After the most successful Opening Night Preview Event in the Show’s history, the 17th Annual Palm Beach Show opened its doors on Thursday, February 13 to thousands of enthusiastic art connoisseurs, private collectors, museum curators and high-end interior designers. The show kicked off on Thursday at 5 p.m. welcoming an elite group of individuals for the Exclusive Vernissage event benefiting the Cancer Alliance of Help & Hope, which was followed by the VIP Preview Reception at 7 p.m. The exquisite opening evening was only the beginning of what was an incredible week.
Back in New York, Maestro Iván Fischer led The Budapest Festival Orchestra in a thrilling all-Dvořák program at David Geffen Hall last Sunday including an encore of Brahm’s Hungarian Dance No. 5. Maestro Fischer announced from his podium, “the arrangement includes some of the original folk melody”, which was sung by the members of the Orchestra.
It was a memorable performance punctuated by multiple standing ovations. Daisy Soros, chairman emeritus of the Friends of The Budapest Festival Orchestra, sat on an isle in the front row and clearly enjoyed herself. “Always a highlight of any season, the visit of this of this exceptional orchestra and its provocative music director, Ivan Fischer,” wrote The New York Times.
A benefit dinner followed chaired by Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Susan Gutfreund, Sylvia Hemingway and Friends of The Budapest Festival Orchestra. Maestro Fisher was greeted following the concert by admirers including Steven Van Zandt before sitting at a table that included Ellen Burstyn, Noreen and Ken Buckfire, Joan Hardy Clark, Andre Fratto, Joanna Fisher, Colin Fowler, Mark Morris, and Barbara and Donald Tober (who were honored with Mark Morris last year as Living Landmarks).
Also there were gala committee members Ambassador and Mrs. Donald Blinken, Beth Jacobs, Heidi Lee Komaromi, Barbara Rogoff, Mr. and Mrs. David M. Tobey, and Stephanie Stokes (the host of a small dinner for the Maestro the evening before at her home). Other guests included board members Andrew Komaromi, Aaron Feinstein, and Peter Thomas Roth, as well as Edgar Batista, Layla Diba, Sedi and Maximo Flugelman, Margo Langenberg, Jean Shafiroff, Judy Francis Zankel, and Gioia Zwack.
During dinner Maestro Fischer spoke movingly, “We come to New York often. It feels like home and you are our real friends. We love to be here. We’ve a tour planned for many cites in China planned soon so please if you can find a vaccine. We would hate to cancel our trip. Now, about the orchestra singing tonight. Why does my orchestra sing on stage? We want to set an example, to overcome the inherent fear of singing out loud. Everyone should be singing more. Mothers to their children, all of us.
“This morning I conducted another concert, a very special one, for children on the Autism spectrum. Thanks to Lincoln Center and The Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. 150 children and their families came. That was all the room could hold. There was a waiting list twice that length. We try and do a concert like this everywhere we go. Always we do this in New York. It’s important. August 1st, 3rd, and 4th, we return to New York with an opera, Verdi’s Falstaff. There the orchestra is integrated with the singers right on stage and part of the action. It’s part of the Mostly Mozart Festival so please don’t go anywhere else in August.”
Stephen Benko, Chairman of the Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, thanked the board and chairs with a special recognition for, “my old friend Philip Reeker. We met when he was a young Foreign Service Officer in Budapest. Philip is now the U.S. State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs. He continues to stand up for democratic issues in Hungary as well as our national’s best export, the Budapest Festival Orchestra.“ Reeker dined between former Hungarian Ambassadors Nancy Brinker and Donald Blinken.
During dinner Mary McFadden talked about visiting Maestro Fischer’s home in Budapest and her recent trip up the Nile with her daughter, Justine. Maestro Fischer suggested Joanna Fisher “add a “c’ to her last name.” And saying good night, the proud Hungarian Susan Gutfreund offered “as we say in Hungarian, this evening was truly elbűvölő — charming!”
And back out in Palm Beach, Christine Schott Ledes and Jean Shafiroff hosted a philanthropic luncheon at The Brazilian Court in Palm Beach. This was the second of a series of events the two will host on influencers and philanthropy this year.
A toast was made to Robin Baker Leacock on her PBS film on philanthropy, A Passion for Giving. Guests included: Siobhan & Chris Cameron (The NY Post’s Alexa), Jayne Chase (Modern Luxury Palm Beach), Ava Roosevelt, Maria Fishel, Felicia Taylor, Pamela O’Connor, Della Rounick, Paola Bachinni Rosenshein, Suzanne Stoll and others.
Photographs by John Sanderson for Annie Watt Agency (FOBO); Annie Watt (The Palm Beach Show & Luncheon)