Houston Symphony’s 20th Anniversary Wine Dinner And Collector’s Auction

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Wilson Parish

THE SETTING: The 20th Anniversary Symphony Wine Dinner and Collectors Auction, Joie de Vivre: A Celebration of Wine and Music, was held at Houston’s chic and contemporary Astorian, which was completely transformed in blush hues of pink and gold for the lively springtime event. More than 215 guests attended the limited capacity, socially distanced occasion. Upon arriving at the venue, guests’ temperatures were checked to comply with the event’s safety protocols. Attendees then entered the venue, viewed the evening’s silent auction items spread across the room, and enjoyed the champagne reception with Roederer Philippe Starck Brut Nature 2009.

THE STYLE: The décor, created by Taylor DeMartino Design Group, transformed the venue into this year’s blushing theme. As the dinner chimes rang, guests made their way to the tables that displayed delicate floral arrangements consisting of subtle blush pink and champagne-colored roses. The gourmet, multi-course meal prepared by Jackson and Company was paired with wines introduced by Steven McDonald, Master Sommelier of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Selections included Gerbais Extra Brut Grains de Celles Rosé, R de Rieussec Bordeaux Blanc 2017, and Henri Villamont Chassagne Montrachet 1ER Morgeot 2016 for the second course, followed by Jerome Castagnier Chambolle Musigny 2017/Pierre Labet, VV Gevrey Chambertin 2018, and Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 2013.

THE PURPOSE: The Joie de Vivre evening raised over $550,00 for The Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement programs. The evening was chaired by Ann and Jonathan Ayre, with honorary chairs Vicki West and Ralph Burch. This year’s auction included rare wines and spirits, luxury experiences, and many other coveted items, including trips to vineyards in California’s wine country, was thanks to Wine Auction Chair Bob Weiner. And the thoughtfully selected wines paired with the dinner was thanks to John and Lindy Rydman and Lisa Rydman of Spec’s Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods.



Houston Museum Of Natural Science Celebrates With Gala

By Jennifer Roosth   Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Mike Rathke

THE SETTING: Wide open spaces of the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Morian Hall of Paleontology and the second-floor Paleontology Overlook provided the perfect socially-distanced pandemic protocol setting for the museum’s annual fundraising event. The theme of the evening, Tour the World, offered guests an extraordinary variety of exhibits. The Hall of Ancient Egypt, stunning Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, George W. Strake Hall of Malacology, and the Frensley/Graham Hall of African Wildlife, to name a few, delighted guests as they were able to explore the museum throughout the evening’s event.


THE STYLE: Houston Museum of Natural Science’s gala was a smashing success. Guests celebrated the organization on a beautiful evening, exploring the vast exhibitions and bidding on one-of-a-kind treasures in the evening’s silent auction. The auction boasted magnificent fossils, rare gems and jewelry, and unique HMNS experiences. The most popular items ranged from a 6-feet long Komodo Dragon skeleton, one of the heaviest and deadliest lizards on Earth, to an exceedingly rare 2.34-carat red emerald ring to a Murder Mystery dinner party in the HMNS Death By Natural Causes exhibit. The auction also showcased five vintage automobiles, including a pristinely restored 1966 Shelby GT350 and a sleek 1973 De Tomaso Pantera.


City Kitchen provided the night’s delicious fare, and The Events Company adorned the museum spaces and presented brightly-colored floral arrangements on the tables for a beautiful, inspired look. Complementing the after-dinner musical entertainment provided by Hybrid 7 were late-night treats–brandy freezes and sweets. Macaron party favors were passed out on floating balloon trays as guests left for the night.


THE PURPOSE: Chairman Bobbie Nau greeted nearly 250 guests and broke all prior HMNS records, bringing in over $2 million in proceeds. The museum took thoughtful measures to ensure the evening’s success. These included the option to valet or self-park; contactless check-in and temperature reads; asking all guests to wear masks; providing additional on-theme masks as party favors; and ensuring that hand sanitizer was readily available throughout the museum with individual hand sanitizers also given to each guest.



Houston Symphony Gala Celebrates Season


By Jennifer Roosth  Photography by Wilson Parish

THE SETTING: The 2021 Houston Symphony Royal Phoenix Ball was hosted at the celebrated Post Oak Hotel Uptown Houston. With pandemic protocols in place, the event immersed guests both in-person and virtually into its theme of the Royal Phoenix. Upon entering the venue, guests’ temperatures were taken to comply with the event’s health and safety protocols. Once cleared, attendees were greeted by the living phoenixes, visited the Dragon Fly Bar, and sipped on the event’s signature cocktail, The Singapore Sling. More than 114 in-person guests attended the limited capacity, socially distanced occasion and over 70 households (over 140 attendees) supported the event virtually.


THE STYLE: The décor, created by Richard Flowers of The Events Company, transformed the main ballroom at The Post Oak Hotel to this season’s ravishing theme. As the dinner chimes rang, masked guests made their way to their tables covered with magnificent floral arrangements. Phoenix murals, inspired by the theme, hung on the walls and were draped with red curtains. Executive Executive Chef Jean-Luc Royere prepared an exquisite dinner including a light and delicate heirloom tomato salad with marinated feta, pickled onions, watercress, micro basil, and balsamic vinaigrette, accompanied by a savory combination of filet mignon and roasted red snapper with corn and smoked bacon polenta, roasted sweet peppers, asparagus. It was finished with a flaming piquillo pepper sauce, and the Flaming Phoenix dessert, an almond tart topped with strawberry ganache, strawberry jam, and gold leaf.


THE PURPOSE: The event was chaired by Rini and Edward Zeigler and honored Robin Angly, Miles Smith and John Neighbors. It raised more than $800,000 for the Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement Programming. Phillips 66 served as the presenting sponsor for the seventh year in a row to support the artistic organization.




Houston Ballet Hosts Virtual Home Edition Ball

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography  by Michelle Watson and Wilson Parish

THE SETTING: The 2021 Houston Ballet Ball’s Home Edition: Having a Ball event was held as a virtual soirée for the nearly 250 guests to “have a ball” at home. Prior to the organization’s virtual program, each guest received dinner, drinks, and a holographic, retro-inspired gift bag, which included disco ball cups, a tie-dye kit, sequin face masks, and more to get them in the themed spirit of things.  

THE STYLE: The program kicked off with a Saturday Night Fever-inspired mashup by Houston Ballet Company Dancers outside the Wortham Theater Center. The Events Company brought the retro theme to life for the top underwriters, some of whom hosted “Ballet Ball Watch Parties,” featuring disco balls and neon color table decorations. During the program, guests enjoyed an exclusive viewing of In Good Company’s premiere, an original work by Stanton Welch filmed during the pandemic. The disco fever carried until the closing with a special surprise appearance featuring the organization’s Executive Director Jim Nelson and Artistic Director Stanton Welch.


THE PURPOSE: Throughout Houston Ballet’s 2020-21 Season, the organization completed a $5 million campaign to help offset lost revenue due to the pandemic. Proceeds from this year’s Ballet Ball were directed towards supporting the ongoing crisis relief efforts and raised nearly $850,000 to support the Ballet’s dancers, staff, musicians, and academy faculty.



Buffalo Bayou Partnership Picnic Celebrates Five Years Of Buffalo Bayou Park


By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Jenny Antill

THE SETTING: Over 200 Houstonians (135 in-person and 85 virtually at home) joined together for a magical evening to celebrate Buffalo Bayou Park’s fifth anniversary. The Park, is an essential public space in Houston during good times…and even more so when times are challenging. Guests experienced a socially distanced, intimate, and elegant picnic al fresco with garden lights beaming under the stars. Jazzy sounds by José-Miguel Yamal Phase One filled the air as guests opened their picnic baskets packed with a delicious meal by A Fare Extraordinaire.


THE STYLE: Bergner & Johnson provided the magical outdoor setting complete with colorful wildflower centerpieces. Jo’s Mini Mobile Bar was on hand as a whimsical setting for the event’s signature cocktail; a blood orange margarita dubbed Buffalo Rita. Guests were also treated to a performance by ROCO to showcase the orchestra’s musical scavenger hunt currently installed throughout Buffalo Bayou Park through the end of the year. Anthony DiLorenzo’s unique piece, Anthem of Hope: Houston Strong, originally written for the heroes of Hurricane Harvey, was recently re-commissioned to celebrate our frontline COVID workers.

THE PURPOSE: The live event took place at the Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park. Winifred and Carleton Riser, and Leslie and Shannon Sasser chaired the event. Thanks to the picnic co-chairs and generous donors, the evening raised close to $350,000 for Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s (BBP) support and operating expenses, allowing the non-profit organization to continue revitalizing, maintaining, and activating Buffalo Bayou. Nancy and Rich Kinder, not in attendance, were also recognized for their generous contributions towards BBP and the enhancement of Buffalo Bayou. During the opening remarks, Mayor Sylvester Turner praised BBP and awarded Anne Olson a proclamation of Anne Olson Day. The proclamation celebrated Olson’s 25th anniversary as BBP president and recognized her visionary leadership of Buffalo Bayou Partnership and commitment to making Houston a greener and greater city.



Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association’s Charitable Foundation Gala

By Jennifer Roosth      Photography by Catchlight Group

THE SETTING: The latest Red Hot gala was not only a bright spot in the midst of a tough year, but also was a flaming success.  With social distancing and after initial temperature checks by the Houston Firefighter Cadets, over 200 guests donned masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer to attend a seamlessly magical event produced by Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Bonar. The Houston Fire Fighters Pipes and Drums, along with the Honor Guard, opened the evening and brought the audience to their feet as Houston Firefighter Joe Rice sang the national anthem acapella. Additionally, no firefighter event would be complete without Houston’s own firefighter calendar models walking the runway.

THE STYLE: The evening was a moment to gather together, celebrate, and comfort one another. Although this year’s event was less than 50% capacity of previous years, the community not only stepped out but also stepped up. “Our goal was to include every possible protective element we could and more,” noted co-chair Elizabeth Stein. Over 200 guests helped raise $410,000 for new equipment and training through the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Charitable Foundation.

THE PURPOSE: The Local 341 President Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton, event chairs Elizabeth and Alan Stein, and the Charitable Foundation’s decision to remain a live event took a great deal of consideration and additional planning. This year’s honorary co-chairs, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, shared their family’s personal experiences with firefighters in a heartwarming video. The evening also honored community advocate Hallie Vanderhider and corporate advocates Renee and Alan Helfman, Five stellar community supporters were honored on plaques at fire stations across Houston: Janet and Tom Behanick, Benjamin Berg, Troy Blakeney, Joanna and Brad Marks, and Bobbie Nau.