The Los Angeles Master Chorale's March 18 gala was a huge success, raising $712,000 for the organization. The 320 guests who attended the black-tie event experienced a thrilling evening that was chaired by Annette Ermshar. Annette, who is wed to Dan Monahan, grew up here in La Cañada Flintridge and is a current Chorale board member. Her parents, Arlene and Carl, have been longtime Master Chorale supporters and board members, so it is truly one of the family's passions.
Ermshar introduced honored guests David and Kiki Gindler. David has been chair of the Chorale's board of directors for six years, two three-year terms. David and Kiki recently presented the Chorale with a $1 million gift that establishes the Master Chorale Artistic Director's Circle, a group of dedicated donors who donate $50,000 or more to the organization to support core institutional programming.
Also honored during the evening was Peter Sellars, who is one of the most powerful forces in the performing arts, especially known for his groundbreaking interpretation of classic works.
The gala began with cocktails in the Blue Ribbon garden of Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles before coming into the hall to experience a thrilling performance of the Los Angeles Master Chorale's acclaimed production of Orlando di Lasso's Renaissance masterwork, "Lagrime di San Pietro" featuring 21 singers, all barefoot. It was dramatically staged by director Peter Sellars. Grant Gershon, artistic director of the Chorale, conducted the singers in the compelling performance. Afterward, guests entered BP Hall, where they dined on a three-course dinner prepared by Patina.
Before dinner began 80 singers from the Chorale circled the seated diners to perform the Chorale's signature "Surround Sing," giving gala attendees an intimate up-close-and-personal musical experience.
Fritz Coleman, KNBC weatherman and experienced auctioneer, led the live auction for such opportunities such as traveling to London for the Chorale's European tour of Lagrime di San Pietro, conducting the Messiah Sing-Along at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December, or having a private musical salon in your own home, with Grant Gershon playing the piano, and his wife, acclaimed soprano Elissa Johnston.
Later in the program Sellars gave an impassioned speech about the importance of arts education programs decrying standardized testing and imploring that children's differences be celebrated, not stifled, when introducing the "Fund-A-Need" section of the evening that supports the Master Chorale's education programs.
It was a lovely afternoon when the La Cañada Thursday Club recently honored past presidents during the club's monthly tea meeting. Guests enjoyed sipping hot tea and savoring the home-made sandwiches and cookies brought by members.
Past presidents in attendance included Jewel Matsuura (1995-97), Dotty Greenwalt (1998-2001), Sue Tutt (2001-02), Peggy Hotaling (2006-08), Mary Hennessy (2008-09), Judy Cooper (2010-12), Gale Caswell (2012-14) and Jeanie Kay (2014-16).
The Easter bunny hip-hopped its way to my sister's home in San Clemente, where I was visiting last weekend. We had a foggy morning on Sunday, but glorious sunshine the rest of the day. Before the sun set, we were able to see not only San Clemente Island but also Santa Catalina — it was a spectacular day.