Valley Performing Arts Center, Northridge – Grand Opening

Larry and I went on another road trip down to the Los Angeles area, Northridge to be exact.  Our primary reason to go down was to attend the gala of the grand opening of the Valley Performing Arts Center located in Northridge on the campus of CSUN.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law are large donators and bought a table to share with family and friends.  We drove down on Friday and got in just before the bad traffic started.  We had a nice dinner with Larry’s parents and his brother and family.  It was nice to have quiet quality time together.  Larry’s parent’s barbequed flank steak and we had roasted red potatoes and salad to round out the meal.  The boys opened three bottles of red wine.  One was over the hill and had to be thrown out later in the evening.

Saturday I went to visit my aunt at her house.  After awhile an old friend of mine, Luanne, came over.  The three of us chatted about the old days, when my aunt would host a number of temple youth group functions at her house.  It brought back some good memories.  Luanne and I went out to lunch to have “quiet time” to get caught up.  We hadn’t seen each other for 30 years or so.  We were best friends when we were teenagers.  It was fun getting caught up with her life and talking about old times.  After lunch I went back to my in-laws and got all dolled-up.  The gala was a black-tie affair.

We were picked up by Larry’s brother and wife and we went to CSUN campus, only a 5-minute drive from the house. The performing arts center is a beautiful 3 story, fairly circular building with tons of glass windows overlooking campus.  There is one very large and dramatic staircase going up to the three stories, or you can of course take an elevator.  On each floor there is a no-host bar and some tables and chairs for lounging before the performance or during intermission.  The event started at 5:30 with hors ‘d oeuvres and cocktails.  I had a cosmopolitan and Larry had a margarita on the rocks.  The passed hors ‘d oeuvres were; tuna tartar on a corn tortilla chip served with a small dollop of wasabi and fish eggs, smoked salmon served on a potato chip, a potato pancake served with cooked apples and sour cream on top, asparagus wrapped with teriyaki beef, and a stuffed mushroom.  When this hour was over, we were seated in the performing arts center and were treated to a 90-minute variety performances.  There was a Shakespeare invocation with Benjamin Bratt, Tyne Daly, Keith David, Jane Kaczmarek, Steven Weber and Noah Wyle.  Then there was a ballet duet performance of Don Quixote.  Carol Vaness came out and did a song from an opera, one song solo the other with on of her students Andrew Lundsford.  After all of that they opened up the curtains and there was a whole band situated there.  On the left were the strings and clarinets.  On the right was the CSUN Jazz “A” band.  In the middle was the piano and percussion.  Besides the bands playing and having special guests both playing and conducting there were some singers like Monica Mancini (the daughter of Henry Mancini).  Dave Koz came out and played his saxophone and Atruro Sandoval came out and played his trumpet.  Andy Garcia even played his bongo drums.  There was a comedy act with Cheech Marin who is an alumnus of CSUN.  He came out with his wife who accompanied him playing the piano.  It was funny, but you had to have been there.  Davis Gaines came out and sang a song from Phantom of the Opera and Tyne Daly came out and sang a tune from Gypsy.  Some of the presenters of the evening were Calista Flockhart, Doris Roberts and Eric Stoltz.  When we saw that Calista was going to be there we were kidding around saying that wouldn’t it be cool if her husband came too!  You know, Harrison Ford.  Once we took our seat, no kidding, Harrison Ford was standing with their son about 15 feet away from me.  He was figuring out where their seats were.  I got so excited!  He ended up sitting in our row, but at the other end.  That was one of my highlights of the evening.

After the performance we were all led to a huge tent where 700 people were served dinner.  They was a 7-piece band on the front stage near the very large dance floor.  When we sat down the first course was already sitting there at our place.  It was a red, yellow and orange cluster of tomatoes sprinkled with fleur d’sel and composed with micro arugula, tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with Burrata cheese.  The second course was braised boneless short ribs served with a mushroom bread custard, baby carrots, asparagus spears and crispy fried onion rings.  Then the dessert came that was called, Dessert Duo.  On the plate was a warm chocolate flourless cake topped with whipped cream and white and dark chocolate sauce, and a Meyer lemon berry meringue tart.  There were strawberries sliced in between the two items and a rolled chocolate candy stick.  It was beautiful.  Of course, everything was delicious.  There was a lot of food between the three courses, but I managed to have a sampling of everything.  We were served wine with dinner from Margerum Winery in Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County.  They were serving a Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and a “M5 2008”, which is a Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blend using five grape varieties from twelve of the highest quality vineyards in Santa Barbara County, I enjoyed the M5, which was a nice blended wine.  People were mingling and dancing throughout the night.

It was a lovely night and well worth the price of the ticket.  And I want to thank my mother-in-law and father-in-law for treating us to such a beautiful affair.

Sunday we got up late and Dad made us homemade Belgium waffles and bacon for breakfast.  My friend Luanne came over to say hi to everyone there.  After that visit we packed up and drove over to my uncles house where my 96-year-old grandma is living.  We had a nice visit with them.  After that we then drove the 5 ½ hour drive home.  It was a very short weekend, not too relaxing but we saw a lot of family and friends and attended the gala of the Valley Performing Arts Center!

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