See you in September
Thank you Nick and Michael Feinstein!
Music of Cole Porter Delights Large Crowd at Arboretum
A warm summer evening, a lovely park setting, and the Pasadena Pops Orchestra with Principal Pops Conductor, Marvin Hamlisch, and popular entertainer, Michael Feinstein, motivated thousands to fill the Bauer Lawn to capacity at The Arboretum in Arcadia Saturday night. It was a capacity crowd.
The evening program was dedicated to the music of Cole Porter, surely one of America’s pre-eminent American Songbook deans. Presenting the second of four concerts in the summer series, conductor Hamlisch and the Pasadena Pops were joined by Feinstein to romp through about a dozen of the 900 songs and music from 33 shows Porter composed during his over 60 year songwriting career.
16 year-old Nick Ziobro received a standing ovation for his stylized version of “All of Me”. Ziobro is on a six-city tour with Michael Feinstein as Feinstein’s Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador.
Early on, Hamlisch took to the piano to start the program within the ambit of the program offering four immediately recognizable Porter tunes: “Day and Night”; “You’d be so Easy to Love”; “I Get a Kick out of You”; and “It’s All Right With Me” that he flicked off with a casual air. At the podium, Hamlisch provided both an overture of little known Porter compositions followed by a pristine, clear and even rowdy version of the music from Porter’s 1953 musical, “Can Can”.
The entire second portion of the program was presented by Michael Feinstein, an entertainer of prodigious talent—as a singer handling the complicated lyrics and music Porter wrote; at the piano, the limber-fingered piano-bar style that has brought Feinstein fame. He sang, accompanying himself through glissandos, runs, and other jazz piano riffs. The notably ear-trained Feinstein used intricate chord schematics to complete the sonic picture.
Feinstein, from the start, found out what it meant to perform at The Arboretum. There was the crowd of some 4,000 spread out before him, he seemed stunned to see the sea of faces. And then there are the peacocks.
You see, he began his first song, “At Long Last Love” that begins explosively, “Is it an earthquake…” (band, abrupt sting!) The peacocks loved it, wailing and cawing, “…or simply a shock…”. That’s our town and we love it, don’t we.
The full evening of song was made quite enjoyable due to two persuasive points: Cole Porter’s music is singably well-known and Feinstein sang each number following pretty strict guidelines of melody as composed by Porter.
A youngster stole the show, though. An unusual star emerged during the evening. Sixteen year-old Nick Ziobro, named this year as winner of the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, gave a zippy rendition of “All of Me”, a 1920′s hit song, now a standard. The lanky young man’s bright and youthful personality shone in the number, but his strong (but not yet mature) voice carried the crowd right along with him, which led to a standing ovation.
Ziobro is on a six-city tour with Feinstein as the designated Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador. Oh, don’t we wish that other teenagers would take up the love of this wonderful music.
Toward the end of the program, a second piano was brought onto the stage allowing Hamlisch and Feinstein to be heard together as a duo-piano team. In my view you can forget the “Chopsticks”, but remember the “Tea for Two”. Feinstein completed the evening with Hamlisch at the piano, singing Hamlisch’s tune, “The Way We Were”. Lyricists of the song, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, were acknowledged by Feinstein.