Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perfectly cool day in New York

Bethesda Terrace. 3:30 PM. Photo: JH.
May 19, 2009. Sun came about noontime yesterday and stayed; perfectly cool day in New York.

Down at Michael’s, it was one of those days -- there were two Senators lunching – Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and New York’s new Senator Christine Gillibrand – not together. Senator Gillibrand was lunching with Jim Torrey, the investment management executive who is rumored to be on President Obama’s shortlist for an ambassadorial post.

Just across from them Linda Fairstein, wearing pink fairy wings on the back of her bright yellow blazer, was waiting for Mariska Hargitay. I went over to Linda’s table to see if they were what they looked like. Uh-huh.

“Is there a reason?” I wondered.

“Mariska always calls me her fairy godmother, so I thought since we were having lunch, I’d surprise her with some wings.”

Probably surprised a few other people too. If you’re laughing, it was funny to see. One never thinks of this serious prosecutor/DA/detective novelist as a funny girl.
Last night was the Opening Night Gala for the American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. It was rumored, and then eventually confirmed that Michelle Obama would be attending. This trip was the First Lady’s first visit to New York for the purpose of promoting cultural activity.

Earlier in the day she had attended a ribbon-cutting of the reopening of the Charles Engelhard Court and American Period rooms at the Metropolitan Museum.

The program.
We received word in the afternoon that if JH wanted her picture he could show up at 5 pm, go through clearance and wait around for one. Then we learned he could show up but he couldn’t take a picture. There were to be two photographers – the White House photographer and the Lincoln Center photographer. JH decided he had better things to do. It’s not important; there are already a million pictures of Michelle Obama everywhere you look.

Without question, the First Lady’s appearance filled the air with anticipation in the Opera House. I arrived just a few minutes before curtain and the entire orchestra audience was filled with people standing looking at the mezzanine where she would be sitting.

Waiting in vain, because Mrs. Obama’s first appearance came on stage before curtain. She was introduced by Caroline Kennedy who also mentioned that the performance would include students from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet. Then Mrs. Kennedy announced “The First Lady and my friend, Michelle Obama…”

Mrs. Obama was wearing black
– the fashion pages will have all that info I’m sure. I remember the first (and only) time I saw her in person, a couple of years ago at the New York Historical Society’s Strawberry luncheon. Tall and all business, she wore a two piece ivory silk suit that fit her well but she struck me as someone whose priorities did not include fashion. If you told me that she was a law professor at a major university or a partner in a major law firm, that would sound about right.

Michelle Obama speaking at The N-YHS Strawberry Luncheon, June, 2007.
I was thinking about that watching her on the stage of the Met last night because, no question, among other things, Michelle Obama is making a fashion statement as First Lady. And she looks conservative but glamorous but serious, and of course in great shape.

Mrs. Obama’s speech was to encourage institutions, philanthropists and people with means to make art accessible to children.

“My husband and I believe strongly that arts education is essential for building innovative thinkers who will be our nation’s leaders of tomorrow,” she said.

Last night’s gala program which was sponsored by Carolina Herrera, Ltd., and Graff, featured eleven pieces. The first, Mozartiana with choreography by George Balanchine, music by Tchaikovsky and costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, featured Veronika Part and four young girls from the JKO School of American Ballet. Patsy Tarr who was seated just behind me told m she thought the four girls were about ten or twelve years old. They were wonderful and danced with beautiful form and line.
Mrs. Michelle Obama with Caroline Kennedy and students of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre at ABT's 2009 Spring Gala. Photo: Mary Hilliard.
Caroline Kennedy, ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, ABT Executive Director Rachel Moore, Mrs. Michelle Obama, Sharon Patrick, Edward Fox and Dr. Jill Biden at American Ballet Theatre's 2009 Spring Gala. Photo: Mary Hilliard.
The second piece, The Procession, featured Levels 5, 6 and 7 from the SAB. Again, beautiful dancing. Thousands of ballet students from all over the country audition every year for one of the fifty spots available in each new class. You can see how these kids won their places. It’s amazing on many levels, not the least of which is the sense of discipline, commitment and achievement which belongs to these students.

Also in last night’s program, for you balletomanes out there – La Sylphide (Act II Excerpt). Music by Hermann von Lovenskjold, restaged by Erik Brkuhn, and danced by Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo; Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Balanchine, Tchaikovsky, danced by Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel; Waltz Masquerade, choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, music by Aram Khachaturian; danced by Nina Ananiashvili; Sylvia (Hunt Scene), choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, music by Leo Delibes and danced by Michele Wiles and the ABT ballerinas.

During intermission we made our way up to the VIP lounge (it has a donors name that escape me at the moment). The place was packed with people quaffing champagne and greeting each other, happy to be in this beautiful evening. Mrs. Obama was not there, having gone to the private offices for her intermission.
Inside the theater, performance over, guests exiting.
After the intermission the program began with Romeo and Juliet (Balcony Pas de Deux), choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, music by Prokofiev and danced by Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes; Swan Lake (Act II Pas de Deux), again Tchaikovsky, danced by Paloma Herreera and Maxim Beloserkovsky, and the Corps de Ballet; Le Corsaire, danced by Irina Dvorovenko, David Hallberg and Angel Corella; Piece d’Occasion, music composed and performed by Herbie Hancock, danced by Jose Manuel Carreno and Stella Abrera; and the final Theme and Variations, choreography by Balanchine, music by Tchaikovsky, Costumes by Theoni Aldredge, danced by Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin, and the Company.
Conductors for the evening were David LaMarche, Ormsby Wilkins and Charles Barker.
Under the tent in Damrosch Park for dinner.
The table decor.
Susan Fales-Hill, Patricia Shiah, Iman, Fe Fendi and friends.
After the performance, the guests at the benefit moved on to the tent set up in Damrosch Park for the dinner.
David Koch and livi Gordon Nancy Ellison Michelle Obama's Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers
Jackie Weld Drake Ashley McDermott Alexis Clarke Gillian Miniter
Prince Dimitri and Peter Lyden Deborah Norville talking to Carolina Herrera Blaine Trump talking to Alexandra Kotur
Patricia Shiah and Fe Fendi Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill Daisy Soros and Sigourney Weaver
Dara Serrano and Anka Palitz Danielle Rossi, Tara Milne, and Amalia Keramitsis Wendy Carduner and Marcia Mishaan
John Milne, Andreas Soriano, and Henri Barguirdjian Barbara Hemmerle Gollust, Bruce Levingston, and Renee Fleming Nina Griscom and Leonel Piraino
Deborah Roberts and Al Roker Deborah Roberts from the back Tory Burch and Sandy Golinkin
Karen LeFrak Ian and Ellen Graham Lyn Nesbit and Douglas Cramer
Tanya Potter Adler, Muffie Potter Aston, Grace Hightower, and Lynn Whitfield Paul Beirne and Julia Koch Rachel Roy and Veronica Webb
Mildred Brinn Alexandra Lebenthal and Jay Diamond Grace Meigher and Steve Schwarzman
After getting some shots of the scene, I moved on over to the Frick which was hosting its annual “thank you” to the Fellows and Young Fellows who support Mr. Frick’s unique museum. This evening is the Frick at its most elegant with galleries open, both outdoor gardens (the front one had a jazz combo playing) and the indoor Garden Court. There were spring flowers planted in the Garden Court and bouquets of peonies, lilacs, and roses. There was also a preview of the new show opening on June 2nd, “Portraits Pastels, and Prings: Whistler in the Frick Collection.”
From “Portraits Pastels, and Prings: Whistler in the Frick Collection.”
This is the first time the Frick has presented all of the Collections holdings of this artist in twenty years. Henry Clay Frick purchased more work by Whistler than any other artists.

The evening began at 8:30 and I arrived about ten. People were having desserts and drinks from the bars and buffet tables set up in the Garden Court. About four hundred attended including Austin Scarlett, Lydia Fenet, Colin B. Bailey, Fiona Benenson, Daily, Dewey and Anthony Ames, Edward Lee Cave, Paul Cruickshank, Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard, Joanne DuPont Foster, Anne and Alain S. Goldrach, Frederick Koch, Emily Pataki, Nathalie Kaplan, Lucy J. Lang, Walter Leidtke, Leonard Lopate and Tara Parker-Pope, Zubin Mahta, Clare and Robert McKeon, Sally Phipps, Charlotte-Anne Nelson, Anne and Francois Poulet, Charles A. Ryskamp, Alan E. Salz, Danielle Sapse, Elaine B.Sargent, William R. Schermerhorn, Charles N. Schlangen, Elizabeth and Stanley Scott, Debbie Silverman, Anne and James B. Sitrick, Cator Sparsk, Elizabeth Stafford, Philip A. Thomas, Tielman Van Vleck, George and Fern Wachter, G. Jarvis G. Wilcox and Coke Anne Wilcox, Linnea Wilson, Jennifer Wright.

In case you missed it ...
On sunday over at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe in Teaneck, New Jersey, Sharsheret held its Honoring the Women Who Have Touched Our Lives: Annual Benefit Luncheon. They recognized Naava Parker of Englewood, and Rochelle Hirsch of Manhattan as Guests of Honor. Suffy Rudman Riverdale received the Lisa Altman Volunteer Tribute Award.

NYSD was privy to the luncheon because Mrs. Hirsch’s son is known to NYSD as its co-founder, designer and roving photographer known at times as JH and the Digital. He turned the vid camera on his honored ma for all the world to see another example of Setting a Good Example.
CLICK IMAGE TO PLAY VIDEO of Rochelle Hirsch's acceptance (rhyming) speech at Sharsharet's Honoring the Women Who Have Touched Our Lives: Annual Benefit Luncheon.

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