The Valley Line: Master Chorale glitters after 50 years

Yay! The Winter Olympic Games are now open in Sochi, Russia. I admit that I'm addicted to the games — be they summer or winter editions. However, my favorites are the winter games, so I'm keeping a close watch on the events as well as the athletes, especially our own hometown Olympian Kate Hansen, a luge competitor.

One could say I was in Olympic Game television viewing overload, but I'm loving every minute of it. As I write this on Monday morning our community is awaiting Kate Hansen's slide down the icy luge track.

A huge billboard on Foothill Boulevard announces that Kate is "Going for the Gold." Los Angeles NBC morning news on Channel 4 spotlighted Kate. They showed her warming up for her event by dancing to the music of Beyonce via a headset. The reporter said that Kate told him that the music calmed her nerves and got her into the mood for her run.

Although this newscast was at about 6:30 a.m. California time, the reporter also mentioned that the Hansen family's Mexican restaurant, Los Gringos Locos, was opening up early for a celebration.

By the time you read this our hometown girl will be celebrating the fact that she is an Olympian and that she gave her best effort on the track.


Closer to home, our town folk were dressing up for a black-tie event celebrating the 50th anniversary season for the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Nearly 400 formally dressed music lovers and supporters of the chorale gathered for champagne and cocktails in the marble-clad soaring entry of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Some chose to sip a celebratory blend of Prosecco and Aperol with tiny gold stars floating in the bubbles. It was very pretty to watch the sparkling stars being propelled by the bubbles.

A lively red carpet reception with savory passed hors d'oeuvres just began the festivities with the promise of fine dining yet to come.

Guests not only sipped the bubbly, they also signed silent auction bidding slips for fabulous getaways, restaurant dinners, sports and music events.

The Master Chorale was the star of the evening as their voices greeted diners from the steps of the Grand Hall. As guests were seated the chorale captivated gala guests with its signature "Surround Sing."

Music Director Grant Gershon conducted the delightful "Il est bel et bon" by Pierre Passereau, the moving "Danny Boy," arranged by Roger Wagner; and the rousing spiritual "Hold On!" arranged by Jester Harston.

Adding a delightful element to the evening was a special performance by 30 fifth-grade students in "Voices Within," the Master Chorale's award-winning in-school residency program.

To illuminate the evening's theme "Golden on Grand," the tables were stunning with modern centerpieces arranged in gold mosaic boxes with cream and golden-toned roses, orchids, calla lilies, and button mums designed by Chris Matsumoto of C.J. Matsumoto & Sons.

Co-chairs for the evening were Joyce Nores and Annette Ermshaar. Auction co-chairs were Marguerite Marsh and Sonia Randazzo.

Terry Knowles, Master Chorale president and chief executive, said, "Given the choir's tremendous reach and broad artistic impact, we wanted to celebrate in grand style this ground-breaking musical organization and all those who have contributed to its growth and success."

The meal, prepared by Patina, included with a trio of smoked fish on a grilled plank, including trout, salmon and sturgeon with baby beets, pickled red onion, champagne vinaigrette and grilled ciabatta. The entrée featured a duo of petit filet and Australian barramundi served with celery sotto and a farmer's market vegetable tart. Dessert was key lime tart graham crumble with lime Chantilly, cilantro coulis and spicy meringue.

Fritz Coleman, ABC-7's weather reporter, was the master of ceremonies and auctioneer. He urged patrons to bid generously on such one-of-a-kind experiences as conducting the "Hallelujah" chorus at the chorale's "Messiah Sing-Along" at Walt Disney Concert Hall; and a private cocktail party and salon for 24 people at a historic private home with a performance by none other than the music director himself — Gershon and his wife, acclaimed soprano Elisa Johnston.

Also up for grabs was a Louisiana fishing trip featuring a stay at a unique private three-bedroom fishing camp located on a picturesque barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico; a Rose Bowl package for four people, including game tickets as well as spectacular grandstand seats for the Rose Parade, and an exclusive private tour of the Tournament House.

Capping the night were coffee and liqueurs served at the oval bar and dancing to the Wayne Foster Entertainment.


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

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