Wednesday, December 10, 2014

L.A. arts scene celebrated at Music Center's 50th anniversary

The Los Angeles Music Center’s 50th anniversary celebration dinner, which immediately followed Saturday’s performance spectacular, handily kept up the momentum in a tent rising four stories above the Music Center Plaza in downtown L.A.

The scene: After marveling at the plaza’s familiar Jacques Lipchitz fountain, transformed for the night into a lighted video tower, guests settled into a mix of round, square and rectangular tables for a shrimp and steak dinner by Patina. Immediately after the chocolate dessert, a massive burst of silver confetti signaled dance time, and the band launched into “Celebration,” “Can’t Hold Us” and more party songs.
The Los Angeles Music Center’s 50th anniversary celebration dinner

The evening: A Champagne reception preceded the performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, at which a parade of celebrities introduced each segment, beginning with actress Judith Light, who paid tribute to music center champion Dorothy Buffum Chandler.

 “Mrs. Chandler distinguished herself as a champion of the arts,” Light said of the woman who persuaded the city’s leaders of the need for a music center and then set about raising the necessary funds with passion. “Her vision and her determination to build a home for the performing arts is legendary. She knew all great cities had a cultural hub at their heart.”

Next came Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who spoke of the center's 25-year association with the Academy Awards. All four resident companies -- Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Philharmonic, L.A. Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale -- then performed. The Music Center’s dance series, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center, had its turn, too. And Gustavo Dudamel conducted the L.A. Phil in a simulcast from across the street at Walt Disney Concert Hall, as the L.A. Dance Project executed a world premiere by choreographer Justin Peck on the Pavilion’s stage.

The crowd: Representatives of the Music Center’s four founding families, the Ahmansons, the Chandlers, the Disney Millers and the Tapers, along with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, singer Paula Abdul, actresses Stana Katic, Neve Campbell, Garcelle Beauvais and Kate Burton, and others joined the program’s participants, who included Dudamel, Light, Susan Graham, Jenna Elfman, Demian Bichir, Jane Kaczmarek, Nigel Lythgoe, Edward James Olmos, Phylicia Rashad, Davis Gaines, Debra Monk, Debbie Allen, John Glover, David Henry Hwang, Dale Kristien, Tracie Bennett, Grant Gershon and others. Judy Beckmen, Brindell Gottlieb, Eva Stern and Alyce Williamson acted as co-chairs and the Blue Ribbon, headed by president Carla Sands, served as the host committee.

Quotes of note: "Castle" actress Katic, a regular at the Music Center, called the night “phenomenal,” saying, “I felt proud to be in a city that has the artistic resources and venues that were showcased tonight.”

“First, to be able to work here and tonight, to be on stage at the Dorothy Chandler doing my play -- that was thrilling,” said playwright, librettist and screenwriter Hwang.

“I’m especially excited about the future of the Music Center,” said board chair Lisa Specht, speaking of the organization’s programs to engage younger and multicultural audiences.

Blue Ribbon President Carla Sands pointed to the night’s spotlight on the Music Center’s educational programs: “For most of our members, that is their first love: opening the doors to the arts to the children of Los Angeles.”

The numbers: Given 1,000 guests at the gala dinner with tickets starting at $2,500 each, tables as high as $200,000, a full house for the show and additional contributions, the event raised more than $5.3 million for the Music Center.