Hollywood Bowl

Gary and Kathy Darnell, left, visit with La Cañada residents Vicki and Kerry McCluggage at the Hollywood Bowl opening night gala concert. Vicki McCluggage is a vice chair on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association board of directors. (Mathew Imaging / July 12, 2012)

I think summer has finally made it to our fair valley. It has been quite hot enough for me. How about you?

On Tuesday my neighborhood lost its power for about an hour. Of course I was working on my computer at the time. Suddenly, everything shut down. The monitor went blank and there was complete silence — no whirring of the machine, no voices telling me that I had mail. Even worse, the air conditioning stopped. I hope this isn’t a preview of what we can expect from our power company when it gets hotter in days to come, as it surely will.

I guess the one constant we can count on are cool evening concerts throughout our area to soothe our frazzled nerves. Such was the case on June 22, when the Hollywood Bowl held its annual opening night gala. This is the 91st season for the venue, which is pretty darned impressive and such a grand Los Angeles tradition.

There is such a magical cache about going to the Bowl. It is part of the summertime fabric for Angelenos.

A bonus for the opening night audience was the presentation of the 13th annual Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, which honored and inducted Reba McEntire, the “Queen of Country,” and Chaka Khan, the “Queen of Funk.”

The benefit concert raised more than $1 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music education programs, which serves more than 120,000 youths, families and teachers every year.

Over the years there has been supportive participation of La Cañada Flintridge residents on the governing boards of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which also includes the Hollywood Bowl. Local residents currently serving on the board include Vicki McCluggage, Tony Cannon and Teena Hostovich.

There was such an air of excitement on opening night as concertgoers brought picnic baskets to spread out their feasts in several picnic areas while others dined using the tables in the premium, and coveted, box seats.

Many of the attendees that evening first gathered at a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception hosted by Wells Fargo in the shady special-event patio. They then moved to their seats within the Bowl, where they dined at tables with white linen tablecloths. The three-course gourmet dinner was prepared by Patina, and was accompanied by carefully selected wines.

Just as a lavender twilight was nestling into the Bowl, the program began with greetings from the stage by Thomas Wilkins, principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

The program began with the orchestra playing Bedrich Smetana's “Dance of the Comedians.”

Famed singer and actress Julie Andrews, who looked lovely in her elegant full-length taffeta gown, joined Wilkins on stage. Andrews was emcee for the evening, introducing the two fabulous honorees, McEntire and Khan. Guest presenters included Lily Tomlin, via a video presentation, and Randy Jackson and Melissa Peterman, who were present at the gala.

McEntire and Khan were sensational as they each performed before the crowd. Standing ovations were given to both the entertainers.

A highlight of the evening came when wind and brass players from the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at the Heart of Los Angeles performed for the first time on the Bowl stage.

Heart of Los Angeles, known as “HOLA,” partners with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to bring orchestral music to underserved children in Los Angeles. The Youth Orchestra LA, known as “YOLA,” is a free music education program that provides participating students with intensive after-school orchestral instruction and academic tutoring.

The evening ended with a beautiful fireworks display that was coordinated with the last song performed by Khan.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her with news of your special event: jnvalleysun@aol.com.