One of San Diego's favorite guest pops maestros, Newton Wayland, will again lead the San Diego Pops this weekend. The affable Wayland, resident pops conductor of the Oakland Symphony and former arranger and keyboard player for the late Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, will preside over a potpourri of Big Band arrangements.
Wayland will conduct a nostalgic journey re-creating the music made famous by such historic bandleaders as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and Chuck Mangione.
Wayland, who brought two similar programs to last season's pops programming, likes San Diego's laid-back approach to summer music-making. "Here in San Diego, the major thing is ambiance. To hear the music near the water--like Vienna--it's very special. You don't get concert hall acoustics, but you have the stars above, and you can drink a glass of wine and talk to your neighbor. There's a looser atmosphere."
Coming from a high-brow musical background, Wayland has embraced the pops milieu wholeheartedly. A native of Santa Barbara, Wayland attended both Harvard and Boston's prestigious New England Conservatory of Music, where he picked up a master's degree in chamber music. After a stint as music director for several children's shows on Public Broadcasting, Wayland graduated to arranging music for off-Broadway shows and working for the celebrated Boston Pops Orchestra.
And how does our local spin-off of that august institution compare with the original? "Arthur Fiedler would never have done a complete program of Big Band music," said Wayland. "And he wouldn't turn around to talk to the audience. San Diego is an entirely different city. It's not so stuffy. Here, maybe you don't get as classical, but it's more my style."
When he's not on the podium, Wayland wears his composer's hat with equal enthusiasm. Among his works for television, film, theater are the music for "Nova," "Catch a Rainbow," and "Including Me."
The "Big Bands with Newton Wayland" show will play each night at 7:30 p.m. on Mission Bay's Hospitality Point through Sunday.