It was a perfect showcase for what the maestro called "such a beautiful nature."
Through the living room picture window, from the tables on the terrace, all the elements were in place: cloudless blue sky, neatly appointed homes, an occasional pleasure boat cruising the glinting bay.
For the 50 guests at Irene Bentley's Lido Island home on Sunday, the sights might not have seemed all that spectacular--these were, after all, the Pacific Symphony's key donors, people with bay-front or other postcard views from their own living rooms.
They came by invitation only to Bentley's cocktail party to meet maestro Kazimierz Kord, music director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, who will be the Pacific Symphony's principal guest conductor and music adviser this season. Kord had come from his summer home in Baden-Baden, West Germany, and as he said in a brief talk to the enthralled patrons: "For me, it is now approximately 4 o'clock in the morning, and I can't talk well what I should talk about."
Not to worry. It was enough that he was there--charming, slightly exotic looking, amenable to the steady flow of introductions and posed pictures.
"He is very used to the American system," said Louis Spisto, the orchestra's executive director. Meaning? "This," he said, nodding in the direction of Kord, who was just then being led by the elbow to pose for a picture by Bentley's grand piano.
For a couple of hours before dusk, the small crowd eddied around Kord, who, in his jet-lagged, broken-English way, could not have been more gracious nor looked more the part of maestro: shoulder-length salt-and-pepper hair, black shirt and slacks, an enormous, opal-studded Orthodox cross dangling over his heart. Of his unusual necklace, Kord said: "For me, it is a talisman I like." Just that, and a shy smile.
Among guests were Jeanette and Harold Segerstrom, who came with daughter Sandra and son-in-law John Daniels.
John Daniels, who has conducted college and high school orchestras, said he had tried to talk Kord into holding an open rehearsal. "At a concert, what you're seeing on the podium--from a conductor's point of view--is just the tip of the iceberg," he explained.
Although Kord had declined to open his rehearsals to observers, "I'm still going to try to wheedle my way in," Daniels said.
Julia Rappaport had a laugh with Kord "about the last time we talked," she said.
Rappaport, who attended the party with her husband, Irving, said she first met the maestro in Warsaw two years ago, when Irving was attending a medical convention. Now that Kord was in California, the Rappaports were headed back to Poland for another medical convention.
Bogumila Laskowska and Jadwiga Ginther--sisters who grew up near Krakow and now live in Laguna Hills--said they remembered hearing about Kord during their childhood. "He was a famous young conductor," Laskowska said.
Lyle and Florence Van Patten watched pelicans from a table on the terrace and recalled Kord's guest appearance with the orchestra last year.
"I thought his conducting made the orchestra seem like it was more alive," Lyle said. "It just seemed like they were more dynamic."
Also attending the party were George and Anne Schopick, Gerry and Christa Long, Floss and Ed Schumacher, Carol and George Ditzler, Margaret Mustoe and Elaine Redfield.