The Valley Line: Of jewelry and the voices of children

Surprise! Fancy meeting you here today on this fine Sunday morning. This is quite a departure since I've been meeting you in this column for so many years every Thursday.

Get comfy, settle in with a cup of coffee — tea, if you prefer — and let's toast this new edition of the La Cañada Valley Sun and the Valley Line in its Sunday inauguration. Cheers!

As always, keeping tabs on the social doings of our community has always been the focus here, and sometimes it gets very busy because our folks, upon occasion, need roller skates to keep up with the social whirl that is going on.

Hutton Wilkinson, the flamboyant, globally recognized interior and jewelry designer, was the center of attention when he drew quite a crowd at the Susanne Hollis Antique shop in Pasadena. Also greeting guests was Boyd Smith, who is a devoted supporter of the Gamble House, a benefactor of the evening.

Hutton, who was first mentored by and later became a design partner with the late designer Tony Duquette, has forged his own style in the realm of design.

Not only did Wilkinson dazzle his guests with his fabulously designed jewelry, but he charmed them with tales of spectacular one-of-a-kind pieces he and Duquette designed for iconic socialites, their parties and over-the-top lifestyles. He is an amazing raconteur with such wit and humor that you don't want him to stop doling out his tidbits.

That night Wilkinson also presented his gorgeous new book, “Tony Duquette/Hutton Wilkinson Jewelry.” The book is an art piece in itself, with full color plates and gilt-edged pages with a green satin ribbon to mark your place. A percentage of the book sales went to the Gamble House.

It was delightful to share the evening with fellow La Cañadans Vicki McCluggage, Marijane Hebert and Karen Barsamian.

On to another well attended event by La Cañadans: The Los Angeles Children's Chorus held its annual benefit, “Gala Bel Canto,” in the Eva and Marc Stern grand hall at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The chorus has had hundreds of LCF youngsters in its ranks over the years, and it is again well populated with our youth. Many of the kids who are in the concert choir are looking forward to a South African adventure when the chorus goes there to perform this summer.

Throughout the evening, 150 young people from the choirs within the Los Angeles Children's Chorus performed. It was such a joyful sound to hear them perform as they honored musical luminaries James Conlon, L.A. Opera music director, and Anna Christy, an internationally recognized soprano and Los Angeles Children's Chorus alumna. Also honored that evening was Nestle USA, represented by Nestle USA Chairman and Chief Executive Brad Alford.

During the evening, guests nibbled on hors d'oeuvres, then were served a three-course sit-down dinner and took part in a live auction. The evening raised more than $187,000 for the chorus' artistic, educational and scholarship programs, including a whopping $21,000 for need-based scholarships.

Suzanna Guzman, noted mezzo soprano opera singer, acted as master of ceremonies. Stepping to the microphone that night to greet guests were Anne Tomlinson, chorus artistic director, and David Scheidemantle, chorus chair. Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Master Chorale music director/LA Opera resident conductor, also spoke. His daughter, Claire, sings in the chorus.

Mary Blodgett was gala chair. Her committee included Annie Yaeger Higgins, Jill Westbrook Roberts, Ann Sunshine and Andrea Greene Willard.

La Cañadans attending that night included Ann and Tony Cannon, Tania and Michael Cahill, Rashmi Basal and David Haupt, Katherine and Steven Kavich, Kate Zhang and Dimitri Menemenlis, Sarah, Ed and Caroline Nowak, Carin and John Schiller, and Jennifer and Cameron Terry. Katherine Kavich and Ed Nowak are both on the board of directors of the chorus.

The La Cañada High 7/8 Spring Home Tour is just around the corner, and the committee asks that everyone save the date: Friday, May 4.

Five homes will be featured on this year's tour, with one of them serving as the location for the luncheon. Tickets are on sale now at Or call Al Brooks Tickets at (800) 341-2766. This is an event you will not want to miss.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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