Philharmonic Gets the Ball Rolling

Times Staff Writer

Traditions always have beginnings. The venerable Los Angeles Philharmonic and its loyal supporters launched one the other evening--the Philharmonic Ball, a prelude to the opening of the fall Philharmonic season now under way at the Music Center.

Philharmonic president Michael Connell told the turn-away crowd of black-tie gala goers, “We’ve established a new tradition, and we have as our goal to have the best orchestra in the world.” Said Ernest Fleischmann, executive vice president and managing director, “I’ve wanted an opening ball, in the tradition of the other great orchestras of the world, ever since I came here.”

Early in the planning, innovators Mary Hesburgh, president of the Junior Philharmonic Committee, and Frances Muir, ball chairman, had all but demanded that the ball could not proceed unless conductor Andre Previn appeared to play the opening waltzes. True to plan, Previn was on stage conducting, and later he was an attraction, dining with his wife Heather at the same table with Gordon and Ann Getty, down from San Francisco, Ann wearing a stunning black chiffon Yves Saint Laurent. Chatters in the audience took delight in recalling that Previn’s roots were in jazz, and that Doc Severinsen, who led the Tonight Show Band for late night dancing, had his roots in classical music.

Making the evening throughly and delightfully musical were David Alan Miller, who took over the baton from Previn for waltzing, the display of Grand Cotillion by the Beverly Hills Cotillion Dance Ensemble, and the premiere performance of two waltzes composed by Gordon Getty for the ball.


This week Ginger Ludwick confirmed that the gala will net at least $120,000 for the Philharmonic. That’s music to the ears of Music Center chairman Joe Pinola, who attended with his wife Dori, and Music Center president Esther Wachtell, there with husband Thomas.

Pam and Peter Mullin, who in September honored ball benefactors including Jeanne and Russell Smith, sat with David and Ginger Ludwick, whose guests also included philanthropists Kathleen and Thomas McCarthy, John Shumway (whose daughter showed the Kazanjian Brothers jewels that were auctioned), Victoria and Tad Williamson, Joan Williams and Ed Sobel.

Sharon Disney Lund stood to acknowledge the fact that her mother, Lillian B. Disney, responsible for the major gifts to create the new Walt Disney Concert Hall, is the ball’s first honorary chairman.

Formalities over, the crowd danced the night away. It included Davis and Patty Pillsbury, Larry and Mireya Jones, William and Bill Horton, Jack and Mary Ann Heidt, Shauna Trabert and Carol Honeystein, Joan and Robert Wrede, Bill and Barbara Steinwedell, Clifford and Virginia Lord, Lisa and Kim Bell, Jo and Robert Kroger, Joan and Thomas Riach, Alan and Nancy Wayte, Shannon and Pam Clyne, Carlotta and Russell Keely, Judy and Leon P. Bartholomew, Susan and Rufus von Thulen Rhoades.


The mark of class, perhaps, was that James and Mary Hesburgh, who hosted Tables 1, 2 and 3, chose to sit at the very back of the room, which seemed to make the back the best place to be.

LIFE SPIRIT: Loretta Young, the epitome of youth, accepted Santa Marta Hospital Foundation’s Life Spirit Award Tuesday evening at a black-tie dinner at the Beverly Wilshire. Former Ambassador to Mexico John Gavin and his wife Constance Towers Gavin co-chaired the party.

According to James R. Simpson, president of the Santa Marta Hospital Foundation board of directors who attended with his wife, Susie, the affair will net $145,000 for the 110-bed acute care hospital which has served East Los Angeles for almost 65 years.

Sir Daniel Donohue, Miss Young’s escort, was an honorary co-chair and considerably upped the net benefit profits by underwriting the dinner. Other honorary co-chairs were Lodwrick and Carole Cook, Marvin and Barbara Davis and Robert and Lois Erburu. Roddy McDowall and Ricardo Montalban, Miss Young’s brother-in-law, were among celebrities in the crowd of 450.

HALLOWEEN: Few tricks, mostly treats are on the agenda for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Celebrity Servers Luncheon at Trattoria Sostanza in West Los Angeles on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.