Tuesday, May 21, 2013

“Destination . . . Chorale Bel Canto”
            By Linda de Vries

Horse Racing Fans to Pasadena!
Boy Scouts to Pasadena!

Well, Arcadia, to be precise.

On June 1, 2013 Chorale Bel Canto is singing an All Beethoven concert at First United Methodist Church Pasadena.

In these posts we try to uncover unusual connections between the music we are singing and a day trip to the city in which we are performing. In this post we offer a fourth day trip to Pasadena with unusual tie-ins to the composer Beethoven, with the Chorale concert as the center of the experience.

Our focus this time is horses, horse racing, and the beautiful Santa Anita Park, a thoroughbred racetrack in Arcadia. With its backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains and build in the Art Deco style, it is considered one of the world’s most beautiful tracks. It is located at 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007, 626-574-7223.

The land was originally part of Rancho Santa Anita, owned origianlly by former San Gabriel Mission Mayor-domo, Claudio Lopez. Later, the gold prospector Lucky Baldwin purchased the property and founded a racetrack near the present site in 1904. It burned down in 1912. In 1933 California legalized parimutuel betting and movie producer Hal Roach and San Francisco’s Dr. Charles H. “Doc” Strub and his investors joined to found the Los Angeles Turf Club, and the Santa Anita track opened on Christmas Day in 1934.
Owing to its proximity to Los Angeles, Santa Anita has traditionally been associated with the film and television industries. The racetrack sequences in the Marx Brothers 1937 classic A Day at the Races was filmed there, as was The Story of Seabiscuit with Shirley Temple in 1949. Several stars, including Big Crosby, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, Alex Trebek, and Louis B. Mayer owned horses that raced at the park. The park also attraced stars Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Edgar Bergen, Jane Russell, Cary Grant, and Esther Williams.
From 1942 to 1944, Santa Anita was used as a Japanese American internment camp, with up to 17,000 people living in horse stables, including then-unknown actor George Takei.
And what is the tie to Beethoven?

Why, the famous racing stallion, of course. Beethoven, a bay colt, was bred in Kentucky and born in 2006 at Deerbrook Racing, Inc. He was sired by Sky Mesa and his dam was Moonlight Sonata, thus his name. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, is one of the composer’s most popular works for the piano. Beethoven the horse has raced at Santa Anita in the Breeder’s Cup. He is now at stud in Saudi Arabia.

Yet another unusual Beethoven connection!
Although not a thoroughbred racer, another famous horse is Pasadena Beethoven (known as “Buzz”), a Welsh Pony, Section A (the mountain pony). The breed originated in Wales, and its ancestors existed in the British Isles before the arrival of the Romans, but Pasadena Beethoven was bred and lives in Australia. These ponies are known for their good temperament, hardiness, and free-moving gates.The Welsh also crosses well with other breeds--Arabians to produce riding horses, Thoroughbreds to produce jumpers, hunters, and eventers.
What can you do at Santa Anita Park in June? Dine.

You can begin your day with breakfast at Clocker’s Corner, an insider tradition during racing season. It is open year round for breakfast every day until 10:00 a.m. and parking and admission are free. In future, if you are there during racing season and are planning to take the Seabiscuit tram tour, go early and eat first. 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia, CA 91007, 626-574-7223. Note that it does not take reservations and does not accept credit cards.

If you spend your day in Pasadena elsewhere, you might have lunch or dinner at The Frontrunner Restaurant, which provides casual elegance in dining throughout the year, with special menus for each season. It boats that its “215 foot-long bar is one of the longest anywhere and has a beer, wine and cocktail menu equal to its style.” For Frontrunner reservations, call 626-574-1035.

On June 1, 2013 you may choose to attend the Boy Scouts’ Exposition on the Santa Anita Racetrack Infield from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. sgvcbsa.org

If you’re a real Beethoven fan, later in the summer you may attend Festival on the Green concerts held on the Santa Anita infield and performed by the California Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Victor Vener. On Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. they will play “Beatles and Beethoven.”

We don’t know the details of the program, but perhaps they will include, in an irreverent vein, Chuck Berry’s song, “Roll Over Beethoven,” his call for rhythm-and-blues to replace classical music, a song later covered by the Beatles first on With the Beatles, then on The Beatles’ Second Album. One of the most widely covered songs in popular music, it has also been recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, ELO, The Rolling Stones, and The Byrds.

Whatever your day in Pasadena, at 4:00 p.m. come to the Chorale Bel Canto concert.


All Beethoven

Choral Fantasy for piano, soloists, chorus, and orchestra
Mass in C for soloists, chorus and orchestra


Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.

First United Methodist Church Pasadena
500 E. Colorado Blvd. (at Oakland Ave.)
Pasadena, CA 91101 u 626-796-0157
Chorale Bel Canto 888-460-9222 u info@choralebelcanto.org

Following the concert you might wish to participate in other FREE musical events in Make Music Pasadena, celebrating World Music Weekend.

Or, in keeping with Beethoven’s Germano-Austrian heritage, you might want to have dinner at either the Dog Haus Biergarten, 93 E. Green Street, Pasadena, 626-683-0808. In April the Dog Haus honored John Galardi, the founder of the Wienerschnizel chain, after his death from cancer. Galardi started his career working with Taco Bell founder Glen Bell in Pasadena before founding his first Wienerschnizel in Wilmington.

Another choice for dinner might be Congregation Ale House, 300 S Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626-578-0166. Also a gastropub in the German tradition, its religious theme and Happy Hour “Mass” provide a new twist on the musical experience of our Beethoven concert.

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