Every year the Dallas Symphony Orchestra hosts the first official gala of the fall, as a way to get its patrons excited about the season to come. But the 2016 soiree had special significance, because conductor Jaap van Zweden announced earlier this year that he is leaving the DSO for a post at the New York Philharmonic.
The importance of this was not lost on gala chairs Marena and Roger Gault and honorary chair Sherwood Wagner, who welcomed well-heeled DSO patrons to the Meyerson Symphony Center on September 16 for an evening of unforgettable music and good times.
Attendees — including Kara and Randall Goss, Rhonda and Fraser Marcus, Barbara and Don Daseke, Lisa and Clay Cooley, Ross Perot, Lynn McBee, Nancy Nasher, and David Haemisegger — posed for pictures, greeted friends, and sipped on glasses of bubbly while waiting for the dinner bell to sound. After dining on a delicious meal by Culinaire International, music lovers filed into the performance hall for the official program.
It began with a public ceremony to honor Sanford I. Weill for his incredible contributions to arts and education in the United States. Weill, who was in from New York City, is chairman emeritus of Citigroup and CEO of Casa Rosa Ventures. He served as the chairman of Carnegie Hall for 24 years before retiring.
Humbly accepting a standing ovation, Weill stressed the importance of keeping arts education in public schools, with the help of the private sector. He also commented that the evening’s star performer, Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, is to classical musical what Jordan Spieth is to golf.
The headliner was the most involved musical guest in recent memory, performing with the DSO from start to finish, including selections from both Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. He even played multiple piano solos that left guests in awe of his musical endurance and remarkable talent.
Once the final applause died down, it was back to the Meyerson lobby for the after-party, hosted by chair Nicholas Boulle and honorary chair Anna-Sophia van Zweden, as well as a committee of young professionals, including Shelby and Travis Goff, Amy and Wade Havins, Kristin and Jack Sheneman, Julian Leaver, and Javier Burkle and Mason McCleskey.
Sumptuous dessert buffets, including a special display from the Original Cupcakery, awaited, but a decidedly wilder time could be found around the side.
Fueled by margarita shooters and guacamole with fresh-made chips, after-partiers packed the dance floor, manned by DJ Steffi Burns. Respite could be found outside in the Meyerson’s courtyard, where party lights twinkled prettily in the trees.
To soothe attendees’ soles after a long night in heels, the Ritz-Carlton Spa was doling out foot massages and slipping pedicured toes into complimentary Swarovski crystal-accented Lady Lanell’s platform sandals. That helped keep the crowd going well past midnight.
Proceeds from this year’s gala provide support to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s education and community programs. These initiatives reach 270,000 North Texas residents annually, 30,000 of whom are children.