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  • WDCH
  • Sep. 28, 2016
  • The Concert Opened with Performance from 20 Year-Old Pianist George Li 

    The 2016 LA PhilOpening Night Gala: Gershwin and the Jazz Age Was Made Possible with the Proud Support of Rolex,
    the Official Timepiece of the Los Angeles Philharmonic

    Proceeds Support the LA Phil and its Education Programs,
    including YOLA (Youth Orchestra LA)

    The Musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel Generously Donated their Services for this Concert 

    Los Angeles, CA (September 27, 2016) - The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel opened the 2016/17 season with a program that paid homage to the jazz era, Opening Night Gala:Gershwin and the Jazz Age, Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The black-tie evening, showcasing music by George Gershwin and contemporaries such as Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein, featured 20-year-old rising star pianist George Li and powerhouse vocal talents Megan Hilty and Brian Stokes Mitchell, who sang classic solos and duets by the notable jazz era composers.

    Proceeds from the Opening Night Gala: Gershwin and the Jazz Age went to support the Los Angeles Philharmonic's many music education programs, which serve more than 150,000 youths, families and teachers every year.

    The evening began with the arrivals of notable celebrities and VIPs: Rosanna Arquette, Eli and Edythe Broad, Michael and Jane Eisner, Frank Gehry, Herbie and Gigi Hancock, Don Johnson, Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin, Neil Lane, Matthew Lillard, Alex Meneses, Benjamin Millepied, Amanda Peet, John C. Reilly, William Shatner, Christoph Waltz and Eric Whitacre, who walked the red carpet up Walt Disney Concert Hall's grand staircase. Local officials in attendance included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. They were joined by LA Phil Board Chair and Gala Co-Chair Diane B. Paul, LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel with Maria Valverde, LA Phil Gala Co-Chairs Mari L. Danihel and Ann Ronus, LA Phil President and CEO Deborah Borda, and LA Phil Chief Operating Officer Chad Smith, along with more than 600 Gala patrons.

    Inside the reception in BP Hall, guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres surrounded by walls illuminated with whimsical palm fronds. Sparkling wine - WKND Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2015 from Clarksburg, CA - was provided by WINC.

    As the reception came to a close, Gala guests and concert attendees moved into the auditorium for the concert. The program began with soloist George Li, making his LA Phil debut, with the orchestra led by Dudamel, playing Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" Variations. The young pianist made his orchestral debut at the age of 9, and is currently enrolled in the dual degree program at Harvard University and the New England Conservatory. After Li's spirited performance, which set the stage for an upbeat evening, the program continued with Ellington's "Night Creature: Stalking Monster."

    The lyrical portion of the program began when Megan Hilty took the stage for Porter's "Always True to You in My Fashion," from Kiss Me Kate, followed by Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light." The two joined together for Porter's "So In Love," also from Kiss Me Kate, a musical for which Mitchell earned Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards.

    Next on the program was Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, featuring LA Phil Principal Clarinet Boris Allakhverdyan.

    The concert continued with three Gershwin songs - Hilty singing "Someone to Watch Over Me," from Oh, Kay?, Mitchell in "It Ain't Necessarily So," from Porgy and Bess and the two in a duet of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," from Shall We Dance.

    Dudamel and the orchestra concluded the Opening Night Concert with Gershwin's An American in Paris.

    During the final notes of the piece, a flurry of champagne- and martini-glass-shaped confetti drifted down from the ceiling.

    The festivities moved from inside to Grand Avenue, where a large decorated tent had been assembled. Gala patrons were transported back in time to the legendary Coconut Grove club at the Ambassador Hotel, where the best jazz bands, swing orchestras and crooners once performed. The décor featured a mix of Moroccan and tropical designs filled with full-sized exotic palm trees, with striped marketplace-style awnings and Middle Eastern-style lamps above the stage and art deco bars. The stage was anchored by two hand-painted backdrops, highlighting the downtown Los Angeles skyline and the architecture of the famous Hollywood venue and nightclub.

    The Cowling Band played a mix of lively contemporary and "oldies" music.  

    The menu, created by Patina Chef Joachim Splichal, started with a first course salad of haricots verts, frisée, capers, tart apples, shaved fennel, and pickled mustard seeds in a Banyuls vinaigrette. The entrée featured tournedos of beef au poivre, Hasselback potatoes, caramelized red onions, and glazed heirloom carrots in a sauce au poivre. The wines accompanying the meal - a 2015 Objet d'Art Chardonnay from Los Carneros-Sonoma, CA, and a 2013 DIME Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend from Happy Canyon, CA - were provided by WINC.

    The dinner program featured remarks from LA Phil President and CEO Deborah Borda and Gala Co-Chair Diane B. Paul as they welcomed Dudamel and thanked the evening's sponsor, Rolex.

    After brief remarks from Dudamel, he introduced Solea Pfeiffer to the audience. The two worked together earlier this summer when Pfeiffer portrayed Maria in the LA Phil performances of West Side Story at the Hollywood Bowl. The young singer, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, captivated the crowd with her stirring version of Etta James' signature song "At Last," followed by Cole Porter's "Anything Goes."

    The musical entertainment continued with the Cowling Band's return to the stage as the dessert course was served - Baked Alaska Napoleon, raspberry sauce and chocolate cake, and seasonal fruit.

    Guests continued to dance into the evening. 

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Gala Committee included Gala Co-Chairs Mari L. Danihel, Diane B. Paul and Ann Ronus; and Committee members Julie Andrews, Benjamin Ansell, David C. Bohnett, Lynn A. Booth, Jerrold and Margaret Eberhardt, Jane B. Eisner, Lawrence N. Field, Beth C. Friedman, Kiki and David Gindler, Pierre and Rubina Habis, Joan Hotchkis, Sarah Ketterer, Soraya Nazarian, Annette O'Malley, Lloyd Rigler - Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, Larry Schmitt, Eric L. Small, Marc and Eva Stern, Sue Tsao, Alyce de Roulet Williamson, Irwin and Margo Winkler and Marilyn Ziering.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Gala: Gershwin and the Jazz Age party was created by Shiraz Events.

    All Gala proceeds support the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its education and community programs, including YOLA, the signature program of Gustavo Dudamel. The Gala concert was made possible with the proud support of Rolex, the Official Timepiece of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016, AT 7 PM
    Walt Disney Concert Hall,
    111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles


    GUSTAVO DUDAMEL, conductor
    GEORGE LI, piano
    ROBIN GRAY, lighting design

    GERSHWIN, "I Got Rhythm" Variations
    ELLINGTON, "Night Creature: Stalking Monster"
    PORTER, "Always True to You in My Fashion" from Kiss Me Kate
    ELLINGTON, "I'm Beginning to See the Light"
    PORTER, "So In Love" from Kiss Me Kate
    BERNSTEIN, Prelude, Fugue and Riffs
    GERSHWIN, Songs
       "Someone to Watch Over Me" from Oh, Kay!
       "It Ain't Necessarily So" from Porgy and Bess
       "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" from Shall We Dance
    GERSHWIN, An American in Paris

    The 2016 Opening Night Gala and Concert was made possible with the proud support of Rolex, the Official Timepiece of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

    Proceeds support the LA Phil and its education programs, including YOLA (Youth Orchestra LA). The musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel generously donated their services for this concert.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of music from all genres - orchestral, chamber and Baroque music, organ and celebrity recitals, new music, jazz, world music and pop - at two of L.A.'s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall ( and the Hollywood Bowl ( The LA Phil's season at Walt Disney Concert Hall extends from September through June, and throughout the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic, education and community programs.

    Rolex, the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and enjoys an unrivaled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programs. Rolex is proud to be the Official Timepiece of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and sponsor of the 2016 Los Angeles Philharmonic Gala at the world-renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall on September 27, 2016.


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