By Bill Peters
An interesting sidelight to the California Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert at Santa Anita Park Saturday night was the presentation-to founding president of the California Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation, Kelvin Davies, a distinguished award from the French government for his efforts to advance a love of classical music and to acknowledge his work as a Professor of Gerontology and Molecular and Computational Biology at USC.
David Martinon, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, announced the award, known as the Chevalier Nationale du Merite to Davies to honor his longterm involvement with both cultural and scientific activities which have benefited France. The award confers the title of “Knight” or Chevalier, to Davies.
Davies research has focused on genetic studies of normal aging processes and diseases that afflict the aging such as Parkinson and Alzheimers. In the arts, Davies is a noted devotee of opera and classical music. It was his work with the CalPhil Foundation, which sponsors several programs to encourage young people to learn about classical music, that led to the presentation at the concert as well as his scientific undertakings.
Cal Phil conductor, Victor Vener, also noted that it was July 14, Bastille Day, a noted French historical event. With that, Vener swung to the orchestra, raised his baton, and led the musicians in a rousing version of “La Marseillaise”, the French National Anthem, to a standing and cheering audience.
Davies and his wife, Joanna, are residents of San Marino.