On the eve of the third of four Pasadena Pops concerts at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden, the Symphony and Pops organization named multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy-nominated Michael Feinstein as Principal Conductor of the orchestra and successor to the late Marvin Hamlisch during a press conference at the Pasadena City Hall rotunda Friday.
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Feinstein will take over the Pops summer concerts in 2013, when the Pops has added a fifth concert event to their summer schedule announced before Hamlisch died – Simply Sinatra on June 8, Bernadette Peters in Concert on June 29, Wicked Divas on July 13, Classical Mystery Tour music of the Beatles on August 10 and an event still billed as Marvin salutes America featuring the JPL Chorus on September 7. Zdunek told Arcadia’s Best that Bernadette Peters and Classical Mystery Tour, the latter conducted by Martin Herman, will will remain unchanged but the Pops is still in discussions with Feinstein about the themes of the three concerts Hamlisch was to conduct.
Three of the Pops’ five concert dates — the Peters and Beatles programs as well as the July 13 Wicked Divas — conflict with California Philharmonic concerts scheduled for the same dates across the street from the Arboretum on the infield of Santa Anita Park. The Peters program falls on Cal Phils’ 2013 June 29 opening night program of The Beatles, Beach Boys and Beethoven. Cal Phil has a program called Andrew Lloyd Weber Meets Pucini on the same July 13 date as the Pops’ Wicked Divas. And the Pops’ own Beatles program on Aug. 10 coincides with Cal Phils’ scheduled Rodgers, Hammerstein and Gershwin performance.
Zdunek told Arcadia’s Best that although the Pops changed one of their dates for this summer since Cal Phil announced their dates first last year, the Pops announced their dates to the City of Arcadia and publicly at the July 21 concert and will be unable to change their dates this year. “We have to work within our globe trotting soloists and conductors’ schedules,” he said.
Feinstein, who has played with dozens of orchestras all over the world but had never conducted one, signed a one-year contract with the Pops that calls for him to conduct three of the five concerts next summer.
– By Scott Hettrick
Excerpts from a Pops media release…
Feinstein, dubbed “The Ambassador of The Great American Songbook,” is an accomplished archivist and television and radio host with his own nationally-broadcast series on PBS and NPR.
“Michael Feinstein is simply the right fit, having already charmed capacity crowds at the Arboretum,” says Paul Jan Zdunek, Pops CEO, adding, “Not only is he a consummate musician, engaging communicator and master entertainer, his lifetime dedication to The Great American Songbook and countless national accomplishments uniquely positions him to build on Marvin’s legacy and lead the Pasadena Pops to new levels of artistic success.”
“To be connected with the Pasadena Pops is simply a great honor, and thrilling as well. It was the passing of our irreplaceable Marvin Hamlisch that has given me the desire to conduct, and every step of the way I will have him on my mind and in my heart,” says Michael Feinstein, adding, “It was because of Marvin that I wish to do this because he had a great love for the Pasadena Pops and my experience with everybody last month was so positive on every level.”
Melinda Shea, President of the Board, announced the creation the Marvin Hamlisch Chair, an operating fund that will support the legacy of Marvin Hamlisch and the unique programming he developed for the Pasadena Pops.
Feinstein is the first Principal Pops Conductor to hold this newly created Chair.
Gifts to the Marvin Hamlisch Chair fund may be made in honor or memory of a friend or family member or simply to celebrate Marvin Hamlisch’s musical and personal contributions to the Pasadena Pops and the world of music.
“Marvin’s wife, my dear friend Terre, is also so delighted that Marvin will be forever connected to the Pasadena Pops through the naming of the Marvin Hamlisch Chair,” Shea said.
About Michael Feistein
Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.
More than simply a performer, Feinstein has received national recognition for his commitment to celebrating America’s popular song and preserving its legacy for the next generation. In 2007, he founded the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Vocal Academy and Competition, which awards scholarships and prizes to students across the country. Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.
Feinstein’s earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his Concord Records CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released last year. His Emmy nominated TV special, Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, is currently airing across the country. His PBS series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook” was the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award. The first two seasons are now available on DVD and the third season will air in 2013. For his nationally syndicated public radio program “Song Travels,” Michael interviews and performs alongside music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Moby, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.
His new book The Gershwins and Me, which is combined with a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano, will be published by Simon & Schuster in October 2012. Recently, he released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with “Glee” and “30 Rock” star Cheyenne Jackson – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. His newest recording is We Dreamed These Days, featuring the Carmel Symphony Orchestra; Feinstein co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.
Feinstein serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to an annual international Great American Arts festival, diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Starting in 2010, he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Feinstein is working with MGM to turn The Thomas Crown Affair into a Broadway musical. He also has designed a new piano for Steinway called “The First Ladies,” inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.
In 2005, Feinstein recorded Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of Harry Warren classics recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. The previous year, he completed a national tour with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb based on their album Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb. The disc was named one of “10 Best CDs of the Year” by USA Today.
In 2003, Feinstein received his fourth Grammy nomination for his release Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.
Michael’s own record label, Feinery, a Concord Records subsidiary, released The Livingston & Evans Songbook, featuring Feinstein and special guest Melissa Manchester. Feinery also records favorite current artists and restores recordings and musical broadcasts from the golden age of popular song.
His Manhattan nightclub, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz, including Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming. Feinstein appears there for a sold-out holiday engagement every year.
His many other credits include scoring the original music for the film Get Bruce and performing on the hits television series “Better With You,” “Caroline in the City,” “Melrose Place,” “Coach,” “Cybill“ and “7th Heaven.”
The roots of all this work began in Columbus, Ohio, where Feinstein started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he worked in local piano bars for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.
Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.
Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins and Carole Bayer Sager), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.