Andy’s Symphony Set

Andy Granatelli’s Sunday Brunch at the Biltmore “funraiser” for Santa Barbara Symphony took place in the Loggia Room at the Biltmore on April 6 and, although there was very little pre-publicity (a postcard and follow-up call from Andy), it was a full house, a sell-out. Andy had set up the event (with a great deal of help, he acknowledged, from friend A.C. Moore).

Among those attending were honorees Kirk Douglas, Ernest Borgnine, and Jane Russell, although the trio merely posed for a quick photo-op before joining the rest of us at our tables. Christopher Lloyd, Stuart Whitman, composer Bruce Broughton, and other luminaries also attended – virtually all sporting requisite block-lettered name tags. There were no speeches, as promised, and the auction went quickly, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Symphony in spirited bidding, particularly for brunch at the Yacht Club (donated by Gillian and Joseph Launie and Tim Putz) combined with an afternoon sail on the 52-foot motor yacht Polaris, captained by Roger Chrisman. Borgnine purchased the right to conduct the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra on July 4th in the Sunken Gardens outside the courthouse, an auction item that included a baton and autograph of John Philip Sousa, circa 1931.

Attendees were virtually enveloped by music the entire time, beginning with a cello quintet from the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony (Tessa Chu, David Crandell, Chloe Dautch, Andrew Hsu, and Julian Lord) that serenaded arrivals as they made their way into the Loggia Room. Tenor Matt James delivered a passionate rendition of “God Bless America,” along with a more festive “La Donna e Mobile.”

The other featured entertainers were violinist Caroline Campbell accompanied on piano by Miwa Gofuku and this duo simply knocked the knickers off the audience, which gave the two musicians a spontaneous and sustained standing ovation.

Miwa is a former Music Academy of the West student (mentored by Leni Fe Bland), and is now Director of Artistic and Concert Operations for Santa Barbara Symphony. Her husband, Antonio, plays violin with the Turin Symphony and the National Symphony at La Scala, in Milan, Italy.

Caroline is a 28-year-old Phi Beta Kappa Stanford grad with a BS in Symbolic Systems and an MA in Sociology, who made her musical debut at the age of eight with the Reno Philharmonic. She has soloed on stage with Garth Brooks, Michael Buble, Josh Groban and others, performed on recent CDs with Beyonce and Andrea Bocelli, and has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, American Idol, and the Grammy Awards. She was a sensation. The intensity – the determined closed-eye concentration – with which she played, caused the backs of our necks to reverberate. One can only tremble at the thought of Caroline and Gilles Apap playing together on stage! As for Miwa: she stayed right with Caroline, note for note, leap for leap, up the musical scale and exhaustively, triumphantly, back down again.

It was a breathtaking performance.

Caroline, incidentally, was guest concert master for Santa Barbara Symphony in October and again on New Year’s Eve.

Mineards’ Memories

One of the press notables at our table during Andy’s Sunday Symphony funraiser was Santa Barbara News-Press columnist Richard Mineards. He, and nearly everyone else, was wearing a pre-made name tag with the first name highlighted in large lettering. Mineards opined that we should all wear such I.D. at gatherings so there would be no confusion and no embarrassing memory lapses. I laughed and told him that at a similar event last year, actor Kevin Costner was one of those wearing a big name tag but hardly needed one. Mineards then related an incident illustrating, as he saw it, how everyone should introduce themselves, regardless of how “famous” or “infamous” they may be.

“Years ago,” he began, “I used to be a regular guest on the late Malcolm Forbes’s yacht, ‘The Highlander.’ Every couple of weeks [Mr. Forbes] would take The Highlander out and go on a three- or four-hour cruise around Manhattan. He used to have an eclectic group of guests – the high and the mighty, media people, and whatever. One time, Bryant Gumbel was on board; I introduced myself, but he didn’t say who he was, which I thought was a bit rude. So, I thought I’d tweak him a bit.

“Being English, even though I’d lived in New York for quite a number of years,” Mineards continues, “I said to him: ‘What do you do here?’

“He said, ‘I’m on television.’

“So, I said, ‘Oh, what do you do? Do you do the weather?’

“He said, ‘No, I’m on The Today Show.’

“I said, ‘What is that?’

“He said, ‘It’s a morning show on NBC.’

“And, I said, ‘NBC? Is that one of the big networks?’

“You could see he was visibly fuming at not being instantly recognized, and he came over a bit curt and pompous, so it was rather fun to tweak him.”

Non-Profit At Its Pecuniary Best

Diane Calvert, immediate past president of Santa Barbara Symphony League pointed out that, “the centerpieces [on the tables for the Sunday Brunch] show our non-profit at its finest.” She said the plants cost $6 each (from the Farmers’ Market), and the fifty yards of ribbon were just $6.99 (purchased at Costco). More ingeniously, they were to be used three more times: at a luncheon for young people on Friday at the Arlington; for an event featuring teachers from UCSB later that evening; and for a post-concert event on Saturday night.

Bringing The Bagels

David Gersh, a big Symphony supporter, revealed during Andy’s Sunday Brunch that he hasn’t been seen lately because he doesn’t go to Jeannine’s quite as often as he once did. He explained that he once split his breakfasts between Jeannine’s and Montecito Coffee Shop in the upper village, but told Debbie (who owns Montecito Coffee Shop) that he would “eat there more often” if she had better bagels. “I love Deb and I love the Pharmacy,” he says. Apparently, Deb hemmed and hawed at purchasing a different kind of bagel, so David asked, ‘What if I bring you the bagels?’

Debbie said ‘Okay,” and he’s been bringing her his bagels for months now. “It’s like having a private wine cellar,” David laughs. “No,” he corrects himself, “it’s more like bringing your own cases of wine to a restaurant and having them store them so you can have your own ’08 Lafitte.” (Both Lucky’s and Tre Lune have such arrangements for favored customers.)

David brings “six or eight” bagels at a time, Deb puts them in a freezer, and when he arrives, she takes one out, toasts it and serves it with cream cheese. She tells him when his bagel stash is getting low.

From Ben Smith’s Politico.com blog:

Monty Python's John Cleese is headed to Chicago, he tells a regional British paper:

“I am due to come to Europe in November but I may be tied up until then because if Barack Obama gets the nomination I'm going to offer my services to him as a speech writer because I think he is a brilliant man.”

Obama's not the only obstacle to his return, though.

“I live in California now [in Montecito, actually] and I only come back to England in May or June when my personal assistant tells me the weather is safe to do so,” he said.