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