Society / Featured Parties

Houston Symphony Wine Dinner Brings the Black-Tie Crowd Back Together Again in a $601,000 Night

This 20th Anniversary is Extra Special

BY // 04.27.21
photography Wilson Parrish

For many in the black-tie attired throng that filled The Astorian, the Houston Symphony Wine Dinner & Collector’s Auction was their first real outing since COVID-19 shut down frothy galas some 13 months ago. Thus, as the Joie de Vivre theme of the evening suggested, the dinner tableau pulsated with a certain elation. Friends who had not seen one another in well over a year celebrated with near-giddy reunions.

And, yes, cautionary measures were taken. Temperatures were checked on entry. Masks were encouraged. Elbow bumps prevailed among the capacity-controlled gathering of some 215.

This 20th anniversary of the eat-drink-and-be-merry soirée was chaired by Ann and Jonathan Ayre, who took bows for the remarkable $601,000 success (considerably more than pre-pandemic 2020 dinner) as well as for the trés glamorous decor. In answering the couple’s request for something grand, the Taylor DeMartino Design Group employed soaring candles, oodles of roses and orchids, and bushels of gilded foliage to create a magical setting in the third floor ballroom of the old Cook Paint and Varnish Company building.

Beaming in the spotlight were honorees Vicki West and Ralph Burch, both longtime champions of the Houston Symphony. The generous duo was among those who contributed heavily to the wine auction which in the hands of Collector’s Auction chair Bob Weiner boasted the most wine contributions in the history of the event.

The focus of the evening, of course, was the impressive five-course dinner presented by Jackson & Company and the accompanying wines selected by symphony board of trustees president John Rydman and wife Lindy and their daughter, Lisa Rydman, all of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods. Imagine the tabletops set not only with candles and flowers but also with a multitude of wine glasses plus five knives, five forks and water glasses at each place setting.

PC Seen: Houston Symphony executive director and CEO John Mangum, symphony board chair Steve Mach and Joella Mach, Eric Lindsay, Janet Clark, Fran Fawcett Peterson, Betty and Jess Tutor, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Bobbie Nau, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Mary Lynn and Steve Marks, Phoebe and Bobbie Tudor, Beth Wolff, Cheryl Byington, and Susan and Ed Osterberg.

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