Fourteen-year-old harpist Su-Jin Shin of Westlake Village will debut before the Glendale crowd Sunday evening as soloist with the Glendale Symphony Orchestra.
The concert will be in downtown Los Angeles in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. But Shin gave a hometown preview last Thursday at the customary salon put on by the symphony’s Women’s Committee before two or three of the symphony’s performances each season.
A salon as practiced by the committee is a musical recital in a private home. If Glendale is without an impressive concert hall for its orchestra, it is not lacking in dwellings worthy of that genteel tradition.
The home of Dr. John Vogt and his wife Nancy is just about as impressive as the Los Angeles Music Center, if on a smaller scale.
Before the Vogts bought it, the home belonged to John Lawson, founder of Valley National Bank. The house is on Cumberland Road, just down the street from Brand Park. The neighborhood is rich with period houses, many quite large, including one so bedecked with Southern plantation imagery that it is reputed--erroneously--to be the house filmed as Tara in “Gone With the Wind.”
The Vogts’ house is of a more conservative colonial style. It is set on a high, grassy hill terraced for a sweeping driveway that climbs to the foot of a concrete stairway flanked by flower beds and trees that have clearly received the best of care for generations.
The house is decorated with antiques, statuary and gilt-framed paintings of Renaissance country scenes. In the living room, two black grand pianos stand side by side. Nancy Vogt and her daughter play duets on them.
Their keyboards were closed Thursday. Near them, in a large foyer connecting the living and dining rooms, stood a gold and black harp. Folding chairs were placed in tight rows in the two adjoining rooms, forming seating sections that projected at right angles.
About 100 members of the Women’s Committee and guests--almost exclusively husbands--filled the two rooms with light conversation as they settled into their chairs. Most were at least middle-aged. Only one or two couples appeared to be under 40.
Circulating among them was the indefatigable Argentine-born composer and conductor Lalo Schifrin. A frequent guest conductor for the Glendale Symphony, Schifrin had introduced the young star to the orchestra after discovering her through the Young Musicians Foundation, of which he is musical director.
Schifrin couldn’t stay for her performance, however. Making apologies, he whirled out the door shortly before 8 for another engagement, leaving the spotlight to the night’s young performer.
Shin, the daughter of Korean immigrants, has been playing the harp since she was 10 under her mother’s guidance. She won the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Bronislav Kaper Award in 1987 and is soon headed to Israel to take on international competition.
Before the Glendale audience, she was an easy winner.
Salon Chairman Elba Riffel, in a stunning blue dress with a beaded floral neckline, introduced her as “a really lovely lady.”
With complete aplomb, Shin stood up in a pink satin and lace dress, made by her mother. Both parents, Sabrina and Alexander, sat in the front row.
Speaking only enough to name the first piece, Shin began Sonata in D Major by John Parry.
The sound was strong and confident. Showing scant emotion, Shin built rigorous melodies upon the familiar, airily sweet undertones of the instrument.
“You’re a wonderful audience,” she said, acknowledging the vigorous applause.
She played three more pieces, the last a long and difficult composition by Tournier. Afterward, Riffel produced a bouquet of roses.
“You are wonderful,” Riffel said. “You make me cry.”
Then the group broke for sandwiches, pastries and coffee, prepared by the salon committee and laid out copiously on a long table in the breakfast room. Standing at her father’s side, Su-Jin Shin received her audience for about half an hour. Then her father took her home.
By then, Sabrina Shin had taken over the kitchen. Standing at the sink, yellow plastic gloves on her hands, she washed dishes vigorously as the women of the salon committee brought them to her.
When there were no more, she took off the gloves and looked out the kitchen window to where her station wagon was parked.
She had to ask one of the committee women’s husbands to move his car.
“While I wait I . . . ,” she said, and instead of finishing the sentence, merely put the gloves back on and tackled a two-foot-long platter over the sink.
That done, she produced a handcart from a closet and approached the harp. At 6 feet tall, it had about a foot on her.
“They say it is approximately 90 pounds,” she said. “I know it is more than that.”
She secured the instrument with a Velcro strap. John Vogt, the host, helped her guide it through the dining room, out a back door, down a step and across a lawn.
The two of them lifted it into the station wagon bay.
At last, the night’s work was done.