Malibu Seen / By Kim Devore

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Samba dancers add pizzazz to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s winter gala. Photo by Lee Salem

BRAZIL MEETS BAROQUE

There was an explosion of color as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was transformed into a lively Brazilian fantasyland for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s annual winter gala. Music lovers like Malibu’s Marc and Eva Stern were greeted by the lively beat of samba drummers. Leggy dancers pranced around, donning skimpy satin and sequins costumes with feathery headdresses worthy of any Vegas show.

First stop, the Founder’s Room where LACO fans checked out the silent auction. The room was filled with take-me-home items including rare vintage wines and blingy bangles. You could even buy yourself a dinner at the home of the Italian counsel general.

In keeping with the spirit of the evening, guests sipped the Brazilian national drink called Caipirinha, made with fresh basil and rum, and nibbled on soft creamy Brie lettuce cups drizzled with honey.

Inside the hall, the great chandeliers of the pavilion were aglow in the colors of the evening-green, lilac and strawberry. “Tonight’s theme is about brilliant colors, lush surroundings and lively music with a sensuous pulse that is hard to resist,” gala chair Joyce Fienberg said.

The program began with words of thanks for Carol and Warner Henry for their longtime support and commitment to the chamber orchestra. To show the love, LACO presented a video tribute featuring music heavyweights Placido Domingo and James Conlon, among others. “Carol and Warner Henry are two of the most dedicated and involved patrons of the arts that our city is blessed to have in its midst,” Fienberg said. “It’s been a joy to work alongside them on the orchestra’s behalf.”

With that, it was time to strike up the band, which featured a program called from “Bach to Bossa Nova.” Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, sporting an eye-catching chartreuse tie, was a master at the keyboards, as he gracefully performed Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. The music director personally selected the piece in honor of the Henrys who share a love of Baroque music.

Switching gears, the musical journey led us from the Baroque salons of Europe to Brazilian beaches. Acclaimed Brazilian born Bossa Nova artist Luciana Souza took the stage. The Grammy winner wowed the crowd with her selection of traditional Brazilian songs as well as Derek Bermel’s “Spider Love” and “Dog.” They wrapped up with “Modinha” and “Itaparica” from “Canzonas Americanas.” By the end of the concert, many in the crowd became convinced that Portuguese is a true language of love.

KNBC’s Fritz Coleman presided over a live auction, which included an exclusive African safari and other highly coveted must-haves. As guests filed upstairs for dinner, they were greeted by samba dancers and a five-piece band. We tucked into a mouthwatering feast from Patina featuring a yummy compressed salad of baby arugula, manchego cheese, apples, walnuts and dates, as well as beef tenderloin and sea bass finished off with a raspberry tart with passion fruit ice cream. To work it off, everyone danced the night away. If your samba moves weren’t what they used to be, experts were on hand to give you a pointer or two. The orchestra’s outstanding performance, a gifted singer, fabulous food and Brazilian flair made “Bach to Bossa Nova” an evening to remember.