The Valley Line: She’s ‘all-a-thrill’ following Pasadena Pops Gerswhin concert, partial eclipse experiences

On the night of Saturday, Aug. 19, thousands of music lovers gathered at the Arboretum in Arcadia for a concert by the Pasadena Pops orchestra, led by conductor Michael Feinstein.

The evening’s program was a tribute to George and Ira Gershwin and their collaborative song, “‘S’Wonderful.”

Feinstein, a Gershwin scholar, worked for many years with Ira cataloging and preserving the unpublished sheet music and rare recordings in the lyricist’s collection.

Throughout the evening Feinstein generously seasoned the dinnertime concert with amusing stories about the Gershwin brothers and their family.

Vocalists for the evening were spectacular: Jordan Donica, who is appearing in the roles of the Marquise de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the national tour of the musical “Hamilton” now showing at the Pantages, and Rachel York, who often appears with Feinstein and is an accomplished actress in film and TV. She was outstanding in her sultry rendition of the Gershwins’ song, “The Man I Love.”

I was happy to see La Cañada Flintridge resident Jim Thatcher, principal French horn player for the Pops. He is such a fine musician and wonderful man that I did a feature story on him several years ago.

While at the concert I saw and had a chat with audience members and La Cañadans Wendy and Phil Wyatt and caught a glimpse of Annsley Strong. In the crowd it is hard to find our local folks but this is truly a favorite summer season event for our valleyites.

The last concert of the Pasadena Pops summer season is scheduled for Sept. 9 and will feature film music from Universal Studios favorites.

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The partial solar eclipse we experienced here on Aug. 21 was mesmerizing on so many levels that I continue thinking about it.

It may sound silly, but that Monday morning I pulled up a chair in my driveway, put on my special glasses (playfully patterned with bright yellow flames around the edges) and caught every nuance of the spectacular celestial show.

It was fascinating to watch the light fade until it looked like it was almost seven o’clock in the evening. The morning birds that usually are all atwitter with their songs grew silent.

My dog Lola was looking at me like I had forgotten to feed her, since it was darkish outside.

I invited several of my neighbors who didn’t have the eclipse glasses to come take a look through mine. In all cases, there was always an intake of breath from them as they put the glasses on, followed by them saying, “Wow!”

I tried to take a photograph with both my phone and my big Nikon, but my attempts were not up to NASA standards.

What really excited me was that a large portion of the people in our nation had bonded together to share in this experience.

It was so amazing!

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at jnvalleysun@aol.com with news of your special event.

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