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The Valley Line: Rhapsodizing with peacocks and the Pops

September 14, 2012
  • Jay and Donna Gallagher enjoy a night of Gershwin music at the Pops concert.
Jay and Donna Gallagher enjoy a night of Gershwin music… (Photo by Jane Napier…)

Mother Nature must be punishing me. She knows that I hate being hot! Here we are in mid-September, still simmering because she just won't turn the burners down on her stove. This weekend we were sweltering in triple-digit degrees.

It was pretty darn hot when concertgoers began to arrive at the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia for last weekend's Pasadena Pops concert, all 3,000-plus of them.

I know many of our local residents are not fond of peafowl, but the Arboretum does have an on-premise flock of these beautiful birds. Yes, the plumage of the male peacock is quite spectacular and iridescent. The peahens, however, are more subdued, with only a bit of color on their long necks and understated feathers of beige and brown on their bodies.

For the first time the other night at the Arboretum I did see two of these lovely ladies proudly showing off their offspring, known as peachicks. Each peahen had only one chick and they were tiny, probably not more than 3 inches tall. Each peachick stayed very close to its mom. Even with all the commotion of cars and people, neither the mom nor her chick seemed to be stressed. The peahen regally strolled along the path and her chick scurried to keep up with her. She was very protective of her young one.

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The resident peafowl have been known to add their own voices when the music starts playing, but that evening not one of them made a peep.

The JPL Chorus made its second appearance at the concert under the direction of Donald Brinegar, who also brought along some of his singers from the PCC campus.

It was such an exquisite evening of the music of Ira and George Gershwin. The chorus blended their voices with Gershwin favorites such as “Foggy Day” and “I Got Rhythm.”

The orchestra was under the direction of Larry Blank. Blank's career was mentored by the late Marvin Hamlisch, who was the principal conductor of the Pops before his death in August.

Featured soloist was pianist Kevin Cole, who was also mentored by Hamlisch; over their eight-year professional relationship they became the best of friends. Cole spoke poignantly about becoming almost like family with Marvin and his wife Terre. He said that Hamlisch called him either “Babe” or “Kid.”

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