The Valley Line: ‘Golden Gala’ raises $750,000 for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

A certain glow shimmered over the Music Center on the evening of April 14 as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary season with "The Golden Gala," a spectacular fundraiser that brought in $750,000.

More than 400 guests attended a historic concert at the Mark Taper Forum, the theater where LACO began its journey half a century ago, followed by a sumptuous dinner and after party at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.


The black-tie party honored the families of LACO's founding members James Arkatov, Joseph Troy, Sir Neville Marriner and Richard D. Colburn, each of whom helped create "America's finest chamber orchestra," as Public Radio International has called it.

The musical program at the Mark Taper Forum featured actress/vocalist Rumer Willis and included a special guest clarinetist, Andrew Marriner, son of LACO's first music director, the late Sir Neville Marriner.


On the concert program were the world premiere of a new orchestration of "Tag Rag," written by former LACO Composer-in-Residence Derek Bermel; the first movement of Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto in A major," one of the composer's crowning achievements; and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, "Classical," long a beloved staple of LACO's repertoire. In a nod to the orchestra's roots in the film recording industry, a selection of songs from the Golden Age of Hollywood were performed by Willis with both LACO and her own band.

For dinner back at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, guests dined on organic baby beet salad, Cabernet-braised beef short rib with Parmesan risotto, caramelized trumpet mushrooms, parsnip salad and desserts of banana foster bread pudding and chocolate rocher bal.

The gala was chaired by Sandy and Pat Gage. Honorary co-chairs were James and Salome Arkatov, Carol Colburn Grigor, Lady Molly Marriner and Brigitta B. Troy.

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The April general meeting of Las Candelas was held at Oakmont Country Club where, during a luncheon, the philanthropic club awarded three different area agencies with recognition and funds to continue their work. Receiving monetary gifts from the club were Hillsides in Pasadena, Ascencia in Glendale and the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Service of Glendale.

Las Candelas President Nancy Stone presented a grant to Hillsides chief advancement officer Carrie Espinoza to be used in the Hillsides' Youth Moving On program. This program provides help for former students of Hillsides who are 18 or over and who need help with job searches, living quarters and higher education.

Ascencia Executive Director Natalie Profant Lomuro gratefully accepted the Las Candelas grant, which will be used for the organization's Art Therapy for Children program. Ascencia is a transitional homeless shelter for families and normally houses 10- to 15 children who, with their parents, have been displaced from their homes.

Heather Sardella and Christina Brinn of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services of Glendale thanked the members of Las Candelas for their gift and for the many years of support for their charity's child therapy programs.

Las Candelas also awarded a grant in November to Tara Peterson of the Glendale YWCA, for the Y's summer camp programs for children living in the domestic violence shelter. Las Candelas also provides more than $25,000 annually in speakers, field trips and parties for the children at Hathaway-Sycamores and Hillsides Education Center located here in La Cañada Flintridge.

The local organization's primary means of fundraising is its biennial luncheon fashion show, which normally draws over 600 attendees. The next Candelas benefit is scheduled for March 4, 2019, at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel. For more information about the club visit its website at

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