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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 29th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 38 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 38

Hobnobbing with Helen


It was an evening of pleasant surprises and not your ordinary philharmonic concert experience.

Launching Altrusa Christmas tree raffle season:
Lorene Dyson (left), Susana Naranjo (center), and Melinda Aguirre (right) met up on Thursday evening, Nov. 15, at the Altrusa's Festival of Trees tree sponsor reception. Dyson is chairman of the noontime Altrusa Foundation. Naranjo designed Altrusa's rotating tree. Aguirre is president of the club.

First, the Pioneer Valley High School Band marched into the main space of Grace Baptist Church to play the “Star Spangled Banner” for attendees of the Philharmonic Society’s Nov. 17 concert.

Betty Anthony, sitting next to me, said, “Isn’t this wonderful?”

Yes, it was. Very nicely done, Pioneer Valley. Bravo, Philharmonic Society, for inviting them.

Then, a delightful, witty British composer (Christopher Gunning) talked to the audience about his piece, “Hector’s Return,” which enjoyed its second performance in, yes, Santa Maria.

Jean Mollenkopf (left), her daughter Kristine Mollenkopf (center), and Keri Common (right) hung out with Matisse, a pet cockatoo, on Saturday, Nov. 17, at a pre-Philharmonic reception held at the younger Mollenkopf's home. Kristine Mollenkopf is president of the Philharmonic board.

This light and airy composition was the first selection of the evening. What a joy to have a distinguished composer on stage and his newest work on the program.

Gunning’s work enjoyed its premier performance on Nov. 2 in Bakersfield, where conductor John Farrer directed the Bakersfield Symphony. Of course, everyone knows that Farrer is also Santa Maria’s conductor.

For dedicated culture mavens, before the concert, Dr. Marcus Engelmann, from the music department of Allan Hancock College, gave a talk about the concert selections, which included Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite.”

This piece—with its many interesting sounds, plucking of strings, and thumping of drums—was very popular with the audience. “What was that?” we asked ourselves. “An oboe, a flute, the harp, or the keyboard?”

Two for the show:
Dennis Prescott and Bo Cudd paused on Saturday evening, Nov. 17, in the lobby of Grace Baptist Church before a Philharmonic concert.

Before the concert, the Philharmonic’s board president Kristine Mollenkopf entertained a few concert goers at her home with wine and finger foods. She called her soiree “A little class and a little culture.” ’Twas that, indeed, Kristine. Everyone loved meeting your amiable white pet cockatoo, Matisse—a most sociable creature.

David Aln, a Hancock music instructor, played background music on the piano.

George Majoue, the Philharmonic’s executive director, was able to pop in for a few minutes before reporting for duty at the concert hall.

Jean Mollenkopf came to socialize, as did Jim and Kelly White O’Neill, Bo Cudd and Dennis Prescott, Robin Hayhurst, and Sandra Coutley.

Cudd is event chairperson for the Philharmonic’s upcoming annual fundraiser, “Passport to Vienna,” a dinner to be held on Feb. 9 at the Radisson Hotel. She’s excited about the big raffle for a trip to Vienna. Only 250 tickets, at $100 each, for the Vienna trip will be sold.

If you want to waltz your way over to this event, call 925-0412 for ticket information.

After the concert, the Philharmonic’s Hospitality Committee did not disappoint. As usual, there was an ample spread of mostly homemade cookies—which did not last long—and lemonade and coffee.

I was pleased to chat with Evelyn Dykema, George Crosby, Dr. Richard and Ruth Ann Ontell, and John and Karen Ransome.

Altrusa Christmas Tree Festival

You have a couple of days left to buy raffle tickets ($1 each) for such enticing items as big screen television sets (there are three), airline tickets to Vegas, bicycles, a Kindle, big barbecues, a sofa, and miscellaneous gift certificates, as well as a whole lot of children’s toys and books.

The noontime Altrusa is holding its annual showy and glittery Festival of Trees (a fundraising raffle) next door to J.C. Penney’s. They will pull winning tickets and announce winners on Dec. 2.

It could be you!

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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