Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Page 7



Holiday Concert: Another Triumph for Gary S. Greene and His Troup of Musicians, Singers




Kudos to maestro Gary S. Greene, the attorney who, with panache, conducts the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic. Saturday night at the Wilshire United Methodist Church, there took place a superb, spirits-perking performance by his orchestra and recently formed chorus, Legal Voices.

Billed as “a holiday program from the Messiah to The Sound of Music and Guys & Dolls,” it evoked  an exuberant standing ovation after the finale—orchestra and chorus majestically performing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”—and a second vigorous standing ovation following the first of three encores, each warranted by audience reaction. Nearly all of the 500-plus seats were filled in the 1924 church’s imposing main sanctuary, which is marked by a high domed, hand-stenciled ceiling and wrought iron chandeliers.

Lawyers and judges listened to colleagues make music and sing, doing so fully as well as professionals—which some of them have been, might have been, or are.

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The highlight of the concert came when six of the 60-or-so vocalists who were present (only about half of the members of the chorale Greene has assembled) split off from the chorus, came down front, and performed a song from a yet-to-be-staged musical, “Felons!” The song was “World Without Lawyers.” Lawyers are persistently battered and denigrated; this song, with a light approach, points to their essential role in our society as vindicators of rights. It ends with the line: “Did you hear the one about the two clients?...”

The impressive lead singer was soprano Renèe Burkett, a legal assistant at the Century City law firm of Kaye Scholer LLP. Back-up singers were Jacqueline Domac, a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, who has sung professionally; Monsi Morales, a bankruptcy attorney with the Century City law firm of Peitzman, Weg & Kempinsky, LLP; new admittee Azadeh Dadgostar, whose office is in Westwood; Glendale attorney John J. Manier of Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt, LLP; John “Rocky” Miller, a labor lawyer with Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP; and Mark I. Melo, an attorney with the Glendale law firm of Bradley & Gmelich.

The music was composed by San Diego Deputy District Attorney Luis M. Aragon. For the lyrics, he turned to a professional songwriter, Douglas Foxworthy.

I hope Greene will include a performance of “World Without Lawyers” at his mini-concert at the Jan. 27 MetNews “Person of the Year” dinner. The orchestra’s debut came at our event on Jan. 30, 2009. Greene told the audience Saturday that the upcoming dinner will mark the third anniversary of that debut and the orchestra’s 30th engagement.

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An appropriate selection for a concert by and for members of the legal community was the duet “Sue Me,” adeptly executed by Encino attorney Ken Freundlich and Alexis Wesley, who works at Manatt Phelps.

Warmth marked the able rendition by tenor Jeffrey Dunn of “Edelweiss.”

Baritone Steven Perren, a member of Div. Six of this district’s Court of Appeal, sang “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.” He’s quite good at singing; my wife told the jurist after last year’s holiday concert that he missed his calling.

Other gifted featured singers were attorneys Melanie Cristol of O’Melveny & Myers, Linda Hurevitz of the Glendale law firm of Ballard, Rosenberg, Golper & Savitt, LLP, new admittee Lauren Hazarian, and West L.A.-based Benjamin Natkin, along with  Loyola Law School student Laura LeFeuvre. 

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GIRADI OFFENDS: Greene and his orchestra and chorus also performed on the night of Dec. 6 at the Biltmore Hotel. The entertainment was no doubt first rate, but the concert is not what was being talked about in the days that followed.

The performance was at the 18th annual “Supreme Court Night” staged by the Italian American Lawyers Assn. Putting aside the musical presentation, the event was, according to the numerous accounts I’ve heard, a fiasco.

My wife and I weren’t there. This year’s president has set all meetings outside the usual, comfortable venue, Casa Italiana, east of Chinatown. He has partially subsidized the costs of the meals, and has brought in high-priced performers. The problem is: the Italian American Lawyers Assn. has not really been in existence during 2011. My wife and I have avoided meetings of what has been, this year, the Tom Girardi Club.

Meaningfully absent from the IALA meeting was former U.S. District Judge George Schiavelli who, each year for a good long time, has coordinated the meetings with the Supreme Court and emceed the event. This year, the former IALA president was shunted to the side.

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When Malcolm Lucas was chief justice, each member of the court came to the mike and said a few words. Ron George, as chief, preferred to do all the talking, himself, but introduced each colleague present. This year, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was primed to offer remarks and introduce associate justices, but the program dragged on, she had to catch a plane, and she asked Justice Marvin Baxter to fill in for her.

He was not called upon to do so. The Supreme Court was never lent recognition at “Supreme Court Night.”

So much for protocol.

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What was to become a topic of conversation at courtrooms and bar meetings was the screening of a video. Girardi, I’m told, announced he wanted to show something shot that day that was 4½ minutes.

What was beamed on the screens was a woman, scantily clad, gyrating. One person who was present says she was wearing “too-short pants and a too-brief top.”

Another person in attendance describes the video as “rock and soft porn.”

Set at a smoke-filled party, the video, if I’m correctly advised, includes a woman partyer pouring liquor on a man’s bare chest and lapping it up.

The performer seen provocatively gyrating was Girardi’s wife, Erika, AKA Erika Jayne.

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The video came under discussion last week at a Los Angeles County Bar Assn. section executive committee meeting. A member who was at the screening alluded to Erika Girardi’s skimpy attire and quipped that her husband needs to increase her clothing allowance.

Another member of the committee sought to mimic Erika Girardi by standing, turning her back, and raising one side of her rump with a jolt. The inappropriateness was appalling but brief.

The video Tom Girardi showed was 4½ minutes.

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Even Tom Girardi should have known better than to display a raunchy video at a meeting at which members of the state’s highest court were present.

Of course, good judgment would have precluded showing it at any bar meeting.

Or, for that matter, anywhere.

Some members will treasure the past year as the group’s “Camelot,” during which a benefactor treated members to largely subsided meals at swank places and to free concerts. The more discerning will recall this year as one in which the group, formed in 1977, temporarily went out of existence.

Deputy Attorney General Steve Mesi will be sworn in as president on Jan. 28 at the San Antonio Winery, and the Italian American Lawyers Assn. will spring back into being. Normalcy, it is anticipated, will be restored.


Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company


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