The Valley Line: Orchestra supporters have the world on a string

April 16, 2014|By Jane Napier Neely | By Jane Napier Neely
  • The stars of the night at the L.A. Chamber Orchestra Strad gala are, from left, Cho-Liang Lin, Martin Chalifour, Margaret Batjer, LACO Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, Ray Ushikubo, Chee-Yun, Xiang Yu and Philippe Quint.
The stars of the night at the L.A. Chamber Orchestra Strad… (Photo by Lee Salem )

Whew! Tax time is over. Certainly not my favorite time of the year. Actually, I get quite cranky. Of course there is not a darn thing to be done about it. Ben Franklin once wrote in a letter, "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Amen, Ben.


The best part of the last two weeks is that I learned a new word, luthier. A luthier is one who makes stringed instruments such as violin, viola, cello, guitar, harp and lute. Not only did I learn about the new word, but I sat next to two of these individuals at the most amazingly divine concert I have ever been to.

The two specialized people who enchanted me are Brenda and Mario Miralles, a married couple who live nearby. Brenda studied the craft of violin-making for more than 12 years in Cremona, Italy, the hometown of one of the most famous luthiers of all time, Antonio Stradivari.


The divine gala event I attended was called "Stradosphere: a Strad-studded evening benefiting Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra." It was a black-tie evening held at the beautiful California Club that honored the legend and mystique of eight rare and extraordinary violins handcrafted by the Italian master violin-maker.

Can you even imagine (I couldn't) the magnificent sound of eight Stradivariuses played by master violinists at one time? It was a once-in-a-lifetime event and it will resonate within me forever. Also experiencing this exquisite evening were locals Ann and Tony Cannon, Sara and Ed Nowak, Rudi and Ann Otter, Philip White and Maia Jasper.

Pat and Sandy Gage, concert gala co-chairs, wanted to transcend space and time to allow guests to experience the sounds of the 17th-century age of Antonio Stradivari. They were incredibly successful in their quest.

It was an evening that just kept unfolding with beauty, every step of the way. The best part was that this event raised $535,000 to benefit the Chamber Orchestra's concert series, radio broadcasts and community engagement programs.

When attendees first arrived at the California Club they sampled appetizers and sipped Prosecco. They were then ushered into a "drawing room" that was aglow with soft pink lighting and shimmering gold chairs. The scene was set for the violin magic that certainly put goose bumps on my arms. We listened to Bach, Vivaldi, Mauer and Piazzolla.

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