The children’s author and radio personality will be at the Downey City Library on Feb. 23.Read More
LONG BEACH – A local producer is planning to transform the Queen’s Salon aboard the Queen Mary into an event akin to the “Love Boat” for Valentine’s Day and urges dinner guests to come aboard and “step back in time.”
The event will be held Feb. 9 and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Chad Berlinghieri, an international opera singer and artistic director of Cathedral Productions, is producing the evening of “exquisite dinner theater” featuring an ensemble of top talent, including pop star Cooper Phillip and a quartet of singers comprised of sopranos Teresa Mai and Melissa Maricich, baritone Roberto Gomez, pianist Curtis Heard, and Berlinghieri himself at the helm.
“This event is always the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Berlinghieri, a tenor. “You never know what may happen when couples feel the power of love. We have had couples renew their vows and also get engaged.”
Berlinghieri is active in the Southern California arts community, producing in most of the major performing arts venues. He recently produced “It’s Christmas in Downey” at the Downey Theatre.
He has also been a cantor in the Diocese of Orange for the last 25 years and is coming up on his 11th Easter at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Seal Beach.
Proceeds from this event will help support retired nuns in the community and will also provide blankets for the homeless through the Isaiah House Project started by Cathedral Productions at the beginning of this winter.
Tickets to “Love Songs” can be purchased online at CathedralProductions.com or by calling (714) 883-7987.
The Road to Wrestlemania starts Sunday!
With two ‘Mania main event berths and a slew of titles on the line, Downey Patriot Staff Writer Alex Dominguez and Editor Eric Pierce weigh in on who they think is destined for victory.
Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Towaza vs. Hideo Itami for the Cruiserweight Championship –
AD: I don’t watch 405 Live, nor do I attempt to follow up on it at all. So, with that in mind…
Eeny, meeny, miny, Itami.
Prediction: Hideo Itami
EP: I don’t know much about these guys either, but I do know Buddy Murphy is the boyfriend of Alexa Bliss. The goddess is back!
Prediction: Buddy Murphy
Rusev (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the United States Championship –
AD: I’m not too terribly invested in this feud, because I tend to zone out whenever Rusev is involved. Still, the WWE Universe seems happy enough with him as champion, so why not keep it on him a little while longer.
It is my firm belief that Nakamura should be in the main event mix anyways. You can’t do that as easily with the US Title weighing you down.
EP: I’m a big Nakamura fan, but he had his run after winning the 2018 Royal Rumble, and I can’t see him recapturing the title after relinquishing it less than a month ago.
Like Alex said, Nakamura is probably off to bigger things anyway. His job Sunday will be to make Rusev look good.
Asuka (c) vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship –
AD: Look, I was right there with much of the WWE Universe last year when I wanted Asuka to take home the gold, but it didn’t happen.
Does Asuka deserve a title run? Yes absolutely. But 2018 was the year of Becky Lynch; she’s the hottest act not only in the women’s division, but in the WWE and practically all of wrestling as a whole. If anyone deserves the belt right now, it’s The Man.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
EP: Poor Asuka is a casualty of Becky Lynch’s exploding rise in popularity. Becky has to head into WrestleMania as champion. HAS TO.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
Shane McMahon and The Miz vs The Bar (c) for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships –
AD: I’ve been clamoring for another Miz run with the WWE Title, so this is going to be less a prediction and more just fantasy booking.
Miz and McMahon win the title. Things are great for them for let’s say, a month. However, somewhere along the line Shane manages to win the WWE title at the expense of the Miz (I know, gross). Shenanigans ensue, a feud follows. Miz wins WWE Championship at Wrestlemania.
Likely? Not really, but it’s the only way I can make sense of this wacky tag team combination.
A guy can dream at least.
Prediction: Miz and McMahon
EP: To be clear, the only time I want to see Shane McMahon in a ring is in a Hell in a Cell match.
Making him a tag team champion is aggravating, especially with so much under-utilized talent toiling as mid-carders. Hey Vince, maybe this is one of the reasons you’re losing talent to the indies and AEW?
Prediction: The Bar
Ronda Rousey (c) vs Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship –
AD: Like the Universal Title match, there’s no way in hell that Rousey is dropping her title. She WILL be the main event of Wrestlemania.
Wishful thinking, but let’s let Bailey cost Banks the title and end the god-awful Hug ‘n’ Boss Connection team.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
EP: This match feels weird, awkward, and forced. Ronda is obviously going on to bigger things at WrestleMania, and Sasha is probably better suited in the tag-team ranks. (Despite my colleague’s disdain for the Hug ‘n’ Boss Connection, I believe they’re destined to win the inaugural women’s tag titles at Elimination Chamber.)
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
AD: Hey Eric, you misspelled The Riott Squad.
Daniel Bryan (c) vs AJ Styles for the WWE Championship –
AD: While a heel Daniel Bryan is definitely fresher and more entertaining in my book, I still don’t consider myself a fan. That being said, as much as I adore AJ Styles, he already had a pretty lengthy run with the belt that only just recently ended.
It’s time for both men to move on to other feuds, and frankly it’ll be more interesting to see the “new” Daniel Bryan mix it up with a few other contenders.
DB retains, and AJ gets set up for a high-profile match at Mania, whatever that ends up being.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
EP: I personally don’t buy Daniel Bryan as a heel, maybe because I’ve seen him in too many episodes of Total Divas. (My wife watches the show, and I just happen to catch a scene or two. Whatever.)
AJ Styles is the best wrestler in WWE as far as I’m concerned. Give him the belt. Give him all the belts.
Prediction: AJ Styles
Finn Balor vs Brock Lesnar (c) for the Universal Championship –
AD: Brock is going in to ‘Mania as Champion; that’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler (and it’s barely even that). The only thing else I have to say on this match is that I hope they don’t put Balor in his demon gimmick. I love the Demon, but it needs to be treated like Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Streak: special, protected and damn-near unbeatable. Let Balor go out and give a strong showing so he looks good in defeat.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
EP: I have a feeling this will be similar to Brock’s match against Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series: total domination by Brock in the first half of the match, followed by a rally by Finn that ultimately falls short. If there’s one thing WWE does well it’s repetition.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Women's Royal Rumble –
AD: In all honesty, Becky Lynch should be the winner of this match. However, Lynch is already scheduled to face Asuka on Sunday, so she’s out. That leaves the most logical winner to be Charlotte, in my opinion.
Charlotte wins, then goes on to main event ‘Mania with Ronda Rousey.
EP: It’s hard to argue against my colleague’s logic; Charlotte Flair is indeed the most logical person to win the rumble. But with news that Alexa Bliss will make her long-awaited return as a Royal Rumble entrant, I can just as easily see her pulling out a win and getting a huge push to reclaim her title.
It’s the return of the goddess!
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Men’s Royal Rumble –
AD: This is tricky, because from a storyline perspective there’s nothing really tangible to hang onto yet. There are a few rumors flying around, but one in particular makes the most sense…
It seems as though that the backstage rumblings are that Seth Rollins is the one being positioned to dethrone Lesnar at ‘Mania. My only issue with this proposition is that Rollins is currently tied up in a feud with his former shield brother Dean Ambrose, however there is still plenty of time to tie up those loose ends before April.
If you’re going to aim Rollins at the champ, this is the most logical way to do it.
Also, let’s just pretend that the WWE didn’t waste the number 30 spot on R-Truth…
Prediction: Seth Rollins
EP: Seth Rollins just doesn’t do it for me. Excellent wrestler for sure, and he’s a nice enough dude, but he doesn’t elicit any sort of passion from me.
None of this means anything of course, and Alex is right on with his prediction.
Prediction: Seth Rollins
DOWNEY - Steve Probst is a Downey native. He learned guitar at the Downey YMCA. He bought records at stores around town. He was even in the Way Outer Broadway Talent Show.
Now a professional musician, Probst will soon be getting the homecoming performance that he never expected.
Probst, 57, has been touring with Hotel California, a tribute band that salutes the music of The Eagles.
His involvement with the group began years ago when he came across an ad in a musician’s online referral service.
“It’s basically a guy just looking for a job like anyone else, except I happen to play music,” said Probst. “Being a youngster in the 70’s listening to Eagles music, and I still have the albums back at home that I used to listen to…”
Having grown up and lived in Downey through his mid 20’s (including buying his Eagles “One of These Nights” albums at Two Guys Department Store formerly on Firestone Boulevard), it was an unexpected treat for Probst when he discovered the band would be bringing the show back to his home roots.
“I was surprised to find out we’re playing the Downey Theatre,” said Probst. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is where I grew up!’…We’ve played at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center a couple of times, and I thought that was cool in itself because I was so close to home. Then Downey came along and you can’t get any closer than this to a hometown kind of gig.”
“It’s like a dream come true, it’s super nostalgic. I took guitar lessons down the street on 3rd Avenue; that’s where I learned my first Rock and Roll licks, right down the street from the theatre.”
Probst and Hotel California will be making stops in Louisiana before coming back to Downey. They will then move on to shows in Arizona.
Tickets are currently available for the Downey Theatre show, which is scheduled for Jan. 25. More information can be found at downeytheatre.org.
For more information on Hotel California, visit hotelcal.com. Info on Probst himself can be found at his website steveprobst.net.
Hotel California plays the Downey Theatre this Friday night.Read More
More than 20 artists will be exhibiting their work in the Downey Theatre lobby.Read More
Lars Clutterham will premiere a new piece of music at the Downey Symphony concert on Jan. 19.Read More
DOWNEY – This weekend, a handful of residents of the city of Downey will be performing in “The Nutcracker” ballet.
Each year, Southern California Dance Theatre shares its production of “The Nutcracker” at the Downey Theatre. The Nutcracker is a timeless holiday tradition that is sure to delight your senses and fill you with the spirit of Christmas.
The SCDT Nutcracker ballet is a must-see this holiday season, and is sure to entertain and awe-inspire from the performances of these special dancers to the magical growing Christmas tree, the dreamy dance between Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, and the enchanted land of the sweets and Sugar Plum fairy.
Limited tickets are still available for both shows, and can be purchased online at www.downeytheatre.org, by phone 562-861-8211, or in person at the box office.
In this year’s Nutcracker, you will see Downey residents in the roles of Young Clara, Battle Prince, and Arabian lead. Tania Medina, who started dancing at three years of age, fell in love with ballet during her very first class. She dreamed of becoming Clara, and demonstrated her dedication to work hard by attending as many classes as were available to her. Tania’s dream came true, and she will be performing as Young Clara!
Talent and hard work must run in the family, as Tania’s older sister, Luisa Medina has been cast as a lead Arabian dancer.
Luisa began dancing at Southern California Dance Academy seven years ago when she was only six. She has participated in many of SCDTs productions, with her favorite roles being Prayer in last spring’s Coppelia, and Chinese lead in last year’s Nutcracker. The role of Arabian lead is at the top of her favorites now.
Luisa will perform this breathtaking dance, one that requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and athleticism while exuding a graceful ease that allows the audience to become enraptured with the beauty of the dancers and their movements.
Our Battle Princes this year will be performed by two brothers sharing the role, Kevin and Blake Cordova. After watching a performance of The Nutcracker in 2010, these two Downey natives became interested in ballet. Shortly thereafter both Kevin and Blake began taking ballet classes at SCDA.
Kevin is now a freshman at Downey High School, has played football with the Downey Razorbacks, and is a third degree black belt in karate.
Blake is a 6th grader at Doty Middle School where he participates in school band. He also enjoys reading and creating art projects.
Seven years since their first ballet class, Kevin and Blake will debut in their role as Battle Prince, and valiantly attempt to protect young Clara from the terrifying Mouse King and his minions of attacking mice, leading the toy soldiers into battle.
They will also alternate as Clara’s brother Fritz, a mischievous boy who causes quite a commotion along with the other boys at the Christmas party hosted by Clara’s family.
Southern California Dance Theatre is located in the city of Long Beach, and offers classical ballet training, as well as contemporary workshops, spring and summer dance camps, and a summer intensive for intermediate and advanced dancers.
In addition, SCDT holds three full productions each year, all held at the beautiful Downey Theatre.
Paula Vreulink is the Creative Director of the company, and this year she has reimagined the story line from previous years to create an even more ethereal and dreamy experience.
DOWNEY – Pop artist Cooper Phillip will perform Sunday as part of the “It’s Christmas in Downey” show at the Downey Theatre.
Born in Russia to a family of classical musicians, her early years were shaped being raised by her grandmother and aunt while her mother, a master violin player, toured around the world with various symphonies.
This separation led Cooper to take comfort in music at an early age where she was mesmerized by the vocal syslings of Ella Fitzgerald.
At age 12, Cooper permanently went to live with her mother. Her mom soon realized her daughter had a gift and enrolled her in the prestigious Moscow State Classical Academy where she studied classical piano, theory, harp, jazz, blues, ballet and voice.
It was Cooper’s vocal teacher who introduced her to the music of Mariah Carey. Cooper was obsessed.
“I would just listen to her for hours upon hours,” Cooper said.
She began singing every day, taking in the sounds of Barbra Streisand and studying a wide range of artists. She began winning singing competitions and, at age 17, moved to New York to pursue a career in music.
With barely a dollar to her name, Cooper worked and hustled, singing at weddings and in clubs and sleeping in the storeroom of a restaurant where she sang.
After a few years of living in New York, Cooper accepted a singing gig in Los Angeles and never looked back. She eventually released her debut album, “Walk A Mile,” which tells her story of lost love and pain in soul-filled songs like “Black Box,” “Tough Love” and her single, “Silence.”
Cooper was a featured participate in last week’s Downey Christmas Parade.
Tickets to see Cooper in “It’s Christmas in Downey” can be purchased online on the Downey Theatre website. Use the promo code “MAYORRICK” for a 20% discount.
DOWNEY — Lupita Infante will be performing at this year’s annual Ferias Legales Holiday Party taking place Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Joseph’s Bar & Grill. It is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. and is free to attend.
A first generation Mexican-American, Lupita Infante is the granddaughter of beloved Pedro Infante, one of the greatest stars to come from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and music.
Lupita grew up in the suburbs of Downey, a city associated with musical history. It was here where Lupita began her creative development with music classes. Her excitement for the stage, along with inspiration drawn from her grandfather and father, led her to pursue voice and the study of music. Lupita graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in June 2017, with a B.A. in ethnomusicology.
Lupita’s music is an artistic expression of her musical upbringing, paying tribute to her grandfather and her father accompanied by Mexico’s traditional mariachi sounds.
Her recorded music can be found on digital platforms worldwide. To celebrate this holiday season she’s releasing a mariachi version of Bing Crosby’s famous rendition “White Christmas” along with a Spanish version titled, “Blanca Navidad”.
Christopher Job, a baritone singer with the Metropolitan Opera, will perform at the “It’s Christmas in Downey” show Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Downey Theatre.
A graduate of Mater Dei High School and Cal State Fullerton, Job has been a house favorite at the Metropolitan Opera since the beginning of his career. He has been featured in six of their “Live in HD” broadcasts and has appeared in numerous other productions such as “Tosca” and “Macbeth.”
Other career highlights include creating the role of Sen. Thomas Jordan in the premiere of “The Manchurian Candidate” by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts with the Minnesota Opera and his debut with Ash Lawn Opera as Olin Blitch in “Susannah.”
Job made his Italian debut at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna as Sparafucile in “Rigoletto” and Il Podesta in Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra.” He made his French debut as Alidoro in “La Cenerentola” with Le Festival Lyrique de Belle-Ile En Mer.
His concert appearances have included the Verdi and Mozart Requiems at Carnegie Hall and Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica Catalana, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall.
Tickets to see “It’s Christmas in Downey” are now on sale and can be purchased online or by calling the Downey Theatre box office at (562) 861-8211.
DOWNEY – Southern California Dance Theatre will debut an all-new Victorian Christmas tea experience prior to its matinee performance of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 23 at the Downey Theatre.
Guests will be treated to a luxurious midday tea with beautifully appointed tables, fine china, Victorian-inspired accessories, and goodies all in the spirit of the Victorian time period.
Dress code for the tea is “smart casual”; midi or maxi dress for ladies, and collared shirt and trousers for men (jacket optional).
Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m., at which time participants may peruse a variety of tea hats, fascinators, and men’s jabots available for rent or purchase.
High tea style luncheon will be served at a quarter past non, prepared by Berg Catering, featuring scones, an assortment of gourmet tea sandwiches, desserts, and beverages.
Following the tea party, guests will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Downey Theatre. This includes an up-close look at the costumes, tutus, and set designs, and an opportunity to take photos with some of the SCDT dancers.
There will also be special appearances by Clara (performed by 11-year-old Zeraphine Jaeckel) and the Sugar Plum Fairy (performed by Los Alamitos High School senior Gabriela Fellingham).
Zeraphine and Gabriela have been brought up under the tutelage of Paula Vreulink, SCDT’s artistic director, and perform in the three annual shows put on by the company, as well as compete in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix.
At the age of 9, Gabriella began ballet instruction with Vreulink. She has had many iconic roles, from Lilac Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty” to Swanhilda in this past spring’s Coppelia ballet. Gabriela is making her debut as Sugar Plum Fairy (Saturday) and Snow Queen (Sunday) partnered with Jack Virga as Cavalier and Snow King, respectively.
Zeraphine came to SCDA at 7 years of age for the Summer Dance Camp. She later enrolled in ballet classes so she could participate in her first “Nutcracker.”
By the time she was 9, she earned her first solo role as Clara. This year, she will perform as Dream Clara alongside her “Nutcracker” prince, Michael Mendoza.
Once the tour and photo opportunities have concluded, Victorian tea party guests will then enjoy the ballet performance from premium VIP seating, watching Clara as she dances with mischievous rodents, pristine snowflakes, and the elegant Sugar Plum Fairy.
This year’s storyline has been reimagined by Vreulink, and promises to “to delight first time ballet attendees as well as seasoned connoisseurs.”
Performances of “The Nutcracker” are Saturday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 2:30 p.m. Prices start at $29 if purchased pre-sale online.
Tickets to the Victorian tea are $100 and include lunch and VIP seating. These tickets can be purchased by contacting Maureen Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 266-5137. Deadline to purchase tea tickets is Dec. 16.
DOWNEY — Paul Delgado has been tapped as chorus master for the upcoming “It’s Christmas in Downey!” concert, taking place Dec. 16 at the Downey Theatre.
A resident of Whittier, Delgado has been an active choral musician since the age of 6. He attended the Biola University Conservatory of Music and currently serves as choir director and music director at Rancho Community Church of Temecula. He is founder of the Paul Delgado Singers, an auditioned high-level chamber choir located in Orange County.
For the Downey concert, Delgado has the responsibility of gathering singers from all over Southern California. There is still room in the choir for people interested in participating in the Dec. 16 concert; previous experience with Handel’s Messiah is preferred.
For more information, or to purchase concert tickets, visit CathedralProductions.com or call (714) 883-7987.
DOWNEY — Stauffer Middle School advanced drama students will present “The Lion King, Jr.” next week.
Performances are free and open to the community. Mrs. Pyle is the director.
The school’s theater department has rented professional costumes and set pieces for the production, which will be performed at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria Nov. 29-30.
To reserve seats, email Mrs. Pyle at email@example.com.
LAKEWOOD — Theater students from St. Joseph and St. John Bosco high schools will present “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy,” starting next week.
Performances are scheduled for Nov. 9-10 at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. (social media night); Nov. 16 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances are in the theater at St. Joseph High School, 5825 Woodruff Ave., in Lakewood.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at jesterarts.ticketleap.com.
DOWNEY – Southern California Dance Theatre will present the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” at the Downey Theatre right before Christmas.
Performances are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased at the Downey Theatre box office or online at downeytheatre.org.
Also available is a $100 VIP package, which includes premium reserved seating, a special Victorian tea before the Sunday matinee, and a behind-the-scenes backstage tour of the theatre.
DOWNEY – Viva la Vida, a film festival of award-winning shorts, has been added to the sixth annual Downey Dia de los Muertos Art Festival, taking place this Sunday at the Downey Civic Center.
Shown throughout the day inside the 738-seat Downey Theatre, the 10-12 minute features range from animation to actors, from fantasy to realism, with underlying messages that express and reflect the importance of family and tradition in the Hispanic community.
Viva la Vida is presented by Cinema Culturas, a Riverside based non-profit that espouses film to talk to and for the Hispanic community. It stages annual film festival in various venues.
The Downey film festival is part of Cinema Culturas’ latest production, titled “From Coachella Valey to the City of Downey.”
“Viva la Vida visualizes the shared Latino experience, be it in the fields of Coachella or the city life in Downey,” festival organizers said.
“Cinema Culturas aims to capture the festive spirit of the Latino community through the art of visual storytelling and create a narrataive of unity that honors life by celebrating our rich Southern California diversity,” said Cony Martinez, founder and president of Cinema Culturas.
Six films are scheduled to be screened Sunday:
“Lluvia en los Ojos,” directed by Rita Basulto
“El Trompetista,” directed by Raul Robin Alejandro Morales Reyes
“Ramona,” directed by Giovanna Zacarias
“Carnitas,” directed by Barbara Miryam Balsategui Tovar
“Los Ases del Corral,” directed by Irving Sevilla and Manuel Baez
“Polvo de Estrellas,” directed by Aldo Sotelo Lazaro
Admission to Downey’s Dia de los Muertos Art Festival is free. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In addition to the film festival, the event includes live musical performances, Aztec dancers, an expanded altar display, sugar skull decorations, vendors, food trucks, and more.
DOWNEY – “Good concert etiquette is not to applaud after the second movement of Oscar’s Concerto, no matter how much you want to,” said Lars Clutterham as he interviewed David Van Maele, the evening’s virtuoso clarinetist. “The second movement is slow and melodic, and you want to let the poetry of it sink in.”
Before the program began, in the pre-concert remarks, Lars interviewed composer Oscar Navarro, who flew in from Spain for the North American première of his Third Concerto for B Flat and E Flat Clarinet. Lars is a Downey composer himself and audiences will hear his new piece, “Arc of My Life,” at the Jan. 19 concert.
“This is the Downey Symphony’s 60th year,” said Don Marshall, president of the Downey Symphonic Society, as he welcomed the audience. “And sixty years ago something else happened: the Dodgers came to town. Right now they’re up by one run in the seventh game of the playoffs.”
Don had another first to announce: Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard came on stage to congratulate and thank the Symphonic Society for their program which contributes to National Hispanic Heritage Week. “This proclamation shows that I have put this Downey achievement into the Congressional Record,” the congresswoman said.
State Senator Vanessa Delgado also presented an illuminated proclamation congratulating the Symphonic group on its sixtieth year. Mayor Sean Ashton, a staunch supporter of the Symphony and of the arts, presented President Don with a citation from the City Council recognizing the Downey Symphonic society for its 60 years of providing excellence in music for Downey. Josh Bell, the most recent baton winner, received a plaque for his contribution.
Even before the audience began filling the auditorium, early-arriving patrons enjoyed the art show in the lobby. Board Vice President Carol Kearns and husband Frank, a poet and publisher of the boutique Los Nietos Press, checked out the oils and pastels and water colors in the show, which was curated by Andrew Hernandez of the Downey Arts Coalition. Javier Herrera’s depicted the evening’s theme of Viva el Arte with a field worker harvesting sugar cane with a machete. Lindsay Yost and Debbie Davidsohn also showed.
The Ugandan artist Emmanuel Lugano who also showed at Glennfest, was the art coalition’s featured artist and he had a corridor of his paintings on the patio. One of his personal favorites is a giclée “Broadway” ballet scene, all graceful shapes and flowing colors.
No show is complete without a work by Carolina Estrada-del Toro and she had two on display, as well as a painting by husband Jorge. No ceramic this time. Carolina will curate the art show this weekend for Downey’s Dia de los Muertos.
“This will be my second Bolero with Sharon conducting,” said Andrew Wahlquist, founder of the Downey Arts Coalition. “The first was in 2011.” Andrew’s wife, actress Lana Joy, introduced the artists from the stage, and they stood so we could recognize them. They mostly were wearing red, while Lana was splendid in a long flowered gown.
Spotted before the music began were Anna and Harold Tseklenis, talking with Ryan Keene and Tom Hutchinson, all Rotarians. Kiwanian Larry Lewis, a former president of the Symphonic Society, attended with wife Marge, long-time Assistance League member.
Board members Mary Stevens and JoAnne Gronley held forth in the lobby, distributing the evening’s program and also pencils for the audience survey to be found interleaved in the program. It’s important for the Board’s Marketing Committee to know how they can reach a wider audience.
While the stage was still empty, one noticed that the percussion section held some unusual instruments. There turned out to be six percussionists, one who had three tympani plus two other large drums to manage. There was a xylophone, and two keyboard marimbas (the marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala), which kept one more percussionist busy. Plus hanging chimes, bongos, a cymbal and a gong.
Oscar likes his percussive sounds: any instrument that makes a sound when it is hit, shaken, or scraped is percussion. A harp completed the section, but the players also played the occasional castanets, clackers and other unexpected instruments.
Off-stage voice Mark Keller, just after asking the audience to check the nearest exit, and unwrap those candies now, not later, then announced, “The Dodgers are up by one run and they have the bases loaded.” It was time for the concert to begin.
Sharon Lavery came out and conducted the National Anthem which sounded like cannon and fireworks, with the heavy artillery in the percussion. Oscar Navarro’s Downey Overture, by now an international favorite, displayed a gorgeous combination of Latin tempos and L.A. traffic.
Oscar studied music at USC and then worked here for a year, arranging and composing for films. At the conclusion of the piece, Maestro Sharon, who has conducted it at Carnegie Hall, held out her hands toward the audience where the composer was sitting, and Oscar rose and blew kisses to her and the orchestra, then turned to bow to the applauding audience.
Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s Suite Andalucia had lively and lovely melodies, and ended by gliding into the fiery Malagueña. Conductor Sharon surprised us by announcing a Cuban encore, the widely beloved freedom song by Jose Marti, Guantanamera. The audience received it enthusiastically.
The big piece of the evening was Navarro’s Clarinet Concerto #3, for both the standard-range B Flat instrument, and also the much rarely played E Flat one, which is in a higher register with a clear piercing quality. Belgian soloist David van Maele displayed his dexterity, alternating gracefully between the two.
Navarro wrote the piece specifically for Van Maele and he knew what a difficult task he was setting for his friend. The labor deserves the rich rewards. The first movement began with a tempest of tympani booms, and then the clarinet appears almost bird-like and quick, with showy cadenzas and a shower of light in its wings.
Soloists appreciate playing for conductor Sharon because she is always aware of their movements, and ready to turn them over to the audience in the difficult and showy passages, of which this Concerto had plenty. The entire orchestra became involved, louder and softer and louder again.
The music glides into the Second Movement, dedicated to the son the clarinetist lost when he was 6. “I am happy when I play this,” David said, “because I see Mattiece and I am with him again.”
The melody becomes almost a lullaby and at the moments when the orchestra took the development of the theme, David stood, head bowed, and waited. The high pitch and clarity of the E flat clarinet lifts the orchestra to almost a heavenly plane, as the movement ends on a high note and then silence.
The moment was held without interruption, and then the lively, quick and complex Third Movement began. The E flat instrument is brilliant and edgy, and the piece ends with the brass leading the ensemble in a triumphant statement, flutes valiantly striving to match the clarinet, strings soaring.
The audience gave the piece and the performer a standing ovation, and standing O’s are difficult to get in Downey – and a curtain call. Shouts of “bravo” were heard as composer Oscar Navarro came up to the stage to embrace his good friend David the clarinet player, and to hug the conductor, whom he has known since his USC days, where Sharon is a professor at the Thornton School of Music.
To send the audience into the intermission happy, Mark Keller’s voice announced, “You can go out knowing that the Dodgers won.” That put them into the World Series. Later Mark confessed, “If they had lost, I never would have said anything at all.”
The buzz on the patio at intermission confirmed the success of the new composition. Bernice Mancebo Stumps, with Roy and Barbara Briley Beard, praised the performance, as did Nancy Ramage and Ruth Hillecke, board secretary. Greg Welch, president of the Rotary Club of Downey was spotted, with Adam from Senator Delgado’s office.
We missed Barbara Risher Welch, Greg’s wife and a past District Governor of Rotary. Also seen were Dr. Jose Torreblanca and wife Carmen, whose support helped bring Osar and David to the concert.
Dorothy Pemberton looked snappy in black to match the black sling holding her right arm immobile after her recent shoulder surgery. Dorothy now heads PTA HELPs, a food pantry for needy families, and her other arm was scratched, having been mauled by her own cat Cosmo when she tried to rescue it at midnight from neighbor dogs. Never a dull moment with Dorothy.
Frank Kearns commented that he had met David during rehearsals. “Great performers are transformed when playing,” Frank said. It’s like what Allen Ginsberg said about meeting Bob Dylan in his early electric days at a Newport Folk festival when Dylan performed his first electric concert.
For the second part of the program, Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia had Conductor Sharon practically dancing on the platform to the Argentine rhythms. And then the 17-minute show piece of the evening, Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” began, innocently enough, with just a flute carrying the melody and a single snare drum tapping a quiet beat.
The cellos and basses pluck their strings, as does the harp, signaled by delicate finger gestures from the hand of the conductor. The shadows and tension grow deeper as more instruments, a saxophone, then the brasses and woodwinds, join in. The bolero is a dance rhythm, and the audience unconsciously nods and begins to sway, tapping their fingers or toes in time to the beat.
Still the violins and basses hold off and pluck their strings, the players cradling their instruments like a ukelele. Oboes and bassoons take up the insistent melody, and the uninterrupted plucking and tapping became more demanding, as Sharon’s arm movements and shoulders grow heavier.
Cellos held back, as do the big drums until at last the suspense is broken and the full orchestra, strings leading, takes up the melodic theme and everything rises to a crashing crescendo with tympani, bass drum, cymbal, gong and a high piercing E flat clarinet wildly changing key in the last few phrases until, with a flourish of the baton, it is over. The audience applause was deafening.
At the champagne reception on the patio afterward, to which all the audience was invited, artist and host of the Green Salon Roy Shabla commented how “the Bolero is so familiar, no one takes it seriously. Until tonight, with Sharon’s interpretation.” Bill Hare, Treasurer of the Symphonic Society Board, allowed as how the evening was a success.
What a gift to Downey, great classical symphonic music presented by a fine regional orchestra, a hard-working Board and Guild helped by ticket sales, memberships, and donations and grants. The other side of the effort is the comprehensive Music in the Schools Outreach Program, aided by the Downey Unified School District, the City of Downey and Kiwanis Foundation. But tonight was the night for the orchestra to shine, through the works of great composers like Ravel and Oscar Navarro.
Tonight it was all about the music, an emotional evening. It’s not a bad thing for the 60-year old Downey Symphony to be to be linked with the Dodgers. The Dodger might say the same thing about Downey.
DOWNEY — The Downey High Music Programs will present their 2018 Fall Jazz Concert tomorrow, Wednesday Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Downey High School Theater.
The performance will feature the Jazz Choir, Jazz Bands, and Combos under the direction of Cory Olariu, Shai Golan and Teresa Sanchez.
For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (562) 869-7301 ext. 5317.
DOWNEY – This year’s Dia de los Muertos Festival in Downey will feature a film festival, organizers announced.
Presented by Cinema Culturas, “From Indo to Downey” will feature short, entertaining films relevant to Mexican society, family and culture.
Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is an age-old tradition in Mexico and Central and South America. The day celebrates the spirits of the dead, who are said to return to earth for one day to rejoin their loved ones.
Families welcome the spirits by building altars (ofrendas) that include mementos and reminders of the deceased, such as photos, favorite foods, hobbies, music, etc.
Customs include eating sweet bread (pan de muertos), decorating sugar skulls (calaveras), face painting, and decorating doorways with colorful papel picado.
City officials are anticipating 30,000 people to attend Downey’s Dia de los Muertos festival, which takes place Sunday, Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in and around the Downey Theatre.
The event will feature continuous ballet folkorico and film inside the 738-seat theater, along with facepainting and arts and crafts in the theater patio.
A sampling of Mexican music formts on the Zocalo stage in the theater courtyard
Variety acts on the Community stage, including ballet folklorico, mariachis, and singers
A fine art exhibit in the theater lobby, curated by the Downey Arts Coalition
An “urban art alley” featuring 20-ft. tall “found art” sculptures and the “Parade of the 10-ft. Cantinas”
The Casa Calaveras Experiences, a multi-media exhibit
“Car Altar Avenue,” the merging of Southern California car art and traditional altars
Papel picado demonstrations by renowned artisan Aurora Sanchez. Festival goers can also make a papel picado luminaria to take home
The Mercado, approximately 50 vendors selling Dia de los Muertos themed merchandise
20 booths for local merchants selling their products and services
Food trucks and food carts
The festival officially opens when a troupe of 35 Aztec dancers imbue the area with good spirits.