(Right Photo from L-R: Jacob Zacuto, Irwin Field, Peter O’Malley)
Los Angeles and San Francisco prepare benefit galas befitting the occasion.
The middle leg of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2017 Fall Tour runs up and down the length of California with three concerts in three cities over three days.
Of those three cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Barbara – the first two will be the site of benefit galas that share two important goals: celebrating Maestro Zubin Mehta‘s extraordinary leadership during the past half-century, and supporting the KeyNote education programs that nurture future generations of musicians and audiences.
In Los Angeles, where Mehta was Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1962 until 1978, and maintains a residence with his wife Nancy, a committee of community leaders is preparing an extra special event to precede the orchestra’s October 30 performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
“Our Gala Chairs each have longtime connections with the IPO and personal friendships with Zubin and Nancy,” said West Coast Director Danielle Ames Spivak. “We always say our events are family affairs, and this year it’s especially true. Zubin embodies unparalleled excellence and has led the IPO to extraordinary heights and our Gala Chairs are ecstatic to honor him and his legacy.”
Among the event Gala Chairs are Annette and Peter O’Malley. O’Malley’s friendship with Mehta goes back to the 1960s, when they were key architects, in their respective fields, behind the city’s emergence as a national sports and international cultural destination.
“Danny Kaye introduced us,” said the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “He and Zubin were big Dodgers fans. To this day, it’s not unusual for Zubin to call me from somewhere in the middle of the night, to talk about baseball and hear how the team is doing.”
The lasting relationship Los Angeles has with Mehta, even decades after his position officially ended, is no surprise to O’Malley.
“He’s never been forgotten,” he said. “Today, years after he was in residence with the Philharmonic, his name resonates like it was only a few years ago. He’s a citizen of the world and travels all over, but he loves Los Angeles and has many close, longtime friends here.”
The other Gala Chairs are Camille and Arnon Adar, Edythe and Eli Broad, Tita Cahn, Helgard and Irwin Field, Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin, Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman, Eva and Marc Stern, Marilyn Ziering, and May and Richard Ziman.
TO THE BAY AND BACK
The next morning, Mehta and his musicians head north for that evening’s performance at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and a pre-concert supper in the Hall’s Wattis Room. It has been two years since the IPO visited the Bay Area, but the gala committee remains steadfastly committed, with Susan Libitzky, Lisa Pritzker, Varda Rabin, Lydia Shorenstein, Eta Somekh and Diane Zack back to lead the effort.
“Our Bay Area Gala Chairs have been dedicated ambassadors, together chairing half a dozen successful galas in San Francisco to date,” said Spivak.
“We are the same group of people that worked on it before,” Somekh said from her home in the Bay Area. “We feel that because the orchestra won’t travel next year, and Maestro Mehta is retiring in 2019, this event is especially important.”
Born and raised in Israel, Somekh knows the role the IPO has played in her homeland’s history, and will play in its future. She remembers the building of the first symphony hall.
“Everybody was attracted to go and hear one of the seven wonders of the world,” said Somekh, whose family was unable to afford tickets at that time. That has been part of the reason she works so hard to support KeyNote.
“I feel like everywhere in the world, arts and music are first to be cut in a budget,” she said. “So we need to do whatever we can to keep it going strong and enriching our lives.”
“It will be Zubin’s night,” O’Malley said of the L.A. event. “He deserves this tribute. Our goal is to make sure he and Nancy are just thrilled with everything. If, when they are driving home in his little car, they say to each other, ‘Wow that was really special,’ then we’ve accomplished a major success. And they’ll understand how we feel about them.”