Happy Centennial Julliard!
In the lobby of The Peter Jay Sharp Theater for The Juilliard School Centennial Gala. 7:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Grey skies and cooler temperatures threatening rain that finally came at nightfall with occasional torrential showers, washing the streets and rinsing the festooning blossoms on the pear trees.

It was a busy night in New York. First I went down to Swifty’s where Charlotte Ford was celebrating her birthday with some old friends and her sister Anne. I’ve known Charlotte for about fifteen years and I was the “newest” friend at the table. She and Diana Feldman have been friends since they were teenagers. Everyone else at the table is an old friend – a tribute to the birthday girl. In those early days, her name was one of the most glamorous of her generation, beginning with her spectacular debut in Detroit which was considered the party of the year in America, followed by her internationally publicized all-too-brief marriage to Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos (with whom she had her daughter Elena), followed by two more marriages. Because of the world famous American family name and fortune she’s long been a ripe subject for the fables of heiresses. However, alas and all that, out of the limelight, she’s really still the girl from the Midwest who never drank or smoked, likes to hit the hay early and is devoted to her daughter, her grandchildren, her sister (who’s been her closest friend all her life), her many longtime friends and New York Hospital where she’s been an active and vigilant member of the board of trustees for many years now. Now she’s finally reached her majority.

Elizabeth Smith, Charlotte Ford, Diana Feldman, Anne Ford, Richard Feldman, Topsy Taylor, and Tina Sloan McPherson

From Swifty’s, just as the rains were moving in, I caught a cab and rushed over to Lincoln Center where they were gathering to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Julliard School. Growing up as a kid in Massachusetts, Juilliard was a name that connoted brilliance of musical talent. Geniuses went to study at Juilliard. And opera stars. Later I learned that the student body was broader in talent including actors, dancers and of course musicians.

Last night’s centennial celebration was also a fund-raiser for the school. It began with a cocktail from 7 to 8 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. At 8, the concert, which was televised, began with performances by students and alumni of the distinguished school. John Williams conducted the Juilliard Orchestra, opening with an overture “Chester” from New England Triptych by William Schuman.

Then the beautiful Renee Fleming sang “vissi d’arte” from Tosca, and then “Merce dilette amiche: from I vespri siciliani, by Giuseppe Verdi.

This was followed by Emanuel Ax at the piano with the Juillard String Quartet (Joel Smirnoff and Ronald Copes, Violins; Samuel Rhodes, Viola; Joel Krosnick, cello). They performed Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34, third movement by Johannes Brahms.

Then Kevin Kline performed a scene (“Hamlet’s Advice to Players”) with actors from Juilliard’s acting division.

Then came the dance: an excerpt from Watershed with choreography by Adam Hougland, set to Friandises by Christopher Rouse, performed by the Juilliard Dance Ensemble (with duet by Navarra Novy-Williams and Dominic Santia) with the orchestra conducted by Andrea Quinn.

Itzhak Perlman then performed the Theme from Schindler’s List by John Williams and Tambourin Chinois, Op. 3 by Fritz Kreisler.

The almighty very cool Wynton Marsalis introduced Free to Be performed by Victor L. Goines on the saxophone and Wycliffe Gordon on the trombone, accompanied by student artists from Juilliard Jazz.

Then came the finale, a young student at Juilliard named Peng Peng (pronounced pong-pong), who is thirteen years old sat down at the piano and played Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 in C Minor for Piano and Orchestra conducted by John Williams. I know at thirteen, with any kind of confident talent, a young boy can feel like a young man, or even an old man. But he cannot know what an astounding and amazing thing it is to watch this very young, enormously talented boy perform that great concerto. He brought down the house.

Dan Lufkin, Grace Hightower De Niro, Cynthia Lufkin, Robert De Niro, and Muffie Potter Aston

The evening was so successful that it was sold out and many friends of the co-chairs Dan and Cynthia Lufkin, including this writer, watched the entire concert from a special video room in the theatre because at $1000 to $2500 a seat, there wasn’t an empty one in the house.

So we sat in a large and comfortable room with about forty others. It was actually a very comfortable way to watch the concert with several large flat screen positioned around the room, along with a full bar and waiters passing delicious hors d’oeuvres including my favorite “pigs-in-a-blanket.” Among the Lufkins’ guests in this room were best-selling authors and their spouses, Linda Fairstein and Justin Feldman, Patricia and Harlan Coben. Also Grace and Robert De Niro. Mrs. De Niro is very beautiful and has a radiant presence. Also Darcie Leeds and George Gould, Muffie Potter Aston, Wendy Carduner, R. Couri Hay, Roger Webster, Eric Javits, Robert and Blaine Caravaggi, Campbell Brown from the New York Times, Patrick McMullan, Mary Hilliard, and JH with their digitals; Mary Rodgers and Hank Guettal, and Joseph Polisi, President of Juilliard.

After the concert everyone moved across 65th Street to a big dinner tent that was set up for the occasion. The evening was underwritten by Lehman Brothers, Bruce Kovner, the hedge fund owner who is a big benefactor of Lincoln Center and who recently made major archival contribution to the Juilliard Library and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation. The black tie evening drew a huge crowd. It was a very big New York night and they raised more than $5.5 million for the school. It was a perfect example of what New Yorkers can do so brilliantly, creating an evening that serves many purposes in the community and marks it as a milestone in terms of philanthropy. I first heard about this evening from the Lufkins many many months ago. They were lining up their guests and their tables back then.

In the crowd Sydney Shuman, Kenneth and Maria Cuomo Cole, Donald and Barbara Tober, Sheri and Larry Babbio, Mayor Bloomberg – who now never wears black tie when he goes out at night since he’s go the perfect excuse that he’s working (which he is); Jim Zirin and Marlene Hess, Ann and John Pyne, Michael and Eleanora Kennedy, Stephanie Krieger and Brian Stewart, Bruce Kovner, Christy Ferrare, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Rosalie and Garrison Brinton, Wendy Carduner, Ted Chapin, Hugh Freund, Elaine Sargent and Philip Carlson, David and Lisa Schiff, Peter and Maya Rana Tufo.

David and Lisa Schiff

Michael Lynch and Susan Baker with Arie and Coco Kopelman
Eric Javits
Jamee and Peter Gregory

Jacob Bernstein and Roger Webster

Blaine and Robert Caravaggi
Bob Bradford and Barbara Taylor Bradford

Yvette Spears

Philip Carlson and Elaine Sargent
Sharon Handler and Edgar Batista

Mary Rodgers Guettel

Michael and Eleanora Kennedy with Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin

Campbell Robertson

Stephanie Krieger, Brian Stewart, and Somers Farkas

Cocktail hour in the lobby of The Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Stephanie Krieger, Brian Stewart, Somers Farkas, Muffie Potter Aston, and Campbell Robertson

Darcie Leeds and Kara Tiedemann

Muffie Potter Aston, DPC, and Somers and Jonathan Farkas

Dayle Haddon and Patrick McMullan

Harlan Coben, Linda Fairstein, Justin Feldman, Dr. Anne Armstrong, and brother Coben

DPC and Wendy Carduner

Cynthia Lufkin, Muffie Potter Aston, and Grace Hightower

Maria Cuomo and Kenneth Cole
In the VIP screening room
Renee Fleming and Donald Tober
Karen LeFrak, Cynthia Lufkin, and Jamee Gregory

Sheri and Larry Babbio

Mary Hilliard taking it in
Christy Ferer
Mayor Bloomberg and Dan Lufkin

Ellen Marcus

April 4, 2006, Volume VI, Number 56
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch & DPC/NYSD.com


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com