The Valley Line: Peering into the orchestra's Crystal Ball

Despite what the calendar told us, we enjoyed yet another summer-like weekend. A spritz of rain and a fun, short-lived hailstorm earlier last week had me searching out a sunny spot to bask in this past Saturday and Sunday. My dog, Lola, already beat me to the best warm spots in the backyard. She has claimed my comfy swing with a canopy as her own and seems to not like it when I settle in and start swinging.

This lovely weather is likely just a teaser because there is a bit of winter to go yet. Hopefully we'll see more rain — our parched earth needs it.

The flurry of philanthropic benefits are still in a steady whirl and our community members are getting all dressed up for the many truly upscale parties.

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra staged its Crystal Ball gala benefit party at the venerable California Club in downtown Los Angeles. The landmark club was founded in 1887 and is filled with beautiful antique furniture and exquisite paintings in rich, gold frames.

The gala began with a special concert led by concert master Margaret Batjer. Musical tributes were played to honor Jeffrey Kahane, who has been director of the orchestra for the past 15 years and was honoree for the evening.

Featured soloists were Chris Thile, a mandolin master, and Jon Kimura Parker, piano virtuoso. Also featured that evening were foothills residents Ken Munday, principal bassoon, and his wife, Jennifer, who plays second violin.

After the concert, guests went into the lounge where they sipped cocktails and nibbled on an array of hors d'oeuvres while they checked out the silent-auction tables.

There were some amazing things to bid on. Some of the hotly contested items at the tables were a pair of tickets to the 55th annual Grammy Awards, dinners in the private homes of the consuls general of Belgium, the Czech Republic and Australia, and an array of special entertainment, culinary, wine, travel and jewelry packages.

Later in the evening, up for grabs at the live auction conducted by Grant Snyder, was a stay in a luxurious, private 5,000-square-foot, three bedroom condo on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, a ride for two on the Goodyear blimp, and a private architectural walking tour of Los Angeles with Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. A popular bidding item was a gourmet dinner for eight prepared by Kahane, Batjer and noted film composer Joel McNeely.

Joyce Fienberg was chair of the gala committee. Working with her on the event were Clare Baren, Margaret Batjer, Maia Jasper, Anne Moore Mulally, Mahnaz Newman, Linda Rosen and Peekie Schaefer.

The gala continued with a sumptuous dinner and dancing to Mora's Modern Rhythmists.

Proceeds of the evening benefit Los Angles Chamber Orchestra's concert series, radio broadcasts and community engagement programs.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. She can be reached at

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