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Originally published Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Next for Hamlisch: Seattle Symphony pops series

He plays, he composes, he conducts — and he travels. Marvin Hamlisch, the multiaward-winning new principal pops conductor of the Seattle...

Seattle Times music critic

He plays, he composes, he conducts — and he travels. Marvin Hamlisch, the multiaward-winning new principal pops conductor of the Seattle Symphony, holds similar posts at the National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and San Diego Symphony. But Hamlisch, who takes up the baton next week in Benaroya Hall, says he isn't as frantically busy as all those job titles might suggest.

"I'm only in each city as head of the orchestra a few times a year. I take a program [such as the upcoming Richard Rodgers/Irving Berlin one in Seattle] to several cities, working with the orchestras to make it better each time," Hamlisch explained in a recent phone conversation between plane flights.

"I don't actually live in all these different places."

The 2008 Seattle Pops series here, announced earlier this month, will keep Hamlisch in Seattle for three of the five 2008-09 programs (each program is repeated five times). Hamlisch already is in talks with executive director Tom Philion and music director Gerard Schwarz about future Seattle Symphony pops programming: "I have a lot of ideas, and I want to see what will really work best in Seattle."

While there are no immediate plans for expanding the series, early indications are that there might possibly be some tweaking of the existing format, which has each program's performances stacked up pretty tightly. Next week, for example, the 7:30 p.m. Thursday opener will be followed by an 8 p.m. concert Friday, a 2 p.m./8 p.m. pair on Saturday and a 2 p.m. concert on Sunday.

"Some guest artists don't like to do five concerts over that short a time span," explains Hamlisch.

With all his projects, Hamlisch — the composer of the ultra-popular musical "A Chorus Line" — still tries to find time for his own composing. This summer he has set aside a block of time to work on a new film score.

"This is what I really love," Hamlisch says, "the music of Broadway, the movies, the whole great pops repertoire. I call these 'shows,' not concerts, and I hope they're very entertaining. I'm very happy where I am."

The upcoming Rodgers/Berlin pops program also will feature Hamlisch as pianist, with vocalists Anne Runolfsson and J. Mark McVey, plus the University of Washington Chorale (prepared by Giselle Wyers). Tickets are $17-$77, at 206-215-4747 or www.seattlesymphony.org.

Joshua Roman alert

There are still a few chances to hear the Seattle Symphony's principal cellist, the engaging 24-year-old Joshua Roman, before he leaves Seattle for the next stage in his career. This Sunday, he solos in the Walton Cello Concerto with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. in Benaroya Hall, with Stephen Rogers Radcliffe on the podium. Another program highlight: Aaron Jay Kernis' "Too Hot Toccata," a lively piece full of influences from Latin music to jazz and rock. For tickets, $8-$40, call 206-362-2300 or go to www.syso.org.

Gallery concerts

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It's the 25th anniversary concert for Music's Re-creation, a baroque ensemble cofounded by Seattle harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree. They've made a major reputation in Europe, where the ensemble has performed at Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music in London, the York Early Music Festival (United Kingdom), Kilkenny Festival (Ireland) and the Music in Old Krakow Festival (Poland), as well as at the Carmel Bach Festival and the Berkeley Festival in this country.

On Saturday's 8 p.m. program in St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 4805 N.E. 45th St.: chamber works by Vivaldi, Bach, Leclair, Telemann, Abel and Rameau. The concert is repeated at 3 p.m. Sunday in Queen Anne Christian Church, 1316 Third Ave. W.

In addition to Dupree, the performers include Louise Carslake, baroque flute; Carla Moore, baroque violin; and John Dornenburg, viola da gamba. Tickets are $10-$25, with a great plus for families: Children 7-14 attend free with a paying adult on a one-to-one basis. Call 206-726-6088 or contact www.brownpapertickets.com. You'll find more details at www.galleryconcerts.org.

Vienna Boys Choir tonight

Those little cherubs are back again (or, more accurately, their younger brothers — the performing life of a boy soprano is a short one). The esteemed and much-recorded Vienna Boys Choir, a 100-member institution with four touring/concert choirs, returns to the Northwest with an 8 p.m. performance tonight in the intimate Kirkland Performance Center, where you're never very far from the stage.

The touring group that will visit Kirkland, like all the other groups, is named for a famous composer; this one is called the Brucknerchor, or Bruckner Choir. They'll sing medieval to contemporary and experimental works. Tickets are scarce, at $20-$47, by phone at 425-893-9900 or www.kpcenter.org.

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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