‘It Was 20 Years Ago Today … Sgt. Pepper Taught the Band to Play’
By Terry Miller
The familiar giant concert dome of the California Philharmonic (Cal Phil) will not adorn the infield at Santa Anita this summer. The concerts, which usually start earlier in the summer, have been abruptly cancelled by the board of directors, according to an announcement made Monday afternoon.
“Cal Phil is now consolidating its efforts to concentrate on the remaining scheduled concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall that are still taking place this summer – and will continue to take place in the future.
“Season subscribers who renewed for this summer’s concerts at Santa Anita Race Track are being offered several options, including the opportunity to experience the concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall,” the statement read.
It all started at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in 1996, when Cal Phil Maestro Victor Vener, who is a huge fan of the Beatles, started a Hollywood Bowl type of experience for Arcadia with the splendid musicians of the California Philharmonic. Vener’s creation, combined with special celebrity guests, each year made for a wonderful summer’s evening of entertainment, right here in Arcadia.
Vener turned the community on to The Fab Four – a wonderful Beatles’ tribute band that has established world renown. Another classic band that Vener brought to Arcadia was the wonderful Association (“Windy”).
The popular music, combined with the great classical performances and Vener’s love of educating those of us less-versed in classical music, was truly a mid-summer night’s treat, especially at the beautiful Arboretum.
Then, suddenly, something went wrong with the agreement with the Arboretum (County of Los Angeles) and Pasadena Pops managed to help evict Cal Phil from the place they called home for so many summers. There were protests about the coup, but ultimately Pasadena Pops won.
There was mass speculation that it might be the beginning of the end for the sold-out shows Cal Phil put on in San Gabriel Valley.
Then suddenly, with a little help from his friends at Santa Anita (like Pete Siberell), Cal Phil was about to venture into uncharted waters at Santa Anita Park’s Infield.
The project was a huge challenge and change for Cal Phil but they did it … The Great Race Place became the “Great Concert Place” for the past few years.
While it is sad to see the outdoor concerts go, it is nice to know that Cal Phil still has concerts at the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.calphil.com.
Tickets for Walt Disney Concert Hall are available for purchase through Ticketmaster (Tickemaster.com) or by calling (800) 745-3000.