Mary Pickford

by Hydee Abrahan

Sylvia La Torre leads first FASO Excellence Awardees

by Hydee Abrahan

The Philippines’ national treasure, Sylvia La Torre, leads the first Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) Excellence in Music and Service Awards recipients who will be honored in a special gala on June 17 at the former Mary Pickford estate in Los Angeles.

La Torre and internationally acclaimed soprano Maria Christina Navarro will be honored for their outstanding accomplishments in music by FASO, the only Filipino symphony orchestra outside of the Philippines, in “A Night of Symphony – Excellence Awards Dinner and Gala.”

Excellence in Service awardees – musician and teacher Cecilia A. Coo-Cruz and accountant and former FASO board member Titus Verzosa – will be recognized for their valuable contributions to the orchestra, whose members come from various professions of the Filipino American community with a variety of musical background experiences.

Maria Christina Navarro

FASO’s first ever gala promises to be an exciting evening on the beautiful estate of Mary Pickford, the original America’s Sweetheart and a pioneering woman in Hollywood. She co-founded United Artists studio, was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was one of the first women producers in Hollywood. Pickford’s majestic home is now owned by Edwin Raquel, a FASO board member, and his family.

“A Night of Symphony…” will raise much-needed funds to sustain FASO, a non-profit organization, and its music education and outreach programs. Throughout the year, FASO conducts workshops, classes and recitals, especially for aspiring young talents in voice and music instruments.

The orchestra, under the baton of conductor and musical director Robert “Bob” Shroder, has been giving acclaimed concerts that highlight Filipino musical works and showcase Filipino American musicians and artists.

To keep the orchestra as a vital non-profit entity dedicated to presenting the Filipino musical heritage and nurturing young talents, FASO needs to raise funds on a constant basis.

CeciliaCooCruz1

The night’s tribute to the four awardees will spotlight their achievements and generous volunteer service that inspire current and future generations of Filipino Americans.

La Torre, having begun performing at the age of five in 1938 in Manila, will celebrate her 80th year in show business in 2018. She is the first soprano to successfully break through pop culture in the Philippines. In fact, she is the first Filipino artist to enjoy a hugely successful career in all major entertainment fields in the Philippines: radio, television, record, stage and film.

Navarro has given recitals, opera performances and performed with orchestras around the world which were met with thunderous applause and cheers and earned glowing reviews. She has performed with top opera companies and orchestras. She is a former member-soloist of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, UP Filipiniana Dance Group and the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music.

Cecilia A. Coo-Cruz is a seasoned violinist who has played for various orchestras, chamber groups and alternative bands and has collaborated on various recordings. She has been an integral part of FASO since its inception in 2008. In addition to playing with FASO, Coo-Cruz devotes countless hours to assist the orchestra in various volunteer capacities.

Titus M. Verzosa is a Certified Public Accountant, presently working as a senior tax manager at DeMera Cameron, LLP, an accounting firm in Fresno, California. With his love for music, Verzosa volunteered his tax and accounting services in forming FASO as a non-profit organization. When FASO was incorporated in 2013, he was invited to sit on the Board of Directors and to assume the position of the Treasurer. He served on the FASO Board until 2015.

Titus Verzosa

FASO will serenade guests as they savor Pinoy cuisine prepared by chefs Clinton Nuyda and Nanette Sicat.

In addition, guests will have the opportunity to bid and win unique live and silent auction items, including a week’s stay at an apartment on Champs-Élysées in Paris; a stay at the Handumanan estate in Kalibo, Aklan, with complimentary river cruise and sightseeing to coincide with the popular Ati-Atihan Festival, and a stay in world-famous Boracay; and a chance to conduct FASO, no less.

Another treat will be the Rigodon de Honor, the traditional Filipino dance by couples.

The exciting gala is sponsored by Bank of Hope, Pacific Western Bank, Silver Saddle Ranch & Club, F&W Foodservices and Supplies, Kanstul Musical Instruments, Philip Stein Global Filipino Watch, Image Spa, Island Pacific Seafood Market, Ishkaster Media, Events by Sandy, LBC, Perfect Energy, G.K. Skaggs, Leelin Bakery & Café, Nautilus Brand, Ramar Foods International, San Antonio Bakery, Unistar Foods, Inc., Partyworks, Etc. and Print Hub USA.

For inquiries, contact FASO board members Rocio Nuyda, the gala’s chairperson (818-602-3214, rocio@msn.com), or Jose Luis Garcia (310-936-2988, jl.garcia@aol.com). More details are also available at www.fasogala.org.

GalaLandscapeUpdate3

FASO to hold its first gala benefit at Hollywood legend’s estate

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Filipino music and artists, and the only Filipino symphony orchestra outside of the Philippines, will hold “A Night of Symphony,” its first ever gala benefit dinner. This gala will take place on June 17 at the majestic estate of Hollywood legend Mary Pickford in Hancock Park, Los Angeles.
Edwin Raquel, one of FASO’s board members, and his family will graciously open their home for this event, which will raise funds to sustain FASO’s concerts and music education programs.
The special evening will honor FASO’s first Excellence in Music awardees and distinguished contributors to the pioneering orchestra’s mission and objectives. The names of the honorees will be announced soon.
 
This will be a unique chance to be on the sprawling grounds of the former home of iconic silent film actor and producer Mary Pickford, and a prime filming location for movies like the 2011 Oscar Best Picture “The Artist” and “Rocky IV.”
Filipino chefs making Pinoy cuisine a worldwide sensation will prepare a sumptuous dinner.
 
Guests will be serenaded by FASO under the baton of musical director and conductor Robert “Bob” Shroder. Select performers and Music in Excellence awardees will also entertain the guests.
 
In addition, guests will have the opportunity to bid on unique auction items, including a week’s stay at an apartment on Champs-Élysées in Paris; a round-trip ticket to Manila via Philippine Airlines plus a trip to Coron, Palawan; a stay at the Handumanan estate in Kalibo, Aklan, with complimentary river cruise and sightseeing to coincide with the popular Ati-Atihan Festival, and a stay at Boracay; and a chance to conduct FASO, no less.
 
Another highlight will be the Rigodon de Honor, the traditional Filipino dance by couples.
 
The exciting gala, sponsored by Bank of Hope, Pacific Western Bank, Silver Saddle Ranch & Club, LBC, Omni Hotel, Kanstul Instruments, Philip Stein watch, and the Philippine Department of Tourism, will feature two parts. There will be a meet and greet for a limited number of guests, starting at 4:00 p.m. with the guest of honor, awardees and other distinguished guests.
 
The second part will be the main event – awards program and dinner – which will begin at 5:30 p.m.
This Gala event is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. This event is also supported in part by a generous grant from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the California Arts Council.
 
For inquiries, contact FASO board members Rocio Nuyda, the gala’s chairperson (818-602-3214, rocio@msn.com) or Jose Luis Garcia (310-936-2988, jl.garcia@aol.com). More details are available here.
Mary Pickford Estate Sketch

FASO Gala 2017

As you all may have heard, FASO’s first annual gala is happening on June 17 at the Raquel Residence, aka the former Mary Pickford Estate! We’d like to share the star-studded history of this famous L.A. home here. For more details on our gala, click here!

The Mary Pickford State in "The Artist"
Training Teacher Edith W. Swarts (left) and Helen Matthewson Laughlin in 1924
Training Teacher Edith W. Swarts (left) and Helen Matthewson Laughlin in 1924

The home has been featured in many popular TV shows, including “Scandal,” “NCIS” and “Nip Tuck.” It can also be seen in blockbuster movies such as “Rocky,” “Taken” and “The Artist,” winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2012. The house has a philanthropic history: after it was designated the 2003 Design House (which raised $750,000 for charity), it was the venue for several fundraisers, including “Dining with the Chefs for the Ayala Foundation” and most recently “Hope After Haiyan,” which aided Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.

Architect W.C. Pennell designed the house in 1917 for UCLA Dean of Women Helen Matthewson. The home is a good example of Beaux-Arts residential architecture, which includes a recessed center section flanked by protruding wings. Beaux-Arts, which originated from the neoclassical architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, profoundly impacted American architecture.

For Beaux-Arts, think The Louvre.
For Beaux-Arts, think The Louvre.

The focal point at the center block is the one-story colonnade at the entrance, which features fluted columns and pilasters with stylized ionic capitals. The over-sized projecting cornice and plain parapet are reminiscent of  Vienna Secession architecture, which appeared in California around the time that the house was built. In 1918, Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart” and the highest paid actor at the time, rented the house. In 1919, Pickford left Fremont Place when she married Douglas Fairbanks and moved to Pickfair in Beverly Hills. The home was thereafter rented to Mary Miles Minter, a top child star who was paid $1.3 million per year.

For an idea of what Vienna Secession architecture looks like, take a look at the Secession Building, which was built as a manifesto for the art movement.
For an idea of what Vienna Secession architecture looks like, take a look at the Secession Building, which was built as a manifesto for the art movement.
Mary Pickford, 1916
Mary Pickford, 1916

Helen Matthewson sold the house in 1920 to Robert and Lula Henderson, wealthy Oklahoma oil operators. The house would change hands many more times. The house underwent upgrades in the 1970’s under the ownership of Ragnar Qvale, architect of the Wilshire Country Club. The current owners completely restored the house in 2000, adding 5,000 square feet to the original 8,240 for their family. The home was presented the Historic Landmark Medallion #11 by the Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society, and it’s included in many books on significant architecture in Los Angeles, usually called the Pickford Home.

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