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R S V P : Gala Conducted With Poise, Aplomb


At intermission, Nancy Van Tuyle was surrounded by admirers after she conducted the Pasadena Symphony through the national anthem at the opening performance of its 67th season Saturday night. "What I wanted was to show people what fun it was to be really involved," Van Tuyle said.

Her husband, Robert, had secured the honor for her by making the winning bid at last season's gala fund-raiser. "I recognize some of these gestures," he said teasingly as he showed photographs of his wife on the podium, hands pointed and awhirl, during rehearsal.

The Symphony's real conductor, Jorge Mester, marking his 10th anniversary as music director, was the focus of celebration at the black-tie dinner held in the Gold Room of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium before the concert. His portrait graced the cover of the program in a painting titled "Conducting the Dawn," created by Pasadena artist Peter Adams.

Also honored were major donors, including Alyce and Warren Williamson and Elvera and Allan Fink, who were presented with a set of medals commemorating the 100th anniversary of Tchaikovsky's death.

A party before the concert needs to be a well-timed affair. "Was that the dinner chime?" asked Dennis Lowe when one of the ice sculptures at the caviar counter in the lobby crashed to the carpet.

"Last year we kept the orchestra waiting. We don't want to do it again," he explained, encouraging the guests to move on from the cocktail reception to the dinner of chilled watercress and leek soup, prawns, chicken, petit filet and a rich chocolate dessert. The evening was underwritten by Wells Fargo and KKGO FM.

Lowe and his wife, Shelly, hosted two tables. At an adjacent table, Delores Kroop--who shares orchestra special events duties, including the upcoming Holiday Weekend in December, with Lowe--was with her husband, Richard; their children Gabrielle and Benjamin; Madeleine and John Moran, and Fern and Jason Wallach.

Marvin Schultz, president of the Symphony Assn., moved the brief presentation of the medals along swiftly so everyone was able to take their concert seats promptly to enjoy the music of the night, which featured Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg's rendering of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1.

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