There were moments of poignancy, but no tears. Only smiles, laughter and the shared delight of audience and musicians alike in good music – no mournful elegies here.
The Pasadena Symphony and Pops’ tribute concert on Saturday evening on the steps of Pasadena’s City Hall gathered several hundred music lovers to honor, but most of all celebrate, the music and life of the late Pops music director Marvin Hamlisch.
Dignitaries from the world of politics and commerce took the stage to remember Hamlisch and thank him for his art. Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, before proclaiming that day as “Marvin Hamlisch Day,” declared his love for Hamlisch’s legacy, referring to the composer as “one of the giants of American music.”
His fellow artists, with guest host and Hamlisch friend Jason Alexander at the fore, spoke of the composer and conductor’s warmth, the sincerity of his friendship, and the humility of the man with the extraordinary musical gift.
The concert began with a song whose title could be a fitting epitaph to the composer: “One Singular Sensation.”
He was that and more to many, one felt, as his melodies wafted from the orchestra and mingled with the reminiscences of the man – a feeling bittersweet.
People, at times, associate a certain hardness of feeling with the old showbiz adage, “the show must go on.” For some, the idea that one can’t stop, reflect, and perhaps even change trajectory when confronted with death can appear to be harsh. But one felt that with the Pasadena Pops, and with Marvin Hamlisch’s friends and colleagues far and wide, the show goes on because in a very real sense the man will always be with them – and with us. Through the memory of his life and, most lasting of all, the legacy of his music.
Before the concert began, the Pasadena Symphony and Pops’ CEO Jan Paul Zdunek called the night’s free concert a “thank you” to the community. That it was. But it was also just as much a “thank you” to Marvin Hamlisch. And it’s hard not to think that he may be somewhere out there smiling over the thought of that – and have a biting, self-deprecating quip about it at the ready.