The Valley Line: Closing out the summer with the Pops

September 18, 2013|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Attending the recent Pasadena Pops concert were, from left, Bob and Wynn DeVelle and Janet and Frank McNiff.
Attending the recent Pasadena Pops concert were, from… (Photo by Jane Napier…)

I skipped out of town this past weekend to visit my sister in San Clemente. It was an amazing weather change from the foothills, with fog blowing by the windows and cool enough for me to have to borrow woolly socks from her to put on my feet. I even had to put a wrap on to keep my neck and shoulders warm. It's a good thing I put a pair of long slacks in my suitcase because I certainly did need them — my light summer skirts just didn't suffice down there by the shore.

We had some good sister time and even celebrated the birth of her son and wife's newly adopted daughter, who they named Elisabeth — “Lissy” for short. So, I'm a great aunt for the seventh time. The family tree just keeps on getting bigger and bigger.

We are in a slight lull now before the full autumn social whirl sets into full motion. However, I do have a great farewell concert by the Pasadena Pops at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia to tell you about.


The weather was hot as concert-goers gathered early to spread out their picnic dinners, complete with floral centerpieces and crystal stemware. Other picnickers went more casual with fast-food take-out. It didn't really matter, because the evening isn't really about the food. It is made for good conversation and fabulous music.

By the time the sun slipped below the horizon, a hush fell over the audience in anticipation of the musical program that was about to unfold. Even the arboretum's peacocks were silent. Hmm, maybe somebody corralled them into a soundproof habitat.

Before conductor Michael Feinstein stepped onto the conductor's podium, he was called on stage and presented with a birthday cake. The entire audience of several thousand people sang the birthday song to him — what a joyful sound that was.

The evening's program was called, “Michael Feinstein: The Gershwins and Me.” It was an outstanding evening of the music of the Gershwin brothers — Ira and George. It was obvious that “Love is Here to Stay,” for the melodies and lyrics of these two prolific New Yorkers will always be in our hearts.

For Feinstein, the evening's program was especially poignant because he spent more than six years assisting Ira Gershwin researching, cataloging and preserving the unpublished sheet music and rare recordings in Gershwin's home.

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