Unfussy L.A. Chamber Orchestra Gala Pays Homage to the Golden State

By Alesandra Dubin February 9, 2010, 11:00 AM EST

Punch Brothers at the L.A. Chamber Orchestra gala

Photo: Craig T. Mathew for Steve Cohn Photography

A rainy morning was not the most auspicious start to the day of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's “Made in California” gala, but the destructive storm passed in time for the festivities at the California Market Center. “The theme developed when somebody realized that all the key players [involved with the event] were themselves made in California—and we said, 'That's it,''' said chair Joyce Fienberg, who created the event eight years ago. ”We wanted it to be different from past years in the sense of not being black-tie, not being in a gilded hotel ballroom or the Music Center.”

The program, with production and design by Smash Event, included a concert portion during which music director Jeffrey Kahane played keyboard while his son Gabriel Kahane played piano, voice, and banjo and Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers performed with members of the chamber orchestra strings. The concert unexpectedly fused classical and bluegrass music. “Thile is the most incredible crossover artist. He's a genius,” Fienberg said.

The evening also included silent and live auctions to benefit the orchestra’s concerts, radio broadcasts, and community engagement programs. The auction and cocktail party for about 250 guests took place after the concert in the upstairs space, which Smash Event gave a “groovy, loft, nightclub” vibe, according to Smash's Gerry Huffman. Male and female go-go dancers added energy to the space, and blue AstroTurf, lounge furniture, and illuminated platforms made the look pop.

To further the California theme, Summit Events Catering showcased local ingredients, including Santa Barbara olive oil, Meyer lemon, locally caught fish, and California-raised beef. Sprinkles sponsored the dessert, creating edible (and money-saving) table centerpieces made from cupcakes stacked on Lucite boxes.

Fienberg called the party “very modern, a lot of fun—with no spiel-ing whatsoever. We don't honor anybody. We just party.”

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