The Return to the Golden Age

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The Rose Main Reading Room during The New York Public Library's annual Library Lions Gala.

This past Monday night, The New York Public Library hosted its annual Library Lions Gala at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to raise critical funds to support the Library’s mission to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen communities. This year’s Lions honored at the Gala included author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, journalist Tina Brown, novelist Jonathan Lethem, and philanthropic leader Darren Walker.

Over 350 attendees gathered in The Rose Main Reading Room for dinner and a program, which celebrated last year’s 125th anniversary of the Library, and was opened by Tony Marx, President of The New York Public Library. Marx welcomed guests noting, “it’s so wonderful to be gathered again together,” and also announced that this year the event has raised more than twice its previous record in critical funds — nearly $5.8 million. Marx then introduced New York State Governor Kathy Hochul who spoke to the enduring quality of the library, stating that, “this library will endure for another 125 years.”

Marx then introduced Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who gave personal remarks on his own experience having grown up in Brooklyn and taking out books from the Kings Highway branch. Schumer praised the Library for adjusting its approach during the pandemic and thanked his wife, Iris, who serves as the Library’s Chief Operating Officer. Marx then gave updates on how during the pandemic, the Library quickly shifted to offer its patrons digital services that nearly 20 million have now used, in addition to almost 10 million e-book check-outs.

The evening also celebrated New York Public Library’s former President Vartan Gregorianwho passed away in April 2021. Marx described Gregorian as “a majestic teacher and scholar.” A moving video tribute highlighted Gregorian’s tremendous work on behalf of the Library. Following, a powerful short film highlighted each of this year’s Library Lions who spoke about the joys and rewards of reading and their work and experiences at The New York Public Library. The evening concluded with dessert and cocktails in Astor Hall.

This year’s Executive Chairs are Mr. and Mrs. Stephen A. Schwarzman. This year’s Host-Chairs include Dr. Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Mr. Adam BartosHoward and Eleanor MorganKatharine J. RaynerMr. James S. Tisch and The Honorable Merryl H. Tisch, and Nanar and Tony Yoseloff. This year’s Co-Chairs include Annette de la Renta, Catie Marron, and Abby and Howard Milstein.

Darren Walker, Tina Brown, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jonathan Lethem, and Tony Marx.

The New York Public Library’s annual Library Lions Gala raises critical funds to support the Library’s 92 neighborhood locations, robust educational programming, and world-renowned research collections used by scholars, writers, artists and students every day. Support of this event ensures that the Library’s collections, programs, and services remain freely available, offering knowledge, education, and opportunity to all.

Attendees included: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2021 Library Lion), Tina Brown (2021 Library Lion), Jonathan Lethem (2021 Library Lion), Darren Walker (2021 Library Lion), Mr. and Mrs. Stephen A. Schwarzman (Executive Chairs), Dr. Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Mr. Adam Bartos (Host Chairs), Howard and Eleanor Morgan (Host Chair),Nanar and Tony Yoseloff (Host Chairs), Anthony Marx, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Chuck Schumer, Renata Adler, Roy Blount, Jr., Katherine BooEric Foner, Annette Gordon-Reed, Susan Gutfreund, State Senator Hoylman, Sunil Khilnani, Nick Lemann, Joyce Carol Oates, David Remnick, Roxanna Robinson, Fay Rosenfeld, Gay Talese, Lionel Tiger, Calvin Trillin, Deborah Norville, andWilbur and Hilary Ross.

Annette Gordon-Reed and Robert Reed.
Chuck Schumer.
Corey Johnson and Governor Kathy Hochul.
Darren Walker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Rita Dove.
L. to r.: Ted Himler and Elise Taylor; Hillary and Wilbur Ross.
Kyle Wellner and Deborah Norville.
Raffi Gregorian and Amy Oniel.
Rita Dove and Fred Viebahn.
Travis Ekmark, Sloan Crosley, Andrew Sean Greer, and Enrico Rotelli.
Nicholas Lemann and Joyce Carol Oates.
Katherine Boo and Sunil Khilnani.
Stephen Schwarzman, Tony Marx, Iris Weinshall, and Christine Schwarzman.
Kim Heirston.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Min Jin Lee.
Tayari Jones.

Last month, the Viennese Opera Ball hosted their Swing Dinner Dance Gala, “The Golden Age,” at a private club in Manhattan. The gala was scaled down from previous years with limited capacity. But was still a great return of the extravagant affair.

The Viennese Opera Ball is a nonprofit association under Section 501(c)(3) and celebrated under the auspices of the US Austrian Chamber of Commerce. The Gala co-Chairs were Jean Shafiroff, and Denise Rich. Each year, it supports charitable projects that are connected to communities in New York or Vienna. The proceeds of the Swing Dinner Dance benefit the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.

Hubert Heiss, Silvia Frieser, Jean Shafiroff, Austrian Consul General Helene Steinhaeusl, Yoko Nakamura-Haider, and Michael Haider.

The Gala took place with the support of City of Vienna and the Honorary Gala Chair was Governor & Mayor of Vienna The Honorable Michael Ludwig; Consul General of Austria in New York The Honorable Helene Steinhaeusl, and the Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York Michael Haider.

Notable attendees included: President of the Viennese Opera Ball Silvia Frieser, Hubert Heiss, Yoko Nakamura-Haider, Martin Shafiroff, Malan Breton, Scott Stone, Ana Stone, Eve Brookville, Sabine Riglos, Victoria Whipple, Paula Mahoney, Nelli Hantman, Imke Gerdes, Barbara Wennerholm, David Hochberg, Pamela O’Connor, Sonia Nassery Cole, Michele Herbert, Emily Mohr, Cole Rumbough, Sessa Von Richthofen and Richard Johnson.

Sabine Riglos, Victoria Whipple, Paula Mahoney, Nelli Hantman, Silvia Frieser, Imke Gerdes, and Barbara Wennerholm.

The black-tie event was a change up to their traditional Opera Ball with the swing dance party theme. The music for the evening was provided by the Misha Piatigorsky Trio, with Misha Piatigorsky on piano, Benny Benack III singing and playing trumpet, Sergei Avanesov on Saxophone, and Singer Kennedy.

There was a silent auction during gala with proceeds also benefiting Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.

The Viennese Opera Ball, an annual white-tie charity gala celebrates the cultural and economic relationships between Austria and America, connecting two continents, two cities and two centuries in one glamorous night. It was founded by Austrians immigrating to the United States 66 years ago and is a tribute to both their former hometown Vienna and their host city, New York.

Considered the most prestigious and oldest Viennese ball outside of Vienna, the gala draws an international audience that includes diplomats and dignitaries, international corporations, and professionals. Performances by Metropolitan opera singers, the Viennese Opera Ball orchestra, ballet performances, the West Point color guard, midnight Quadrille and many more surprises contribute to a glamorous and delightful night.

Each year, the Viennese Opera Ball supports charitable projects connected to the communities in New York and Vienna.

Silvia Frieser, Hubert Heiss, Austrian Consul General Helene Steinhaeusl, Yoko Nakamura-Haider, and Michael Haider.
L. to r.: Emily Mohr and Cole Rumbough; Eve Brookville.
David Hochberg, Rolise Rachel, Regina Kravitz, Damian Delangeron, and Elena Gibbs.
Scott and Ana Stone.
L. to r.: Michele Herbert; David Hochberg and Pamela O’Connor.
Roberto Logullo and Katja Pinker-Donenig.
L. to r.: Sessa von Richthofen and Jane Rothchild; Martin Shafiroff and Malan Breton.
Paula Mahoney, Barbara Wennerholm, and Sabine Riglos.

News from abroad: Recently, French-Lebanese composer Zad Moultaka had the world premiere of his Requiem for a New World at Basilica S.S. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, Italy. The musical and visual performance paid tribute to the late Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, who had a deep love for Venice, often collaborating with the Biennale Musica di Venezia and premiering several of his masterpieces in the City.  It was his last wish to be buried there. His final composition, Requiem Canticles, was performed at his funeral at Basilica S.S. Giovanni e Paolo in 1971 and will be played again as part of this unique concert to mark the 50th year since his death. Stravinsky’s niece Anastasia Kosatchenko-Stravinsky, attended the premiere.

Nicolo Rosada and Anastasia Kosatchenko-Stravinsky.

Requiem for a New World is inspired by Stravinsky’s work as well as new work by the Lebanese poet Etel Adnan. In his poem, Adnan describes the moment the human race decides to migrate to outer space and reflects on the process of how to establish a new civilization.

The concert was performed by an orchestra of 60 column loudspeakers conducted by Roland Hayrabedian, founder of vocal performance company Musicatreize, which will also provided a choir, and accompanied counter-tenor Raffaele Pe. The performance was further accompanied by projected visuals and animated lighting designed by Moultaka and timed to the music, illuminating the Basilica.

All funds raised by the concert were donated to the event’s partner charity, arcenciel, to support Lebanon’s 50,000 young  students, whose access to higher education have been severely impacted by the tragic Beirut explosion in 2020.

Amin Jaffer.
Chiara Meneghini and Ombretta Macchi.
Elizabeth Royer and Zad Moultaka.

Hervé Mikaeloff-Huang, Khoa Do Din, Joanna Chevalier, and Zad Moultaka.

Nicolo Rosada, Anastasia Kosatchenko-Stravinsky, Zad Moultaka, and Nadine Saddi.
Tita Ballarin, Gabriella Gamberini, and Tamara Andruszkiewicz.
Valter Ballarin and Tita Ballarin.

Photographs by Angela Pham/ (Library); Rob Rich & Sylvain Gaboury/©Patrick McMullan (Viennese); Marcin Wiśnios (Requiem).

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