With a splendid sunset outside and luminous company inside, guests of the Los Angeles Music and Art School’s 17th annual Stars for the Arts Benefit Concert, benefitting student scholarships, gathered at the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica for a commemorative evening honoring Drs. Rafael G. and Robert Mendez and including student and guest artist performances.
The September 6, 2014 event, co-chaired by Sharyl Mendez and Rebecca Zapanta, was attended by LAMusArt supporters, Board of Directors, friends, parents, teachers, and community stakeholders. Thecelebration began with a sumptuous VIP pre-concert reception in the theatre lobby, featuring live music provided by Oasis Quartet and a silent auction – curated by Rebecca Zapanta – that included dining packages, weekend excursions, and jeweled necklaces by Refi Sultan.
Immediately following the reception, Masters of Ceremonies Sharon Tay and Rick Garcia, CBS2/KCAL9 News Co-Anchors, welcomed guests and sponsors to the 8pm concert, thanking them for their support of arts education in the East Los Angeles community. Dr. Gideon Rubin, LAMusArt Music Director, and the Los Angeles Philanthropic Committee for the Arts (LAPCA) Youth Orchestra opened the show with their performance of a suite from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by Jack Mason. The LAPCA Junior Orchestra soon followed with “Sahara Crossing” and “Moonlight Tango” orchestrations by Richard Meyer.
The awards portion of the show began with a video tribute to the late virtuoso trumpeter Rafael Mendez, late father of evening honorees. Ten-time Grammy Award-winner Arturo Sandoval introduced the tribute and surprised the audience with a brief trumpet solo in honor of Rafael Mendez. Sandoval remarked that Mendez redefined the versatility of the trumpet and that he served as an inspiration to him as a young musician. The video depicted Rafael’s successful career as a trumpeter, his renown, and his educational experiences with many high school and college bands and orchestras.
Dr. Richard Zapanta and Mrs. Rebecca Zapanta followed by presenting Drs. Rafael G. and Robert Mendez, twin sons of Mendez, with the LAMusArt Philanthropic Leadership Award for their exemplary careers in medicine and for their support of music education. The Mendez twins performed and toured with their father for many years, becoming distinguished trumpeters themselves before pursuing medical careers. Dr. Robert Mendez and Mrs. Sharyl Mendez, accepting the award on behalf of her husband, Dr. Rafael G. Mendez, who was unable to attend, made gracious remarks and thanked everyone for the honor.
Following the award presentation, LAMusArt vocalist Tiffany Cruz performed “Let It Go,” Oscar-winning song from Disney’s Frozen, and “Time to Say Goodbye” to the audience’s delight. Featured guest artist, Gilbert Castellanos and his New Latin Jazz Quintet performed next with electrifying and upbeat songs.
Castellanos also performed with the two 2014 LAMusArt Jules Chaikin Scholarship Recipients, Nadia Aponte and Anthony Vargas. The scholarship, established in memory of LAMusArt Alumni Jules Chaikin by wife Judy Chaikin, awards a year’s worth of tuition in trumpet lessons to students who display high merit. Mrs. Chaikin was in attendance to support the growth and development of the scholarship recipients.
With a final note from our Masters of Ceremonies the 17th annual Stars for the Arts Benefit Concert came to a resounding close. Contributions from donors and silent auction by concert attendees ensure that LAMusArt programs and students continue to prosper and thrive in the East Los Angeles community. Until next year!
Photos by CBGRAPHY