“The Champagne Bar at the Hotel Bel-Air is dark as a lair,” writes Martha Groves in Tuesday’s (9/29) Los Angeles Times. “Against a wall, under giant paintings of swans, Antonio Castillo de la Gala—dapper in a dark suit, striped tie and crisp shirt—surveys his domain from his perch at a Yamaha baby grand piano. As his hands caress the keys, his bespectacled eyes roam the dark-paneled bar and he nods at the many familiar faces. Five nights a week for 12 1/2 years, Castillo de la Gala has entertained patrons with classic songs rendered in a style rich in embellishment and filigree. Think ‘As Time Goes By,’ ‘Someone to Watch Over Me,’ ‘The Man I Love.’ Think Gershwin, Porter, Kern, tangos, Broadway, movies—all elevated by masterly keyboard technique. … Tonight, the boy from Veracruz ends his run at the Bel-Air, which is closing for a renovation expected to last two years. Along with about 220 other employees, Castillo de la Gala is losing his job. … Castillo de la Gala enjoyed a brief career as a concert pianist in Mexico and the United States. His last performance as a soloist with an orchestra was in Tucson in the 1980s, when he performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.”

Posted September 30, 2009