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Pops rocks the house

New conductor and orchestra make a huge impression at debut concert. Stay tuned for the rest of the season with a mix of free and paid events.

May 20, 2011|By Joyce Rudolph, joyce.rudolph@latimes.com

At last, Glendale has a pops orchestra with a tenured music director/conductor who can pull top names to headline concerts. And he sings beautifully too!

Matt Catingub and the Glendale Pops Orchestra had their debut concert “The Premiere” on May 13 at the Alex Theatre. It was a chance to introduce the audience to the maestro and his musicians as well as showcase some of the guest talent on tap for the first season, which will be a mix of free concerts at the Americana at Brand and paid shows at the Alex.

The news is spreading fast because just under 1,000 people flocked to the 1,400-seat venue.

The excitement generated by the conductor, orchestra and special guests Kenny Loggins, David Benoit and Monica Mancini was nothing short of electrifying and possibly the best show this reporter has seen to date at the Alex.

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Catingub led the orchestra in “One Mint Julep” and “The Journey” before stepping into the spotlight and playing piano in “Girl from Ipanema” followed by “Don’t Be That Way/Stompin’ at the Savoy” and “Take the A Train” with the conductor alternating between vocals and saxophone. Not only are his musical abilities terrific but his stage demeanor is upbeat and his smile infectious. Those who love to dance said after the concert that it was all they could do to stay in their seats. Many rocked back and forth in their chairs anyway.

David Benoit, the first guest artist, stole everyone’s heart playing the familiar piece “Linus & Lucy” from the Peanuts animated TV specials. The man’s hands flew over the keys with such precision it was just amazing. He’ll be returning to the Alex for the Glendale Pops “HolidayPop!” concert on Dec. 9.

Monica Mancini changed the mood to mellow with her renditions of “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “It Had Better Be Tonight.” Mancini will be the special guest along with popular smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz during the orchestra’s May 11 concert titled “Summer Night Swing” at the Alex Theatre.

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