Sunday, September 16, 2012

BSO Gala Celebration

A mid-September Saturday night.  Fabulous autumn weather. An evening full of promise -- of music and song and celebration.  This was the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's season-opening 30th anniversary gala. And I was ready! 

Music director Marin Alsop, one of the world's leading conductors and the first woman to head a major American orchestra, started things off with a series of waltzes by Richard Strauss and then welcomed three-time Grammy award winner, soprano Renee Fleming, to the stage to entertain an enthusiastic audience with delightful interpretations from Die Lustige Witwe, Rusalka, Gianni Schicchi, Ombra di Nube and Tosca. Diva Fleming, dressed in gorgeous Douglas Hannant gowns and armloads of tulle, did not disappoint.

With Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamanetz among the patrons eager to ring in a new season of great music, I took my seat amid a festive and well-dressed crowd.  There were ball gowns and dressy suits, flowing skirts and lots of sparkle.  If I harbored any fear that I would be over-dressed for the event, I was soon put at ease.  

For this festive occasion, I chose a combination of vintage and modern pieces.  I was most excited to wear a black velvet burn-out skirt from Bloomingdale's, a marvelous find in a box of hand-me-down clothing sent to me at the beginning of summer by my best friend Kari's mother, Joyce, in Spokane.  I chose a black Express top from The Limited which I purchased on a trip to see Kari in Dallas over New Year's last year and wrapped a sheer vintage long-sleeved, tie-front coverlet over the sequined tank which was, itself, adorned with bugle beads and sequins. I purchased the sheer jacket back in the 1980s at Gantos, a fabulous little formal-wear boutique in Northern California that, sadly, is no longer in business.  Time and time again, this elegant evening-wrap has proved its worth -- remaining one of the most beloved staples in my closet over a span of more than three decades now.

I clasped around my waist a black satin belt with a gold metal buckle embellished with swirls of red enamel which also came from the box of clothes bestowed upon me by Joyce, and finished my look with platform pumps by Call It Spring for JCPenney and my favorite matching necklace, bracelet and earrings of garnet and citrine stones set in gold from Fire & Ice Jewelers (  With my fanciest black lace Dea Dread ( in my hair and a beautiful black satin evening bag (also in the box of clothing from Joyce) at my side, I stepped into the Joseph Meyerhoff symphony hall confident that I was dressed as well as any woman there despite the vintage and second-hand lineage of most of the garments I wore.

The concert was lovely.  But the highlight for me was when dozens of young children came streaming onto the stage with instruments in hand, took their places in front of the professional musicians, and played a rousing rendition of "We Are The Orch!" together with the orchestra, a piece commissioned just for them in commemoration of OrchKids, a music education and life enrichment program for disadvantaged youth in west Baltimore.  The brainchild of Maestra Marin Alsop and fashioned after Venezuela's El Sistema, Orchkids is a year-round after-school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in poor Baltimore City neighborhoods, and is a cornerstone of the orchestra's efforts to bring classical music education and appreciation to Baltimore's underserved youngsters.  With generous donations and in collaboration with several community partners, OrchKids provides music education, instruments, meals and mentorship to these impoverished children at no cost.  Indeed, all the proceeds from Saturday night's ticket sales went toward OrchKids and the BSO's other educational programs.

The children were jubilant.  One row of youngsters armed with drumsticks tapped out the lively beat on bright orange, overturned five-gallon buckets from Home Depot. In the middle of the performance, two of these diminutive drummers got up from their places, took center stage, and proceeded to wow the crowd with their best Michael Jackson moon-walk and robot dance moves.

Chanteuse Fleming rounded out the evening with Rogers and Hammerstein favorites from The King and I, Carousel and South Pacific.  An enchanting evening, it was.  

No comments:

Post a Comment