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The Valley Line

August 30, 2007|By Jane Napier Neely

The recent Pasadena Pops concert was all about the number 57 in a myriad of round-about ways. Even the musical “The Music Man” with its famed “76 Trombones” song can figure into this magical number because it opened on Broadway in December 1957.

JD Cullum’s reading of Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat,” written in 1957, was amazingly fun and made me realize I have a very tall hat to fill if I can come even close to making this story as exciting when I read it to my grandchildren. Cullum kept everyone spellbound.

Richie Ramone, born in 1957, brought the audience to its feet after his faster-than-the- human-eye-can-follow drumming to Leonard Bernstein’s “Westside Story.” Ron Abel, an incomparable music arranger, composer and pianist, was at the top of his musical vision as he arranged the collage of “Westside Story” songs for the evening’s performance.

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By the way, “Westside Story” also opened on Broadway in 1957. Although it was nominated for a Tony Award it lost the honor to Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man.”

Each of the pieces the outstanding Pops musicians played the rest of the evening somehow had a connection to the year 1957 in some way.

The rest of the program included the “Colonel Bogey March” from “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which won the Oscar for best film in 1957; and a salute to Humphrey Bogart who starred in the film “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” (Bogart died in 1957 and was 57 at the time of his death); a medley of Beatles tunes of Lennon and McCartney favorites; “Finlandia,” Sibelius, the composer, died in 1957. Well, on and on it goes.

I think one of my favorite pieces for the evening was the haunting music from the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/The Eternal Vow,” written by Tan Dun, who was born in 1957.

It was a lovely evening of music and the crowd seemed to love every moment. The next concert — “Aren’t We a Pair?” on Sept. 7, 8 and 9 marks the end of the season.

Since I won’t be there that weekend, I would like to extend my best wishes to the 65 magnificent musicians who have made the Pasadena Pops what it is today — an outstanding orchestra.

These musicians have been faithful to their commitment of bringing the best of their talents to Descanso concert goers. They have been loyal to not only the subscribers to the summer series but to single ticket holders. They have made the Pasadena Pops orchestra and the concert goers their summer priority.

Readers, as you may or may not know, the orchestra that will sit before you on those September dates have been in essence “fired,” as The Pasadena Symphony takes over the reins and will replace these musicians with its own members.

My hope is that the managerial “powers that be” will reconsider and retain all 65 of the existing orchestra members because they are the Pasadena Pops, they are the ones who make the music.

To every one of the Pops musicians, you have given not only me but thousands of concert subscribers great joy with your professional musicianship for nearly 20 years. You have filled my ears and heart with such beautiful music. I will miss each and every one of you.

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