Friday, May 27, 2016

South Florida Social Diary: Ft. Lauderdale & Palm Beach

Bravo! The Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire choral ensemble presented a two-part program at Fort Lauderdale's All Saints Church that included Brahms: The German Requiem, one of the group's most popular presentations. The Requiem's seven-movements were highlighted by the remarkable bass-baritone Dashon Burton and the sensational soprano Tamara Wilson who last week was awarded the opera world's prestigious Richard Tucker Award that comes with a $50,000 prize and a Carnegie Hall concert.
Brahms Concert + Mounts Garden Benefit + PB Civic Finale
By Augustus Mayhew


Season's end for me means the added anxiety of knowing there will be no one to ask, "Do you know ...?" Beneath the shady palms from Palm Beach to Miami, ballrooms fall silent, party tents are put away and gala donor lists are locked in safe-deposit vaults. Along with jaunting up to the North End for the annual Mounts Botanical Garden Spring benefit and stopping by the Palm Beach Civic Association's mid-morning bash at the Flagler Museum, I had the good fortune of enjoying another Seraphic Fire concert.

Ft. Lauderdale: Culture & Concrete

It was one of those last-minute things. My friend Dinie Hammerstein said she had an extra ticket for a Seraphic Fire choral ensemble performance. Though I had never heard of them and no idea who-what, I went ahead, wondering if I could stay awake. Nonetheless, I've become captivated by the group's remarkable talent. On Friday, I motored back down to Fort Lauderdale for Seraphic Fire's seasonal finale. With I-95 in various stages of gridlock, a typical 30-minute mid-afternoon drive to East Las Olas Boulevard took me 90 minutes. Could this many Northeasters be leaving South Florida at the same time? Before arriving at All Saints Church for the concert, I took a few minutes to peruse Ft. Lauderdale's main thoroughfare. Although I can still recall the Baked Alaska at the French Quarter and when the tree-lined stretch shared the same seasonal charm with Naples, Delray Beach and Palm Beach, I admit that I cannot keep pace with today's swarm of pizza buffs and cocktail connoisseurs.
High-rise apartments, craft beer, small plates, and what's advertised as luxury living are available in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Ft. Lauderdale's waterways are lined with more Bermuda and Cayman Island flags than at Hamilton Harbour or George Town Harbor. Above, the 230-foot superyacht Talisman at Bahia Mar, available at $250,000 USD for up to twelve guests to spend a high-season week.
La Pelligrina also accommodates twelve guests with a crew of ten at about $150,000 USD weekly.
Brahms: The German Requiem
Seraphic Fire @ All Saints Church
8 April 2016 – 7:30 pm


A great pleasure hearing this choral ensemble in an acoustically-refined setting like the All Saints Church. During the winter season the South Florida-based vocalists perform a seasonal repertoire ranging from Gregorian chants and Baroque masterpieces to newly-commissioned works in Miami, Coral Gables, Naples and Ft. Lauderdale. The 2016-2017 season will feature a production of Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach, Bach & Bruckner with the Cleveland Orchestra, J. S. Bach's Easter Oratorio and Six Motets. The Miami Choral Academy is an initiative of Seraphic Fire with the Miami-Dade Public Schools and the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. Set for a Northeast tour, the group's April 19th Washington performance is sold out. Tickets remain for April 20 at Trinity Church Wall Street, NYC, and April 21 at St. Clement's Episcopal in Philadelphia.
All Saints Church, facade. 1951. Clinton B. Gamble, architect (Gamble, Pownall & Gilroy).
Sanctuary, view from the altar to the balcony where I watched the performance.
View of the auditorium from the upper northeast corner of the balcony, designed with acoustic perfection.
My perspective of the auditorium.
The ensemble gathers for a tech run-through.
Maestro Quigley directing the ensemble.
Ross Chuchla, director of operations. Rhett Del Campo, executive director.
James K. Bass, associate conductor and director of education, leads an informative discussion on the evening's program an hour before the presentation. "As you listen to the Requiem, picture not the grand concert halls of Vienna but Clara Schumann's parlor, where she and the maestro enjoyed each other's company."
Backstage – last look in the mirror
Clockwise from top left: Amanda Crider, mezzo-soprano; Meredith Ruduski, soprano; Sara Guttenberg, soprano; Margaret Lias, mezzo-soprano.
Seraphic Fire: In Performance
There were twenty-two vocalists during the first part of the program. After an intermission, the Brahms Requiem featured two additional soloists accompanied by a four-handed piano.
Seraphic Fire ensemble: Megan Chartrand, Esteli Gomez, Sara Guttenberg, Gitanjali Mathur, Margot Rood, Meredith Ruduski, Luthien Brackett, Amanda Crider, Douglas Dodson, Margaret Lias, Virginia Warnken, Brian Giebler, Erik Gustafson, Patrick Muehleise, Steven Soph, Matthew Tresler, James Bass, Cameron Beauchamp, John Buffett, Charles Evans, and Kyle Ferrill.
The Seraphic Fire ensemble. Margot Rood, center, along with Estelí Gomez, far left, were the lead sopranos in one of the featured selections.
Patrick Duprè Quigley, conductor. In addition to Brahms' Requiem, the ensemble performed Song for Athene (John Tavener), Rachmaninoff's Praise the Lord, O My Soul, and Elizabeth Poston's Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.
The Brahms Requiem ensemble with Tamara Wilson and Dashon Burton, stage left, accompanied by pianists Scott Allan Jarrett and Justin Blackwell, stage right.
Left, the unearthly Tamara Wilson. Having made her debut at The Metropolitan Opera during this past season in the title role of Aida, Wilson was a nominee for a 2016 Olivier Award.
The irrepressible maestro Patrick Duprè Quigley.
Post-performance
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone, " … thrilling voice seemingly capable of raising the dead." – Wall Street Journal.
One soprano and three tenors: Sara Guttenberg, Erik Gustafson, Steven Soph, and Patrick Muehleise. Bravo!
Charles Evans and Meredith Ruduski.
Patrick Duprè Quigley, founder and artistic director. Celebrating its 15th Anniversary, Seraphic Fire is Mr. Quigley's uncompromised vision. For further information: www.seraphicfire.org.
Mounts Botanical Garden Spring Benefit
Palm Beach
10 April 2016


Sunday afternoon The Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden held their spring benefit at Casa Campana, a North End waterfront estate. Polly Reed, president of the Mounts organization, along with hosts Rita and Richard Lazzara, welcomed more than 300 supporters to the festive event.

Proceeds will support the overall growth and development of the Garden and Windows on the Floating World, a tropical wetland garden, scheduled to get underway by the end of this year. The Mounts host committee included Polly Reed, Sandy Smith, Jane Nugent, and Sally Marks. The Friends of Mounts Botanical Garden board of directors are Polly Reed, president; Phil Maddux, 1st vice-president; Leslie Mann, 2nd vice-president; Ana Karimi, treasurer; and Sandy Smith, recording secretary. The directors at large are: Martha Gilbert, Teri Jabour, Julie Kime, Sally Marks, Beverly Myers, George Nottingham, Jane Ellen Nugent, Stephanie Pew, Jeffrey Phipps, Sr., Margaret Sims, Paton White, and Michael Zimmerman.
Casa Campana, east elevation. Guests entered through the stone and brick motor court centered with four towering palms and a fountain surrounded with clay pots.
Rita Lazzara and Polly Reed, president of the Friends of the Mounts.
Richard Lazzara.
Jean Matthews. Jean and her husband Bill Matthews were major sponsors of the event, along with the Thomas Chastain Charitable Foundation.
Guests entered through the gates onto the motor court where the late afternoon sun cast shadows of the main house's bell-shaped parapet and bell.
A two-story service building and garage flanks the west side of the motor court overlooking the tennis court to the east.
The motor court fountain, looking toward the hacienda-style service auxiliary building.
Mizneresque plaques form a partial wall along the property's south boundary.
To the east of the central fountain, the formal entrance leading into the courtyard.
A prosecco bar awaited guests in the courtyard.
Pam Williams, Connie Geisler, and Nancy Kennedy.
Kate Miller, Allen Sistrunk, Mounts Garden director, and Susan Burke.
Elizabeth Garcia, Rev. Timothy Cogan, and Adolfo Garcia.
View of the main house across the pool from the west toward the shaded patio.
There were several priceless silent auction items.
View of the grounds to the northeast from the lakefront dock.
Silent auction items were popular.
HRH Princess Maria Pia de Bourbon-Parme, Evelyn Harrison, and Cheryl McKee.
Julia Hansen.
Bill and Christine Aylward.
Marty Straten and Shelby Wyckoff.
John and Janis Ruan.
Susan Stautberg.
Spring Fashions aplenty
The patio was shaded and open off the loggia facing the afternoon sun.
Carole Martin. Jennifer Garrigues.
Constance Smith and Eddie Musk.
Hildegarde Jones and Sigrid van Eck.
The Celebration heads out the inlet.
PB Civic Association
Annual Meeting & End-of-Season Celebration
11 April 2016 - 10 am
Flagler Museum


The Civic Association's annual end of season gathering drew more than 350 residents and guests, seemed like many more than last year, who either came to hear Mayor Coniglio deliver the State of Palm Beach address or for the champagne and mimosas. The new members nominated for the board of directors were announced: Lisbeth Barron, Peter Broberg, Pepe Fanjul Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani, Paul Tudor Jones II, Pauline Pitt, and Harold B. Smith.
Bob Wright, chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association.
The reception was held in the Grand Hall and the meeting was held in the West Room, pictured above, an addition to Whitehall when it was converted into a hotel during the 1920s.
Gigi Tylander and Mayor Gail Coniglio.
Daniel Szarszewski, deputy police chief, and Kirk Blouin, police chief.
Danielle Moore, town council member.
David McClymont.
Laurel Baker.
Jack Blanchard, Hillie Mahoney, and Paul Leone.
John Cregan. Henry Flagler, portrait.
Braman Motors was one of the event's sponsors, along with The Everglades Foundation, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Scripps Florida, Linda R. Olsson Inc., Realtor, and the Flagler Museum.
Dwight Stevens.
Holly Finch and Jeremy Johnson.
Paul and Paulette Noble Cooper.
The many faces of Palm Beach.
Mayor Coniglio, left, awaits her moment.
Lee Goldstein.
Michelle Leiner and Susan Ziff.
Renee Lickle and Garrison Lickle.
Ruth and Ron Champagne.
Rena Blades and Jeff Atwater.
Ann Keresey.
West Room, Flagler Museum.
The Historic Paramount invited me to hold a book signing for my new collection of essays Palm Beach: A Greater Grandeur. Two hours later, yikes, I had sold out of books. Because of its location, Joseph Urban's design for the Paramount Theatre is too often overlooked. The book is available at Classic Bookshop-Palm Beach and Amazon.
Photography by Augustus Mayhew.