Michael Feinstein -- the renowned singer and pianist who specializes in music from the Great American Songbook -- has been named the new lead conductor of the Pasadena Pops. He will succeed Marvin Hamlisch, who died unexpectedly on Aug. 6.
Feinstein is scheduled to start his new job as principal pops conductor in the 2013 season. He will also have the newly created title of Marvin Hamlisch Chair at the Pasadena Pops.
Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that this will be the first time he will lead an orchestra as conductor.
"It will take an enormous amount of work and study on my part to prepare. It's a delicious challenge and I'll certainly be learning along the way," Feinstein said.
Feinstein appeared with the Pasadena Pops in the final concert conducted by Hamlisch on July 21 at the orchestra's home, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. Feinstein and Hamlisch have performed together a number of times in concerts around the country, often playing across from each other on grand pianos.
Feinstein said the invitation to succeed Hamlisch in Pasadena took him by surprise. "I thought that's not what I do, and others would be better suited for that," he said.
But he accepted the appointment because of his "big emotional investment in the group now" and in the hopes of maintaining the orchestra's rising profile since Hamlisch was named principal pops conductor for the 2011 season.
Feinstein said he is planning to program a diversity of music, including Gershwin, movie scores and pop music from the '70s.
The Pasadena Pops will hold a free tribute concert to Hamlisch on Sept. 22 on the steps of Pasadena's City Hall. The concert, which will begin at 7 p.m., will be conducted by Larry Blank and hosted by actor Jason Alexander.
Blank will also be on the podium Sept. 8 for "Gershwin on the Green," which had been Hamlisch's next scheduled appearance with the Pasadena Pops.
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