Tuesday, December 11, 2007

San Francisco Social Diary

City Hall lit for the festive Symphony Opening Night.
By Jeanne Lawrence

Conductor Michael Tilton Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) premiered its 96th season with superstar soprano Renée Fleming, garnered more than 2,700 avid supporters at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. 

Returning from a whirlwind European Festival Tour of Edinburg, London, Hannover, Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Lucerne, one musician joked, “It’s way past our bedtime, but I’m not jetlagged.”

Margaret Liu Collins chaired the festive opening night with Honorary Chairs Ellen and Walter Newman, which included not one, but three separate elegant black-tie gala dinners and an evening of incomparable music. Wells Fargo was the presenting sponsor, and Macy’s the patrons’ dinner sponsor, with additional support by Franklin Templeton.
Symphony Opening at the  Louise M. Davis Symphony Hall.
Symphony chairs
Honorary chairs Walter and Ellen Newman
All ticket holders mingled at the Champagne Promenade in the Davies Hall lobby, where the dress parade began (Isn’t that part of opening night’s draw — the glamour of it all?). And with the dollar down, this year those glamorous gowns were even more special, so the attitude was “let’s show them off.”

The Patrons dinner co-chairs Juliet de Baubigny, Rebecca Green Birdsall, Courtenay Corrigan, Beth Holland, Karen Jung, and Anita Wornick were delighted when the priciest tickets, the Aria Level at $2,500 a pop, sold out even before the invitations were mailed. Could the private reception with Renee Fleming and MTT have anything to do with it?
SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and soprano Renée Fleming
Marcia Goldman, in Max Nugus, and SFS president John Goldman
Event planner Robert Fountain designed for the 700 patrons a stunning customized tent decorated with black and white paisley, fuchsia carpet, crystal chandeliers, and on each table a whimsical display of crystal-drop lampshades crowned with fuchsia boa feathers.

McCall Caterers showcased its expertise, preparing all three dinners this year. The patrons’ menu featured favorites like Dungeness Crab with caviar and seared tuna, and Sonoma Double Lamb Chops and Lamb Rillette and lots of Kendall-Jackson and Kendall Wine.

Dinner is served
I noticed my long time San Diego friends Joan and Irwin Jacobs (from my La Jolla days) sitting at Symphony President John Goldman’s table. The well-respected founders of Qualcomm, the Jacobs’ donated over $120 million to the San Diego Symphony community leaders. 

Meanwhile, across the street at the beaux-art City Hall, co-chairs Tina Tunney and Carla Zuber presided over the Symphony Supper for 450 guests, while Makai Fisher and Stefanie Roumeliotes chaired the nearby Symphonix Dinner for another 428 young professionals, as they like to call themselves.

City Hall was also awash in fuchsia lights to mark this very special occasion while, inside, the cool marble of the spacious rotunda was warmed with fuchsia lighting.  Dominic Phillips Event Marketing provided the fabulous décor.

After dinner, guests paraded to Davies Hall for the 8:30 concert which opened with three American compositions: Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Andante forStrings, and John Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine, played one after the other. The horns and drums served to re-energize the crowd, already happy from the delicious dinner and California wine.
Fushia plumes
Patrons' dinner black and white tent
“MTT brings a lot of new ideas, he educates,” remarked philanthropist Richard Goldman. “It’s one of his greatest gifts — not just the standard repertoire and he always interjects something new.”

Glamorous diva Fleming, wore a green sequined Galliano gown and bejeweled by Bulgari, for her rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Sheherazade, followed by arias from Puccini’s Tosca and Gianni Schicchi. The evening climaxed with Prokofiev’s Scenes from Romeo and Juliet.

The night before the Symphony opening, Maria Manetti Farrow hosted an intimate dinner party for Fleming at her Russian Hill apartment, which included MTT, Opera Director David Gockley, Linda Kemper, Daniela Faggioli, Denise Hale, conductor Ward Stare, and Sloan and Roger Barnett.
Mark and Karen Jung
Symphonix Dinner Co-chairs Makai Fisher and Stefanie Roumeliotes
“Working in SF with MTT (she sang at Thomas’ 60th birthday) is that rare combination of a tremendously sophisticated program and an audience that embraces it,” said Renée. “I find that very special.”

“Wow, Wow, Wow,” exclaimed interior designer Paul Wiseman after her performance. “How fabulous to bring someone of her caliber to opening night ... the audience loved it.” 

“No iPod can give you the experience of a symphony hall with real people and orchestra ... it transports you into another world,” commended O.J. Shansby.

Heavy hitter’s included members-at-large Barbara Brookins-Schneider, Ann Moeller Caen, Yurie Pascarella, and Laura Pfaff, former symphony president Nancy Bechtle with husband Joachim, Athena and Timothy Blackburn, Ebersole Gaines, the Hellman family, Ingrid Hills, Pamela Joyner, Dr. Seth Matarasso, Nan Tucker McEvoy, Nion McEvoy, Phyllis and Stuart Moldaw, Diane Morris, Paul and Sandy Otellini, Carl Pascarella, Dr. Brunno and Urannia Ristow, Jeanne and Sandy Robertson, Nicole and Andrew Sheehan, Walter Shorenstein, Paul and Anne Wattis, and Dede Wilsey.
Ted Collins and gala chair Margaret Liu Collins in J. Mendel
Carl and Yurie Pascarella, in Oscar de la Renta
Barbara Brookins-Schneider in Roberto Cavalli
Jeannette Littlefield and David Gockley, SF Opera general director
George and Charlotte Shultz in Gustavo Cadile
Paul Wiseman and Jeanne Lawrence
Ann Moeller Caen
Sako Fisher in lavender Dior gown
Past SFS president Nancy Bechtle and board member Genelle Relfe
SFS president John Goldman, Jennifer Siebel, and Mayor Gavin Newsom
Juliet de Baubigny, in Oscar, with husband Andre de Baubingy
San Diego's Joan and Irwin Jacobs donated $120 million to SD Symphony
Richard Goldman, father of John Goldman, and Sandra Farris
Lisa and Doug Goldman
Jessica Goldman, daughter of John and Marcia Goldman
Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and Vanessa Getty in Donna Karan
Joy Venturini Bianchi and Wes Carroll
Bill Lenihan and Nicole Ancelovici-Lenihan
Kelly Grimes
Toni Stinton and Alex Skillman
Lenihan and Marina Costabile
Courtney Robinson, Ashley Howerton, Jackie Zider, and Diana Zakem
Barry Shotts and Roberta Economides at Symphonix dinner
Anette Harris
Marjorie Swig with mother Cissie Swig and her granddaughter Emily Betty Ehrlich
Jessa and Tommy Wu
Gary and O.J. Shansby in Chanel
Tatiana Sorokko in Ralph Rucci
Lindsay Bolton at grand staircase
Kimberly Bakker, in Lily Samii, with Alex Witherill
Bulgari GM Daniel Diaz, Maria Manetti Farrow, and Roger Barnett
Deborah Strobin and Lois Lehrman
SFS Executive Director Brent Assink and wife Jan Assink
Sally Debenham, in Bill Blass, and son Steve Debenham
Patrons' Event designer Robert Fountain with Margaret Liu Collins
Brunno and Urannia Ristow in Chanel
Following the performance, guests partook of the Post-concert soirees, chaired by Catherine Hall and Sharon Litsky, in the Tent Pavilion and City Hall — all underwritten by Yahoo!

Fifty plus civic minded restaurants laid out spreads “fit for a king” to feed the hungry late-night revelers who danced until 1:00 am to legendary band Pride & Joy and local favorite Sidepocket with Pamela Rose and Glen Walters.

Even though gala tickets for opening night are expensive, President John Goldman emphasized that “SFS’s music is all-embracing and an art for everyone.” The following evening began the All San Francisco Concert, where the gala program would be repeated — but at special prices to allow more of the community to enjoy the concerts. 
Jim and Patsy Ludwig
Jason Arnoldy and Katya Sorokko in Symphony Hall
Amber Maria Bentley heads to post concert party
Marie Crouch, with After Party co-chairs Catherine Hall and Lawanna Endonino
Revelers for Post Party at City Hall
Dinner at Maria Manetti Farrow's home: Conductor Ward Stare, Renee Fleming in Han Feng, Maria, and MTT

Photographs by Drew Altizer & Jeanne Lawrence.
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