Vendors sold grilled chicken, ribs, and other delights and many people took advantage of the time to have a picnic at their private tables or on the lawn.
After a welcome from David Beck, manager of the Santa Ana Westfield Shopping Mall (one of the sponsors), the orchestra warmed up with a stirring performance of God Bless America. Conducted by the funny and passionate Maestro Victor Vener, the concert included Broadway, Russian grand opera, and then the light Austrian opera.
We started out with Die Fledermaus, written in 1874 by Johann Strauss, Jr. The Flying Mouse, which has had sections been performed in many Broadway plays and movies tells the story of infidelity, love, costume parties and fake nobility. A fun story, it was later Americanized and written into the play Rosallinda.
Musicals have always been popular but none so famous as Mama Mia featuring hits from Sweden’s group Abba. Abba did not originally write his music for the story but the story was written around the music – a young bride’s search for her true father. In the end, the young couple says “I don’t” but her mother is reunited with her long lost love, one of the three father candidates. The dance numbers played were as infectious as they had been in the show.
Hairspray’s music, which was featured next, is a story of a segregated dance show and was inspired when the producer watched a late night movie that reminded him of the era. The play, becoming a hit feature film, was based on a young “pleasingly plump” girl with dancing talents and a sense of social justice who creates a social revolution.
The music of Wicked – relationship story of the Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, came next. Written by Stephen Schwartz, it brought the world of the Wizard of Oz to life.
Singers Danny Gurwin (baritone) and Khori Dastoor (soprano) sang 14 G from Thoroughly Modern Millie (composed by Jeanine Tesori) and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables (composed by Claude Michel Schonberg) as well as Younger Than Springtime from South Pacific.
The evening ended with Russian music by Alexander Borodin from Prince Igor, which has provided tunes for several Broadway productions with an encore “We are the Champs.”
Sponsors include Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena Showhouse for the Arts, Red-white-Bluzz, The Magazine for Luxury Living, SymesAutomotive group, Classical KUSC, Santa Anna Park, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, A 1 Event Party Rentals, Beacon Media News, Brown Unlimited, Nordstrom, Oak Tree Racing Association, Zeilstra Foundation, and Westfield Shopping Promenades.
Tickets are now available for the 2010 summer season. By buying them before September 15, 2009, you will be able to purchase tickets at the 2009 prices which range from $20 (the lawn) to $95 (conductor circle.) For more information call 626 300 8200 or go to www.calphil.org. The Arboretum is located at 301 N. Baldwin Ave in Arcadia.