Society / Featured Parties

Star Soprano Makes an Unusual Houston Symphony Opener a Dream — Renee Fleming Wows

A $600,000 Black-Tie Night

BY // 09.13.21

It was a most unusual black-tie tableau in Jones Hall Saturday night when guests filling the theater for the Houston Symphony Opening Night Concert were hidden behind masks just as were the musicians on stage and the principal POPS conductor Steven Reineke. The only one not wearing the requisite COVID-19 protection was guest artist soprano Renée Fleming.

And so it goes in the era of the delta variant as the performing arts make a return to the Houston Theater District with pandemic protocols in place. “No hugs,” declared perky octogenarian philanthropist and symphony patron Margaret Williams as close friend David Wuthrich stood guard.

The presence of masks and elbow bumps and the absence of air kisses and hugs failed to impede the enthusiasm of guests or the musical prowess of the full symphony ensemble. In fact, with all 82 musicians on stage and newly added acoustics, the concert was the most robust in recent memory.

The concert and the performance by Fleming, who sang opera arias, classical songs and several Broadway tunes, set an upbeat tempo for the lavish dinner soirée that followed at The Corinthian. Black-tie attired guests loaded onto posh buses for the brief transport to the neo-classical hall where City Kitchen delivered on a dinner worthy of opening night and the talented Richard Brown Orchestra inspired dancing until the midnight hour. Kudos to The Events Company for the inspired florals that set the stage for the grand late-hour festivities.

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The Corinthian was lavishly decorated by The Events Company for the Houston Symphony Opening Night Gala. (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

By all accounts, it was a glorious launch of the season, one that raised $600,000 for the symphony’s education and outreach programs, the evening chaired by long-time symphony supporters Robin Angly and Miles Smith. Applause, applause for ConocoPhillips which served as concert sponsor and lead gala corporate underwriter for the 35th consecutive year. As is becoming tradition with Houston Symphony events, wine pairings were selected by Lindy and John Rydman and Lisa Rydman of Spec’s Wines, Spirits, & Finer Foods.

PC Seen: Houston Symphony executive director/CEO and holder of the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair John Mangum, Janet Clark, Anne and Albert Chao, Lynn Wyatt, Cari and Nick Olds, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Whitney and Jim Crane, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Mady and Ken Kades, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Vicki West and Ralph Burch, plus the 2022 Symphony Ball chairs Cheryl Byington, Bill Stubbs and Beth Wolff; and Dr. Kevin Black and Tony Bradfield of Tenenbaum Jewelers which provided the lavish diamonds that Fleming wore for the concert.

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