Champion of the American songbook Michael Feinstein has adapted splendidly to his newest gig as principal conductor of the Pasadena POPS as evidenced by a marvelous evening of standards and rare gems on the Los Angeles Arboretum’s Bauer Lawn. Aptly named “Feinstein’s Favorites,” the June 7, 2014 concert featured guest artists that amused and amazed the appreciative and diverse audience.
Feinstein’s abundant sense of humor was in rare form throughout the performance, and his genuine regard and respect for his orchestra and guests was heartwarming. He also gave credit to the many individuals who helped him with his “dumpster diving” to sleuth out lost arrangements and compositions, some of which were being performed live for the first time.
Relative newcomer to Broadway lovely Laura Osnes channeled Peggy Lee she sang “Lover” by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart/ arr. Gordon Jenkins. David White’s performance of “Soliloquy” from “Carousel” by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II (arr. Don Walker) was masterful; it doesn’t get any better than that.
Then there was Armen Guzelimian who proved that classical pianists can boogie when his fingers flew across the keys for Konstantine Bakaleinikoff”s “Brahmsiana” based on themes by Johannes Brahms.
But the brightest stars of the evening were 16-year-old violinist Geneva Lewis (protégé of concertmaster Aimee Kreston) and “America’s Got Talent” contestant vocalist Julia Goodwin who celebrated her 16th birthday in May. Lewis’ passionate playing of “Disconcerto” by Jacques Press brought the audience to its feet. Goodwin’s depth and her soulful rendition of “Feelin’ Good” (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley/ arr. Daryl Kojak/ orch. Tedd Firth) imply many previous lifetimes of experience.
Under Feinstein’s baton the POPS offered some of this reviewer’s favorite moments when these talented musicians played “Jalousie” (Jacob Gade/ arr. Leo Arnaud), “The Stripper” by David Rose and “Victory Stride” by James P. Johnson.
Always heavenly, the Los Angeles Arboretum is never more so than when it becomes an outdoor concert hall and the POPS are offering four more concerts this summer. Go!
For more information about the POPS visit http://www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org.