|On Tuesday, February 24th, the New York Philharmonic held its fourth annual Chinese New Year Gala. More than 350 guests attended and $1.1 million was raised for the Philharmonic. A portion of the proceeds will support the New York Philharmonic’s School Partnership Program at P.S. 120 in Flushing, Queens, which serves a large population of Chinese-Americans and recent immigrants from China.
The celebratory evening ushered in the Year of the Sheep with a Gala concert highlighting the cultural heritage of China and honoring the Chinese-American community. Long Yu led the program, which featured cellist Yo-Yo Ma and sheng player Wu Tong as the soloists in the U.S. Premiere of Zhao Lin’s Duo for cello, sheng, and orchestra, written for Mr. Ma and Mr. Wu; Wu Tong performing Hai-Deng Yan’s Jin Tune for sheng and orchestra; a selection from Borodin’s Prince Igor; ghijak (traditional Chinese bowed instrument) player Gulinaer Yiming performing Fantasy on Maqam themes, for ghijak and orchestra; and vocalist Lei Jia performing two traditional Chinese folk songs, The Village of Sanshilipu and In Praise of Cattle. The Spring Festival Overture, Li Huanzhi’s traditional work celebrating the Chinese New Year, once again opened the concert.
|For the fourth consecutive year, a traditional Dragon Dance was performed by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company on Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza preceding the concert and inside Avery Fisher Hall during the evening. The dancers were joined on the plaza by 40 American children from the National Dance Institute, who performed folk-inspired dances.
Guests of the Chinese New Year Gala arrived at Avery Fisher Hall beginning at 6:00 p.m. for an hour-long cocktail reception on the Grand Promenade. The concert began at 7:30 p.m., followed by a traditional Chinese attire/black-tie dinner, also on the Grand Promenade.
|Hennessy, the Gala dinner’s Corporate Sponsor, presented exclusive bottles of Hennessy Paradis Imperial to conductor Long Yu, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and Gala Co-Chairman Gary W. Parr. Mr. Parr was also honored at the Gala dinner for his six years of leadership and service as Board Chairman, 2009–15. His successor, Oscar S. Schafer, presented him with an early 19th-century printing of President’s March — written for Washington’s inauguration in 1789 and later renamed Hail Columbia — flanked by the Philharmonic concert programs marking his chairmanship, in addition to Tiffany & Co. cufflinks.|
|The evening’s event was catered by Restaurant Associates, and the décor was provided by Van Vliet & Trap.
Honorary Gala Chairmen were Mr. and Mrs. Maurice R. Greenberg, H.E. Ambassador Liu Jieyi, Mr. and Mrs. James D. Wolfensohn, and H.E. Consul General Zhang Qiyue. The Gala Co-Chairmen were Angela Chen, Guoqing Chen and Ming Liu, Gary W. Parr, Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar L. Tang, and Shirley Young. The Starr International Foundation was the Presenting Sponsor of the Chinese New Year Gala.
|One of the most anticipated evenings of the New York winter social schedule is The New York Botanical Garden's annual Orchid Dinner, known for its stunning table centerpieces of large-scale orchid arrangements created by New York's leading designers. This year's event took place on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at the Mandarin Oriental at Columbus Circle, overlooking Central Park with its glorious views of Manhattan. Hearst Corporation, VERANDA, and BNY Mellon served as underwriters for the evening.
The Orchid Dinner began at 7 p.m. with cocktails served during a sale of rare and exceptional orchids. Some of the world's leading orchid specialists were on hand to assist guests with their purchases. Followed at 8 p.m., dinner and dancing took place in the Grand Ballroom.
|The evening raised more than $575,000 which will underwrite the development of the Botanical Garden's orchid research collection, which helps maintain the highest horticultural standards of orchid conservation. The Garden has been designated a Plant Rescue Center through the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Improperly documented shipments of endangered wild orchids are seized at international borders and sent to these Centers. Through careful research and the application of appropriate horticultural techniques, Garden staff members have been successful in bringing a majority of these ailing specimens back to health. Many are on view year-round in orchid displays at The New York Botanical Garden.
Gala chairs included Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan C. Clay and Mr. and Mrs. Steven R. Swartz. Clinton Smith, Editor in Chief, VERANDA, served as Chair. Decorations Chair was Carolyn Englefield, Director of Decoration and Special Projects, VERANDA. And Honorary Chairs were Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Davidson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Royce, and Mr. and Mrs. John M. Sullivan, Jr.
|The Garden was thrilled to continue its collaboration with VERANDA in assembling an illustrious roster of over 25 of New York's leading designers from the worlds of fashion, architecture, horticulture, and literature, each of whom created and donated a dramatic orchid centerpiece and table setting for the event.
In addition, The New York Botanical Garden presents The Orchid Show: Chandeliers from February 28 through April 19, 2015, the nation's largest exhibition of its kind. Eye-catching baskets and cylinders filled with the stunning tropical flowers will decorate the Seasonal Exhibition Galleries in the Garden's Victorian-style glasshouse, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory—a New York City landmark—with a giant star-shaped chandelier overflowing with hundreds of orchids as the centerpiece of this year's visual extravaganza.
|LongHouse Reserve—a not-for-profit arboretum, art museum, sculpture garden, and educational organization based in East Hampton—hosted its 2015 Winter Benefit in Manhattan on Wednesday, February 25. Founded by legendary textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, LongHouse strives to awaken the senses and inspire a creative life.
Guests of the benefit enjoyed an entertaining evening at the Hearst Tower with a special performance by America's contemporary composer Nico Muhly. He played several solo piano pieces, and then Anne-Carolyn Bird sang a little set of songs he wrote for her last year. Composer and musician Laurie Anderson presented Nico Muhly with the LongHouse Award.
|The evening began at six o'clock with a cocktail reception in the lobby of the Hearst Tower where guests mingled around the exhibition "Patrick McMullan's Faces of Fashion." The reception and performance were followed by a private dinner with Nico Muhly. The dinner was hosted by Alexandra Munroe and Robert Rosenkranz.
Music sensation, composer and musician, Nico Muhly has been labeled "genius" for his compositions that have premiered with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and his opera Two Boys at The Met. Nico is currently composing a new piece with Ira Glass, host of "This American Life," for David Byrne who will present his new show "Contemporary Color" at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this summer.
|On Saturday, February 7, the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin hosted its 2015 gala, "Off the Wall" an elegant evening honoring UT President Bill Powers and celebrating the vital role that the Blanton plays in the cultural landscape of Austin, throughout Texas, and beyond. The black-tie event was attended by more than 350 supporters of the museum and raised $850K to provide essential funding in support of the Blanton’s wide range of programs for students, children, and adults.
|Attendees from Texas and across the country included: Mayor Steve Adler, David Booth, Suzanne Deal Booth, Ann S. Butler, Augie Garrido and Jeannie Grass, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin and Chris Loughlin, Ross Moody, Pam and Boots Willeford, and Vince and Candice Young (Austin); Sally and Tom Dunning, and Libba and John Massey (Dallas); Judy and David Beck, Jack and Leslie Blanton, Kelli and Eddy Blanton, former Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Carolyn Farb, and Judy and Charles Tate (Houston); Vicki and Harris Kerr (Midland); and Jenny and Trey Laird, Director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation Jack Shear, and artist Donald Moffett (New York).
The evening began with a VIP cocktail reception in the Blanton’s Rapoport Atrium where guests mingled and enjoyed a special preview of Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties—an exhibition of works by sixty artists who used wide ranging aesthetic approaches to address the struggle for civil rights in America.
|Afterwards, guests were escorted across the street to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum for a dinner catered by Chef Elmar Prambs of the Four Seasons, Austin. Mickey Klein, Chair of the Blanton’s National Leadership Board, opened the program with a welcome to all guests. Following, guests dined on a three-course dinner, featuring a main entrée of beef tenderloin, gulf shrimp wrapped sea scallops, Lyonnaise potatoes, grilled asparagus, roasted carrots, and cauliflower. Dinner was followed by remarks from Blanton director Simone Wicha who thanked President Powers and gave an overview of the Blanton’s many initiatives⎯including the museum’s recently announced collaboration with artist Ellsworth Kelly. A special video tribute to President Powers, produced by Edwards Media, was screened and followed by an introduction of the honoree by Mickey Klein. President Powers took the stage and was greeted with a standing ovation before and after his remarks. Dinner concluded with a performance of “The Eyes of Texas” sung by the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia choir.
At the conclusion of the gala, guests returned to the Blanton for Art on the Edge, the museum’s high-energy gala after-party. There, nearly 600 guests danced until midnight to live music by Memphis Train Revue and tunes from DJ Mel.
|Honorary Chairs: Judy and Charles Tate
Austin Chairs: Janet and Wilson Allen, Jeanne and Mickey Klein, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin and Christopher Loughlin, and Andrea McWilliams
Amarillo Chairs: Ellen and Mark Bivins
Dallas Chairs: Sally and Tom Dunning
Fort Worth Chair: Kit Moncrief
Houston Chairs: Sylvie and Gary Crum and Leila and Walt Mischer
Midland Chair: Harris Kerr
New York Chairs: Jenny and Trey Laird and Darren Walker and David Beitzel
| Photographs by Julie Skarratt & Chris Lee (NY Philharmonic); (NY Botanical Garden); AzulOx Visuals & Kelly Rucker Photography (Blanton)|