The music industry, the Pasadena Pops, and many Arcadians are in shock today at the news the Pops conductor and multiple Grammy winner Marvin Hamlisch died suddenly Monday at the age of 68 after what is said to have been a short illness.
Hamlisch, principal Pops conductor and an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe and Pulitzer Prize winning composer-conductor who wrote “The Way We Were” and composed songs for “A Chrous Line,” was in the middle of the Pops first season as conductor of monthly summer concerts at the L.A. Country Arboretum. He had performed there as recently as July 21 and was next scheduled to lead the season finale Gershwin on the Green on Sept. 8. Sources said Hamlisch had signed on to a three-year contract with the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, including summer concerts at the Arboretum, as recently as two weeks ago.
A guest conductor — Michael Krajewski – had already been scheduled for the upcoming Aug. 18 program of La Dolce Vita.
“A Pops spokesman said both remaining Pops programs will go on as scheduled, with details about the Sept. 8 concert to be announced soon.
The Pasadena Symphony and POPS are both shocked and devastated to learn about Marvin Hamlisch’s sudden passing,” according to a media release today by the Pops.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Terre, his family, and his friends and colleagues.
“During his time in Pasadena, he was beloved in our community and made an enormous impact with everyone he encountered. He brought a tireless humor and enthusiasm to the stage, and was loved by our audience, musicians, and staff. Marvin propelled the Pasadena POPS into a new and successful era, guided by his contributions to the Great American Songbook carrying on the legacies of Richard Rogers and George Gershwin. His was a giant in American music and a true national treasure.
Marvin was here when we needed him with his vision and artistic guidance. He was a great friend and his music leaves an unforgettable legacy to the world. Marvin was a remarkable person and an incredible talent who will be dearly missed.”
Maestro Victor Vener, conductor of the California Philharmonic Orchestra that had to take its 14-year run of summer Festival on the Green concerts across the street from the Arboretum to Santa Anita Park this year when Hamlisch and the Pops were booked by the Arboretum, expressed his sorrow at the loss of the famous conductor.
“I, along with millions of people around the world, am shocked and saddened by the news of the untimely passing yesterday of the highly-respected and decorated Marvin Hamlisch. It is tragic and we at Cal Phil are grieving the loss of the remarkable and talented composer who left an indelible mark in the industry…but more than that, in the lives of everyone, everywhere, who experienced the power and brilliance of his music and lyrics over the decades. Marvin undeniably leaves a legacy that will forever live through his music and in our hearts.”
The Arcadia Chamber of Commerce helped coordinate a media event in June featuring Hamlisch, which can be seen in the video below: