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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Oktoberfest charms, ‘A Star is Born’ wows and LA Phil’s 100th birthday bash amazes

Last week was the true beginning of autumn, as far as I was concerned. The chilly nights and overcast mornings inspired me to put a pot roast into the slow cooker, along with slices of onion and baby carrots. The aroma of that roast cooking all day filling my house was divine — I could hardly wait for dinner.

When it was time to serve it up, I whipped up some gravy from the rich juices and also made mashed potatoes and broccoli. About the only other time I like to make pot roast is when it rains, so I guess my relationship with a pot roast is an atmospheric thing.


Did you visit the Montrose Oktoberfest earlier this month? I did. Honolulu Avenue is shut down to traffic during this event so it’s always such a festive and fun place to be. I don’t think I’ve seen so many cute kids and dogs meandering down the street as I did during this year’s celebration.


The carnival ride and game section of the event was a magnet for families where moms and dads tried their skill at winning stuffed animals for their kids. Of course it was the parents who ended up having to lug them around.

Adults enjoyed beer, accompanied by a bratwurst sandwich smothered with sauerkraut. There were dancers to watch and kids gymnastic teams that showed off their talents. I missed seeing the beer stein-carrying competition, but I heard it was quite a hit!

I’ll never forget the time I was in Salzburg, Austria during Oktoberfest. Watching the waitresses carrying those heavy glass steins, filled to the brim with beer, was quite a fete.



This has nothing to do with autumn, but last weekend I went to see the much-anticipated remake of the movie, “A Star is Born.” All I have to say is, wow! Who knew that Bradley Cooper had such a set of pipes — I never got beyond his dreamy blue eyes and white teeth before. This was Lady Gaga’s first film and her acting ability is superb. She moved me to tears. Also, this is Cooper’s directing debut, another stunner. My guess is we’ll be seeing this film and actors garnering “noms” during the upcoming film award season, and they will be well deserved.


OK, I have some exciting catch-up to do. The opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra was held Sept. 27. It was the orchestra’s 100th birthday, and there was a party that went way over the top!

The opening concert was held at Walt Disney Concert Hall, architect Frank Gehry’s L.A. masterpiece. The theme for the gala evening was “California Soul.” Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who is celebrating his 10th year with the orchestra, took the sold-out crowd of music lovers on a musical journey through the state, from Chinatown in Los Angeles to Big Sur in the north, with many stops in between.

The opening-night gala and concert raised more than $3.4 million for the LA Phil’s music education programs, which serve more than 150,000 youths, families and teachers every year.

Composers featured in the evening’s performance were Jerry Goldsmith, John Adams, Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Julia Dolphe and Andre Previn.

Stepping to the stage as soloists were Chris Martin of the rock band Coldplay, Corrinne Bailey Rai, R&B singer, Tracy Silverman, electric violinist, and John Densmore, the iconic Doors drummer. The L.A. Master Chorale also sang.

It was hard to tell who was having more fun on stage, Dudamel or Martin, as they joked with each other.


The grand finale of the concert came when all the artists, including the Master Chorale, joined together for the evening’s encore, the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” Martin encouraged the audience to join in singing, which they did with gusto! While everyone was rocking out with good vibrations, sparkling confetti in the shape of the golden state and blue surfboards floated down from the ceiling.

For gala ticket holders, the evening began on Grand Avenue with passed hors d’oeuvres and a specialty vodka cocktail called “California Dreamin’ Lemonade” that was mixed with magic color changing blue ice.

After the concert, the gala guests moved to the future site of the Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue project across from Walt Disney Concert Hall for dining under the stars.

As soon as the dining ended, Gala guests were treated to stunningly gorgeous displays that were projected onto the steel shell of the concert hall. The production, called “WDCH Dreams” was created by award-winning media artist Reflik Anadol. It was one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen.

Guests then returned to the Grand Avenue party site where they danced to the music of the band Pink Martini and DJ Jason Bentley. A wide array of post-dinner sweets were beautifully displayed on long tables for those who worked up an appetite on the dance floor.

The Phil did it big for its 100th!

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