At this time of the year I'm usually complaining about the heat and how we are experiencing the dog days of summer. However, capricious Mother Nature has decided she was bored with the same old fare and is giving us what is up to now one of the coolest beginnings of August on record. Last week I was looking for my fuzzy slippers and this week I was donning a sweater in the early morning because I was shivering!
I have been listening to the weather people patter on and on about how disappointing it is that summer hasn't arrived in Los Angeles yet. Yep, I've been liking things just the way they are. I just hope that those dog days don't hit us in September and October.
Recently it seems that music, music and more music is what it is all about in and around our community.
On Sunday evening folks were dancing an Irish jig at Memorial Park with lively Celtic music. Although not as crowded as other Sundays, it was a delightful evening of traditional music from Ireland performed by the musical group "Wake the Bard." When I closed my eyes, it sounded like I was back in a pub in Dingle — all I needed was a pint of Guinness.
It was clear that many people have figured out what to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon before evening events like Music in the Park get started — they go to see Victor Vener conduct the Cal Phil Orchestra at Disney Concert Hall.
Attending a concert at Disney Hall is always exciting for me. I've visited a lot of concert halls all over the world. Each has its own architectural style, but Disney Hall is so beautiful that it never fails to thrill me. The best is right here in our own backyard — hmm, or is it our front yard.
It was a packed concert hall Sunday when the Cal Phil presented their program "Frank, Tony & the Maestro." Singing the music that these two men made famous were baritones Kevin Early and Michael B. Levin — both were "on top of their musical game." The audience loved hearing the classic songs, such as "A Summer Wind," "Luck be a Lady Tonight," "As Time Goes By" and other faves.
The show stopper came when renowned violin virtuoso Daniel Shindarov was featured on Saint-Saens "Introduction and Rondo Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 28."
What an amazing violinist he is, and the best part of all is that he is 86 years old. With his silver-white hair and almost military-like posture, he absolutely takes command of the stage by his physical presence. Then, when he touches bow to strings, the magic happens. He is a breathtaking performer. A special treat for everyone was the violin that he was playing. This precious instrument, known as "del Gesu," was made in 1742 by Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu in Cremona, Italy.
Dr. William Sloan, who owns the violin, was in the audience, and maestro Vener introduced him. After Shindarov's performance, Sloan was quick to rise from his chair, as was the rest of the audience, to give the musician a well-deserved standing ovation.
The diverse program ended with Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations, Op. 36," which is in essence a tribute to this great English composer's wife and friends. Elgar dedicated the piece to "My friends pictured within," each of the 14 variations being an affectionate portrayal of one of his circle of close acquaintances.
This same program was also performed Saturday night at Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia in their summer series called "Festival on the Green."
Another totally different music vibe was experienced by several of the La Cañada Junior Woman's Club members at the Hollywood Bowl when the classic movie "Grease" was shown.
Yes indeed, "Grease" was the word when several club members took the Hollywood Bowl's Pasadena shuttle to the historic venue, where they took a trip down memory lane for the "Grease Sing-A-Long."
They spread their blankets out on the pathway up to the Bowl so they could see all the action as people arrived for the concert. Melissa Mazin, newly installed president of the club, said it didn't matter if concert-goers were young or old; many of them were dressed for the occasion in their poodle skirts, white T-shirts with leather jackets and duck-tailed hair. She mentioned that there was a little girl and several of her friends dressed like the Pink Flamingos. "They were really cute," she said.
These Juniors really know how to party, and their bulging picnic baskets were filled with every imaginable hors d'oeuvre, summer cocktail, wine varieties and scrumptious desserts. Tina Daly, the club's publicity chairman, said that it was definitely a gourmet a-go-go for their group of avid "Grease" groupies.
Upon entry to the Bowl, each audience member received a goodie bag of items to use during the show that included pom-poms and bubbles.
Melissa said that although the movie's soundtrack was subtitled on the large screen, it seemed that no one was at a loss for the words of those well-loved songs because they knew them by heart.
Some of the Junior Club members attending that evening were Jane Owen, Chizuko Petersen, Maria Lee, Melissa Mazin, Stephanie Wiley, Kris Mueller, Lisa Doan, Katrina Harbers, Cindi Carter, Kristie Baker and Cheryl Trowbridge.
On their way home that night, most Juniors in attendance were reminiscing about singing to the "Grease" album over and over again on their turntable in 1978 when the movie first came out. Who knew then that it would spawn an entire cult of followers?
I remember this movie well, for my kids, Chris and Heather, absolutely insisted that I see the movie, and they also insisted that they go to the movie with me!
So as you can see, it is all about the music around here. Next week there will be more music at LCF's Memorial Park when Brian Lynn Jones and the Misfit Cowboys come to serenade us country-style. And, for many LCF folks, they will be attending the Pasadena POPS next Saturday night for its "All That Jazz" concert.