Arts & Entertainment

POPS Ends Season With a Stroke of Genius

PETERS-pic for September 10 (Geneva Lewis) (POPS)It’s over.  It’s the final concert of the summer season for the Pasadena Symphony Association’s garden concerts given by the Pasadena POPS and it will be the last time the orchestra will perform at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge before moving to a spot near the Rose Bowl next summer.  The season’s last performance is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept 12.

“Genius Loves Company” is the theme, an attempt to draw together music that is pretty diverse.  The guest artists would seem to fit both the category of genius and the music they will perform is, well, out of the box for sure.

Harry Lennix has been invited to narrate Aaron Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait”.  Lennix starred in “Commander in Chief”, worked alongside Jamie Foxx in the film “Ray” and a bunch more.  His stage work promotes the African American experience in a contemporary way.  Before he hit the big and little screen, Lennix was an English teacher and a music teacher.  No doubt a genius.

Shana Blake Hill is probably the most hard-working soprano around.  She has maintained a full schedule of singing over the past decade.  As her voice has matured, she has wowed the critics in both operatic and orchestral performances. Locally, Hill has sung with the Pasadena Symphony, the Burbank Symphony and many others.

She is unafraid of contemporary music or modern ballads.  This time out, Shana Blake Hill sings “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and a selection from John Corigliano’s Bob Dylan song cycle.  Her genius is her voice.

Aimee Kreston serves as concertmaster for both the Pasadena Symphony and the Pasadena POPS Orchestra.  Her on-stage persona is one of quiet confidence with a glowing sense of humor.  As a violinist, her playing is solid.  A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, she is a top-call violinist for film score works—in fact she has performed on over 100 film soundtracks.  She has distinguished herself as a solo performer and as a violin teacher.  In addition to private students, Kreston serves on the faculties of the Colburn School of Performing Arts and the Henri Mancini Institute at UCLA.  Her recent solo work with the Pasadena Symphony classifies Kreston as a genius player.

Geneva Lewis, appearing with the Pasadena POPS for the first time, can’t be anything but a developing genius.  This 11 year-old is studying with Aimee Kreston and has shown an abundant amount of talent as a violinist.  She will appear with Kreston to perform Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins.  While she will be soloist, other young musicians will set beside the professional members of the orchestra as part of the orchestra’s “Side-by-Side” youth music program.  Lewis is also a ranked tennis player, holding the 2006 end-of-year ranking for girls 10’s of 52.  Her website seems to favor her tennis playing.  The youngster’s ambition is “to be a pro at everything I do.”  She is well on her way.

Rachael Worby, popular conductor of the Pasadena POPS Orchestra will share her genius with her orchestra and guest soloists.

The Pasadena POPS Orchestra performs their last concert of the season, and the last at Descanso Gardens, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12.  Ticket prices range from $20 to $90.  Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge.  Information: (626) 793-7172, ext. 16.

By Bill Peters

September 10, 2009

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