By Ted AYALA
Thursday at the Alex Theatre was the beginning of the Glendale Pops’ new season. In a climate where artistic institutions are floundering amidst a stagnant economy and dwindling sources of funding, the Glendale Pops has managed to hold its own against the tide.
Pops artistic director Matt Catingub mused on the Pops’ missions and its reasons for continuing to thrive.
“The way I see it, we’re really doing something unique here,” he said. “People nowadays are so wrapped up in their computerized entertainment. I mean, even I love using my iPad. But the ways people are hearing music is increasingly mechanized, too. What the Pops is doing is giving ‘live music’ a shot in the arm.”
In its quest to bring quality music to Glendale audiences, the Pops has striven to not only perform music that will appeal to its audiences, but also collaborate with world-caliber artists whose talents serve as both complement and foil to the Pops.
Exhibit A: Miles Mosley.
His appearance with the Pops last week made a stir with the audience. Mosley, styled as the “Jimi Hendrix of the upright bass,” wowed his audience with the extremes he conjured from his instrument, growling in the lowest registers one moment, then wailing in the soprano range the next.
What moved audiences was the freshness of Mosley’s approach, the vitality of his musicianship. His remarks about the music, too, were welcomed, being as they provided insight into both performer and music.
“It was our first time working with [Mosley],” Catingub said. “It was a real treat. Definitely one of the most unique concerts I’ve ever worked in. Truly a great experience to work with him.”
For Catingub, his work with the Pops goes beyond merely providing good music to Glendale. It’s also about doing something different — as well as carrying on a tradition.
“Back when I was a kid growing up in North Hollywood,” he said, “one of the biggest components of my musical upbringing was the Glendale Symphony under Carmen Dragon. Later I got to work with Maestro Dragon’s son – Captain from Captain & Tennille; kind of an interesting full circle. Because of that, we feel that the Pops has a lot to live up to. What we do is very different from what the Glendale Symphony did – and from what anyone else is doing. We’re the only Pops orchestra in Los Angeles that only does Pops. So, yes, in a partial way we are kind of carrying along this torch. But the Pops is also part of the evolution of what that kind of an orchestra can be. Versatile, dynamic – what we’re doing here is really distinctive.”
There was in the voice of Catingub something faintly echoing of the preacher as he further spelled out the importance of the Pops in Glendale.
“The Pops has so many opportunities to build and present a whole new platform of music-making to Glendale. To be part of that is beyond thrilling.”
The Glendale Pops’ next concert is on Dec. 7. For more information on the season, visit www.glendalepops.org.