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Conductor Offers a Universal Feast at Picnic Concert

August 19, 1993|ANNE LOUISE BANNON

While you're putting together your picnic feast for Saturday night's finale in the Pasadena Pops Orchestra's 1993 Summer Picnic Series at the Rose Bowl, you might consider that Victor Vener, the conductor and music director, has been putting the concert together in much the same way.

When asked how he decides which pieces to include, he said:

"That's like asking a chef how it comes together. Music has meaning, but it isn't verbally describable. It might be easiest to describe it as a feast."

So when Vener put together Saturday's "Brief Tour of the Universe," he went through a variety of music with space or planet themes, putting the titles on 3- by 5-inch cards and laying them out.

"I'll pull the cards back and forth and shuffle them," he said. "It's a lot of conceptualization. It starts with intelligence and education, then intuition, and is refined with perspiration."

The selections on this musical caterer's menu are the Jupiter and Mars sequences from Holst's "The Planets," "Hymn to the Sun" by Rimsky-Korsakov, music from "Star Wars," "Also Schpracht Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss (better known as the theme to the movie "2001--A Space Odyssey"), plus a few surprises, and ending with the stirring finale from Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D Major.

"A lot of times when you hit an emotional peak (in the music), you have to let people cool off," Vener said. "You can't put three entrees back to back. You serve a soup, or a salad, between to clear the palate. That's how you prepare a fancy dinner, and that's how you prepare a fancy concert."

Gates to the Rose Bowl's Courtyard of Champions, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, will open at 5:30 p.m. Vener will lift his baton at 7:30 p.m. Castle Catering has picnic dinners available for $15 if you don't want to prepare one yourself. Concert tickets, ranging from $10 to $35, can be obtained by calling (818) 792-7677, or through TicketMaster.

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