Stars to the symphony

DOWNEY - Garden parties have long enjoyed a reputation as pleasant affairs, though it must be acknowledged that the first one on record ended rather badly. (That was the one in Eden, of course, attended by everybody who was anybody, with a rotter on the guest list.)Notwithstanding, the recent gathering in Downey to benefit our symphony orchestra continued the positive tradition of garden parties, and the rolling green lawns of Dr. Walter Kelley's home were the perfect site for an afternoon of elegant light music and sinfully delicious food, along with the opportunity to contribute support for Music in the Schools and the orchestra's 2009-10 concert season. Scores of gleaming white chairs under umbrellas beckoned guests, and from one area of the garden a brass quintet, graduate students from USC's Thornton School of Music, sent show tunes wafting into the fragrant breeze. Katie Hare's incomparable food table was never without an appreciative audience crowding around for firsts, seconds, thirds. The delightful concert pianist Pauline Yang performed Chopin and Brahms. Downey Symphony Music Director Sharon Lavery strolled everywhere, speaking with every guest. And the occasion also marked the first Circle of Stars awards given by the Symphony Board. Circle of Stars recipients are the soloists who have performed with the Downey Symphony over the years, and the board wishes to recognize these artists for their collaboration with our orchestra and to assure them of our continuing interest in their careers. While a comprehensive list of these distinguished soloists is still being formulated, several attended this garden party and received their Circle of Stars pins. They were pianist Elizabeth Wilson, whose two performances with the orchestra under Mario Cajati were between 1957 and 1966, pianist/composer Richard Carpenter, composer Robert Litton and pianist Pauline Yang. Downey's own Marsha Moode, a narrator with the symphony, received her Circle of Stars pin also, but popped in so briefly between Civic Light Opera rehearsals, that it was difficult to catch a picture of her. Board treasurer Bill hare conducted the spirited auction of 16 tempting opportunities, ranging from L.A. Opera tickets to dinner for 10 at the Rio Hondo Event Center, from a guitar to lunch and tour at the Downey Police Department, all in support of the Symphony. Appreciative guests, acknowledging the excellence of the orchestra and its outreach to schoolchildren, bid generously. Then there was just enough time before party's end for a full-scale assault on the dessert table, covered with cake stands and trays of yummies provided by board members. Everyone on the symphony board devoted time, thought and hard work to this fundraising event, to help assure the continuing presence in our community of a fine symphony orchestra. Enthusiastic response from supporters in attendance proved once again that garden parties are happy deals. And can be successful. Thank you. The first concert in our new season will be on Oct. 24, in the Downey Theatre. For information, visit or phone (562) 403-2944.

********** Published: October 2, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 24