Society For Performing Arts Celebrates 50th Anniversary

By Jennifer Roosth          Photography by Wilson Parrish

THE SETTING: The Society for the Performing Arts held its Black & White Ball at the Wortham Center Grand Foyer to celebrate over 50 years of bringing the world’s best performances to Houston. Reminiscent of the Party of the Century hosted by Truman Capote in New York City in 1966, the SPA Black & White Ball was indeed the party to remember this season.

THE STYLE: Over 400 black tie guests, clad in black and white with a dazzling array of bewitching masks, enjoyed cocktails and canapés while perusing the silent auction. Jackson & Co created a fabulous three-course meal and Rebekah Johnson created an elegantly over-the-top room décor with cascading crystal chandeliers installed above beautiful towering sprays of orchids and roses on the tables. Auctioneer Jeff Smith raised a record-breaking  figure from the fabulous auction curated by Yasmine Haddad. Guests were then mesmerized by the exciting performances of the cast of Chicago and then danced the night away to Empire 6 at the after party.

THE PURPOSE: The chairs for this unforgettable night raising over $500,000 were Mary Ann and David McKeithan and Cheryl and Sam Byington, with Margaret Alkek Williams serving as honorary chair. Rini and Edward Ziegler were the community honorees and HEB was the corporate honoree. The Society for the Performing Arts presents internationally acclaimed artists from the entire performing arts spectrum, traditional to avant-garde alike, from large orchestras and dance companies to recitalists and solo performers, for audiences at Houston’s Jones Hall.



An Evening Of Dance Performances Supports Virtuosi Of Houston

By Jen Roosth          Photography by Fulton Davenport

THE SETTING: Virtuosi of Houston recently celebrated the social season with its annual gala, Music in Motion, in the InterContinental Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. The evening began with the cocktail hour, a wine pull, silent auction, plus guests enjoyed viewing a live painting by Taft McWhorter.

 THE STYLE: The evening of world-class music and fine cuisine shined the spotlight on the arts by honoring Michelle Smith, founder and executive director, METdance, Jane Weiner, founder and director of Hope Stone Dance, and Stanton Welch, artistic director of the Houston Ballet. The slate of musical performances was White Swan Pax de Duex performed by artists from Houston Ballet II Academy, Aheym performed by METdance, and Barcarolle/Radio Ga Ga performed by Hope Stone Dancers and Houston Boychoir. All the dancers were accompanied by the Virtuosi of Houston Orchestra under the direction by Franz Krager and Andzrej Grabiec, its founding and artistic directors.

 The event’s spirited live auction offered a Game of Thrones journey with a six-night stay in Dublin, a private estate experience for 10 at Churchill Downs, a sunset cruise on a luxury yacht for 14, a sailing experience on an America’s Cup Yacht for two, a Chopard diamond pendant and earring set, a Rome VIP Experience for two, and a George Strait signed guitar.

 THE PURPOSE: The gala event was chaired by Patti Murphy and Monzer Hourani, with Carmina Zamorano serving as honorary chairs. The mission of Virtuosi Houston is providing a means for a unique group of young and musically gifted artists to expand their abilities through exposure to world-class conductors and challenging musical pieces.



Museum Of Fine Arts Houston Hosts Florescence Events

By Jennifer Roosth          Photography by Jenny Antill

THE SETTING: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston was in full bloom with the return of the 13th biennial Florescence, one of the country’s largest competitive flower shows. Following this year’s theme, Time, 300 garden club members from across the country displayed their inventive floral and horticultural arrangements for recognition by The Garden Club of America. An opening reception, evening cocktail party, and High Noon Lunch and Lecture supporting the River Oaks Garden Club and the Garden Club of Houston, made for a set of fabulous spring social gatherings.

THE STYLE: The sweet, floral scent wafted through the air of the elegant events to the delight of the guests. The floral entrants were challenged to design and create floral arrangements and installations pulling inspiration from the museum’s surrounding art collections. In addition to floral design, the show’s other categories include horticulture, horticulture design, photography, botanical arts, needle arts, and conservation. As guests enjoyed their meal, renowned botanical artist Joseph Massie spoke of his journey starting weekend work at the age of 14 to becoming the youngest floral designer to win international achievements, such as the Best in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show. City Kitchen prepared the lunchtime affair’s cuisine.

THE PURPOSE: Carmen Knapp of the River Oaks Garden Club and Meg Tapp of The Garden Club of Houston co-chaired the event, and MFAH Director Gary Tinterow was pleased to announce that Florescence had broken its own fundraising record this year. The event is one of the largest competitive national flower shows sanctioned by the Garden Club of America in the United States. Florescence is presented by River Oaks Garden Club, The Garden Club of Houston, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH). Proceeds directly support Florescence’s nonprofit sponsors: River Oaks Garden Club, The Garden Club of Houston, and the MFAH. Both garden clubs rely on the event’s proceeds to support their projects in gardens, parks, and green spaces throughout our community.



Joe Niekro Foundation’s Knuckle Ball Scores Big

By Jake Gaines          Photography by Nikki Rosenberg and Quy Tran Photography

THE SETTING: The Houston Knuckle Ball: Field of Dreams annual gala was recently held at The Ballroom at Bayou Place, in support of brain aneurysm, AVM and hemorrhagic stroke research and awareness, and patient education named in honor of 22-year MLB alum and former Houston Astros knuckleballer, Joe Niekro.

THE STYLE: KHOU-TV personality and brain aneurysm survivor, Deborah Duncan, served as the evening’s emcee, while sharing her personal experience and life altering brain aneurysm rupture to the packed event venue. Kirk Wehby, the COO of the event’s presenting sponsor SMITH, helped kick-off the VIP reception by giving a welcome toast to guests and supporters, followed by a tear-jerking invocation from Kirk’s 13 year old son, Luc Wehby, an AVM survivor. To help ignite the evening festivities, Geraldo Rivera, a personal friend of Tricia Bonilla Harrison, gave welcoming video remarks and brought attention to the mission behind the Joe Niekro Foundation. The evening culminated with a spirited live auction officiated by Johny Bravo, followed by a packed dancefloor as the Austin-based band Skyrocket performed, underwritten and supported by Diane Lokey Farb.

THE PURPOSE: This year’s event, chaired by Tricia Bonilla Harrison and Mark D. Sullivan, who both have a personal connection to brain aneurysms, raised nearly $300,000. The auction was a spectacular success and featured original art items, a Steak 48 culinary group experience, exquisite jewelry by Mariquita Masterson, and rare finds in sports memorabilia. Proceeds from this year’s event go toward the advancement and expansion of the foundation’s Patient Services and Education Program, as well as the establishment of a localized clinical research grant for applicants in the Houston area.



Hats, Hearts & Horseshoes Event Benefits Bo’s Place

By Jennifer Roosth           Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Dave Rossm

THE SETTING: This third annual event for the running of the Kentucky Derby was once again sold out, with over 400 guests at the sumptuous home of Paige and Tilman Fertitta. It’s always a must-attend poolside event that Houstonians look forward to while supporting a much-beloved cause.

THE STYLE: The fabulous hats made for perfect people watching and guests socialized throughout the grounds of the home, sipping traditional mint juleps. Tables covered with a variety of tasty food selections enticed the party goers. Everyone crowded around the large screens to watch the race since a historical stunner led to a wait for the results. Guests continued to visit until the 65-1 winner, Country House was announced.  

THE PURPOSE: Hallie Vanderhider was chair for the event while Hannah and Cal McNair served as honorary chairs. Along with them, Bo’s Place President of the Board, Meredith Chastang were all thrilled to raise over $350,000. Bo’s Place is a non-profit, free-of-charge bereavement center that exists to provide support and community to those who have experienced the death of a loved one.



Discovery Green Celebrates With Lively 10 th Anniversary Gala

By Jennifer Roosth       Photography by Jenny Antill

THE SETTING: The evening began with cocktails under the oaks along the park’s Brown Foundation Promenade. Guests enjoyed performances by silk aerialists, Flamenco fusion music by Amin Safari and Robert Feliciano, and the glow of GUST, an interactive site-specific artwork by Mexico City-based design studio Cocolab consisting of nearly 2,000 custom-made pinwheels. While guests enjoyed a dinner
catered by City Kitchen, the Discovery Green Conservancy showed a series of videos that celebrated the park and its impact over the past 10 years in three acts: Heritage—From Parking Lot to Paradise, Family—The Heart of Discovery Green and Community—The Promise of Discovery Green.

THE STYLE: After emcee Dominique Sachse welcomed guests to the gala tent on Discovery Green’s Jones Lawn, Board Chair Roxann Neumann, along with event chairs Zane and Brady Carruth, recognized the individuals, corporations and foundations who have supported the park since its opening in April 2008, and announced plans for improvements on the eve of its next decade, including a new playground, a new northwest corner and updated lighting throughout the park.
The black-tie evening also recreated some of the experiences that park visitors have come to love, including performances by DB Duo, a Houston-based hand-balancing act; Two Star Symphony, a local ensemble performing all original compositions; NAACH Houston, a multigenerational, community-based Bollywood dance company; Archie Bell, who performed at Discovery Green’s opening gala ten years ago, and The Allen Oldies Band. The night concluded with dancing to Bombón, a DJ collaboration between Houston DJs Gracie Chavez, Navó, OG Bobby Trill and Principe Q with percussionist Ilya Janos and La Comadre Mel on hand for the festivities.

THE PURPOSE: Over 400 guests raised $1.2 million dollars for the Discovery Green Conservancy, a  501(c)(3) that maintains the park and funds more than 700 free public events each year.