Nobody did it better
Oscar-winning composer and Pasadena POPS Conductor Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68
By Carl Kozlowski 08/09/2012
Members of Pasadena’s musical community expressed shock and sadness Tuesday over the sudden death of Oscar-winning composer and Pasadena POPS Conductor Marvin Hamlisch, who died at his Los Angeles home Monday after what was described only as a brief illness. Hamlisch was 68.
“He was really, truly the George Gershwin of today and left an amazing mark on music,” said Paul Jan Zdanek, CEO of the Pasadena Symphony Association. “You often get Hollywood hype out here, but he was the real deal. It’s a tremendous loss, not only for us, but for music in this country.”
During a career that spanned more than four decades, Hamlisch came to be regarded as one of the nation’s greatest composers, penning scores for such award-winning films as “The Sting” and “The Way We Were,” as well as the Broadway hit “A Chorus Line.”
According to The Associated Press, Hamlisch was among only 11 people to win all four top entertainment awards — the Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy.
Hamlisch was also one of America’s most beloved POPS conductors, taking the baton for orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Seattle and San Diego, in addition to Pasadena, at the time of his death.
His arrival in Pasadena last year came amid a great deal of change for both the POPS and the California Philharmonic Orchestra (CalPhil), as the POPS gained the right to play at the CalPhil’s longtime summer home at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, forcing CalPhil to move its “Festival on the Green” series of concerts to Santa Anita Park, across the street from the Arboretum.
Hamlisch who, according to the Pasadena Star-News, recently struck a two-year contract with an option for a third as principal conductor of the Pasadena POPS, was currently in the middle of his second season with the orchestra, a fact that left the ensemble shaken but unbowed.
“Everything remains, and we’re not canceling anything,” said Zdanek. “We’re still reeling, of course, from the news and will go into planning mode shortly, but we’re not canceling.”
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, CalPhil Maestro Victor Vener offered his condolences on behalf of his orchestra.
“I, along with millions of people around the world, am shocked and saddened by the news of the untimely passing yesterday of the highly respected and decorated Marvin Hamlisch,” said Vener. “It is tragic, and we at CalPhil are grieving the loss of the remarkable and talented composer who left an indelible mark on the industry. But more than that, in the lives of everyone, everywhere, who experienced the power and brilliance of his music and lyrics over the decades. Marvin undeniably leaves a legacy that will forever live through his music and in our hearts.”
At the time of his death, Hamlisch was in the process of creating music for both the upcoming stage show “Gotta Dance” and for a Steven Soderbergh-directed biopic about Liberace called “Behind the Candelabra.”