Hard work and passion can pay off.

Take the case of the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, the pending demise (to quote or paraphrase Mark Twain) of which has been greatly exaggerated

“We are,” board member and violinist/pianist/teacher Lynne Garrett told me, “in the black.”

Can you hear the collective sigh of relief rippling throughout the land?

The organization suffered well-known financial setbacks, which have been, if I may speak for the entire Santa Maria community, mercifully overcome.

“There is light at the end at the end of the tunnel,” board president and violinist/pianist Jed Beebe said. “We have a wonderful exciting season coming up.”

Enough about jubilation, though, let’s get on with the story: the Philharmonic’s annual fundraiser, a dinner/dance (Overture to our 15th Anniversary Season) held Oct. 4 at the Santa Maria Country Club.

The annual event raised more than $15,000 from on-the-spot pledges to fatten the coffers. Bodil Cudd chaired the committee that put together a very pleasant evening, with an autumn theme, attended by 87.

Instead of having auctions—traditional money makers—many non-profits now ask guests at an event to make public pledges of financial support. Wendy Thies Sell (the Sun’s food and wine writer), assisted by retired Air Force musician Larry Hill, carried out the Philharmonic’s pledge plea.

Among the music lovers at the dinner were George Majoue (the former executive director of the Philharmonic Society) and wife Mary Alice.

Also present were former board member Dr. Marcus Engelmann (of Allan Hancock College’s Deptartment of Music), conductor Jim Riccardo and conductor David Rackley.

Trivia Time: When he was in the Army, Riccardo played violin at the White House. Retired from the Air Force, the aforementioned Hill had a wonderful career being part of the U.S. Air Force Academy band. He performed with the band in countries all over the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Heartened by the pledges of financial support that came after dinner, Solvang resident, flutist and Philharmonic treasurer Carol Houchens told me, “The generosity of this community [Santa Maria] blows me away.”

Dr. Roland Miller, Dr. Robert and Louise Hammond, and former board member Dr. Richard and Ruth Ann Ontell were among the crowd as were Nancy Johnson and her daughter Lisa Thornhill.

Former board member Evvie Dykstra, Pam Goble, and Jim McGlothlin circulated before dinner.

click to enlarge Hobnobbing with Helen
PHILHARMONIC QUARTET: Diane and Jed Beebe stand with Lynne Garrett and Tom Drummond (left to right) on Oct 4 on the veranda of the Santa Maria Country Club. Beebe is president of the Philharmonic Society’s board; Garrett is on the board.

The ever-so-delightful Jimmy Enos played the piano during dinner. We also enjoyed the mellow music of Blue Skys (xylophone and guitar players) during social hour and after-dinner dancing.

On Friday evening, Oct. 24, the Philharmonic presented Voices of Passion (music for strings and soprano) at the First United Methodist Church—a lovely venue, perfect for enjoying classy and classical music.

A music critic I am not, but this was a delightful evening of adagios and such.

Long-time board member Diane Borad-Mirken was totally gobsmacked when conductor Riccardo asked her to stand up because it was her birthday. The organist let loose with a blast followed by the music ensemble’s performance of a specially written birthday greeting for the hard-working lady.

Was this a birthday greeting not to be forgotten? I think so!

There is still time to plan ahead and intend to attend the Philharmonic’s Dec. 6 holiday concert, also at the First United Methodist Church at the corner of South Broadway and Cook. Tickets are $20 to $30.

The Philharmonic’s first Rendezvous (a small musicale) of the season, featuring the Burnished Brass Quartet, will take place on Nov. 16 at Moxie Café on McCoy Lane.

The next concert will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6: Yuletide Brass: An Evening of Holiday Favorites. For more info and tickets, go to santamariaphilharmonic.org/concerts-tickets.

If you want to experience an “aha moment,” stop by the Natural History Museum (across from the library on McClelland Street) and take in the beauty, style, and sophistication of a tiny jewel: the just-opened Native American Garden alongside and in back of the museum building. It’s a truly lovely and valuable addition to the city’s downtown corridor. Georgia Schrager chaired the committee that made this happen, while Tahir Masood worked hard on the logistics to get it all together.


If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at [email protected].

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