Gardens set to get jazzed up

New Camellia Lounge at Descanso will feature music and cocktails.

May 02, 2010|By Megan O’Neil

Descanso Gardens visitors can anticipate more than just beautiful foliage this summer. Starting June 24, the gardens will host an eight-week jazz music series on its main lawn, while simultaneously launching the Camellia Lounge, a low-key cocktail bar to be housed in the Japanese Full Moon Tea House.

The concert series will serve as a replacement for the Pasadena Pops program, which last year announced plans to relocate to the Rose Bowl after 15 years at Descanso Gardens.

“The idea behind the music program is simple, and that is during the summer months when the days are long and warm, the most beautiful times in the garden are in the evening,” Executive Director David Brown said. “We wanted to open the garden up to be more accessible to people, especially working people and people with children.”


Last summer, Descanso Gardens hosted four jazz concerts in addition to the Pasadena Pops performances, said Lisa Kurstin, manager of education programs at the gardens. Attendees were invited to bring blankets, picnic dinners and wine. The events each drew about 1,000 people, Kurstin said.

Looking to build on that momentum, the gardens will host “The Evolution of American Jazz,” instrumental performances on eight consecutive Thursday nights.

“People seemed to love being out during the twilight and listening to jazz,” Kurstin said. “With the Pops leaving, it seemed the perfect time to expand on something that worked.”

The jazz series will cost less than $20,000 to produce, Kurstin said, a fraction of what the Pasadena Symphony Assn. spent to produce the Pasadena Pops series in Descanso.

The Camellia Lounge will be open through the first week of September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. starting June 24.

“I am looking for more young professionals and empty nesters, the people who have the freedom to go out even during the week,” Kurstin said.

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