California Philharmonic Review - A Summer of Music Ecstasy

Strings of the orchestra stirred in the twilight as we were welcomed by Robert Miller,  Chairman Emeritus.  This night, devoted to movie magic, was the fourth concert of the summer season.  The tables up front were filled as was the lawn that spread beyond. All were eager music lovers.  Some had picnics of their own and others had purchased food from the various vendors spread over the grounds of the Los Angeles Country Arboretum and the Botanical Garden.  

Maestro Victor Vener of California Philharmonic


As the Maestro Victor Vener noted, music is about feelings and nothing compares to the enchanting spell Maestro Vener and the California Philharmonic weave over everyone who hears them.  This orchestra is dedicated to making symphonic music both enjoyable and accessible for the ordinary person and truly it is with music from the various movie classics that make us want to sing along.  

All quieted as the Maestro ascended the podium and raised his baton.  The Cal Phil burst in a heart stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The hush fell over the crowd as everyone sat and listened. 



Once you hear a song, the music stays with you so that it brings up memories of when you first heard it.  What did we feel and what experiences did you have when you first heard it?  For instance, the opening fanfare of  2001 Space Odyssey brought up images of space and of Stonehenge.  The music continued with Strauss’s Also Sprach Zaratustra and then with Shore’s The Lord of the Rings, bringing up memories of the movie.  

Music identifies characters, as well, and is often used to signify moments in a story.   In Gone With the Wind, Steiner’s Tara, gives us the essence of the plantation, itself, as well as the time period.  It’s not something that you easily forget.

We were then treated to the solo performance of Mr. Armen Anassian.  A superb violinist, he played with a passion that matched the appreciation of the audience.  

California Philharmonic


After a short intermission, Maestro talked a bit about the difference between opera and the light motif and gave us a bit of history of musical stars like Korngold, Hupfeld, Desplat, and Williams.  We were treated to Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in g minor and reminded of the beginnings of Amadeus  - the snow falling in the Vienna streets and you hurried to the apartments of a deranged teenager.   Then romantic glances were exchanged by many couples as Time Goes By from Casablanca was played.  

While most of the movies take from music already written by one of the musical greats, a few things are written especially for the film that is being scored.  Such is the music from Benjamin Button.  Because the movie is about time shifts and life going backwards, the artist Desplat wrote music that could be played backwards, forwards and backwards again.  


Williams’s Memoirs of A Geisha – Sayuri’s theme –another character based music --thrilled us next and then the Maestro took us from Far East to the Viennese courts by playing Strauss’ Blue Danube.  

We ended the evening going to the wild west with Big Country.  

It was a perfect evening – great food, great surroundings and great music.  

California Philharmonic at the Los Angeles Arborteum and Botanical Garden.


Besides the Arboretum experience of the California Philharmonic, there is also the Walt Disney Concert Hall the following afternoon at 2 pm.  They play the same music, but nothing can match the music under the stars.  
Which ever venue you choose, you’ll laugh, learn, and live the music like never before.  

In two weeks, the Cal Phil will return with Broadway’s Best – musical hits from Wicked, Hairspray, Gypsy, the Merry Widow and more.  

Prices run from $95 for a table seat to $20 for a lawn area.  You, of course, get better deals if you buy a subscription for three or five concerts and even better if you want to purchase a whole table of six or ten.  

To get the 2009 prices for the 2010 year you need to subscribe by Sept 10th, 2009.  The 2010 program will include America The Beautiful, Andrew Lloyd Webber goes to Italy, John Williams and Friends including a laser light show, Sinatra, Bennett and the Maestro.  Lastly, there is Beethoven and Broadway.  

For more information contact Cal Phil, 1120 Huntington Dr, San Marino Ca 91108, 626 300 8200.  www.calphil.org

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