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Michael Feinstein Renews Contract with Pasadena POPS

Artists and programs for upcoming POPS Season announced including a second installment of Feinstein’s Sinatra Project, Cady Huffman, Lynn Roberts, Michael Cavanaugh’s Music of Billy Joel and more at the Los Angeles Arboretum

Published on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 | 1:54 pm
Michael Feinstein. Photo credit Zach Dobson

Pasadena Symphony and POPS Board Chair Kay Kochenderfer Toomey and Chief Executive Officer Lora Unger are proud to announce a contract extension for Michael Feinstein through the 2019 season. His original contract as Principal Pops Conductor commenced in June 2013 for a one-year term and was immediately extended in July 2013 to run through the 2016 season after his critically acclaimed conducting debut with the Pasadena POPS.

“Under Michael Feinstein’s direction, the Pasadena POPS is now the preeminent symphonic voice of the Great American Songbook,” commented Chief Executive Officer Lora Unger. “The orchestra is performing to audiences who treasure this unique concert experience that can’t be found anywhere else – the music is universally popular to every generation. We are all so thrilled and proud to have such a wonderful artistic partner in Michael Feinstein.”

Feinstein sees his role as playing an integral part in ensuring this brand of music remains relevant for generations to come. “Since my conducting debut with the POPS in 2013, my love for preserving music significant to me has grown in depth and intensity now that I can bring these collections to life as a conductor with my colleagues, the talented musicians of the Pasadena POPS, our committed board and strong administrative leadership. As I look to the future of the Pasadena POPS, I am so deeply proud and honored to build something truly important here and to see the enthusiastic response from this community. The joy our music brings to audiences of all ages makes me so excited for the future of symphony orchestras and the Great American Songbook.”

Donald Foster, Principal Clarinetist stated, “We are so lucky to have Michael continue to be at the helm of the POPS family. His wide-ranging appeal and reputation allow him to invite many of the greatest living talents to share the stage with us. Michael makes it his mission to scavenge to find “the real stuff”- the arrangements and charts that made the Great American songbook what it is and was. I can speak for many of us in the orchestra when I say that we are humbled to be playing these classic arrangements and charts that many of our mentors and teachers originally recorded and premiered. It is Michael’s passion for keeping this music alive that will surely be his legacy, and we are indeed proud to be a part of keeping that passion a reality.”

The 2016 Sierra Auto Summer Concert Series is jam-packed with vibrant talent spanning the ages, from the red-hot season opener on June 18 with First Ladies of Song, paying tribute to the music of Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee among others, to a night of sing-along favorites with the Music of Billy Joel on July 9. Michael returns to sing the best of Ol’ Blue Eyes for the Sinatra Project Vol. 2 on July 30, and gives you a backstage pass into the world of one of the greats with Cole Porter Night on August 20. In typical Feinstein fashion, he’s planned a spectacular season closer on September 10 with a salute to the movie magic of Warner Bros. Don’t miss the best outdoor dinner party in town with these five concerts sure to make your summer sizzle.

June 18, 2016
First Ladies of Song: Music From Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney & Peggy Lee
Get sentimental and reminisce under the stars as Feinstein delivers jewels from these iconic women’s songbooks with “Big Spender,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” and so much more.

July 9, 2016
Music of Billy Joel
Hand-picked by Billy Joel himself for the lead role in the Broadway musical Movin’ Out, singer and pianist Michael Cavanaugh’s distinctive flair has earned him both GRAMMY® and Tony Award nominations. Experience “Piano Man,” “Uptown Girl,” “We didn’t Start the Fire,” “New York State of Mind” and other hit songs, by the artist Billboard called “the new voice of the American Rock and Roll songbook,” for a night of sing-along favorites with your Pasadena POPS!

July 30, 2016
Sinatra Project Volume 2
On the heels of last summer’s sold out hit concert, Michael Feinstein brings the latest installment of his Grammy-nominated Sinatra Project back to the Arboretum by popular demand. Hear many more of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ biggest hits and maybe a few you’ve never heard before, as only the Ambassador of the Great American Songbook can deliver.

“Practically no one nowadays sings ballads like these with the conviction that Mr. Feinstein, the premier pop archivist of our time, brings to them” – New York Times

August 20, 2016
Cole Porter Night
Smart and sophisticated but with a naughty boy’s streak for mischief, Cole Porter is in that rare echelon of songwriters who wrote both words and music. Experience a backstage pass, up close and personal as Michael Feinstein brings you into Cole Porter’s world through beloved songs including “Begin the Beguine,” “It’s De Lovely,” “Just One of Those Things,” “So In Love,” “I Love Paris” and more. Humming along is most definitely encouraged!

September 10, 2016
A Salute to Warner Bros.
Feinstein closes the summer with the POPS’ annual movie night, paying tribute to the music inspired by the movie magic of Warner Bros. Hear your favorites from silver screen blockbusters “The Music Man” and “Gypsy”, as well as much-loved standards “Hooray for Hollywood”, “As Time Goes By” and many more. In typical Feinstein fashion, this spectacular season finale will be filled with unexpected surprises in an evening you won’t want to miss.

All concerts are held at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Grounds open for picnicking and dining at 5:30 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Don’t miss the best outdoor dinner party in town with spacious circular table seating with fine linens, or lawn seating for those who want to bring a blanket – each option carries on the tradition of picnic-dining with your family and friends with Michael Feinstein and Pasadena’s premier POPS orchestra! Among many venue amenities, concert goers can enjoy pre-ordered gourmet dining packages for on-site pickup just steps from their table from Julienne, Marston’s and Claud & Co. The food court hosts mouth-watering food trucks plus specialty ice creams by Choctál, and the venue now offers the convenience of two full beverage centers serving fine wines, beer, coffee and soft drinks.

Audiences get the ultimate outdoor concert experience with large LED video screens to see the artists and orchestra up close, superior sound and the high-quality production value that is a signature of the Pasadena POPS. Patrons may also visit the Pasadena Humane Society’s Mobile Adoption Unit, which will be on-site prior to each concert with deserving animals in need of a forever home as part of the Pups for POPS program. For those who want to make a night of it, exclusive hotel packages are available for POPS patrons at Pasadena’s landmark Hotel Constance.

The Arboretum is located at 301 North Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA. Subscribers may pre-purchase parking on-site at the Arboretum, and all concertgoers enjoy free parking at the adjacent Westfield Santa Anita shopping center with complimentary non-stop shuttle service to the Arboretum’s main entrance.

Single tickets start at $25. Season subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale, and are available by calling the box office at (626)-793-7172, online at or at the Arboretum on the day of the concerts.

2016 Sierra Auto Summer Concert Series Calendar

June 18, 2016
First Ladies of Song
Michael Feinstein, Principal Pops Conductor
Tom & Erika Girardi Chair

Cady Huffman, soloist
Lynn Roberts, soloist
Madelyn Baillio, soloist

July 9, 2016
Music of Billy Joel
Michael Cavanaugh, soloist
Larry Blank, conductor

July 30, 2016
Sinatra Project Volume 2
Michael Feinstein, soloist
Larry Blank, conductor

August 20, 2016
Cole Porter Night
Michael Feinstein, Principal Pops Conductor
Tom & Erika Girardi Chair

Catherine Russell, soloist
Nick Ziobro, soloist

September 10, 2016
A Salute to Warner Bros.
Michael Feinstein, Principal Pops Conductor
Tom & Erika Girardi Chair

Allyson Briggs, soloist
Todd Murray, soloist

About the Pasadena Symphony Association

Recent Acclaim for the Pasadena Symphony and POPS

“The Pasadena Symphony signals a new direction…teeming with vitality…dripping with opulent, sexy emotion.” Los Angeles Times.

“…full of pulsating energy from first note to last… the strings were lushly resonant, the wind principals were at the top of their games, and the brass rang out with gleaming vigor.” – Pasadena Star News.

Formed in 1928, the Pasadena Symphony and POPS is an ensemble of Hollywood’s most talented, sought after musicians. With extensive credits in the film, television, recording and orchestral industry, the artists of Pasadena Symphony and POPS are the most heard in the world.

The Pasadena Symphony and POPS performs in two of the most extraordinary venues in the United States: Ambassador Auditorium, known as the Carnegie Hall of the West, and the luxuriant Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Internationally recognized, Grammy-nominated conductor, David Lockington, serves as the Pasadena Symphony Association’s Music Director, with performance-practice specialist Nicholas McGegan serving as Principal Guest Conductor. The multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” Michael Feinstein, is the Principal Pops Conductor, who succeeded Marvin Hamlisch.

A hallmark of its robust education programs, the Pasadena Symphony Association has served the youth of the region for over five decades through the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras (PYSO) comprised of five performing ensembles, with over 250 gifted 4th-12th grade students from more than 50 schools all over the Southern California region. The PYSO Symphony often performs on the popular television show GLEE.

The PSA provides people from all walks of life with powerful access points to the world of symphonic music.

About Michael Feinstein

Michael Feinstein has built a dazzling career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American songbook to the world. From recordings that have earned him five Grammy Award nominations to his Emmy nominated PBS-TV specials, his acclaimed NPR series and concerts spanning the globe – in addition to his appearances at iconic venues such as The White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House – his work as an educator and archivist define Feinstein as one of the most important musical forces of our time.

In 2007, he founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Songbook Academy. This summer intensive open to students from across the country has produced graduates who have gone on to record acclaimed albums and appear on television programs such as NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

The most recent album from his multi-platinum recording career is A Michael Feinstein Christmas from Concord Records. The CD features Grammy Award -winning jazz pianist Alan Broadbent (Paul McCartney, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole). Feinstein earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. He released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with “Glee” and “30 Rock” star Cheyenne Jackson – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. For Feinstein’s CD We Dreamed These Days, he co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.

His Emmy Award-nominated TV special Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook,” the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award, was broadcast for three seasons and is available on DVD. His most recent primetime PBS-TV Special, “New Year’s Eve at The Rainbow Room” – written and directed by “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry – aired in 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program “Song Travels,” Michael interviews and performs alongside of music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.

Feinstein was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena Symphony in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. Under Feinstein’s leadership, the Pasadena Pops has quickly become a premier orchestral presenter of the Great American Songbook with definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. He launched an additional Pops series at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida in 2014.

Michael’s book The Gershwins and Me – the Los Angeles Times best-seller from Simon & Schuster – features a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano.

Feinstein serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director for Carnegie Hall’s “Standard Time with Michael Feinstein” in conjunction with ASCAP. In 2010 he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Michael’s nightclub at San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz since 2013. He debuted at Feinstein’s/54 Below, his new club in New York, late in 2015. His first venue in New York, Feinstein’s at the Regency, featured major entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming from 1999 to 2012.

He has designed a new piano for Steinway called “The First Ladies,” inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.

In 2013 Michael released Change Of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn in collaboration with four time Oscar and eleven time Grammy Award-winning composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn. The album celebrates Previn’s pop songs and motion picture classics. Earlier album highlights include Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of classics by Michael’s late friend Harry Warren, recording with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. His album with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb, Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb, was named one of “10 Best CDs of the Year” by USA Today.

Feinstein received his fourth Grammy nomination for Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously-unreleased tracks.

Michael was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.

Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.

Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill and Marshall Barer), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.

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