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Victor Vener, 1945-2023

Published on Monday, January 8, 2024 | 5:00 am

Maestro Victor Vener, founder of the California Philharmonic died on Dec. 31, Pasadena Now has learned. 

“It is with deepest sympathy that we inform you of the death of our beloved father, grandfather and friend,” an email to friends read. 

Vener founded the California Philharmonic in 1996. His vision was to create a world-class orchestra that would perform the most beloved classical music alongside the greatest popular music of our time.

Vener made significant contributions to presenting classical music in the Pasadena area. Unlike the formal decorum of other orchestras in the area, Vener engaged with audiences during California Philharmonic performances.

He would often turn to his audience and tell them anecdotes about certain classical pieces and their composers. Many in the audience felt a personal connection to Vener they seemed to cherish.

Even wearing the formal white tie and tails attire of the conductor, Vener came across as a very approachable professorial figure who loved music.

Many in the audience came to the California Philharmonic’s performances as much to hear the beautiful music as to hear Vener’s comments and sometimes rambling but always fascinating monologues.

Vener earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from USC. 

Vener was widely decorated.

He was awarded the Fromm Fellowship to Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony, the Gold Medal of Special Merit from Vienna, commendations by the U.S. Congress, California’s State Senate and Assembly and the County of Los Angeles.

Vener was awarded the California Arts Council’s Artist in Residence Grant three times. He also received the Pasadena Arts Council’s coveted Gold Crown Award. 

“I am truly saddened to hear about the passing of Maestro Victor Vener, he will be missed.  Maestro was a remarkable, visionary, individual who not only brought beautiful music to Pasadena and beyond, but educated and enlightened his audiences while doing so,” said Mayor Victor Gordo. “We are grateful for the love of music he shared with so many, especially our youngest.  My family and I send our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all who loved him, during this difficult time.”

The editorial staff of Pasadena Now offers its condolences to the Vener family and joins the City in mourning the loss of a local musical giant.

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