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Holiday Spirit Pervades in San Diego

Story and Photos by Margo Schwab

December was a very busy month on the social scene for holiday parties and one special centennial celebration in San Diego.
On Dec. 3, the San Diego Symphony celebrated a landmark 100 years with a grand gala at the U.S. Grant Hotel. Cellist Yo Yo Ma was the big draw, performing Beethoven’s No. 1 in C. Major, Opus 21 followed by Dvorak’s Concerto in B minor for Viloncello and Orchestra, Opus 104 with the San Diego Symphony. Joan (elegant in Oscar de la Renta) and Irwin Jacobs served as the Centennial honorary chairs. Also there were honorary chairs Joye Blount and Jessie Knight Jr., and chairs Joyce and Craigar Grosvenor. Tanya (beautiful in Roberto Cavalli) and Charles Brandes were the generous underwriters of Yo Yo Ma’s guest appearance and performance.
“The San Diego Symphony Gala evening had the most marvelous atmosphere of warmth and inclusiveness,” said guest Judith Harris. “Everyone was so thrilled to be able to witness a musical performance by the gifted Yo Yo Ma. Great thanks to all the chairs and especially Tanya and Charles Brandes for this beautiful gift of culture.”
The celebration continued downstairs at the after party created by Janice Dodge of Poway-based ShowTec. There was a main room for dancing as well as rooms for cigar smoking and playing poker. The festivities went on until early a.m.
The 17th annual Chairman’s Circle Reception for the San Diego Council on Literacy took place for the first time at National University in La Jolla on Dec. 8. Council CEO Jose Cruz had this to say: “After 17 years of presenting The Chairman’s Circle Reception at the Copley Library in La Jolla, our supporters, with much grace, joined us at the new venue at National University, and came to us, again, with the spiritedness and generosity they have always shown for greater literacy in our community.”
Among those generous sorts supporting “learner reading” for all ages were Robin Parsky, David C. Copley, Colette and Ivor Royston, Jay Hill (he’s the executive director of the San Diego Public Library Foundation), and Judith Harris and Dr. Robert Singer.
Singer had these remarks: “The Council of Literacy holiday event is always inspirational, listening to someone who has benefited by the program and learning as an adult to read. The San Diego Council on Literacy provides a safe environment that is not judgmental to assist those individuals. To hear the difficulties of someone who could not read and then see their increasing confidence and self worth from being helped to eventually learn to read and what they do in giving back to the community is always an emotional experience.”
Longtime literacy supporter Mel Katz of Manpower summed it up: “This annual holiday celebration was a very inspirational and moving event. One out of every four people in San Diego read below the sixth grade level and it is great to see how the Council on Literacy and its partners make a difference in their lives.”
On Dec. 11, the annual Timken Museum of Art Holiday Party took place amidst the great art at the museum. The Timken’s director, John Wilson, had these words on this festive and popular event: “The Timken’s annual Holiday Party has been the best way to greet the season for almost 25 years. Phemie Davis was an outstanding chair of the event and we’re so grateful to her for organizing an extraordinary party. The endowment of the Putnam Foundation (the parent of the Timken Museum of Art) exists to provide great works of art to the public for free. Everything else we do through the generosity of our friends and benefactors. The Timken Holiday Party is one way we thank these magnificent friends.”
Music by The Bunnell Strings performed and the ever popular Giuseppe Catering took care of the Italian-themed fare. Among the guests were Ellen and Tim Zinn, Andrew Shelton and Pat O’Connor, who co-chair the Art of Fashion event every August at the museum, blending fashion designers’ interpretations of paintings at the Timken.

To learn more about San Diego Symphony, visit To learn more about the San Diego Council on Literacy, visit To learn more about the Timken Museum of Art, visit To view more coverage of this event and other San Diego charitable events, visit To request coverage of your event,  e-mail

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