The Valley Line: A summer of song and remembrance

Hallelujah, on Wednesday morning I awoke to a cool and refreshing beginning to the day. At last the oppressive heat wave we had been experiencing had broken.

I know that our hot days are only at bay for a little while, but what a delight it was to feel natural cool air. I even did a little happy dance in front of the thermostat when I saw that it registered only 70 degrees. This was one of life's little pleasures. See? I'm not hard to please.

Speaking of weather and such, even though a week ago Saturday was one of those stifling hot days, the olive grove outside Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus was a remarkably pleasant and shaded place to be when Muse/ique began its second concert of the season. This is a beautiful venue.

More than 1,400 music lovers brought their picnic baskets filled with gourmet goodies to enjoy before the concert began. I admired the creativity of many who brought floral centerpieces to enhance their tables that had been covered with purple and pink cloths.

Before the concert began I had a chance to catch up with Joyce and Tom Leddy, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary that night. A beautiful bouquet of white flowers centered their table and a bottle of bubbly was icing in a lovely silver champagne bucket.

An added treat for them was that their children, Tom, who lives in Chicago, and Erin, who lives in Austin, Texas, were also at the concert to celebrate with them.

Tom and Joyce just spent a month in France touring and visiting old friends. They then settled for a couple of weeks in Aix en Provence, a charming city in the south of France, where they experienced the beauty of the lavender and sunflower fields in full bloom.

Erin, Tom Jr., his wife, Christie, and their daughters Reilly and Bryn also joined them in Aix.

Joyce said each morning they would amble to the outdoor marketplace to peruse the fresh fruits and vegetables in order to stock their cupboards. They also delighted in buying their baguettes still steaming from the oven. All of them agreed that this was a very special family time spent in a picturesque corner of the world.

Just as the sun was setting, the concert began with the singing of the national anthem sung by members of the Los Angeles Children's Chorus.

The chorus, just returned from singing tour in South Africa, also sang portions of that nation's anthem in three of its languages – Xhosu, Zulu, and Sesotho. Thirty-five members of the chorus were there that evening with their bright red vests.

Some of the young foothill-area choristers were Abigail Rosen, Anastacia Menemenlis, Jamie Bang and Isabella Ramos.

Later on in the program the chorus sang Duke Ellington's arrangement of “It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got that Swing,” and Leonard Bernstein's “America.”

Rachael Worby, music director and conductor of Muse/ique, did her usual masterful job of conducting this very talented orchestra.

She paid tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch and the orchestra played his arrangement of Scott Joplin's “The Entertainer.”

From the podium, Worby introduced Dr. Charles Elachi, director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president of Caltech. She then walked out into the audience where Elachi was sitting.

He had some very kind words to say in tribute to the late physicist and astronaut Sally Ride.

Worby then introduced singer-songwriter Ricki Lee Jones, who sang “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” “September Song”, “I Won't Grow Up,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “On the Street Where you Live.” Jones then paid tribute to Ride by singing a song called “The Moon is Made of Gold.”

A highlight of the evening came when L.A. Children's Chorus graduate Jacqueline Emerson made her orchestral debut in a song that she wrote called “Peter Pan.” Jacqueline appeared in the movie, “The Hunger Games,” as the character “Foxface.” She is a busy young woman and has been accepted to Stanford University.

Her twin sisters, Hayley and Taylor, are both current members of the concert choir and they were also singing that night.

Worby, who loves to mix it up, conducted the orchestra in the compositions of three other composers who were there that evening: Laura Karpman, Daniel Chan and Michael Brooks.

It was an exciting evening of music made in a beautiful setting.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World