Scene & Heard: Los Angeles Philharmonic ‘Celebración’ gala

Special to the Los Angeles Times

The Oct. 7 “Celebración,” the Los Angeles Philharmonic opening night gala, attracted 800 guests to what looked like a high-tech supper club on Grand Avenue. Judging from the crowd packing the dance floor, guests could have danced all night — when they weren’t praising music director Gustavo Dudamel and Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez for the night’s concert of Italian and Latin classics.

Jazz great Herbie Hancock called the performance “phenomenal,” noting his surprise to discover that Flórez not only had sung, but also orchestrated one of the pieces. “What a wonderful program,” said composer John Williams.

Eva Mendes said she recognized the Latin music from her childhood and that her mother, Eva Perez-Suarez, who accompanied the actress, knew every tune.

Amid the acclaim, Gustavo Dudamel said, “I feel like I’ve been here my whole life, and it’s only one year.”


The gala’s proceeds — $3 million for the L.A. Philharmonic and its education programs — were announced just before Melissa Manchester made a surprise appearance. Event chairman David Bohnett thanked the event committee, whose members included Eloísa Maturén (Dudamel’s wife and honorary chairwoman), Maria Bell, Lynn Booth, Margaret Eberhardt, Kimberly Marteau Emerson, Lenore Greenberg, Joan Hotchkis, Joyce Kresa, Ginny Mancini, Jane Nathanson, Soraya Nazarian, Carolyn Powers, Nancy Sanders, Carla Sands and Alyce Williamson.

Also attending were astronaut Dave Scott and his wife, Mag Black-Scott; Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Adele and Gordon Binder, Edythe and Eli Broad, Alyce and Warren Williamson, Annette and Peter O’Malley, Carol Colburn Hogel, Betsy Bloomingdale and Sherry Lansing.

United Friends of the Children fundraiser

Wendy and Barry Meyer turned their backyard into a gourmet food fair Oct. 2 for “Cultivate L.A.,” giving 600 supporters of United Friends of the Children the chance to sample fare from 40 top wineries and restaurants. Barry Meyer is chief executive of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Wendy Smith Meyer is UFC’s board chairwoman.

Early birds, a.k.a. “Heirloom Patrons,” enjoyed cooking tips from Waterloo & City’s chef Brendan Collins and a wine tasting with authority Anthony Dias Blue. Wines came from Chateau Montelena, the winery depicted in the film “Bottle Shock” as the 1976 award winner that changed world attitudes toward California wines.

Also on hand were Giada De Laurentiis, the Emmy Award-winning TV chef, and Alice Waters, who pioneered California cuisine at her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. Linda Daly, daughter of UFC’s founder, the late Nancy Daly, showed off fresh produce she helped grow at UFC’s housing facility, which so impressed Hannah An that she ordered some for her restaurant Tiato.

Sarah Bowman, Teri Hertz, Debra Parr and Toni Schulman co-chaired the event, with guests including Maxine and Eric Greenspan, Denny Luria and Jeff Berg, and Marianna and David Fisher. With tickets starting at $100, organizers estimated net proceeds of $200,000 to assist foster youths as they transition into adult life.