Pasadena Symphony and Pops
The Pasadena Symphony and POPS is an American orchestra based in Pasadena, California. In 2010 it took up residence at the Ambassador Auditorium, where its Classics Series runs from October through April. Since 2012 it performs a summer series at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden from June through September.
- 1 Brief History
- 2 Venues
- 3 Musical Leadership
- 4 Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra
- 5 External links
- 6 References
The Pasadena Symphony was founded in 1928 as the Pasadena Civic Orchestra by Reginald Bland. From 1936 to 1972, Dr. Richard Lert served as Music Director and Conductor. The symphony was recognized with Metropolitan Status by the American Symphony Orchestra League in 1968. The organization became known as the Pasadena Symphony Association.
In Fall 2007 the Pasadena Symphony incorporated the Pasadena POPS into its Association under the new name Pasadena Symphony and POPS.
In 2007 Maestra Rachael Worby continued on from the previous Pasadena POPS Orchestra, assuming principal POPS conductor position of the Pasadena Symphony Association. In August 2010 Maestro Marvin Hamlisch was appointed principal POPS conductor. After Hamlisch's death in August 2012, a search found Great American Songbook star Michael Feinstein, who assumed the post beginning with the 2013 POPS season.
In September 2010 the Pasadena Symphony became the resident professional symphony at Ambassador Auditorium.
Called by some concertgoers "The Carnegie Hall of the West", this relatively small yet beautiful concert hall hosted 20 seasons of the worlds' best musicians and performers from 1974 to 1995. It is estimated that 2.5 million attendees heard and saw over 2,500 concerts at Ambassador Auditorium by Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Horacio Gutierrez, Alicia de Larrocha, Arthur Rubinstein, Andrés Segovia, Yo-Yo Ma, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Junior, Frank Sinatra, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan (including, on their last visit together to the U.S. in 1982, a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 9) and many others during this period. With regard to classical music, the intimate feel of the venue was especially well suited to small ensembles, and soloists such as guitarists Julian Bream and John Williams.
At the time of its construction, the building was furnished with Iranian onyx, African teak, wool carpet from India, and splendid gold overlay. It seats 1262. On January 26, 1996, National Public Radio staged a battle of the bands between the cities contending in Super Bowl XXX. Pittsburgh's River City Brass Band played Semper Fidelis by John Philip Sousa and the Battle Royal March by Fred Jewell in concert at Ambassador Auditorium, followed by a performance from Dallas at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
The Worldwide Church of God (WCG), which operated the college and auditorium, ceased operation of both in the 1990s and sold the property. The WCG later relocated its operations to nearby Glendora.
On May 14, 2004, the church announced the sale of approximately 13 acres (53,000 m²) of its former 31-acre (125,000 m²) campus to Harvest Rock Church and Maranatha High School. The sale included the Ambassador Auditorium, now under the sole ownership of the church. In addition to hosting its own services and high school functions, it hosts public performances by many regional ensembles including the Colburn Orchestra, California Philharmonic and the Pasadena Symphony and POPS.
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
All Saints Church
Beginning in 2011, the Pasadena Symphony has performed an annual Holiday Candlelight concert in Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal Church.
The Pasadena Symphony was founded in 1928 as the Pasadena Civic Orchestra by Conductor Reginald Bland. The original orchestra members were all volunteer musicians, most of whom were students of Maestro Bland. The annual operating budget was $3,500, all of which was funded by the City of Pasadena. The symphony presented its first concert on April 29, 1929.
Dr. Richard Lert
Dr. Richard Lert was appointed Music Director and Conductor in 1936. He was one of several important German conductors who came to the United States to conduct when the political environment in Europe became untenable. During his 36-year directorship, Dr. Lert distinguished himself as one of the most important conducting teachers in America and in 1964 he received the Golden Baton Award from the American Symphony Orchestra League for his work with young conductors. Under Lert, the Symphony became a founding member of the Los Angeles Symphony League in 1955, and was recognized with Metropolitan Status by the American Symphony Orchestra League in 1968. During his tenure, the organization became known as The Pasadena Symphony Association.
During this period, the organization's reputation for excellence was firmly established. Under his leadership, several national awards were won, including five American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards for adventuresome programming. In addition, the Symphony caught the attention of prominent local music critic, Martin Bernheimer, who began touting the Symphony's artistic and programming excellence. Lewis' tenure also marks the founding of the Symphony's longest-running education program, the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra.
In 1984, Jorge Mester, one of America's most respected and talented conductors was selected as The Pasadena Symphony's fourth music director. Prior to joining the Symphony, Mester served as music director for the Louisville Symphony for twelve years and as music director of the Aspen Music Festival for twenty-one years. Under Mester's leadership, the Symphony recorded its first CD in 1994, consisting of works by Strauss and Saint-Saëns. It was deemed "world-class" by the national music press. The orchestra's second CD features Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps and the "Symphonic Dances" of Rachmaninoff.
In August 2010, American composer Marvin Hamlisch was appointed Principal POPS Conductor for the organization. Hamlisch was one of only thirteen people to have been awarded Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and a Tony (those four together are known as an EGOT). He was also one of only two people to have EGOT and also win a Pulitzer Prize (the other is Richard Rodgers). Hamlisch also won two Golden Globes.
In June 2010, American conductor James DePreist was named Artistic Advisor to the Pasadena Symphony and POPS. One of the few African-American conductors on the world stage, until his passing in 2013, DePreist was director of conducting and orchestral studies at the Juilliard School and laureate music director of the Oregon Symphony.
Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra
The Pasadena Symphony Association also operates the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO). It consists of four separate ensembles: a Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble, the Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonic. The ensembles operate under the direction of Pasadena Symphony staff and conductor Jack Taylor, who conducts the Symphony Orchestra. While the Philharmonic is conducted by Bruce Kiesling, the Wind Ensemble is conducted by Gary Yearick, and the String Orchestra is conducted by Pin Chen.
- "History of the Pasadena Symphony". SGVmedia.com. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- Pasles, Chris (June 18, 2007). "Music merge in the works in Pasadena". Los Angeles Times.
- Swed, Mark (October 24, 2010). "Music review: a Pasadena Symphony restart". Los Angeles Times.
- "Guide to the Ambassador Auditorium Collection". Online Archives of California. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- "Pasadena Property to be Sold", Ambassador Report, Issue 45, September 1990
- About the Arboretum
- DeVine, Tami (May 1, 2011). "Pasadena Pops Replaces CalPhil at Arboretum This Summer". Crown City News.
- Ng, David (August 27, 2010). "Marvin Hamlisch named conductor of the Pasadena Pops". Los Angeles Times.
- Boehm, Mike (June 2, 2010). "Acclaimed conductor DePreist to advise troubled Pasadena Symphony and Pops". Los Angeles Times.