AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Take your pick

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.

Which to choose? That’s the question confronting classical music fans in the San Gabriel Valley on Saturday, since they get to pick from three concerts, all of which begin at 7:30 p.m. on that evening.

The California Philharmonic opens its 17th “Festival on the Green” summer season, and its second at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, when Music Director Victor Vener leads his ensemble in a program entitled “Beatles, Beethoven and Beach Boys.” The concert repeats next Sunday at 2 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall, marking Cal Phil’s 10th season at the iconic Frank Gehry-designed facility in downtown Los Angeles.

“The Fab Four — The Ultimate Tribute” will perform a series of Beatles hits, including Sgt. Pepper, Hey Jude, Imagine and Penny Lane. The orchestra will chime in with renditions of Beach Boys’ favorites Good Vibrations, I Get Around and California Girls. Vener will also lead his ensemble in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral).

Next weekend’s concerts are the first of five pairs this summer; the others take place at biweekly intervals beginning July 13-14 and concluding August 24-25.

The outdoor concerts take place on the racetrack’s infield concert lawn, which Santa Anita constructed last summer when the Cal Phil relocated its summer series from the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

Information: 626/300-8200;

Music of the Beatles will also appear on Muse/ique’s opening event in its 2013 summer season at Caltech’s Beckman Mall but that’s hardly the headline. Artistic Director Rachael Worby, who delights in creating what she calls “mash-up programming,” will also include music by Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Nicolo Paganini and other, but the centerpiece will be an appearance by Grammy Award-winning singer Patti Austin.

One example of Worby’s madcap programming style will have Worby, the orchestra and concertmaster Roger Wilkie playing the second movement of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 2, followed by Austin performing Sam Coslo’s jazz tune, Mr. Paganini.

Austin, who last night was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, will sing tunes from her wide-ranging repertoire. Other selections for the evening will range from classical to pop to jazz and — yes — The Beatles (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds). Worby will knit everything together with her erudite commentary.

Saturday’s program is the first of three at the outdoor Caltech facility, located in front of Beckman Auditorium with two large concrete buildings that create a unique echo-chamber effect. The other programs will be July 27 and August 17.

Information: 626/539-7085;

For its second concert of the summer, the Pasadena Pops will turn the spotlight on Broadway icon Bernadette Peters at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. Peters, a two-time Tony-award winning actress most closely identified with the music of Stephen Sondheim, will sing songs from a wide array of Broadway shows, including South Pacific, Into the Woods, Gypsy, Company and A Little Night Music.

Martin Laird, Peters’ music director, will lead the Pops during her sets. Larry Blank, who was recently named the orchestra’s Resident Pops Conductor, will lead the orchestral-only portions for the balance of the evening.

The Pops season continues on July 13, August 10 and Sept. 7. Michael Feinstein, the Pops’ newly named Artistic Director, will lead the July and September concerts.

Information: 626/793-7172;

(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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