Tuning Up the Musical Community

The event: The ninth annual Pacific Symphony's Chinese-American League New Year Gala. The dinner, titled "An Evening of Elegance," was held Saturday at the Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach.

Entertainment included performances by violinist Timothy Hsieh and pianist Xin Xin, winners of the 2000 Chinese-American Showcase for Young Musicians.

Coming together: "This evening is a celebration," said league founder Arlene Cheng, co-chairing the event with Elena Ross. "It's a way for us to show the pride we have in our musicians."

Cheng conceived of the league--a support group of the Pacific Symphony--as a way of drawing Chinese Americans into closer interaction with the classical music community. Since 1992, the league has nurtured young musicians through its annual showcase, which provides scholarships to the winners as well as an opportunity to perform with the orchestra.

Fashion forward: Models clad in sheer black, glittering gold and Easter-egg pastels lit up a raised runway set in the center of the hotel's ballroom for a preview of St. John's spring collection. While they watched, the 290 guests savored beef tournedos with oyster ginger sauce on rice and a trio of mini-desserts garnished with a chocolate musical note.

"I got involved with the gala because of my love for St. John clothes, but I was so touched by seeing the performers [at the showcase in June] that it put it all into perspective for me," Ross said.

Quote: "Winning gave me a great feeling of encouragement," Hsieh said after his moving performance of the Prelude from Bruch's Concerto No. 1.

Hsieh, 12, took first place in the competition's Junior Division. His mother, Shirley, accompanied him on piano.

Faces: Chinese-American League President Ruby Au; President of Pacific Symphony John Forsyte; Director of Cultural Division of the Consulate of Taiwan Lawrence Huang; George Cheng; David Ross; Kathy Smolanovich; Dr. and Mrs. Michael Ong; and Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Tay.

Bottom line: The evening netted $40,000, which will go toward funding the 2002 Showcase for Young Musicians. For information call (714) 755-5788.

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