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The Valley Line: Saying a sad farewell to Pops music director

August 10, 2012|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Marvin Hamlisch left, at the last Pasadena Pops performance before his death this week. Seen with him in concert at the July 21 concert is Michael Feinstein.
Marvin Hamlisch left, at the last Pasadena Pops performance… (Photo by Jane Napier…)

For all of us who enjoy the summer concerts of the Pasadena Pops, the news Tuesday of the death of Marvin Hamlisch, its music director and conductor, was stunning. Even though it was apparent at his first two concerts this season that Hamlisch was not in robust health, the suddenness of his passing was a shock.

Just two weeks ago Hamlisch conducted the Pops orchestra in a program that featured Michael Feinstein and the music of Cole Porter. At the beginning of the concert Hamlisch made a second entrance, bowing to the crowd of nearly 4,000 people.

Little did any of us know as we clapped and cheered for him that it was, in retrospect, our heart-felt farewell to him.

During his lifetime this brilliant man of music contributed much to America's songbook. He was a champion of making sure that the music of American composers such as George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and a host of others would live on. He was the winner of numerous awards including Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, Tonys and a Pulitzer, and we will be enjoying his work for many years to come.

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We were so fortunate to have Hamlisch as the conductor of the Pops. We were touched by his greatness.

As he said in the Oscar-nominated song he wrote for the James Bond film, “The Spy Who Loved Me,” nobody does it better. Yes, Marvin Hamlisch, you were the best.

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I have been glued to the TV coverage of the Olympic Games in London.

Olympic watching, even before it came to television screens, has been my family sport since I was a kid. And it seemed like all of La Cañada Flintridge was involved in L.A.'s 1984 Olympic Games in one way or another. I didn't attend the opening of those games, but I did attend the closing ceremony in the Coliseum. It was awe-inspiring.

Another highlight during those games was when I was invited to attend an afternoon tea that was sponsored by the Los Angeles English-Speaking Union with the late Peter Brown, then a resident of La Cañada who was serving that year as the organization's president.

It was there that I was presented to Prince Philip of England. We had a lovely conversation about the upcoming equestrian events and he even mentioned that he knew about the Flintridge Riding Club. As you can imagine, I was positively giddy to be sipping tea with a royal.

The London games have been very exciting. By the time you read this, the flame will have dimmed. So, more about this next time.

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