Passing the baton
Acclaimed entertainer Michael Feinstein will succeed the late Marvin Hamlisch as Pasadena POPS conductor
By Carl Kozlowski 08/23/2012
Moving forward following the sudden death of Principal Conductor Marvin Hamlisch on Aug. 6, the Pasadena POPS has named award-winning entertainer Michael Feinstein as his successor. Feinstein will take over the baton for the orchestra’s 2013 season.
The selection of Feinstein, who has been nominated for five Grammys and two Emmys in his multiplatinum-selling career, marks an impressive response to a tragic situation. Known as “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” the musician is widely regarded as an accomplished archivist and television and radio host, due to his nationally broadcast series on PBS and NPR.
POPS officials claimed their attendance had grown by 20 percent per show this season, due to Hamlisch’s extreme popularity, but CEO Paul Jan Zdunek notes that Feinstein’s presence should keep that growth continuing.
“It’s so difficult to replace Marvin Hamlisch, because he was an irreplaceable entertainer and a person with a wonderful unique personality,” said Zdunek, also noting that the POPS will honor the late conductor through the establishment of the Marvin Hamlisch Chair, an operating fund that will support Hamlisch’s legacy and the unique programming he developed for the Pasadena POPS.
“Michael Feinstein was the only one to continue Marvin’s legacy, considering his work performing the Great American Songbook and his preservation work with the Library of Congress, working so the music lasts for future generations,” Zdunek said.
“[Hamlisch and Feinstein] had worked together many times, including at Marvin’s last show conducting the POPS on July 21,” the CEO continued. “So a seamless transition can be made.”