RSVP / THE SOCIAL CITY : Taking In a Little Night Music in Old Vienna


The symphony galas are over, but the season hums on. More than 500 people crowded the Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion after the Los Angeles Philharmonic opening. The hall was meant to mimic Old Vienna, with candlelit tables and Viennese melodies.

Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, violinist Vadim Repin and pianist Yefim Bronfman were guests, mixing with a prominent assortment of Southlanders, including Philharmonic Board Chairman C. Joseph LaBonte with his wife, Donna, and Board President Robert Attiyeh and wife Linda. More were Ed and Nadine Carson, Dick and Chris Newman, James and Mary Hesburgh and Royce and Jennifer Diener.

With the awesome leadership of the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Committee and its leaders--Diane Dykema, Rebecca O'Neill, Vera Panosian, Nancy Wayte and Joan MacLaughlin--the committee can boast $4 million for the orchestra in its 60-year history. Of that, $1 million has been raised through galas and $3 million in the letter-writing campaign initiated in 1934.

Chocolate Violins: At the Los Angeles gala, chocolate violins were favors for guests. At the Pasadena Symphony opening night gala dinner in the Gold Room of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, dessert came in the form of white and chocolate globes in tribute to the United Nations' 50th anniversary and the consular corps members attending.

Symphony Board Vice President Dennis Lowe chaired the gala. First-nighters included his wife, Shelly, Alyce Williamson, Sis and Louis Jones, Donald and Jean Freshwater, Betty Keatinge, Jacob and Clara Maarse, Dick and Lynda Patton, Kenneth and Betty Rhodes, Jack and Edith Roberts, Kenneth Rusnak and Paul Rusnak (who helped sponsor the evening with Wells Fargo, represented by the bank's Southern California head, executive vice president Lois Rice), Bill and Barbara Steinwedell, Betty Rockwell and Kathryn Ogilvy.

It seemed very appropriate that one Pasadena first-nighter sparkled plenty, wearing a diamond ring and circle pin that she said her great-grandmother had purchased years ago from a destitute opera singer in a train station.

To say the least, the audience was mad for the opening night program, which included "The Dove Descending," by George Tsontakis (who attended); Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2, played by pianist Louis Lortie, and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5, all led by Conductor Jorge Mester.

Mr. Wonderful: Thalians celebrated their 40th anniversary at the Century Plaza by unanimously naming Donald O'Connor as their 1995 "Mr. Wonderful." Frances Allen chaired the tribute, and Jerold Franks, Ruta Lee and Debbie Reynolds produced the show. The evening was underwritten by Cynthia and Hal Gershman and Sandy Krause. Thalians have raised more than $22 million for the Cedars Sinai Thalians Mental Health Clinic.

True Grit: Gene and Jackie Autry, Autry Western Heritage Museum Director Joanne Hale and Wells Fargo's Lois Rice bestowed plaudits on the "Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945" show the other evening. It's curated by Pat Trenton and is a must-see. Works of Mabel Alvarez, Donna Schuster, Marion Wachtell, Charlton Fortune, Elanor Colburn and Meta Cressy are only a few of the featured artists.

Cruising the gallery before Western cuisine were Bruce Ludwig, Don and Tamra Dickerson, Micky and Gordon Bodek, Chuck Redmond, Sandy and Shel Ausman with their granddaughter Andrea Lachman, Pat House and Peter Keller and Sharyn Udall (who helped curate the New Mexico portion of the show). On view, too, Autry's 1939 horse trailer for Champion. The show runs through Jan. 28.

In Flight: John Travolta thrilled 500 at the Museum of Flying gala headed by Dallas Price when the roar of a P-51 engine drew all eyes toward the museum's hangar door and Travolta "flew" into the museum to Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me." David Hinson, head of the Federal Aviation Administration greeted each of the 16 honored test pilots, and Brig. Gen. Richard Engle paid them tribute.

Elsewhere on the Social Circuit

* Gov. Pete Wilson and his wife, Gayle, and the California Arts Council host the Governor's Awards for the Arts Gala on Tuesday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Proceeds go to the California State Summer School Arts Foundation.

* Louis Benech, chosen by French President Francois Mitterrand to re-inspire the Tuileries gardens in front of the Louvre in Paris, spoke at the Friends of French Art dinner at the William Andrews Clark Library . . . Neiman Marcus Vice President John Martens hosted a dinner honoring jeweler Theo Fennell of London . . . The Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. kicked off the season with the Prague Festival Ballet and a post-dessert reception . . . Members and descendants of the Carson families, original holders of the Rancho San Pedro land grant of 1784, attended the Dominguez Brand Awards given to outstanding citizens in the South Bay area.

* Did you know? Maxine Ridgway, valued member of the Angels Attic, regularly bakes cookies for the Attic's teas . . . Sonance President Susi McConaghy hosted the group's fall meeting at the home of artist Pascal, viewing the artist's latest jewelry . . . Hutton Wilkinson discusses "Elsie de Wolfe: First Lady of Design" on Wednesday at the Regency Club for Los Angeles Junior League sustainers . . . Los Angeles Police Cmdr. James T. (Tim) McBride will receive the Nelle Reagan Award for distinguished community service from Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Foundation on Friday . . . Irwin M. Schaeffer was honored with the Spirit of Life Award by the City of Hope Aids Chapter at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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