Five-Spot: What caught my eye on November 10, 2011

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

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Each Thursday morning, I list five events (six this week) that
peak my interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission (or, at
a minimum, inexpensive tickets). Here’s today’s grouping:

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Tomorrow and
Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Semyon Bychkov and the Labques

Bychkov, one of the hottest guest conductors around these
days, conducts Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic
Dances
to conclude the program. In the first half, the classical world’s
most popular piano duo, Katia and Marielle Labque, will play an arrangement of
Ravel’s Rapodie Espagnole for two
solo pianos and then join the Phil for the world premiere of Concerto for two pianos and double orchestra
“Battlefield”
by Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon. This will mark
the first concert appearance at Walt Disney Concert Hall of Marielle with Bychkov, who is her husband. Information: www.laphil.com

 

Saturday at 7:30
p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. at The Women’s Club of South Pasadena

Celestial Opera: Purcell’s
Dido and Aeneas and Mozart’s The Impresario

The intrepid local opera company offers two one-act operas
sung in English with English supertitles, with sets and costumes, accompanied
by a string quartet and harpsichord (for the Purcell) and piano (for the
Mozart). I’ll have a preview story posted tomorrow on this Blog and in the
Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Whittier Daily News. Information: www.celestialopera.org

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Neighborhood Church, Pasadena

Musica Angelica
salutes its founders

Lutenist and guitarist John Schneidermann will join Hideki
Yamaya, guitar and lute, violinists Janet Strauss and Susan Feldman, cellist
William Skeen, tenor Daniel Plaster and Denise Bries on viola da gamba in a
program that honors Michael Eagan and Mark Chatfield, who founded Musica
Angelica in 1993. Eagan, a lute player, died in 2004, while Chatfield, a
cellist, passed away in 1998. The duo formed the ensemble that has become one
of the world’s Baroque music groups. The concert repeats Nov. 13 in Santa
Monica. Information: www.musicaangelica.org

 

Sunday at 7 p.m. at
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles Master
Chorale: The Little Match Girl Passion

Grant Gershon conducts 32 members of the Chorale and solo
instrumentalists in The Little Match Girl
Passion,
the Pulitzer Prize-winning work by David Lang, which is based on
the Hans Christian Andersen story and influenced by Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. This will be an
expanded version of the piece that was premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York
City. The program also includes the U.S. premiere of James Newton’s Mass and two Bach motets. Information: www.lamc.org

 

Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
and 8:30 p.m. at the Show at Barre Theatre, Los Angeles

Susan Egan and
Georgia Stitt: The Secret of Happiness LIVE

Susan Egan originated the role of Belle in Disney’s Beauty and Beast musical on Broadway.
Georgia Stitt is an award-winning Broadway composer and arranger. Together,
they make a powerhouse team and this program features selections from their new
upcoming album. If you’re interested and/or intrigued, read the attendance
details carefully — this is a small theater. Information: showatbarre.inticketing.com

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” program …

 

Saturday at 2 p.m.
at Pasadena Christian Church

Sunday at 2 p.m. at First
Baptist Church of Pasadena

Crown City Symphony;
Marvin Neumann, conductor

Lawrence Sonderling, a member of the Los Angeles
Philharmonic’s violin section, will be the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin
Concerto. The program also includes Rossini’s Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers and Mozart’s Symphony No. 25. Information: www.crowncitysymphony.org

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

(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.

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.