Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra benefit

Fred and Suzanne Rheinstein, left, with La Cañadans Nancy and Michael Harahan at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra benefit. (Photo courtesy of Lee Salem / February 14, 2013)

Today is Cupid's big show — one chock full of hearts and flowers and cards filled with elaborate and sometimes funny professions of love. I hope that this chubby icon found his way to your mailbox or doorstep.

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The Verdugo Hills Hospital Foundation's Women's Council recently held a luncheon celebration at the hospital. The council presented the hospital with a $10,000 donation that will help in the support and purchase of capital equipment.

The luncheon also featured the installation of the Women's Council Board of Directors. Eileen Akers was named the new chair of the council.

Serving with her on the board are Alexandra Smyser, Purnima Panchal, Suzonne Slaughter, Marie Hansen, Jill Haines, Gloria Cotten, Virginia Clegg, Teri Rice, Pauline Hendricks and Betty Hurn.

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Speaking of love and such, that was exactly the key ingredient of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra benefit themed “Taking a Chance on Love.” And it was the dedication and love for this orchestra that was evident throughout the evening.

It was an elegant party as festively dressed guests gathered in the stately rooms of the California Club in downtown Los Angeles. Guests sipped signature cocktails such as Absinthe Champagne and nibbled on hors d'oeuvres. The Absinthe cocktail was certainly a nod to romance and the salons of Paris where the illuminati and the impressionist artists coalesced.

Another of the signature cocktails served was French 75. This drink was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris. The ingredients of either gin or Cognac mixed with lemon juice and topped with Champagne was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun.

The lovely evening began with an exquisite musical program featuring music director Jeffrey Kahane and musicians from the orchestra. Tribute was paid to longtime supporters Jennifer and Royce Diener, David K. Ingalls and his wife, Kay Duke Ingalls. The event was chaired by Carol and Warner Henry.

Kay Duke Ingalls' first husband, Vladimir Dukelsky (better known as Vernon Duke), whose enchanting tunes are at the heart of the Great American Songbook, was certainly an inspiration for the benefit's theme.

The orchestra was joined by 10-year-old prize-winning piano and violin protégé Ray Ushikubo, a student at the Colburn School. Also featured were tenor Joshua Guerrero, a member of the acclaimed Domingo/Thornton L.A. Opera Young Artist Program and the Santa Fe Opera's Apprentice Artist program and the electrifying Brooklyn-based ensemble PROJECT Trio, comprised of Greg Pattillo, Eric Stephenson and Peter Seymour.

Ray, the 10-year-old protégé, was a ball of energy as I talked with him between bites of hors d'oeuvres. He told me he became interested in music when he was 5 years old and was watching a TV program that featured musical instruments. He began his training shortly thereafter. He said that each day he practices three hours on the piano and another three on the violin. Somehow, he finds time to be a typical 10-year-old and is quite sociable.

The evening also included a silent and live auction before guests were seated for dinner and later dancing by a great band, Mora's Modern Rhythmists.

It was a beautiful evening, and proceeds benefited the orchestra's concert series, radio broadcasts and community engagement programs.

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