By Ted AYALA
Executives from the Pasadena Symphony and Pops announced Michael Feinstein as the successor to late Pops director Marvin Hamlisch during a press conference held at noon today. The conference, which was held in the rotunda of the Pasadena City Hall, gathered together executives from the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, the Los Angeles County Arboretum, which hosts the Pops, as well as Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard.
Feinstein is best known to audiences as one of the great champions of the “Great American Songbook,” having earned two Emmy Awards and five Grammy nominations. His appointment as the Pops music director would be his first venture into conducting.
“Marvin was a mentor to me and I’m thrilled to be part of this orchestra,” beamed Feinstein. “Though I haven’t conducted before, I have learned a lot what to do – and what not to do – watching other conductors.”
There is a bittersweet irony in the news as Feinstein was the soloist in Hamlisch’s last Pops concert on July 21 – a concert that broke attendance records at the Arboretum, according to Pasadena Symphony and Pops representatives.
“Not only is [Feinstein] a consummate musician,” said Symphony and Pops CEO Paul Jan Zdunek, “his lifetime dedication to the ‘Great American Songbook’ uniquely positions him to build on Marvin’s legacy and lead the Pasadena Pops to new levels of artistic success.”
Feinstein’s one-year engagement with the Pops begins next year. The number of concerts he will lead has yet to be determined.
The Pops’ final concert of the summer on Sept. 7, which was to have been conducted by Hamlisch, will instead be led by Larry Blank, who had led the orchestra in a concert on June 29.
“A terrific conductor,” remarked Feinstein over podium colleague.