Music and the Arts and a taste of History

Featured image
Orchestra of St. Luke's annual Gift of Music Gala at The Plaza.

On Monday, April 24, 2022, musical sounds wafted from the Plaza Hotel Ballroom as the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) hosted their annual Gift of Music Gala celebrating a year of dynamic expansion and, innovation,  enabling OSL to reach new heights this season, as New York’s  vibrant and essential orchestra.

Cellist Sterling Elliot and Principle Conductor Bernard Labadie.

The gala honored philanthropists Lois Chiles and her late husband Richard Gilder, and MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and frequent OSL collaborator, pianist Jeremy Denk. Proceeds of the gala supports OSL’s citywide artistic, education, and community initiatives. 

The black-tie evening began with a cocktail hour, followed by speeches sharing the artistic visions, overview of future performances and collaborations, and accomplishments of OSL from David Hyde Pierce, host; and James Roe, OSL’s President & Executive Director. OSL Board Member   Emme  DeLand  presented the Gift of Music Award to  Lois Chiles and in memory of Richard Gilder, and OSL Board Member  Carlos Tome presented the Gift of Music Award to  Jeremy Denk.

The OSL performance, led by Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie, and featuring the cello soloist Sterling Elliott, provided a musical interlude appreciated by fans of  New York’s ‘hometown band’.

At the conclusion of the gala evening, attendees were invited to join in a time-honored OSL tradition of waltzing.

Jim Roe, OSL President and Executive Director; Norman Benzaquen, OSL Chairman; and Lois Chiles, Honoree.
Carlos Tome, OSL Board Member and Jeremy Denk, Honoree.
Seated: David Hyde Pierce, host; Bernard Labadie; Jeremy Denk; Mikail Baryshnikov; Lisa Rinehart; Standing: Brian Hargrove; Vince Tseng; Martha Bonta; and Jane Beregere.
Lisa Gugenheim, Lois Chiles, and Judy Zankel.
Peggy Tirschwell and family.
Steve Novick, Effie and OSL Board Member Robert Fribourg, standing; Helen Appel, and Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, seated.
Bobbye List, Emme (OSL Board Member) and Jonathan Deland, Susan Dryfoos and Andrew Weisenfeld.
Margaret Smith and friends.
German Consul General in New York, David Gill and wife Sheila Shrivastava, waltzing.
Board Member Matt Fitzpatrick and Sage Mehta waltzing, an OSL tradition.

Last Monday night at The Bowery Hotel, Chiara Gorodesky welcomed guests to the Inaugural vildwerk. Gala. The vildwerk. founder shared, “We are all here, leaders in our own fields, because we know there’s a crisis happening in the world, and we need to do something about it. I’m extremely lucky because I work in both in the world of conservation and in the world of dance.

“I know first-hand there is no voice in performing arts that represents the messages of conservation organizations. They are out there in the field, in the dirt, working for us, to protect us every single day. There are so many stories to be told. The arts inspire the hearts of people, and we need to tell these stories of what’s happening in the world. We will collaborate with local organizations, and in 2024 with our first staged season, we will give them a voice.”

Chiara Gorodesky.

Christopher Wheeldon took the stage and shared, “I’m extremely honored to be the chairman of this evening. I love that vildwerk. aspires to be the first organization to invite choreographers and composers to hold hand in hand with conservationists and environmentalists. What can be better than making art with the power of making real change. I am very excited to announce I will be one of the first choreographers to present new work with vildwerk. at the 2024 season.

Standing next to a nearly extinct ploughshare tortoise, joining the Gala by video, was Turtle Conservancy Founder, Eric Goode. He introduced the first piece created for vildwerk., a world premiere by choreographer Joshua Beamish, titled Golden Tortoise, performed by Mara Galeazzi, with music by Felipe Perez Santiago (in audience).

Mara Galeazzi performing the premiere of Golden Tortoise, choreographed by Joshua Beamish.

The evening also featured performances by cellists of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Dorothea and Rafael Figueroa. After a video message from David K. Israel, they performed his Windansea, a classical piece by Jean-Baptiste Barriere, and then Dying Swan by Charles-Camille Saint-Saens, joined on the piano by Amber Salladin. Amber, Co-Artistic Director of Inspire – Chorus for Unity, also conducted Grow Little Tree, sang by 7 young vocal artists, accompanied by 9-year-old Anton Figueroa at the keyboard and Cassandra Longville, dancing a piece choreographed by former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater star, Briana Reed.

Dorothea and Rafael Figueroa.
David K. Israel.
Cassandra Longville and Inspire Chorus for Unity.
Inspire Chorus for Unity and Cassandra Longville taking their bows.

Speakers included Professor Russell Mittermeier (Chief Conservation Officer of Re:Wild), Professor James Juvik (Senior Scientist at Turtle Conservancy), and Jorge Islas Lopez (Consul General of Mexico in New York).

Host Sergey Gordeev closed the evening asking, ‘What can YOU do for our planet?” He shared, “Our home is on fire. Some people aren’t home and don’t notice their house is on fire. They are so busy living their lives, they don’t know or care that our house is on fire. Chiara Gorodesky and everyone in this room are here to shout from the rafters that this house is on fire, inhabitants are in trouble, and it needs to be saved. We will do this though the powerful voice of performing arts.”

L. to r.: Sergey Gordeev and Christopher Wheeldon.
L. to r.: Russell Mittermeier and James Juvik.

Guests included Jacqulyn Buglisi, Kurt Froman, Michèle Gerber Klein, Terri Gold, Jeff and Danielle Hirsch, Jana Jaffe, Liane Pei, Debra Pickrel, and Carlos dos Santos.

vildwerk. is the world’s first non-profit organization solely dedicated to raising global environmental conservation awareness through dance and the performing arts. This community of artists, conservationists, writers, thought-leaders, and philanthropists want to help make this planet a sustainable home for everyone.

For more information, visit

Carlos Dos Santos and Chiara Gorodesky.
Darryl Phipps and Christine Felsky.
Debra Pickrel, Michele Gerber Klein, and Liane Pei.
Jana Jaffe, Chiara Gorodesky, and Beatriz Garcia.
Kurt Froman and Anthony Antovino.
Nathalie Tauchmer and Gerald Tenebaum.
Christopher Wheeldon and Consul General of Mexico Jorge Islas.
Tasha Norman and Yin Yue.
Pascal Heberling, Patricia Lee, and Joshua Beamish.
Sam Glover, Eleanor Chubb, and James Juvik.
Josh Beamish.

And on April 19th, guests gathered at the Museum of the City of New York for an evening hosted by Cynthia Foster Curry and Dr. Christine Rodeo for a private reception and tour of the exhibition, New York Now: Home A Photography Triennial.

Curated by Sean Corcoran, the Museum’s Curator of Prints and Photography, and Thea Quiray Tagle, Ph.D., New York Now examines the idea of home in New York City through the lenses of 33 contemporary artists.

Irene Ponce, Janna Haroche, Tami Houston, and Cynthia Foster Curry.
L. to r.: Drs. Scott and Christine Rodeo; Irene Ponce, Cynthia Foster Curry, Elizabeth Lukes, and Alicia Baldwin.
5 – Holly Hunt, Dr. Suzy Wolden, Susan Fisher, Susan Wald, Dr. Christine Rodeo, Gina Bartlett, Bilma Picot, and Karen Tompkins.
L. to r.: Cynthia Foster Curry, Keith Butler, and Dr. Christine Rodeo; Dr. Enad Dawod and Lea Abdelnour.
L. to r.: Monica and Stefano Corsi with. Dr. Scott Rodeo; The Masteiones.
Alexandra Hoyle, Sr., Gratia Nahakashi, Bonnie McErlane, and Dr. Chrisine Rodeo.

Over one hundred members and guests of the Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York gathered to salute National Tartan Day, a North American celebration of Scottish heritage and the focus of week-long festivities in New York City.

Richard Porter, 104th President of the Saint Andrew’s Society, welcomed the gathering with toasts, and he introduced attendees from across the United States and Great Britain.

L. to r.: Finlay Carson, Rt Hon Alison Johnstone, and Collette Stevenson; Andrew and Courtney Bisset.

Special guests and featured speakers were Alison Johnstone, Chris Thomson and John Lamont. Alison Johnstone was elected presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament in May 2021 and currently serves as a representative for Lothian. In this role Alison chairs the Parliamentary Bureau and the Scottish Parliament corporate body. Chris Thomson, Scottish Counsellor for the Scottish Government in the USA, has nurtured a successful relationship with the Scottish Affairs office in Washington, D.C. John Lamont has been serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland since October 2022.

President Porter gave a special welcome to Emma Wade Smith, His Majesty’s Consul General in New York and Honorary Chair of the Saint Andrew’s Society.

Iain Turnbull, Father Matthew Sanfelippo, The Rt Hon the Lord Lyon, and Chris Thomson.
Liam Timoney, Thomas Burt, Cary Burt, and Richard Halket.
L. to r.: Caroline Howitt and Martin MacAdam; Gavin Mcleish and Teri Mcleish.
Emma Wade Smith OBE, Doreen L. Wray Roth, MD.
Francis Goudie, Alice Schroeder, John Blankley, and Richard James Porter, 104th President of St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York.
Ailey McKennon, Cynthia Wright, Diana MacFarlane, Kaitlin Lower, and Audrey Landry.
Blake Funston, Hanna Rutherfoord, Katherine Anne Johnson, and George Shepherd.
Michael Grund, Claire Merrill, Carol Cumming, Teddy Cummings, Katherine Hawkins, and Graeme Hawkins.
Front, l. to r.: Mark Weisdorf, Kalyn Loewer, Lorraine Bell, Lesley Denninger, Margaret Kennedy, and Richard Porter. Back, l. to r.: Linda Porto, Gregory Loewer Jr, Kyle Dawson, Mary Ellen Scullard, Nina Urban, and Heather Bain.

Photographs by Banga Studios (OLS); Photos by John Sanderson/ (Saint Andrew’s Society).

Recent Posts