L’ITALIANO STILE

L’ITALIANO STILE

Una Notte Italia Gala For Chidren At Risk

By Jennifer Roosth                    Photography by  Quy Tran

THE SETTING: Over 500 guests gathered at the Royal Sonesta Hotel to celebrate one of the most anticipated annual events of the fall social season, Una Notte in Italia, benefitting Children at Risk. Italian and Continental style was prevalent as guests entered the venue. They viewed magnificent vehicles from car sponsor Rolls Royce Motor Cars North Houston, and enjoyed a premiere tasting provided by the popular Veneno Tequila. With pandemic protocol in place ,a silent auction and libations entertained guests before they made their way into the ballroom to enjoy all things Italian. There were fine wines, delicious food, and of course, the highlight of the evening…the philanthropic men and athletes who walked the runway for the cause.

THE STYLE: Fabulous fall fashions from Rudy Festari of Festari for Men adorned each gentleman as they danced to their favorite song. Popular Emcee Johnny Bravo and Honorary Chair Debbie Festari spoke to the accolades of each gentleman as they walked the catwalk. Some of the participants included Olympic great Carl Lewis, dynamo stars Zarek Valentin and Tim Parker, Sabercats Rugby player Ken Nasoqeqe, Houston Texans Jonathan Owen, businessmen Chad Pinkerton, and Moez Mangalji, and Dr. Matthew Brams, Stephen Chen, Bob Sanborn, Pablo Delgado, Adrian Duenas, Jonathan Zadok, Clayton Katz, Hugo Guerrero, Mark Theissen, and Al Lindseth, to name a few.  As usual, there were plenty of model face signs, and glitter and flowers were tossed as the crowd cheered for their favorite model. The evening was capped off with the most successful live auction in the event’s history.

THE PURPOSE: Co-chairs Melissa Holman Juneau and Jennifer Pinkerton, with Honorary Chair Debbie Festari, set a record for the gala raising over $438,000.00 on behalf of Children at Risk. The Una Notte in Italia “celebrity” men’s fashion show is always one of the most eagerly awaited galas, and this year was no different when it sold out eight weeks before invitations went to print. The organization helps to free children from the dangers of sex trafficking and exploitation.

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RHAPSODIC REVELRY

RHAPSODIC REVELRY

Houston Symphony Gala Creates Fundraising Overtures

 

By Jennifer Roosth               Photography by Wilson Parrish and Priscilla Dickson

THE SETTING: Cascading white florals filled the ballroom, as 350 music supporters attended the 2022 Houston Symphony Ball, themed The Symphony World in Harmony at the plush Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston. With pandemic protocol in place, the celebratory night was an event to remember as it highlighted the organization’s glittering achievements, accolades, and ingenuity through the years. The evening honored Margaret Alkek Williams with the Lifetime of Philanthropy Award, Janet F. Clark with the Ima Hogg Philanthropy Award, and John Mangum with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership.

 

THE STYLE: The evening featured a gourmet multi-course dinner by the hotel’s Executive Chef Jean Luc Royere, with wine pairings selected by Lindy and John Rydman of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods. Beyond the robust silent auction throughout the evening, guests enjoyed live music from the Dave Bennet Quartet. In a twist of musical genres, the event culminated with an acoustic performance by legendary rocker Sammy Hagar, accompanied by his longtime guitarist, Vic Johnson.

 

THE PURPOSE: Cheryl Byington, Bill Stubbs, and Beth Wolff, the event chairs, were delighted with the results of the annual event that raised over $1,100,000 for the Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement initiatives in schools, hospitals, and other venues throughout the city. These activities include education programs that serve students in 26 area school districts and a Health and Wellness initiative for patients, their families, and caregivers at three Texas Medical Center hospitals.

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SPANISH OVERTURE

SPANISH OVERTURE

Houston Grand Opera Opening Night Concert, Carmen

By Jennifer Roosth   Photography by Wilson Parish and Melissa Taylor

THE SETTING: Recently, the Houston Grand Opera opened its 67th season with a historic return to the stage for live opera, with the opening night production of Bizet’s Carmen. Following the performance, the celebration continued as over 370 guests progressed to a tented Ray C. Fish Plaza to usher in the next era of HGO and welcome new General Director Khori Dastoor.

THE STYLE: A tragedy of obsessive love, Bizet’s Carmen was first staged in 1875 and is today considered the most popular opera in the world. A full house smiled with recognition when the well-known first notes of the prelude rang throughout the Brown Theater. After the concert, as the lights came up, black tie clad opera-goers enjoyed an intimate seated dinner with a close circle of Houston arts supporters and enthusiasts. The décor, created by The Events Company, burst with the same jewel tones of Ashford’s production and was accentuated with touches of black Spanish lace—a nod to Carmen’s femme fatale costumes. Inspired by the production’s Seville setting, City Kitchen Catering presented a colorful three-course feast, including Tarta de Santiago for dessert.

THE PURPOSE: Betty and Jess Tutor chaired the event, which raised $460,000. The opening night performance of Bizet’s Carmen was performed by HGO Studio alumna Carolyn Sproule, conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya, and brought to vibrant life with striking costumes and captivating dance by award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford. This production delivers a thrilling experience to an audience starved of live grand opera for over 20 months.

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DISCO BALL

DISCO BALL

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.

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GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

2020 Houston Ballet Ball Celebrates the 50th Anniversary

By Jennifer Roosth             Photography by Alida Bonifaz, Gary Fountain, Jacalyn Lawton, Wilson Parish, and Dave Rossman

THE SETTING:  For the first time since Hurricane Harvey, The Houston Ballet brought its annual event back to the Wortham Theater Center, its performance home, to celebrate an unforgettable golden 50th anniversary Ballet Ball. More than 400 guests clad in black tie made their way through Fish Plaza, with its shining runway covered in red carpet and lined with spotlights into the Wortham Theater. The room had been transformed into a glamourous golden palace, a nod to the 50th anniversary, by Richard Flowers of The Events Company. Tables covered in a mix of sparkling gold linens and mirrors lit the room. The look was elegantly completed by lush cream floors that paralleled crystal and custom gold chandeliers delicately suspended throughout the room.

THE STYLE:  Upon entering the theater, guests were greeted by Houston Ballet Academy dancers who donned gold costumes from classic Houston Ballet performances. The dinner, prepared by Jackson and Company, began with a golden caviar French macaron, black truffle and potato panna cotta followed by Lobster Bisque hand-poured by the servers–an elegant touch. The main course was a perfectly aged Angus beef tenderloin with haricots verts, rainbow baby carrots, polenta with caramelized shallots, and a gorgonzola tart.

For dessert, guests enjoyed Chocolat a la Margaret, a gold-painted chocolate sphere filled with chocolate mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, and glacé raspberries in honor of the tireless support of longtime patron Margaret Alkek Williams for her dedication, leadership, and commitment to the organization. As dessert was served, company dancers emerged from their seats and surrounding entrances surprising guests with a choreographed piece by Houston Ballet First Soloist, Oliver Halkowich. Guests were captivated by this moment and erupted in applause when Artistic Director Stanton Welch and Executive Director Jim Nelson joined the surprise performance. As the impromptu production came to an end, the dancers rolled out a commemorative nine-foot cake, adorned with 50th anniversary candles, onto the dance floor before the gold confetti grand finale.

THE PURPOSE:  Beth and Nick Zdeblick chaired the event this year, while Phoebe and Bobby Tudor served as honorary chairs. The annual event raised nearly $1.8 million for the Houston Ballet, making it the most successful Ballet Ball in its history, and this over-the-top golden anniversary event will not soon be forgotten.

 

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