The Valley Line: Chorale is so good, it brings goose bumps

Hello everyone, it’s Thursday, and here I am again after having my column appear in the Sunday Valley Sun for the past several months. It’s like old home week, and I feel so comfy. I’ve missed seeing you here for a bit. Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

So, when you have a bit of free time to put your feet up with some refreshments and you have this newspaper in hand, I’ll tell you what fundraising events, parties and concerts our neighbors have been dressing up for lately.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale launched its 49th season at Walt Disney Concert Hall in October with an outstanding program featuring the magnificent voices of the Master Chorale as well as the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.

Grant Gershon, music director, showcased the majesty of the voices and power of the venue’s iconic pipe organ in a breathtaking musical extravaganza that will long be remembered by all who attended.

The evening was capped by a glittering post-concert gala attended by more than 200 formally dressed guests that raised $275,000 for the Chorale’s artistic and education programs.

It was like a Gershon family affair with Grant, his wife, Elissa Johnston, who sings in the Chorale and their daughter, Claire, who sings in the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.

The concert featured two West Coast premieres — Nico Muhly’s choral tapestry, “A Good Understanding,” performed with the Children’s Chorus, and Judith Weir’s “Ascending Into Heaven.”

The musical entertainment at the gala was performed by the Master Chorale and Tony Award-winning composer/pianist/playwright Jason Robert Brown.

The Chorale performed its signature surround sing, in which Chorale members encircle guests and envelop them in song. The group’s performance was so intimate and beautiful that I had goose bumps.

Another gala highlight came when actress Jane Kaczmarek conducted a live auction for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conduct the Hallelujah Chorus on stage at the Chorale’s “Messiah” Sing-Along on Dec. 17. Tom and Judy Beckmen were thrilled to make the winning bid of $4,500.

The hall was especially lovely washed in violet light and complemented with table centerpiece bouquets created with lush violet-hued flowers.

Guests began their dining experience with a salad of ahi-tuna towers. The entrée was braised beef short ribs with a melange of vegetables. The dinner concluded with apple tarts with creme fraiche.

La Cañada Flintridge guests attending the gala included Judi and Bryant Danner, Jim Colbert and Vicki Land, Ann and Richard Lawton, and Bo and Solomon Golomb.

Local singers in the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus that night included Anastacia Menemenlis, Abigail Rosen, Jamie and Rachel Bang and Emma Muraoka. Anne Tomlinson directed the Children’s Chorus.

Area singers in the Master Chorale include Suzanne Anderson, Bradley Chapman, Greg Davies, Sal Malaki, Jody Golightly, Helene Quintana, Samela Beason and Mark Beason.

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

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