It is a factual statement: “A good time was had by all!”
The 2013 Peter Hemmings dinner honoring Eva and Marc Stern was an evening to remember. The Sterns were honored for their stellar contribution to LA Opera, the arts, education and cultural endeavors in Los Angeles and beyond. The intimate Grand Trianon room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, adorned with French crystal chandeliers and pale roses gave a sparkling and festive air to the night. Diane Gray, OLLA President, opened the evening and thanked those in the audience for raisingan impressive $68,000, most of which will go to the Student Transportation Bus Fund. Christopher Koelsch, President and CEO of LA Opera and Carol Henry, who serves on LA Opera’s board as Chairman of the Executive Committee and was one of last year’s past honorees, lauded the Sterns for their inspiring leadership, generosity and innumerable contributions to our community. Eva Stern thanked the League and praised us on our amazing commitment to music education; efforts she had experienced first hand just weeks prior to this event. Marc, recovering from knee surgery, humorously blamed the LAO for his woes; confiding that he had, over the years, spent so much time on his knees asking for money! He pointed out that surgery was needed on just one knee because he never had to beg for the support from the Opera League!
Josh Winograde, Director of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program started off the musical portion of the night by introducing four of our Domingo-Thornton Young Artists, Joshua Guerrero, Hae Ji Chang, D’Ana Lombard and Benjamin Bliss. The artists entertained the audience singing favorite opera selections. Nino Sanikidze, Head vocal coach at LA Opera delighted all by playing Gershwin’s Prelude in E flat minor. The final musical selections were a surprise to all: duo on guitars, Joshua Guerrero and Benjamin Bliss sang a moving “More Than Words” and then launched into The Beatles “Blackbird” and ended the musical presentation with a spirited and rousing Johnny B. Goode with Marc Stern leading the applause. The jovial mood led all to enjoy the rest of the evening.
My heartfelt appreciation goes to the committee members and volunteers who made the thousand details of the evening come together so successfully: Brita Millard, Mirjana Mahnovski, Cheryl Dowden, Marlene Chavez, Fred Dear, Kathy Crandall, Monica Gutierrez Roper and Trevor Roper, Peter Gray, Anne and Ernie Prokopovych, Ken Garlock, Thomas Shepard, Marie Hadji, Anne Russell Sullivan, Steve and Karen Kohn, and Dorothy Wait.
.......by Diane Gray