Downey churches announce merger

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DOWNEY – St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Downey Avenue is inviting the public to attend the inauguration service on Sunday, December 3, of its merger with the congregation from the former Moravian Church of Downey.

With the approval of senior leadership in both denominations, St. Mark’s will become known by the new name:  St. Mark’s Espiscopal-Moravian Church.

St. Mark’s reports some tangible changes have already been implemented. The Moravian star has been mounted, and the open Bible is prominently displayed in the sanctuary. Orders have been placed for the Moravian Book of Worship and the church is planning an educational series for members to learn about each other’s unique traditions.

The former Moravian Church of Downey closed after 63 years last June when its congregation declined to the point where it could no longer maintain the facilities. 

Documentary shines light on music's role in film

DOWNEY -- The essential and final ingredient for creating movie magic is not a visual component at all.  It is the musical score – those artful sounds that frame the action, set the mood, and draw us into an emotional connection with the characters and their story.

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Think of "Star Wars," "ET," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "Psycho." Would these movies be as memorable without their defining music? Music communicates ideas and feelings on an emotional level, and movie makers know that the right score will have a significant impact on a film’s success.

A revealing new documentary about the collaborative process of scoring films will be presented free to the public on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 4 p.m. at the Downey Civic Theatre as part of this year’s Glennfest Film Festival.

“Score: A Film Music Documentary” features over 20 well-known film composers and musicians reflecting on this modern art form, and offers a glimpse into the complex, detailed process required for movie magic.   

“The score is the heartbeat of the film,” "Titanic" director James Cameron explains in the film. “All your other work on a film can come to nothing if you don’t have the right music.”  

Musician and composer Quincy Jones adds, “We can make you feel anything we want you to feel.”

The free screening is being presented by the Downey Symphonic Society and the Downey Arts Coalition.

“So much of new orchestral music today is written for movies and TV,” explains Don Marshall, president of the Symphonic Society, “so it’s natural that we would sponsor this terrific documentary about film composers.”  

An added feature of this afternoon event will be an introductory discussion by two musicians with decades of experience in the movie industry– film composer, orchestrator, and conductor Conrad Pope, who is featured in the film, and musician/composer Lars Clutterham.

Pope has worked on over 420 films during this 30-year career.  He has contributed to such well-known movies as the "Matrix" series, recent "Harry Potter" films, "Troy," and "The Legend of Zorro." He is a frequent collaborator with the legendary John Williams as well as a composer in his own right.

Clutterham, a Downey resident, worked for over 23 years with the Joann Kane Music Service, a company that provides rapid, custom music preparation services for composers and others in the film industry. It’s an intense business, as Clutterham describes it, involving artistic decisions, deadlines, and armies of musicians.

It is clear from the film that movie music today is a collaborative process from the beginning so that the composer understands the director’s vision. There are scenes of John Williams sharing his idea for the music to ET with director Steven Spielberg. In another scene, discussing his simple and visceral theme for the shark in Jaws, Williams tells Spielberg, “You made a very primal movie.”

Once the director and the composer are on the same page with mood and theme, dozens of other musicians are brought in to create the sheet music that will be needed for each musician.  Modern film composers don’t write every note for every instrument the way Mozart and Beethoven did.  Orchestrators and copyists assist with the work after the composer creates a “sketch.”

“The score goes through all of these evolutions to get the music behind the film,” says Clutterham.  “You’ve got to get all those little pieces of music ready for all of the players in the orchestra.  There’s a huge amount of background work that goes into that.”  

With huge budgets at stake as studios seek box office hits, Clutterham explains “There is a high priority to have it perfect when it’s sight read in the studio.” T

he public is often surprised to learn that orchestra members do not always see the new music before they must play it. The turn-around time for changes and additions to the score are often so quick that the musicians must be able to play it when they first read it – “on sight.”

Clutterham, who has worked mostly behind the scenes in film music, is an accomplished musician in his own right. His interest in music began early. As a winner of a youth competition when he was 12, Clutterham played one movement of a Beethoven concerto with the Florida Symphony. He also enjoyed improvisation and pop tunes.  

By his senior year in high school, Clutterham says, “I knew I was going to be a professional musician.” For a summer job after graduation, he produced and performed in his own piano recital.  

“I promoted it, I found a hall. I made about as much as I would have if I had been working in a fast food chain,” he tells.

Since his retirement from an agency position, Clutterham says he is now spending more time on his creative interests. This coming January, the Downey Symphony Orchestra will premiere Clutterham’s new composition, "New Horizons."

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Carolyn Osborn, principal violinist for the Downey Symphony Orchestra and soloist for the concert in October, has played for many film scores, including "Spider-Man: Homecoming," "Star Wars Rogue One," "Jurassic World," and "Coco," a new Pixar movie coming out in November.

Speaking about film work, Osborn says, “When it’s a good score and a fun movie, it is the best!” A fun part is when “they are showing the film as we are recording to it, so you get to see what the film looks like in very small pieces. When you have a great composer, it is fascinating to see how they make changes as necessary until it is just right.”

Twenty-first century film music is a lot different from the organ accompaniment used for silent films. More than a few film composers are known for their wildly different work in bands. Danny Elfman ("Batman") was the lead singer and songwriter for Oingo Boingo, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross ("The Social Network," "The Vietnam War") perform as Nine Inch Nails.

Prolific composer Hans Zimmer ("The Lion King," "The Dark Knight Rises"), who once played keyboards and synthesizers with the band Krakatoa, says he was self-taught. In a nod to another master, Zimmer says, “John Williams made me realize film music can be as great as the classical composers.”

Despite his own lifetime of achievement, including an Academy Award for "The Lion King," Zimmer still voices some feelings of anxiety about the creative process. “I have no idea where the music comes from,” he says. “I’m always afraid someone’s going to turn off the tap.”

People don’t need a musical background to comprehend and enjoy the subject of the movie "Score." The inside look at an orchestra recording session at AIR Studios in London is exceptional. Housed in a historic church, AIR Studios is state-of the-art and one of the largest studios of its kind.  

The process of bringing such well-known music to theaters around the world will be a revelation for most people.  Movie and music lovers and family members of all ages will enjoy this free screening. For the full schedule go to glennfest.com/schedule/
 

Shared Stories: 1943-49 Starting a Family

This is Lisa Filler’s second installment of the story of her mother and father who were married and started their family during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II.   (Note: Lisa is a very cute lady with an exceptional smile.)  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.


By Lisa Filler

The Philippines were governed by Japan during World War II. American soldiers left with the promise of General McArthur, “I shall return.”  

Ligaya and Juan, my mother and father, continued working and learned the Japanese National Anthem, numbers and some Japanese words.  In October 1943 Juan Alberto  (nicknamed Jubert) was born, the first child of Juan and Ligaya. 

He was so cute with light and smooth complexion. Co-teachers and neighbors liked to take care of him. Ligaya breast feed Jubert while she was on maternity leave. When she went back to work she asked her friend and neighbor, Nan Abarquez, who also gave birth to a son (Teddy), to take care of Jubert while she was at work. Jubert and Teddy were breastfed by Nan, one on each breast. The two became very close friends.

There was a rumor among the Filipino population that McArthur was coming back as he promised. Ligaya’s father told them to come to Pagsanjan so they will be close to him.  One day in Pagsanjan, Ligaya went to the market. On her way home, a Japanese soldier with a rifle stopped her, demanding her to go inside a house. 

Ligaya knelt down, begging him to let her go home. She tried to explain in Japanese that she had a son waiting for her. But the Japanese soldier still insisted. 

All of a sudden the soldier ran away, to Ligaya’s surprise. She got up and started running home. While she was running an American airplane was flying very low. That’s why the Japanese soldier ran. 

When Ligaya reached home, everybody was packing their things to evacuate to the mountain. They lived on the mountain on her father’s coconut plantation while the town of Pagsanjan was bombed by American airplanes. 

When the Japanese surrendered, they went back to the town and most of the houses were gone, including their house. The Filler family went back to their jobs in Welfareville.

In 1945 Ligaya got pregnant but had a miscarriage. In January 1947 she gave birth to second son who was named Jose. Jose was cuter than Jubert, also with light and smooth complexion. Juan was so proud of Jose because he was allowed inside the delivery room with Ligaya. 

In 1948 Ligaya was pregnant again, and this time she was already 40 years old. Teresa and cousins suggested having an abortion. Modern women at that time were having abortions. Ligaya and Juan said no. They wanted to have a girl; and no matter what gender, they wanted this baby. 

In February 1949,  I was borne and was named Lisa. Because Ligaya was 41 years old she was given a Twilight medication that put her to sleep while delivering the baby. I was borne asleep and had to be in incubator. 

When Ligaya woke up she asked for her baby. My father explained that there was some complication that I have to be in incubator. They went immediately to see me. 

Ligaya was so happy to see her baby girl but so sad that she cannot hold her. I was not looking good. I had to stay in the incubator for weeks. Ligaya was released from the hospital without me but they visited every day.

When I was released from the hospital I was not cute as my two brothers. I was skinny with dark skin and cried a lot. To Ligaya and Juan I was the answer to their prayers; their precious daughter. Ligaya was so happy to hold her baby girl. 

I was so close to my mother that we were inseparable. People called me the shadow of my mother. I cried until I fell asleep whenever my mother went to work. Sometimes she would take me to her classroom. Co-teachers and even the principal took turns watching me.

However, some people were wondering if I was switched in the hospital because I have dark complexion and don’t look like my cute brothers.
 

Downey Arts Coalition hosting open house tonight

DOWNEY – The Downey Arts Coalition will host an Open House tonight at 7 p.m., at the Epic Lounge in downtown Downey.

The event is free to the public and offers an opportunity to connect with others who have an interest in supporting and participating in local art events. Refreshments will be served.    

The evening features skits by the Epic Lounge Improv Team, which includes actor and film director Forrest Hartl, and artwork by Kristine Augustyn.  Augustyn works primarily in acrylics and uses color and light in a post-impressionistic style. 

Art curator Pat Gil describes the Downey Arts Coalition as umbrella organization that provides “a place for local artists, arts organization, and community leaders to share and collaborate. Whatever someone’s passion is – music, film, theatre, dance, poetry – we can work together to help you express it in our local community.”   

Since its founding in 2011, the arts group has sponsored art exhibits, monthly poetry readings, and produced two Broadway plays and three free music festivals.   Art shows for the Dia de los Muertos celebrations, the City of Downey rooftop events, and the Downey symphony concerts are curated by members of DAC.

The non-profit organization has also hosted movie screenings by local filmmakers, and assisted with publicity for the Glenfest Movie Festival that was free to the public at the Downey Krikorian Theater.  Reflecting its commitment to the community, the DAC website offers a calendar promoting city concerts, art shows, and music events.

Everyone, no matter what their interest, is invited to come for an evening of networking and stimulating conversation.  For further information go to:  www.downeyarts.org.

 

After nearly 40 years, Johnny & Co. to close Saturday

Salon owner Miguel Bardales, seated second from left, says that Johnny & Co. will be closing its doors after nearly four decades. 

Salon owner Miguel Bardales, seated second from left, says that Johnny & Co. will be closing its doors after nearly four decades. 

DOWNEY – A Downey institution of nearly four decades will be closing its doors for good this Saturday after the last lock of hair is cut and the last head of curls is blow-dried. Miguel Bardales, owner of Johnny & Co., says that Feb. 28 will be the last day of business for the well-known hair salon since he and the new landlord were unable to reach an agreement on the terms of a lease renewal.

“It is sad that I have to make the decision to close the doors to people who have been working here for so many years,” said Bardales, who has owned the business on Downey Avenue for eight years. Stylist Maria Salcedo has the longest association, 39 years, with the salon.

Other stylists with decades of work at the salon still commute to Johnny’s even though they now live elsewhere. DeDe Drotter, twenty-seven years at Johnny’s, commutes several days a week from Huntington Beach. Art Savala, 23 years, commutes from Glendale.

The salon was established by Johnny Croshaw in 1976 at 4th Street and Downey Avenue. The business moved to its present location in the 1980’s, and while the ownership has changed several times over the years, the name “Johnny’s” was retained, with hair stylists and their clients forming a community with a significant history.

“There’s a lot of legacy here,” says Barbara Grothe, who has worked at the salon for thirty-seven years. Recounting the community service that the group was known for, Grothe says that for many years salon stylists donated their time doing hair and make-up backstage for the Miss Downey Pagent. Fundraisers offering $5 haircuts were held to benefit organizations such as Meals on Wheels and ARC. And Johnny’s beauticians were known for making their services available at homeless shelters and Rancho Los Amigos Hospital.

One of the former owners of the salon was community leader Pat Gomez-Pratt, who passed away last year. Gomez-Pratt had served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital Guild, and as a grand marshal at the annual Downey Christmas Parade.

It was Gomez-Pratt who guided the move of Johnny’s to its current location on Downey Avenue in the 1980’s and had the building remodeled. The interior décor is striking, with six-foot high, full-length mirrors at each station, and the building itself is a model for energy-efficiency. Multiple skylights bathe the entire salon in natural light during the day.

Croshaw had continued working as a stylist with the salon during this time, and says that construction work revealed the site’s earlier role in Downey’s civic history. According to Croshaw, the old building had at one time been a Constable’s office, and when the floor was dug up during the 1980’s remodel, construction workers found horseshoes and vintage bottles.

In 1996 Gomez-Pratt sold the business and building back to Croshaw. When Croshaw sold the business once more in 2004, he retained ownership of the building, all the while continuing to work there.

Last year, in 2014, Johnny himself finally left the salon that still bears his name when he sold the property itself to the owners of the Downey Pizza Company. The new owners could not be reached for comment about their plans for the building on Downey Avenue.

“It’s bittersweet,” says Croshaw, who did a tour in the Marines and tried a few other jobs such as truck driver and bartender before ending up in Downey. “The salon was the first thing I ever did in my life that I set out to do and that I did. We had a long and wonderful ride.”

Barbie Brooks, who is now an insurance agent, describes working at the salon as a clean-up girl when it first opened. She was thirteen years old. When she was sixteen, Brooks started a two-year cosmetology program under Croshaw, who was licensed to train and supervise. She was part of the salon for almost 27 years.

All but one of the nine stylists and the manicurist will be moving to other salons in the coming weeks. “It’s a hard knock for ourselves,” says Grothe.

The stylists had wanted to remain together at a new location, but there was no salon big enough to accommodate the group. Liz Hernandez, who has 35 years with Johnny’s, will be retiring.

Johnny Crowshaw

Johnny Crowshaw

Most clients have been contacted personally, but if someone hasn’t heard, Grothe says these are the planned moves as of now:

To Oh Em Gee! at 8221 East 3rd Street - Alicia Villasenor and Lisa Magelin. To the Beauty Bar, 10355 Lakewood Blvd. - DeDe Drotter, Gigi Maidlow, Maria Salcedo, and Lana Sarkissian (manicurist). To Bella’s The Salon, 9986 Lakewood Blvd. - Art Savala, Mark Biri, and Debi Pugh. To Estillo Devino, 10907 Downey Avenue - Barbara Grothe.

Croshaw still takes hair appointments on call, and can be found at Dazzling Beauty on Downey Avenue, across the street from Porto’s parking structure. He also continues a singing career that started some 20 years ago when he was doing musical theater in Hollywood, and volunteers his time performing every Tuesday along with Dr. Bob Flynn and others at the Southland convalescent facility.

Downey Arts Coalition hosting open house

DOWNEY – The Downey Arts Coalition will host an open house on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m., at the Epic Lounge. The event is free to the public and will offer an opportunity to connect with others who have an interest in supporting and participating in local art events.

Refreshments will be served, along with a brief presentation by local artist Roy Anthony Shabla who is also an artistic advisor for the Downey Museum of Art.

Since its founding in 2011, the Downey Arts Coalition has sponsored art exhibits and monthly poetry readings, and produced two Broadway plays and two free music festivals. The non-profit organization has also hosted movie screenings by local videographers, and recently assisted with publicity for the Glenfest Movie Festival that was free to the public at the Downey Krikorian Theater.

Art curator Pat Gil explains, “Whatever someone’s passion is – music, film, theatre, dance, poetry – we can work together to help you express it in our local community.”

Gil describes DAC as an umbrella organization that provides “a place for local artists, arts organization, and community leaders to share and collaborate.”

Reflecting its commitment to the community, the DAC website offers a calendar promoting city concerts, art shows, and music events.

Everyone, no matter what their interest, is invited to come for an evening of networking and stimulating conversation. For further information go to: downeyarts.org.

 

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Published: Jan. 8, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 39