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Asia America Symphony Director David Benoit performs at the organization's annual Holiday Boutique, Nov. 25, 2018.

Bright scented candles and sweet smelling soaps, or hand-painted cards that bring wishes and hopes, are just a few of the fancy items to be found at the 2018 Asia America Symphony Guild Holiday Benefit and Boutique at the seaside home of philanthropist and Palos Verdes Estates resident Carolyn Elliott.

On Nov. 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Elliott once again plays hostess to an event so happily anticipated, it has become one of the community’s most prominent holiday parties.

“The Holiday Boutique is going to be so special this year,” Elliott said. “ Not only is David Benoit performing, but the Consulate General of Japan is attending.”

Elliott said she wasn’t sure what brought the boutique to the attention of the Consul General Akira Chiba, but she is excited he is coming with his wife, Yuko.

And so is the Consul General, who it appears, is familiar with the work of the Asia American Symphony.

"With its roots in the Japanese community, Asia America Symphony has expanded its boughs into Korean, Chinese and other members of its namesake community, offering beautiful music to everyone,” Consul General Chiba said from his offices in Los Angeles.

“This is truly a testament to the harmonious unity that symphonious work can bring to our lives. My wife and I are looking forward to attending this event to celebrate the diversity and friendship Asia America Symphony has fostered in the Los Angeles and beyond."

Co-chair Marlene Okada, who has been an organizer for the event for more than 20 years said the Holiday Boutique started out with just serving a luncheon to try to make money for the Youth Symphony. Since then, the event has festooned into an elegant day of music, shopping and the best kind of holiday cheer.

“Our guild mission is to support the Asia America Youth Symphony music programs, scholarships and concerts,” said, Okada who is co-chairing arrangements this year with Chris Naito. “The event has become more and more elaborate each year. A lot of older people come just for the spirit of the holidays displayed in the home, which is elegantly decorated by Carolyn and professional decorators.”

Carefully selected vendors offer such items as children’s books in English and Asian text, hand-sewn stationary, fragrant scrubs, homemade toffee and bon bons, shoulder bags, wreathes and ornaments, handmade soaps, hand-printed clothes and elegant jewelry and ornaments made of broken pottery shards from Japan’s 2011 tsunami.

Guests will also enjoy a tasty choice of Japanese Obento or Western lunch.

And some may come just for the extraordinary music as noted by the Consul General.

Though Asia America Symphony Director David Benoit and his wife Kei regularly support or perform at fundraising activities for the Youth Symphony throughout the year, his hectic touring schedule rarely allows him to perform at the annual Holiday Boutique.

This year is an exception.

Five-time, Grammy-nominated Benoit will present a piano concert honoring his contemporary Vince Guaraldi in the Elliott’s spacious grand salon along with young musicians from the Asia America Youth Symphony.

Benoit said his busy itinerary actually keeps him young.

After Thanksgiving, he will tour the country featuring “The Music of Charlie Brown.” He has gigs in London and is working on a second smooth jazz album with all-star veteran guitarist Mark Antoine. He is also composing a “Tribute to Dave Brubeck,” collaborating with Brubeck’s two brothers.

If that isn’t enough to keep him busy, he is the morning drive deejay for the popular KJAZZ (88.1) radio station.

The biggest piece of his heart though, is for helping young musicians mingle talents with professionals and help hone their musical passions --like when Gauraldi inspired him at a young age to become a jazz pianist.

Benoit said it’s exciting for him to see the Youth Symphony musicians come full circle.

“One of our students, Michael Repper, is now the conductor of the New York Youth Symphony,” Benoit said. “His mom and dad still come to every one of our events, even the recent tennis tournament and dinner concert at the Palos Verdes Golf Club. That’s how grateful and important they feel it is for what we do, and they continue to support us.”

Want to go?

All proceeds go toward Asia America Symphony concerts and Youth Symphony educational programs and scholarships:

Cost is $60, and includes a sumptuous boxed lunch, dessert buffet, unique shopping opportunities and raffles.

For reservations, contact Val Noguchi at 310-375-7243 or Chris Naito at 310-379-9204.


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