Malibu Seen

Malibu's Christopher Parkening strikes a chord at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's Spanish-themed gala. Photo by Lee Salem Photography


It was a trip back in time to the ancient Spain of Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra hosted its lavish Night of Knights. Under stormy skies, an elegantly clad crowd arrived at the historic Biltmore Hotel for an evening of music and merriment.

Inside the grand entryway we were greeted by well-fed friars, country wenches, conquistadors in full regalia and even a large brown stallion, or at least two actors in a large brown stallion costume.

Ladies dressed in winter hues with sweeping taffeta gowns, rich brocade dresses and fishtail frocks in shades of cranberry, chocolate and evergreen. While most guys played it safe in their classic black tie, a few fashionistas were spotted in the crowd sporting checkered satin vests, festive cummerbunds and white silk scarves. The Honorable Inocencio Arias, the Consul General of Spain and the evening’s gracious host, looked especially stylish in his traditional Spanish cape artfully slung over one shoulder.

Guests mingled amid the starlights of the Tiffany room, enjoying una copa of fruit filled-sangria before taking their seats for the evening’s performance.

LACO President Michael Rosen delivered his welcoming remarks in both English and Spanish. Like everyone associated with the LACO, he was glowing about the group’s overseas tour. “Don Quixote is magical,” he said. “And it’s a magical time for this orchestra. We begin our first European tour in 30 years. We are going to places, including the land of Don Quixote, affirming that we are one of the finest orchestras in the world.”

Executive Director Andrea Laguni echoed those sentiments, saying, “It is a rare treasure to be able to express the talent of the city of Los Angeles and bring it to the world.”

Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, meantime, shared a term from Don Quixote. “The name comes from the word quixotic, which means to dream the impossible dream. Ten or 11 years ago, the idea that LACO would be doing a major international tour would have definitely been thought of as quixotic. And here we are leaving in a few weeks.”

The performance began with the “Don Quixote Suite” by Telemann followed by a riveting performance courtesy of Malibu’s own Christopher Parkening. The famed classical guitar virtuoso and distinguished professor of music at Pepperdine delighted the crowd with traditional granadinas as well as an encore in the style of his mentor, the late, great Andres Segovia.

Following the performance, guests stepped into the Gold Room, where they snacked on smoked chicken quesadilla while bidding up a storm on hot must-haves like a jet-set getaway to Spain. At the same time, the Biltmore staff worked its magic breaking down the Crystal Ballroom stage and transforming it into a regal dining hall fit for a king. The crowd settled into a first-class feast of chicken chanterelle with pinot noir sauce, fresh veggies and triple chocolate mousse. Music lovers then turned the beat around, dancing the night away to the sounds of Mora’s Modern Rhythmists.

The magical night in old Spain raised nearly $400,000 for LACO and its educational programs like Meet the Music. Ole!