Ending the Week on a High Note
I love birthdays – even when they aren’t mine – especially when the gifts are things I get to enjoy, too!
For example, it was my husband Steve’s birthday last week (I won’t tell you his age – he threatened to tell everyone mine if I divulged). As a surprise I bought tickets to a Huey Lewis and the News concert at Pala Casino in Temecula. And since the venue was so far south I wanted to stay overnight. I got a great deal to stay at the beautiful Temecula Creek Inn about 10 miles away from the casino.
It’s great having the chance to hear groups that I either grew up with or enjoyed for a long time. Though with older, long established groups I sometimes am a little nervous; I attended one concert of a band that I had fond memories of only to be disappointed when the lead singer took the mic and couldn’t hit the notes he was known for.
But no worries last Thursday night – Huey Lewis was right on, didn’t miss a beat and was amazing in how he leapt about the Pala stage. At the end of the performance, Steve and I swore that we would make a date of seeing another Huey Lewis and the News show.
Sunday was another musical journey but this time across the genre spectrum. Steve and I headed downtown to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a performance by Maestro Victor Vener and the Cal Phil Orchestra and Chorale.
As most of you know who have read my column before, I am a fervent admirer of Maestro Vener and the Cal Phil. Every summer season, you can find me at the Crescenta Valley Weekly linen-dressed table on the lawn at the Santa Anita Race Track. Concerts under the stars are Saturday nights; Sunday afternoons generally have an encore performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. We couldn’t attend the most recent Santa Anita concert that featured Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique” and Fauré’s “Requiem” and my favorites, songs from “Les Miz” and “Phantom of the Opera.” We were fortunate that tickets were available for Sunday’s performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall. This is one of the most popular concerts held every season and attending Sunday’s performance downtown reminded me why.
Maestro Vener is wonderful with his audience; not pretentious and stuffy, he makes the concert experience a time of learning as well as enjoying. He explains what we’re about to hear and indeed when the notes of “Symphonie Fantastique” were played I could hear the story unfold. Brilliant.
And when soloist Darren Ritchie sang “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miz” I am not ashamed to admit that I cried … quite a different emotion from dancing in the aisles at Huey Lewis and the News!
The Cal Phil season is drawing to a close – this weekend will feature Lights, Camera, Action! that includes performances of Shostakovich’s “5th Symphony” and Roger Allen Ward’s “1st Symphony” as well as popular movie music.
Tickets may still be available; check www.calphil.com.