Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Prominent Social Presences

Peter Martins and Honorary Chairmen Julia and David Koch
Peter Martins and Susan Stroman
Last Tuesday night the New York City Ballet launched its 2008-2009 season with An Opening Night Celebration – an evening featuring one-time-only performances of ballets set to American music by Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Charles Ives, Wynton Marsalis, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and Ray Charles. Really. You can imagine, this was an amazing evening in the great theater at Lincoln Center which up until last Tuesday night was known as the New York State Theater.

Honorary Chairmen Julia and David Koch
Tuesday’s night opening also marked the renaming of the theater. It is now the David H. Koch Theater, in honor of the benefactor whose $100 million commitment will go to the refurbishment and updating of the theater. The estimate of that is $200 million.
David Koch and one is brothers (he has three) are the owners of Koch Industries which may at this point be the largest privately held company the world. Their massive holding were augmented a couple of years ago when they bought Georgia-Pacific.

David Koch has had a prominent social presence
in New York for the past two decades. For years he was the perennial bachelor who was famous for his parties at his rambling Southampton beach house, which featured a kind of East Coast version of Hugh Hefner’s soirees at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills.

Different words, same tune. He was also well known for his family fortune which was already in the billions.

In the early 90s he was the town’s most eligible bachelor, and the object of many a social hostess’ eye. Already in his fifties, he was the hottest catch in town. Not only was he very rich but he was personable, liked social life, liked getting around and was very serious about his business. However, about that time he started dating a very pretty model who worked for Adolfo named Julia Flesher. Julia hails from Little Rock or thereabouts. She’s thoroughly a New Yorker but also a Southern girl. This is not apparent in her accent (which is not regional) but it is in her personal social conduct. Always courteous, always. They married in 1996.

David’s party chums were worried when he married Julia, worried that the parties would stop. At first they didn’t. But then Julia had their first child, a son, also David. David’s party times became more culturally oriented. I think he’s committed more than $440 million to various philanthropies and projects asides from high culture. He’s politically conservative. He and his brother Charles, along with George Soros, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation each contributed $10 million to the ACLU to defeat parts of the USA Patriot Act.

The family of Julia and David Koch now numbers five including two sons and a daughter. They spend their time between New York Palm Beach and Southampton. They have a steady social life but more in keeping with the image of family man and citizen. He’s said to be the second richest man in New York City. I don’t know who the First is – perhaps someone has Mayor Bloomberg in mind. If you do the math, however, and consider the size of his company, David Koch’s personal fortune might just be much much larger than anyone else. That’s a wild guess.

Event Chairmen Whitney and Clarke Murphy with Katie von Strasser and Christoph von Strasser
However, what is apparent is the expansion of his philanthropy. What we have seen here is the quintessential New York story – a man who came from the heartland who not only settled in the city but became actively involved in the quality of life of the city, now the city of his family. I think it’s one of those almost not stories (these days) where the man found himself the perfect partner.

I didn’t mean to digress although the renaming of the New York State Theater is significant. These are milestones in our community which history will note to define a time and era. They are not made by ordinary men. Or women. They are made by that special brand of New Yorker. I could name several others but David Koch is definitely one of them.

Back to the boards. The honorary chairs of the evening were David and Julia Koch. The Chairmen were Carol and Earl Mack and Whitney and Clarke Murphy.

Right after the performances, there was a Supper Ball on the theater’s Promenade. Big crowd of local glitterati including: Peter Martins and Darci Kistler, Barbara and John Vogelstein, Sarah Jessica Parker, Valentino, Susan Stroman, Alicia Keys, Vanessa Williams, Blythe Danner, Mark Indelicato, Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, Peter Som, Mary Alice Stephenson, Rachel Roy, Veronica Webb, Douglas Hannant and Fred Anderson, Zani Gugelmann, Annie Churchill, Adrienne and Ghighi Vittadini, Lydia Fenet, Egle Tvirbuataite, Dree Hemingway, Candace Bushnell, Leslie Stahl and Aaron Latham, Liz and Jeff Peek, Christine and Steve Schwarzman, Alexandra Lebenethal and Jay Diamond, Coco and Arie Kopelmann, Thomas Bell and Dr. Susan Kryziewicz, Barbara Cirvka and John Schumacher, and hundreds more just like ‘em. They love the Ballet and they raised $1.2 million for it at this evening.
Mark Indelicato
Lydia Fenet
Dr. Susan Krysiewicz
Blythe Danner
Mary Alice Stephenson and Peter Som
Ken Tabachnick, NYCB General Manager, and John Vogelstein, NYCB Board Chairman, and his wife Barbara
Lawrence and Michele Herbert
Alexandra Lebenthal
Aaron Latham and Lesley Stahl
Candace Bushnell
Event Chairmen Clarke Murphy and Earle Mack
NYCB dancers Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette and Lauren Flanigan, who appeared as part of the evening's performance
Sarah Jessica Parker
Douglas Hannant, Annie Churchill, Zani Gugelman, and Frederick Anderson
Donya Bommer
Giancarlo Giammetti, Julia Koch, and Valentino
Rachel Roy with Al Roker and Debra Roberts
Veronica Webb and Rachel Roy
Sarah Jessica Parker and NYCB dancer Maria Kowroski
Alicia Keys and Lisa Maria Falcone
A week ago Monday, the School of American Ballet held a committee luncheon at Le Cirque with the Chairman of the 2009 Winter Ball. The Committee included Chairmen Effie and Robert Fribourg and Pamela Joyner, as well as Founding chairmen Coco Kopelman and Liz Peek.
Bebe Broadwater and Liz Peek
Carole Divet-Harting and Helen Haje
Debra Roberts, Nicolas Luchsinger, and Alicia Bythewood
Daru Kawalkowski and Pamela Joyner
Alexandra Lebenthal and Deepa Pakianathan
Coco Kopelman, Brent Nestor, and Gillian Miniter
Bob Fribourg and Pamela Joyner
There was a benefit evening of comedy and music earlier last month at the Sheraton New York to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. More than 800 guests attended including many of Michael’s friends from the worlds of television and film, joining New York’s business, social and financial leaders. They raised $4.3 million.

Presenters and performers included Kevin Kline, Martin Scorsese, Greg Giraldo, Ben Stiller, Ryan Reynolds and CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

The Host Committee included Michael and his wife Tracy Pollan; Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, Helen Scorsese and her husband. Among the guests were Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich, Scarlett Johansson, Derek Jeter, Rachael Ray, Tommy Mottola, Thalia, Elizabeth Berkley, and Donny Deutsch.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF)is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease within the decade through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today. To learn more, visit www.michaeljfox.org.
Katie Hood and Daniel Spitzer
Lily Safra and Michael J. Fox
Julianne Moore
Lily Safra, Michael J. Fox, and Deborah W. Brooks
Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates
Ariel Elia, Katie Hood, Cyrus Heidary, and Lily Elia
Curtis Schenker and Donny Deutsch
Doug Hirsch and Holly Anderson
Steven Eisman, Valerie Fiegan, Richard Fife, and Karen Finerman
Al and Judy Glilckman
Ryan Reynolds and Rachael Ray
Cheryl McEwan (second from left) and friends
Derek Jeter and Curtis Schenker
Bradley Schenker and Roger Daltry
Tracy Pollan and friends
Michael J. Fox and Roger Daltry rocking out ...
Celebration of Life of Composer Keith Douglas Pruitt. A broad mix of the classical music world’s movers and shakers, aspiring musicians as well as soap opera fans gathered for an emotion filled Celebration of the Life of composer, actor and teacher Keith Pruitt who so tragically died last week in his Greenwich Village apartment apparently as a result of an esophageal obstruction.

The memorial was held at the Shop Studios of his former companion Jacques Rosas who with Keith survived a vicious hate crime attack in 1994. More than 130 attended. The reception was hosted by Keith’s good friends, longtime publicist and manager Edward Callaghan, John Wegorzewski, Charles Hamlen, artists’ manager and founder of Classical Action and Kevin Thompson. Rev. Jeanne Browne officiated.

Remembering Keith Pruitt
Music was always in his blood studying piano at age 5 and writing his first composition at 6. He attended Duke, was winner of the Duke University Concerto Competition and graduated summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He received a fellowship to attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a full scholarship to the City University of New York Ph.D. Program where he studied with Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Del Tredici.

His compositions were commissioned and premiered by such Florida Philharmonic, the San Jose Symphony, the New York City Ballet, Pascal Rioult Dance Company, the Guggenheim Museum‘s “Works in Process” series, the Cowles Charitable Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the New York Chamber Ensemble and the Cape May Festival Orchestra. One of his great joys was seeing leading lights from the dance world like Jock Soto, Heather Watts, Darcie Kistler, Charles Askegard and Robert La Fosse dance to his music.

Pruitt supported his musical ambitions by starring in a number of New York based daytime dramas including "The Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns" as “Frank Wendall” and Loving as “Flynn Riley.” It also allowed him to introduce his music to a wide television audience.

Several years ago, he founded the Keith Pruitt Piano Studio where he taught gifted young New York area students both performance and composition, many of whom attended the memorial.

Following the celebration, a group gathered outside the Shop Studios to release white balloons into the air. As they lifted off into the night sky, all bade farewell to a fabulous friend and brilliant talent once called by an esteemed critic, “the one to wear the mantel of Barber, Copland and Bernstein,” taken far too early.
Classical Action founder Charles Hamlen and musical director Rob Bowman
Director Gene Morrel and musician Kevin Thompson
Tammi Konicoff, Don Konicoff, David Del Tredici, and Charles Hamlen
David Del Tredici
Libby Griffin and Derek Inouye
Peter Glebo and Derek Inouye
Annette Meeks
John Wegorzewski, Rev. Jeanne Browne, and Edward Callaghan
Susanna Perks and Victor Navedo
The Shepherd Family
Kate Morgan
Tammy Konicoff, Don Konicoff, Jacques Rosas, and Joyce Herring
Rhoda Morgan, Dr. Dave Goldschmidt, and Darin Ross
Piano prodigy Devin Plumb and Laura Mazza
Director Gene Morrel, Maelanie Pruitt, and Steve Pruitt
Rhoda Morgan, Steve McKay, and Kate Morgan
On Thursday, November 13th, UJA-Federation of New York’s Jewish Leadership Forum hosted a reception with Dan Abrams, Chief Legal Correspondent for NBC and MSNBC. The event took place at the home of Anthony Pratt in the Penthouse of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, over 100 UJA-Federation supporters attended.

Hilary Reich opened the program and spoke about UJA-Federation’s important role in this economic climate. The keynote speaker Dan Abrams spoke about the media’s role in the Presidential Campaign and then opened the floor for a candid dialogue with the attendees.
Cari Siegal, Scott Halpern, and Randi Tannenbaum
Sharon Richter and Kimberly Marshall
Lindsey Kupferman and Blythe Lovinger
Ari Ackerman and Shirelle Segal
Rebecca Damavandi and Keith Rosenbloom
Adriana Kertzer, Barry Goldman, Artmis Youssefnia, and Michelle Makori
Michael Lewittes, Keith Rosenbloom, Dan Abrams, and Hilary Reich
Michal Mor and Ruti Kupferman
Talia Siegel and Henry Siegel
Edan Shiboleth and Jennifer Hanser

Photographs by Daniel D'Errico (SAB); Jason Gardner (UJA).

Click here
for NYSD Contents