The Valley Line: As temps rise, summer venues come to light

As of last week, summer is officially here. Get ready for the temps to rise. In fact we might be hitting the 100-plus mark sooner than I would like, I can assure you.

This past weekend we experienced the biggest and brightest moon of the year. It was called "The Super Moon" or "Mega Moon. " As advertised, it was big, bright and beautiful.

Benefits and symphonies seem to be ruling the season. Outdoor concerts are blooming like magnolia flowers with music venues at Descanso Gardens, La Cañada's Memorial Park, Levitt Pavilion, Caltech's Beckman Mall in Pasadena and in Arcadia, at Los Angeles Arboretum and Santa Anita Race Track.

A spacious Altadena home was the setting for Muse/ique to preview its "Summer of Sound" Festival 2013, which will begin this Saturday evening with the great jazz stylist, Patti Austin.

The afternoon preview party was held in the estate's natural amphitheater with its shady trees. Rachael Worby, artistic director, hosted the program, which featured soul virtuoso Ellis Hall and other musicians. Cooking drinks were served and the 200 guests then enjoyed picnic box lunches. It was a delightful Sunday afternoon filled with music.


A beautiful party, "Summer Splash" was a perfect way to begin this new season. Mel Blum and Vornado Realty Trust hosted a soiree that celebrated the grand reopening of Granite Park Place in Pasadena.

More than 300 guests were served refreshing beverages with the signature cocktail being a blood-orange rum-laced Mojito with a fresh sprig of mint. Hors d'oeuvres were passed as guests roamed the public rooms of this luxury building of condominium residences.

Poolside was a lovely place to be to sip drinks and listen to salsa music as well as Brazilian bossa nova. The highlight poolside was the performance of the synchronized water ballet team, "Aqualilies."

A buffet of Italian foods was a popular tasting stop before guests went upstairs to admire two of the beautifully designed residences created by interior designer Sue Firestone. Each guest also received a signed copy of "Designers Abroad," a new coffee book in which she is featured.

I had a wonderful chat with La Cañadans Christina Barsamian and her fiancé, Matt Antoun. Karen and Greg Barsamian, who had just returned that morning from a weeklong vacation in Aspen, says that Aspen has so much to offer, even when the snow is melted. I also had fun catching up on community news with Nancy Valentine and Nicole Winnaman.

Before guests bid their adieus, they enjoyed an array of desserts served in the sculpture garden. While they tasted delicious sweets, Italian gelato, and fresh berries they were entertained by a chamber orchestra composed of musicians from the Pasadena Pops. The foods, from beginning to end, were prepared by the Kitchen for Exploring Foods. Other music was provided by DJ Shark, Drum and Grace. Granite Park Place is a sponsor of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops.


The opening of the Hollywood Bowl's 92nd season with the 14th annual Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame this past Saturday was as spectacular as the "Mega Moon" that shone down on the proceedings.

This year's star-studded event, a fundraiser for the L.A. Philharmonic's music education programs including the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), included four Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame inductees — Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of the iconic rock band Aerosmith, multitalented vocalist Patti Austin, and nine-time Grammy-winning singer John Legend. Among the presenters were talk show host Arsenio Hall, actor and musician Darren Criss, actor Peter Fonda and the iconic singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder.

Actress Angela Bassett, who lives right here in La Cañada Flintridge, was a beautiful emcee for the evening.

On the two new LED screens on either side of the stage, video montages of the inductees were shown to all of us before they performed.

After the intermission the 65-piece Youth Orchestra Los Angeles performed the conclusion of Stravinsky's "Firebird." More than $1 million was raised for the Philharmonic's many music education programs, which serve more than 120,000 youths families and teachers every year.

First up to perform was Patti Austin who sang a medley of her major hits: "Baby Come to Me/How Do You Keep the Music Playing/Razzmattazz," followed by "Lean on Me," "You Gotta Be," and the jazz favorite, "How High the Moon," certainly a tribute to the bright moon that night.

A big roar of audience approval erupted when music icon Stevie Wonder took the stage to induct John Legend. Legend, sitting at the piano, played and sang some of his well-known hits, "Where Did My Baby Go," "Again," "All of Me," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The surprise of the evening came when Wonder returned to the stage to join Legend in the song, "Ordinary People."

And then the Bowl practically came apart at its seams when Steven Tyler and Joe Perry made all the seats rock with the sounds of Aerosmith. Most of the audience were immediately on their feet "rocking out" to their music.

They didn't disappoint the "rockers" in the crowd as they performed "Love in an Elevator," "Dream On," "Cryin'," and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." The pair completed their set with one of their most popular hits, "Walk This Way."

The evening ended with a colorful fireworks show. It was quite an amazing evening. I'm already going through the season notes to see which artists I want to go there to see — after all, the "Bowl" is a summer tradition!

Prior to the program, donors and friends were invited to attend a cocktail reception hosted by Wells Fargo with sponsorship chairs Jonathan Weedman and Raymundo Baltazar. Opening Night Co-chairs were Barbara and Jay Rasulo. Teena Hostovich and Doug Martinet, LCF residents, were on the opening night committee.

Some of the La Cañadans I chatted with that evening were Joan and John McCarthy, Stephanie Pell and her daughter Savannah and Vicki and Kerry McCluggage.

Before the Bowl presentation began, we enjoyed a delightful dinner prepared by the Patina Restaurant Group. It was a custom menu that began with a first course salad of Tuscan kale salad, summer radish, soft toasted ciabatta, smoked Romesco sauce and pickled fennel. The main entrée was a crispy pollo a la plancha, chickpea hummus, herb grilled asparagus and olive oil-marinated cherry tomatoes. Dinner concluded with Barbara's Berry Crostata, in honor of the evening's gala chairs.


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

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