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L.A. Philharmonic’s Opening Night Salutes Gershwin, Raises Education Funds

Megan Hilty Robert Stokes Mitchell
Rex/Shutterstockc

In keeping with the playful George Gershwin tunes performed at the LA Philharmonic’s opening night gala on Tuesday, Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell sang, danced, and got the audience to join in as he belted out “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

As Megan Hilty came out to join the baritone for “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” Mitchell told her, “I got ’em warmed up for you.”

Billed as a salute to Gershwin and the Jazz Age, the concert and dinner raised $3.2 million for the Los Angeles Phil’s education programs, according to Deborah Borda, president and chief executive officer.

Christoph Waltz, Gustavo Dudamel and Maria Valverde

It was the 13th gala at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and conductor Gustavo Dudamel’s eighth.

Dudamel said, “With this music, I would love to be seated, eating something and smoking a cigar. But it’s such fun to see diversity of music that the symphonic orchestra can play.”

Besides a host of politicos such as Mayor Eric Garcetti (whom Borda entreated to add an “Olympic festival for the arts” when he brings the games to L.A.), and county supervisors Don Knabe and Sheila Kuhl, guests included Frank Gehry, Eli and Edyth Broad. Hollywood was represented by Michael and Jane Eisner, Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin, Herbie Hancock, Larry David, John  C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Amanda Peet.