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Ann Conway

A Loving 'Thank You' Sent by the Philharmonic Society

February 17, 1987|ANN CONWAY

Calling his audience "an upper crust crowd--crumbs held together by a lot of dough," singer John Davidson took the stage at the Disneyland Hotel on Saturday night and gave guests attending the Orange County Philharmonic Society's annual Golden Baton Gala a satire-laced valentine.

Alternating between hearts-and-flowers ballads, which had couples cuddling like newlyweds, and arrow-piercing one-liners, which had them aching with laughter, the apple-cheeked entertainer entertained like nobody's entertained on the OC ballroom-circuit in months.

"Isn't he wonderful?" whispered Philharmonic board president Eva Schneider while table hopping. "We paid $12,500 for him!"

Davidson had a hard act to follow. Only minutes before, the stage had been filled with Minnie Mouse-- haute in silver pumps, matching gown and blinking tiara--and Mickey Mouse and Goofy--both in snow-white tuxes. The trio was there to acknowledge Disneyland's receiving the society's Golden Baton Award for outstanding support of the arts. Floss Schumacher, a Philharmonic board member who was last year's recipient, presented the award.

Accepting for the Magic Kingdom was Jack Lindquist, executive vice president of marketing and entertainment, who said before the ceremonies: "Music is a universal language. Maybe the Disneyland tie-in helps children appreciate it sooner."

Lindquist was referring to the amusement park's Young Listeners Concerts--"Disneyland Salutes the American Band." The music outreach effort, coordinated by the Philharmonic, has taken the Disneyland Band to 80,000 Orange County second graders since the program was founded in 1984. "This year we'll reach 30,000 children," said Jane Grier, chairman of the Philharmonic's Women's Committees, during the reception. "We started with eight concerts annually. This year the band is going to give us 12 days of concerts plus a new program, a 'History of American Jazz' for junior high school students." Lindquist said the new program might be a challenge. "We'll probably have to get a little more with-it with the music. We'll be competing with the Top 40, you know."

Disneyland Band director David Warble foresaw no problem: "We're starting out with an old Count Basie jazz number, 'Magic Flea.' It cooks. With that for starters, the kids will trust us not to bore them the rest of the concert."

Moving among arrangements of hot pink tulips and twinkling ficus trees during the reception, nearly 250 couples, who'd paid $250 each to attend the affair, sipped cocktails, praised Disneyland's community efforts and generally enjoyed the romantic mood set by Valentine's Day. After a sit-down dinner, Floss Schumacher and husband Ed were given their very own vocal valentine during Davidson's show. Seeking out couples and asking them to share the year they'd fallen in love, the entertainer sang "Slow Boat to China" and "Again" when the Schumachers whispered "1949." Davidson perched on Pat Perkins' lap and began to run his fingers through her hair. "You gotta do this; women love it . . , " he said, adding: "Hey, your hair's as hard as a rock! It looks great but, folks, it's nevvvver comin' down."

The singer was stopped dead when he approached silver-haired Elaine Redfield, presuming she and husband Bill had fallen in love and married sometime in the '30s or '40s. "And when did it happen to you?" Davidson asked, hoping to croon another nostalgic set. "1965 . . , " Elaine said, truthfully. The house came down.

For his finale, Davidson, wearing a shocking blue sequin jacket throbbing with lights, did a hair-tossing, hip-grinding salute to the '50s.

Afterward, Warble took the stage to auction off a conductor's baton signed by former Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Carlo Maria Giulini. Highest bidder would also get to use that baton to conduct the Orange County Philharmonic Orchestra at Chapman College on March 29.

Winning the item with a $2,000 bid was Lindquist, who turned it over to the society's executive director, Erich Vollmer, who gave it to Floss Schumacher, who, Vollmer said, "has always wanted to conduct a symphony." Twelve-year-old Winslow Taub, a flautist, also entertained. Joyce Reaume was gala chairman. Louis Knobbe is chairman of the Philharmonic board. The estimated $25,000 in proceeds are to be used for the Philharmonic's musical enrichment programs.

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