The Golden State Pops Orchestra will kick off their 11th season in spook-tacular fashion on Oct. 19, when the group’s Halloween-themed concert at the Warner Grand continues its yearlong tribute to noted film music record label Varese Sarabande.
Currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, Varese Sarabande has to date released thousands of film scores, soundtracks and original cast recordings, more than 1,100 of which have been produced by Robert Townson, the label’s vice president of soundtracks. Townson will serve as host of the Halloween Gala at the Warner Grand, which will see maestro Steven Allen Fox conduct the GSPO as it performs excerpts of scores from such films as Halloween, Alien and The Omen.
This is not the GSPO’s first collaboration with Townson and Varese Sarabande, as earlier this year, the Warner Grand hosted a sold-out performance commemorating the label’s anniversary that featured such prominent guests as Danny Elfman (The Simpsons, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight). That was just the tip of the iceberg, says Fox. “The largest hurdle that everyone immediately noticed was the enormous catalog of music Varese Sarabande has and that we would never be able to appropriately represent it with one concert,” he explains. “As we began development of our 2013-14 concert season, we realized the answer was to do more than one concert.” (A holiday-themed event will take place in December.)
As of mid-September, five guests beside Townson had been publicly announced for the Oct. 19 concert, including composers Christopher Young (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser) and Nathan Barr (Hostel, True Blood). At least five more guests are in the works, Fox notes. “Many will be conducting music they’ve composed or arranged, while some are performers,” he says.
Fox believes that music is a critical part of setting the mood for Halloween, both on and off the screen. “Think about the two notes from Jaws, the shrieking strings from Psycho or the haunting melody from Halloween,” he says. “Do you feel that shiver down your spine?”
Fox calls working with Townson an honor and privilege, and believes the Halloween Gala will set “a great pace” for the GSPO’s 11th season. “People can expect more iconic special guests from the industry, superb music – some they know, and some they should know – and evenings they will never forget,” he says.
The Golden State Pops Orchestra’s Varese Sarabande 35th Anniversary Halloween Gala takes place at the Warner Grand Theatre (478 W. 6th St.) on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets ($28-$60) are available at GSPO.com.
The Grand Annex kicks off a busy fourth quarter calendar of events on Oct. 5 with a performance by Calé, a group that describes its music as “a spicy blend of Gypsy flamenco and Spanish classical guitar mixed with South American rhythms.”
Anchored by Spanish-born guitarists Jose Priesto and Victor Torres, Calé has been together for nearly a decade, during which they’ve performed live in a wide variety of settings, from weddings and tapas bars to traditional venues like The Grove of Anaheim, where they opened for Kenny G this summer. The Grand Annex concert will mark the group’s first San Pedro performance, although Torres notes that Calé has played nearby shows in both Long Beach (Cafe Sevilla) and Rancho Palos Verdes (Terranea Resort Lounge).
“I really believe our music transcends and translates across all platforms,” he says. “That’s why we have performed in almost every possible scenario throughout the country, with good response.”
For the uninitiated, Torres explains that the flamenco and Spanish classical guitar styles are “very different, yet similarly beautiful. Flamenco is more sentimental and aggressive, so you have to really express your passion, fire and feelings through the guitar or vocals or even dancing. We like to take people to a musical experience where passion, energy and sentiment are mixed together, and they can feel that they are part of it.”