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L.A. Chamber Orchestra Evokes Quixote's Spain for Benefit

In keeping with the group's Spanish-tinged musical performance on gala night, the L.A. Chamber Orchestra's annual benefit took its inspiration from the pages of Cervantes's Don Quixote.

The L.A. Chamber Orchestra's Latin-flavored benefit

Photo: Lee Salem

While Joyce Fienberg, chair of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s annual concert gala, admits that the event’s “basic elements pretty much remain the same” every year, she credits the evening’s tradition of attracting prominent guest artists with keeping the event fresh and exciting. “Our very first event, we had [violinist] Hilary Hahn,” says Fienberg, who has overseen the benefit for the past five years. “We’ve had incredible guest artists because our music director [Jeffrey Kahane] is so wonderful and so positioned in the world of classical music.”

At this year's fund-raiser on January 26, classical guitarist Christopher Parkening joined Kahane and members of the orchestra in performing a selection of Spanish-flavored music—a fitting selection given that the consul general of Spain, Inocencio Arias, and his wife, Ludmila Winogradow, co-sponsored the event. Selections included traditional Spanish Granadinas, Rodrigo’s “Canconeta,” movements from Warlock’s “Capriol” suite, and Telemann’s “Don Quixote” suite.

Feinberg collaborated with Smash Event’s Gerry Huffman to produce the benefit’s “Night of Knights” theme, which drew its inspiration from the musical program, channeling the world of Don Quixote and 16th-century Spain.

Upon entering the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, guests met a troupe of actors dressed in 16th-century garb, some outfitted to resemble principal characters from Cervantes’s novel, including Dulcinea, Sancho Panza, the Don himself, and his horse. Guests sipped sangria in the hotel’s Tiffany Room before a troupe member with a booming bass voice informed guests that their presence was requested in the Crystal Ballroom for the evening’s musical performance. There, guests found a sea of seats adorned with orange slipcovers and sashes and a stage uplit in amber hues.

The same actor went on to herald the different phases of the night with his distinctive voice, calling for guests to step into the Gold Room for an hour-and-a-half silent and live auction; warning them when they had only a few minutes left to bid on items; and, finally, ushering them back to the ballroom, which had been transformed during the auctions for dinner and dancing.

Orange linens complemented the slip-covered chairs, which were reused for the dinner, and clusters of ginger and soft pink roses sat on tables and decorated towering tabletop candelabras. “We spent a lot of time finding a candelabra that was appropriate, because we wanted it to have this very medieval, wrought-iron-y, kind of Spanish ironworks feel,” Huffman said. Guests apparently appreciated the arrangements, clearing every single table of the smaller bunches and even stripping candelabras of floral accents.


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