Mancini Signals Symphony’s Intent

Times Staff Writer

Composer Henry Mancini will open the 65th season of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra on Sunday as guest conductor of a program signaling the orchestra’s renewed commitment to pop and Hollywood genres.

Mancini, winner of four Academy Awards and 20 Grammys, will conduct a concert featuring such tunes as “Thriller,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” and his own “Baby Elephant Walk.”

Later in the season, John Covelli, interim principal conductor, will conduct three of the season’s six concerts in his second year with the 95-musician symphony.

Covelli, who heads the Binghamton Symphony Orchestra in New York, was introduced last year by Glendale symphony officials as the most promising candidate to replace longtime symphony conductor Carmen Dragon, who died in March, 1984.


However, symphony officials still have not decided whether to offer Covelli the position permanently, said Shirley Seeley, the symphony’s unsalaried administrator.

Joining Mancini and Covelli this season will be guest conductors Lalo Schifrin and Bill Conti, composer of several movie and television show themes.

Ticket sales covered 43% of last year’s budget of $414,000, and corporate and private donations accounted for 38%, said Al Emmons, symphony treasurer.

Already this year, the symphony has sold about 100 tickets more than the same time last year, and the starting annual budget is $35,000 higher, Seeley said.


Founded in 1924, the symphony performs in the 3,213-seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Two of the six concerts this year will feature solo performances by the youngest musicians yet invited to play with the Glendale Symphony Orchestra, she said.

Leila Josefowicz, a 10-year-old violinist from Westlake Village, will perform with Schifrin on Dec. 19. And Su Jin Shin, a 14-year-old harpist also of Westlake Village, will perform Ginastera’s “Concerto for Harp” with Covelli on March 12.

The symphony’s lineup is:

Sunday, Mancini conducts movie songs, rock ‘n’ roll and a collection of his own ballads including “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Moon River.”

Nov. 19, Covelli conducts Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld Overture,” Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, Ravel’s theme music for the movie “Ben Hur” and Lalo’s “Cello Concerto.”

Dec. 19, Schifrin conducts Christmas music, Handel’s “Messiah” and a Christmas carol medley. Also featured are Josefowicz, the Valley Master Chorale/Northridge and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Choir.

March 12, Covelli conducts Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” and Leroy Anderson’s “Irish Suite.” Also featured is Su Jin Shin.


April 15, Covelli conducts and plays the piano. Selections will include Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” Bizet’s “Carmen Suite No. 2" and Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien.”

May 6, Conti conducts his own arrangements of several Rossini overtures and the musical scores he wrote for the movies “Rocky.”