NEWS: End of an era: Cal Phil announces final outdoor summer season

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

The California Philharmonic will end 20 years of summer outdoor concerts with a season of three performances beginning July 23 at Santa Anita Racetrack’s performing arts venue. The orchestra will also play four concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall beginning July 10. Music Director Victor Vener is scheduled to lead all performances.

The outdoor season represents a reduction from the five concerts that have been held since Cal Phil shifted from the Los Angeles County Arboretum to Santa Anita Racetrack five years ago. The orchestra’s media release offered no explanation as to why this would be the last outdoor season but did say that the orchestra would continue perform in the summer at Disney Hall.

One of the things that has made Vener unique is that he mixes classical and pops repertoire for each of his concerts; other groups tend to play one genre or the other in their programs. For example, the July 23 Cal Phil concert will meld Scheherazade and Haydn’s “Miracle” Symphony with music from Prince, Queen, David Bowie and Michael Jackson.

When the Cal Phil shifted from the Arboretum to Santa Anita five years it marked the sixth outdoor venue in which Vener had worked — others included Descanso Gardens in La Cañada, the Rose Bowl, Starlight Bowl in Burbank and the steps of the Pasadena City Hall. Vener and the Cal Phil have also performed at Disney Hall every summer since it opened more than a decade ago.

Details on the upcoming season: 626-304-0333;

(c) Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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AROUND/MUSIC: SW Chamber opens Huntington season on another “clash Saturday”

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.

As if you couldn’t tell from last week’s heat wave, summer is really upon us and our burgeoning music season reflects the seasonal change.

Southwest Chamber Music begins its 20th season in the Loggia of the Huntington Library in San Marino next Saturday and Sunday. The music begins at 7:30 p.m. Preconcert, three-course dinners are available by prior reservation from the Huntington’s Tea Room or you can bring your own picnic and enjoy it on the lawn. As a bonus, sections of the library are open to ticketholders prior to the concert and at intermission.

This weekend’s programs include Hums and Songs of Winnie the Pooh by English composer Oliver Knussen, Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds and Mozart’s Serenade, K. 361. Other programs are July 27 and 28, August 10 and 11 and August 24 and 25. Information: 800/7236-7147;

Saturday is one of this summer’s “clash nights.” In addition to Southwest Chamber Music, both the Pasadena Pops and California Philharmonic are performing in their Arcadia locations (thus creating some traffic issues).

Michael Feinstein, the Pasadena Pops’ new principal conductor, returns to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to lead a program celebrating the musical legacy of MGM movies, including Singing in the Rain, Harvey Girls, Gigi, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz and others. Vocalists Christine Ebersole and Ron Raines will join the festivities. Information: 626/793-7172;

Meanwhile, the Cal Phil returns to Santa Anita Racetrack on Saturday for one of Music Director Victor Vener’s perennial programming favorites: “Andrew Lloyd Webber Meets Puccini.” Singers Lori Stinson, Christine Campbell and Cedric Berry and the Cal Phil Chorale will join the orchestra for music by two of the world’s best-known composers. The program repeats July 14 at 2 p.m. indoors at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Information: 626/300-8200;

Although Hollywood Bowl has presented several pops concerts during the last month, the Los Angeles Philharmonic opens its 10-week classical season at the iconic Cahuenga Pass amphitheater Tuesday night. Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, returns home to lead the Phil, Los Angeles Master Chorale and soloists Kiera Duffy and Sasha Cooke in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection).

On Thursday, Thomas leads the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Dubinushka, along with Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham as soloist.

Next week, Bramwell Tovey returns to the Bowl stage on July 16 to lead the Phil in a Britten-Elgar-Sibelius program. On July 18, Tovey conducts a program that concludes with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Information: 323/850-2000;


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

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