The Valley Line: Sounds of singing caress foothills

Some folks around our burg might think the cloudy, cooler days are inclement. I think they are wonderful. I’m at last catching the autumn spirit. The liquidambar trees are dotting our landscape with their rich colors of burgundy, orange and gold. The damp air makes their leaves even more brilliant.

I’ll be celebrating this Thanksgiving with daughter Heather and grandchildren Catherine and Ryan. Son Chris and his family are still in England, so they are inviting about 20 of their Brit friends to share this American custom with them.

I actually am looking forward to doing the turkey ritual and preparing all the side dishes. I can already smell the delicious aroma of roasting turkey. I hope that all of you have a very memorable gathering with family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Social and cultural events have been swirling and of course our town folk are in the middle of the mix. Just the other night I saw Elza and Michael Gross, with their granddaughter Allison Budde, at the Pantages Theatre for the opening of “Riverdance.”

I have seen this production several times, yet it is always thrilling. These traditional Irish dancers are so skilled and amazing to watch. Then you add beautiful voices singing Celtic folk tunes and it is stunning. Oh, I’d almost forgotten, yet how could I? There are the pipes, drums, fiddle and keyboards — what an amazing blending.

Perhaps the fact that I have several Irish forebears who came to America in the mid 1600 and 1700s makes this music and dancing resonate more within my soul. Also, within the past few years, I traveled to Ireland with my sister and we retraced some of our Irish roots, something that also makes the music and dancing more meaningful for me.


On another cultural note, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, under the direction of Grant Gershon, opened its 48th season at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles with a mostly a cappella performance.

A magnificent addition to the evening was when organist Paul Meier played the Hall’s iconic pipe organ in “Lux Aeterna,” composed by Morten Lauridsen who later came to the stage to take a bow.

This chorale, which performed on opening night with 115 members, has always drawn singers from our foothills. Among them are Bradley Chapman, Samela and Mark Beasom, Helene Quintana, Sal Malaki, Greg Davies, Jody Golightly and Suzanne Anderson.

The concert was followed with a gala dinner in Disney’s BP Hall that raised $285,000 for the chorale’s artistic and education programs.

Guests at the black-tie event were feted with the chorale’s signature Surround Sing, where the singers, conducted by Gershon, ringed the room to create an embracing circle of sound as they performed a cappella works — “Shenandoah,” “Wana Baraka” and “Danny Boy.” Talk about goose bumps — if a person didn’t have them by the last strains of “Danny Boy” faded, then they would have to have ice water in their veins. Oh, my goodness, there is nothing quite as beautiful as their Surround Sing.

Mark Foster, who has been president of the LAMC board of 22 years, was honored that evening with a champagne toast and kind words.

LCF resident Heidi Simpson Sandoval, first vice president and managing director of BNY Mellon, stepped to the microphone to welcome guests. BNY Mellon has sponsored the gala dinner for 20 years. Heidi is also a LAMC board member. Her husband, Tim, was also at the gala and we had a nice chat about how spectacular the evening was.

Other area residents in attendance at the gala were Marguerite and Robert Marsh (Marguerite is on the board of directors), Becky and Jack Doody; Kathy and Jim Drummy; Rhoda Heth and Tom Mabie; Judi, Bry and Debbie Danner; Tom and Gloria Lang with Molly Joseph and her daughter, Sammi; Marina and Gary Raines, and Jeanne Walston.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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