conducted so far with the Pops. Hamlisch
alternated between catching the jazz influences of this important piece and
dutifully beating time. However, the orchestra, which played splendidly
throughout the evening, shone in Gershwin’s famous 1928 piece, which was
subsequently used in the 1951 MGM musical that starred Gene Kelley and Leslie
Caron.

 

Along the way were spiffy solo offerings by orchestra’s
principals: Trumpeter Melissa Benedict, Flutist Louise DiTullio, Clarinetist
Donald Foster, Oboist Leanne Becknell and Concertmaster Amy Hirshberger.

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Hemidemisemiquavers:

Before the concert, CEO Paul Jan Zdunek reported that
ticket sales for next season have already exceeded 500% of the recently completed
season. Since he didn’t provide hard numbers, it’s a little hard to judge that increase
effectively but it does appear that the move to the Arcadia facility seems to
be popular with many people.

Helicopter are a nuisance at all outdoor concerts but the
low-flying and circling aerial intruder last night wins the year’s award as the
summer’s most obnoxious distraction, so far.

The video camera work continues to be very spotty, batting
about .333 in landing on the correct soloist at any orchestral point in the
program. In an area that makes a gazillion movies, TV shows, TV commercials,
et. al, one would think that the direction and camera work could be better.

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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PREVIEW AND LINK: Camerata Pacifica opens 22nd season in September

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

For more than two decades, Camerata Pacifica has achieved an
enviable reputation both for the quality of its performances and the mileage it
puts on its cars. The chamber-music group performs five concerts in four
locales from Santa Barbara to Pasadena each month from September through May
(except for December).

 

Its 22nd season will begin next month (including recitals
on Sept. 20 at The Huntington Library in San Marino and Sept. 22 at The Colburn
School’s Zipper Hall) with a program that features Joanne Pearce Martin,
principal keyboardist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic who was a Camerata
Pacifica member for 10 years.

 

Martin will join with another acclaimed local pianist, Vicki
Ray, CP Artistic Director Adrian Spence on flute, cellist Ani Aznavoorian, and
percussionists Ji Hye Jung, Doug Perkins, Michael Zell and Svet Stoyanov for
music by Rachmaninoff, Crumb, De Mey and Reich.

 

The October concerts (including Oct. 18 at The Huntington
and Oct. 20 at Zipper Hall) will celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of
Franz Liszt (on Oct. 22) with pianist Adam Neiman discussing and playing the
composer’s Transcendental Etudes.

 

For information on the season’s other six concerts and
details on the opening program, click HERE.

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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PREVIEW AND LINK: Pasadena Pops adds “special guest” to Saturday’s program

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

In each of his first two concerts as principal conductor of
the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, Marvin Hamlisch has slipped a “special guest” onto
the program. Apparently that’s going to happen again Saturday night as the Pops
makes its final appearance at The Lawn Adjacent to the Rose Bowl before moving
to the Los Angeles County Arboretum next season.

 

And who might this special guest be? “Without giving it
completely away,” says CEO Paul Jan Zdunek, “as Marvin wants it to be a
surprise, here’s a hint: this singer started as the back-up artist for Bette
Midler, went on to win a Grammy for Best Female Vocalist and was the first artist
in the history of the Academy Awards to have two nominated movie themes in a
given year, making Oscar history by performing both on the telecast.”

 

Actually, the program, “Marvin Does Marvin” (which begins at
7:30 p.m.), which includes vocalist Susan Egan (her Broadway credits include
Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Sally
Bowles in Cabaret and Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie as soloist, is
worth seeing on its own, but a little icing on the cake never hurts. The program
is scheduled to include selections from Star
Wars, Cabaret, Gigi, An American in Paris, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind,
and
Hamlisch’s own score for The Informant. LINK

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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PREVIEW AND LINKS: Simon Rattle and Berlin Philharmonic to open season Friday with digital broadcast

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

The Berlin Philharmonic will begin its 2011-2012 season
Friday at the Berlin Philharmonie with Sir Simon Rattle conducting Mahler’s
Symphony No. 7 and Deutsche Bank is offering an opportunity to hear the opening
concert for free via the orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall. You click on this
LINK, sign up and tune in at 10 a.m. Friday (7 p.m. Berlin time). A high-speed
broadband Internet connection is virtually (sorry) essential and a good pair of
headphones works best for the sound, IMHO.

 

BTW: Rattle will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic May 3,
4, 5 and 6 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a program of music by Ligeti, Wagner,
Mahler and Bruckner (Symphony No. 9). Magdalena Koen will be the soloist in
Mahler’s Rckert-Lieder (LINK)

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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PREVIEW AND LINK: Southwest Chamber Music announces silver anniversary season

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

Southwest Chamber Music’s 25th anniversary will be
a typically eclectic meld of contemporary music: the world premiere of Ten Freedom Summers by trumpeter and
composer Wadada Lee Smith; the continuation of the group’s tribute to American
composer John Cage; and a festival of new works commissioned for the silver
anniversary of the ensemble, which is based in Pasadena.

 

The season begins with Smith’s three-part work that was
inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. It will play Oct. 28, 29 and 30 at
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater); this marks the first time that Southwest Chamber Music will perform in the experimental theater located
at Walt Disney Concert Hall. 
Smith’s Golden Quartet will be joined by SWCM musicians during the three
evenings.

 

The Cage Festival is a continuation of SWCM’s multi-year tribute
to the composer who was born Sept. 5, 1912 in Los Angeles. “Cage 2012″ will
have performances March 3 and 4 at the Japanese American National Museum in
Little Tokyo; March 10 at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; March 11 at
Pasadena’s Pacific Art Museum; and March 24 at The Colburn School, across Grand
Ave. from Walt Disney Concert Hall.

 

The Colburn School will also be the site of SWCM’s New Music
Festival May 9-24 with exact dates and programs to be announced next January.
Commissions from Charles Wuroinen, Unsuk Chin, Anne LeBaron, Lei Liang, Vu Nhat
Tan, Tn Tht Tit, Gabriela Lena Frank, Gabriela Ortiz, Hyo-shin Na and Kurt
Rohde are on the projected schedule.

 

Detailed information is HERE.

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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