An Evening Under the Stars
I am a summer girl. I love when the temperature ticks upward and I take down the convertible top. I love dipping my toes into the pool to see if it’s warm enough to take a swim. I love setting the patio table with dinnerware, lighting candles and eating outside.
No surprise then that I love Cal Phil’s Festival on the Green at Santa Anita Race Track. On Saturday, our friends Ed, Terri, Kyle, Lisa and Mike joined Steve and I as we headed off to Pasadena to enjoy the music of Puccini and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The venue is truly splendid. In addition to seating on the lawn, tables that seat 10 can be purchased for the evening. We were fortunate to have one available for us.
It’s surprisingly upscale for being an outdoor affair. The tables are dressed with white linen. Students are available to lead you to your table and distribute programs. The racetrack allows you to bring in your own food in addition to offering food and drinks for sale. Our group brought in strawberry, chicken and feta salad, garlic breadsticks, sandwiches, brie, bread, water (both sparkling and still), wine and the most fabulous flourless chocolate cake I have ever eaten.
At 7:30 p.m., the concert began. Under the direction of Maestro Victor Vener, the orchestra transported the audience to scenes from acclaimed musicals from around the world. The music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, La Boheme, and Sunset Blvd. swept over the audience as twilight fell and the stars brightened the night sky. We also enjoyed Puccini’s Tosca as well as Nessun Dorma and the finale to Turandot. A special treat were the voices of soloists soprano Lori Stinson, tenor Christopher Campbell and bass baritone Cedric Berry that joined Cal Phil and the 100-member Cal Phil Chorale. Their talents brought a depth to the music that would have been definitely missed.
Another highlight was a surprise appearance from the Children’s Chorus from the Claremont Community School of Music. Having the kids on stage was very sweet.
Maestro Vener is not just a gifted conductor, but an instructor as well. He enjoys sharing the history of the music and takes time to turn to the audience between scores to share a bit of background, making the listening experience even richer.
The next performance is on July 27 (July 28 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall) and is titled Dance Fever. You can bet I’ll be at Santa Anita on Saturday night. If you go, look for me – I’ll probably be wearing my platform shoes and sparkly tank top.
For information on tickets for Cal Phil, check out their ad on page 8.