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The Valley Line: Las Candelas members mark anniversary; A Noise Within, Pasadena Conservatory join forces for French-themed event

The month of May was just winding down when more than 50 Las Candelas members gathered at Oakmont Country Club to celebrate 65 years of the philanthropic group’s work and to welcome its new board of officers.

Organized in 1953 and incorporated in 1955, the mission of Las Candelas is to give volunteer service and financial assistance to help improve the lives of children and youth in vulnerable situations and to support awareness of their mental health needs.

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Oakmont’s main dining room was looking festive, with lavender tablecloths adorned with purple napkins that were held by delightful sterling silver napkins rings featuring children doing activities like playing ball, riding bicycles, playing with their dogs and other vignettes. The napkin rings are part of a collection of late 19th-century pieces owned by a Las Candelas member. Each one was so unique that it was fun to travel from table to table to see what these sterling silver children were doing.

Diane Johnson, a longtime member of Las Candelas, presented a detailed history of the organization’s early days and how the members would drive to the state mental health facility in Camarillo to support the children who resided there. Las Candelas was a partner in the founding of the Verdugo Mental Health Facility on Glendale’s Colorado Boulevard (now Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services), when they saw a need for pediatric mental health services in the area. The group continues to offer financial and hands-on support to the Didi Hirsch center.

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Other club philanthropies include Ascencia, the Glendale YWCA, Hillsides Education Center in Pasadena and Hathaway-Sycamores in Altadena. In addition to financial support, the group provides monthly programs and year-end parties for Hillsides and Hathaway-Sycamores and serves meals to the homeless at Ascencia.

Funds to support the Las Candelas are raised at the club’s biennial luncheon-fashion-show event. Next year the fashion show will be held Monday, March 4, at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel.

Associate members Judy Heyes, Mary Barber, Esther Bowen, and Bette Ryan joined the active members to celebrate this milestone luncheon and to witness the installation of next year’s officers and committee chairwomen.

The installation was conducted by member Anna Brewer. Foothill resident Nancy Stone is taking on the role of president. Other club members installed that day were Joan Campbell, Karen Swan, Rosina Maize, Ann Jones, Lynne Naeve, Monica Sierra, Suzonne Slaughter, Jeri Clark, Teresa Nall, JC Byer, Pattie McCormick, Teresa Nall, Diane Russell, Ginny Simpson, Patti Baker and Ellyn Semler. Before the afternoon ended, a beautifully decorated cake was served and champagne toasts were made to celebrate the club’s anniversary.

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It was “Three Vignettes,” an evening of music and theater on May 17 when Pasadena’s A Noise Within, the classical repertory theater company, joined Pasadena Conservatory of Music for an exciting event.

Guests were transported to Parisian-like venues within the theater for music, wine and scenes from famous French plays where actors, musicians and vocalists merged their talents for a one-night-only fundraiser that showcased French classics.

Greeting guests were A Noise Within co-producing artistic directors Julia Rodriguez- Elliott and Geoff Elliott with Stephen McCurry, executive director of Pasadena Conservatory of Music. They combined their artistic visions and planned a night that took guests to signature venues in Paris, from Le Chat Noir to Théâtre-Français. Also saying hello to guests were La Cañada Flintridge resident Jeanie Kay, chairman of the board of directors for A Noise Within, and Alison Lifland, chairman of Pasadena Conservatory of Music’s board.

The John and Barbara Lawrence Rehearsal Hall became Le Conservatoire, where pianist Alexander Chou played “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin. A scene from Georges Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear,” was the theatrical focus.

The Chuck and Bette Redmond main stage became the Theatre-Francais where pianist Esther Yune showcased “La Valse” by Maurice Ravel while actors played a scene from “Tartuffe” by Moliere.

The main lobby became the famed bohemian Montmartre district cabaret Le Chat Noir. Pianist Stephen Cook set the tone playing songs by French composer Erik Satie. The charming chanteuse that evening was Jennifer Weiss. A light French comedy accompanied the lively atmosphere of this space.

Later, guests gathered to share their experiences of the evening in a recreation of the famed Saint-Germain-des-Pres café, Le Deux Magots. It was quite fitting, as Le Deux Magots was in its heyday the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual elite of the city.

“Three Vignettes” was a delightful dip into the culture and art of Paris.

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