The Valley Line: Music-filled LACC fundraiser honors Placido Domingo

Young singers from the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC) were in the spotlight at the Gala Bel Canto black-tie event held March 24 at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The fundraising event raised $240,000 for Los Angeles Children’s Chorus’ artistic, educational and scholarship programs.

The evening honored three pillars of the arts and philanthropic fields: opera legend Placido Domingo and philanthropists Jo Bufalino Libaw and Shawn D. Libaw.

More than 350 LACC supporters gathered at the sold-out gala in the beautiful crystal-chandelier ballroom that was filled with exquisite music sung by the voices of the many choral groups within the LACC — the concert choir, chamber singers, young men’s ensemble, intermediate choir and the apprentice choir all under the direction of Anne Tomlinson, artistic director.

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The musical tribute was a gift to all music lovers. A special guest performer was Lauren Libaw, an internationally acclaimed soprano and daughter of the honorees.

Lauren is a proud alumna of LACC where she sang for 10 seasons. While with LACC she sang in 10-productions with L.A. Opera, including three led by Maestro Domingo.

Looking gorgeous in a form-fitting gold gown, Lebow sang “O mio babbino caro” from the opera “Gianni Schicchi” by Puccini and the finale from Act II of “Die Zauberflote” by Mozart.

Another special treat for guests was when international opera star Susan Graham, a mezzo-soprano, sang “C’est ca la vie, c’est ca l’amour.”

When Domingo stepped to the stage to receive his award he was greeted by an ovation by the guests. He has such a love for the singers of LACC and encourages them in a myriad of ways. He said he particularly enjoys having them in the cast of operas at L.A. Opera. He always tells each child performing that night, “toi, toi, toi” the operatic equivalent of “break a leg.”

Andrea Greene Willard, chair of the Gala Bel Canto, said of Domingo, “His inimitable artistry and mentorship have been beacons of aspiration for our choristers, who take to it like moths to the flame.”

It was a lovely evening. Among my delightful dinner companions were Anna and John Proulx, whose daughter Maya sings in the apprentice choir. I had such interesting conversations with John, who is a jazz pianist, vocalist and Grammy Award-winning composer. He has made three albums for Maxjazz and is now working on his fourth album called “Songcatcher” with ArtistShare.

I also had a delightful chat with Debra Danner, who is executive director of LACC. Debra grew up in our town and her mom and dad Bryant and Judith also attended the event.

Among the young singers of LACC who live in and around LCF are are Reese Artura, Lena Bolotin, Ella Cannon, Katherine Olsen, Rachel DeMerit, Matilda Scott, Katherine Besch, Amelie Besch, Matthias Besch, Nitya Chawla, Jacob Cho, Selina Cho, Leigh Epstein, Anika Erickson, Sophi Gilbert, Clara Henriod, Tessa Henriod, Sara Hightower, Clara Kakuc, Maggie MacKenzie, Julia Nowak, Shelby Perez, Allison Rayer, Soren Ryssdal, Liv Ryssdal, Esme Salzman, Amelia Seropian, Connor SooHoo, Bayla Bash, Violet Bretz, Gwenyth Kim, Joshua Lee, Catalina Ruiz and Elena Ruiz.

Also singing with LACC are Diego Ahmad, Mateo Ahmad, Sydney Brakeley, Finn Brakeley, Safya Burke, Annabelle Cheung, Lucinda Clark, Lauren DeBria, Sophie Kim, Ian Kim, Micah Luna, Julian Madillian, Sasha Madillian, Emily Manookian, Liana Morissey, Shelby Sarton, Nathan Subbiondo, Vivian Tullis, Sabine Tullis and Roya Xanders.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Debra Danner's father. His name is Bryant, not Bryce.

Copyright © 2017, La Cañada Valley Sun

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