Houston Symphony Ball Celebrates Vintage Music Garden Gala

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Jenny Antill, Daniel Ortiz and Wilson Parish


THE SETTING: The ballroom of The Post Oak Hotel was transformed into a Vintage Music Garden themed gala designed by Richard Flowers of The Events Company. Over 450 guests clad in spring-inspired black tie attire sipped cocktails and snacked on tasty hors d’oeuvres while bidding on coveted one-of-a-kind silent auction items.

THE STYLE: Guests were wowed by a green lattice gazebo covered in fresh flowers and characters in vintage garb strolling throughout the foyer. As the dinner chimes rang, patrons made their way to their tables, which were covered with floral arrangements in various vases including gramophones, brass bowls, and tall mossed vases. Enormous murals, inspired by the theme, hung on the walls which were draped with spring green curtains.

Following the presentation, which honored all past Houston Symphony Society presidents; John Cater, Robert Hermance, Janice Barrow, Rodney Margolis, Ed Wulfe, Jesse Tutor, Robert Tudor III, Steven Mach, and Janet Clark, the guests enjoyed dinner prepared by Executive Chef Jean-Luc Royere. Everyone then danced the night away to the sounds of The Jordan Kahn Orchestra at the circus-themed aftrer party..

THE PUPOSE: The event, chaired by Courtney and Bill Toomey, with support from BB&T, raised more than $1.3 million for the Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement programs. Phillips 66 served as the Presenting Sponsor for the fifth year in a row. The silent auction was chaired by Allison Harper, while Lexi Sakowitz and Elisa Lubanko served as the event’s after party chairs.



Houston Grand Opera Ball’s Cielito Lindo Gala Shines

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Jenny Antill, Priscilla Dickson, Wilson Parrish


THE SETTING: The Houston Grand Opera hosted its annual white-tie fundraiser, this year titled Opera Ball: Cielito Lindo. Cielito Lindo—loosely translated to pretty darling or heavenly one—is a traditional Mexican song written by Quirino Mendoza y Cortes in 1882 and beloved throughout the Spanish-speaking world and beyond as a symbol of love and unity. The evening had over 450 guests gather at The Revaire for an evening of celebration inspired by Mexico’s rich, vibrant culture and an extraordinary mix of creative influences.

THE STYLE: The décor, by Mandarin Design Lab in Austin, included a towering butterfly diva seemingly summoning guests, cocktails served by a 20-foot-high sombrero-laden wall, and a ballroom framed by a custom 60’ long calla lily chandelier and Talavera blue tile and climbing bougainvillea. The tastes of the evening included traditional Mexican cuisine by A Fare Extraordinaire, and the sounds of Mexico were also center stage with a special performance of Besame Mucho by guest artist soprano Ailyn Pérez. One of the evening’s highlights was the Mariachi los Camperos musical performance of the night’s theme, Cielito Lindo, bringing the crowd to their feet in a spirited sing-along worthy of a grand opera.

THE PURPOSE: Chaired by Marcia and Alfredo Vilas, with Monica Fulton and Hector Villarreal, and Sara and Gabriel Loperena chairing the auctions, the gala raised over $1.2 million to support the internationally renowned performances and community programs that distinguishes the Houston Grand Opera as one of America’s greatest opera companies. Following the gala, guests carried on with a festive, late-night celebration at the Encore After Party chaired by Lady Stephanie Kimbrell and Joshua Allison and featured dancing, a proper taco station, passed frozen mangonadas, and churros with chocolate sauce for dipping.



UNICEF’s 6th Annual Gala In Houston Raises Key Funds

By Jennifer Roosth    Photography by Gregg Harrison and Bob Levey/Getty Images


THE SETTING: Nearly 400 Houstonians recently packed The Post Oak Hotel as the Southwest Regional Office of UNICEF USA hosted its sixth annual UNICEF Gala Houston. Black-tie attired guests sipped on cocktails, enjoyed a seated dinner, and celebrated outstanding humanitarian leaders who make UNICEF’s work possible. Susan and Dan Boggio were honored with the Helenka Pantaleoni Humanitarian Award and Sue Smith and Lester Smith (posthumously) with the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award.

THE STYLE: The evening was as fabulous as it was lively. The live auction packages included a week-long safari in Kenya, earrings from NINI Jewels and tickets to the legendary Elton John Oscars Party in Los Angeles, which was sold twice for almost six figures each. The paddle raise for UNICEF Kid Power was matched with a generous $100,000 from The Alkek and Williams Foundation. The gala also featured a vibrant performance by The Garden State Guys performing a special tribute to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Then, UNICEF’s Young Professionals NextGen hosted a silent disco after party. Afterward, Lester Smith’s book, You Gotta Dance Like No One Is Watching, was a take-home gift for all the guests.

THE PURPOSE: The evening’s gala, emceed by Deborah Duncan, raised over one million dollars, which will support UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children around the world. The gala chairs were Cheryl Byington, Mary Ann McKeithan, Beth Wolff, and Hallie Vanderhider (who also served as the lead benefactor of the event). Shelly and Brian Hendry, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Limor and Stuart Smith, Margaret Alkek Williams, and Randa and Charles Williams served as the honorary co-chairs, while Anika Jackson and Catherine Clarke Murphy served as the NextGen Chairs.



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.