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An 11-year-old maestro at Houston Grand Opera, a hole-in-one makes history & brides take to the runway

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Eleven-year-old Will Morgan had the honor of conducting the National Anthem at Wortham Theater Center. Photo by Felix Sanchez
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Cindy Taylor of Oil States is a winner at the Small Steps Energy Classic. Photo by Masami Mizukami
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Melissa Mithoff, left, and Elizabeth Petersen welcomed guest to the Fendi luncheon. Courtesy of Family Services of Greater Houston
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Yasmine Haddad, left, and Miriam Habib Photo by Oliver Puzon
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Linda Horton, from left, John Mecom, Dot and Walt Cunningham at the NFL Alumni golf event. Photo by Carleton Cole
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Dan Pastorini and Marti Boone at the NFL Alumni golf tourney. Photo by Carleton Cole
Fendi in The Galleria dressed up for this luncheon. Courtesy of Family Services of Greater Houston
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News_Giving Away Door Prizes_Cindy Taylor_of Oil States Wins
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News_Shelby_Linda Horton_John Mecom_Dot Cunningham_Walt Cunningham_NFL Golf_Oct. 2011
News_Shelby_Marti Boone_Dan Pastorini_NFL Golf_Oct. 2011
News_Shelby Hodge_head shot_Dec. 2009

Who was that 11-year-old conducting the Houston Grand Opera orchestra and receiving enthused applause on opening night?

Each year, HGO launches its season with a performance of the "Star Bangled Banner," conducted by a special guest who was the high bidder on this rare opportunity at the previous year's opening night gala. As the opera orchestra tuned up at the Friday night opener, that was young Will Morgan, son of Chrissi and Mike Morgan, taking up the baton.

Will's grandmother, Sara Morgan, had been the high bidder last October on the offering and gifted Will with the golden opportunity to conduct in the spotlight before a full house at Wortham Theater Center. Both Sara and Bill Morgan (grandpa), Will's parents and his sister, Emma, were in the audience to applaud the young man.

Small Steps gets a big win

Who would have imagined that a single charity golf tournament could accommodate 460 golfers? That was the record bonanza for the annual Small Steps Energy Classic that took over both 18-hole courses at Champions Golf Club and the 27 holes at nearby Northgate Country Club and had a wait list. The participants are still beaming over the fact that the tournament raised $800,000 before expenses with proceeds going to Small Steps Nuturing Center, the inner-city early childhood program. 

And no one was more elated than Brian Stoker, who made the tournament's only hole-in-one on the fourth hole of Champions’ Jackrabbit Course. That would be the first hole-in-one in the tournament's 16-year history. 

Headliners among the energy execs teeing up were BreitBurn's Thurmon Andress, W&T Offshore's Tracy Krohn, Plains All American's Greg Armstrong, Energy XXI's John Schiller, Tudor Pickering Holt's Maynard Holt, EnCap Investments Marty Phillips and Wynne Snoots and Lockton's John Rathmell Jr.

Shopping with flair

That would be supporters of Una Notte in Italia, the upcoming benefit bash for Family Services of Greater Houston, who gathered for their annual luncheon fete at Fendi in The Galleria. Melissa Mithoff and Elizabeth Petersen, chairs of the Festari men's celebrity fashion evening, along with honorary chair Debbie Festari, hosted underwriters for the midday repast.

After perusing the yummy fall shoes, handbags and enticing furs (10 percent of the sales of which went to the charity), the flock of stylish swans settled in at the luncheon table where Jackson & Co. proved its culinary mettle once again. The lunching ladies included Rosmarie Johnson, Katherine Phelps, Kara Howes, Courtney Hopson, Becca Cason Thrash, Susan Plank and Diane Caplan, marketing director of Momentum Jaguar, a major sponsor of the benefit.

Petal pushers

Sue Habib and her daughter, Miriam Habib, celebrated Lexis Florist's 25th anniversary Thursday night with a "Brides of the Century" bash at the Omni Hotel Riverway where more than 300 Lexis friends and clients and interested brides-to-be gathered. For their entertainment, the Habib duo presented a runway show of dresses from Casa de Novia Bridal and Cheeky Vintage, organized by Kimberly A. Powell of The Fashion Forecast.

Among the Who's Who crowd were Bellaire City Councilman Corbett Parker, Jared Lang, Roula Christie, Rita Sahyoun, Don Sweat, Aries Milan and Rob Thomas and Yasmine Haddad.

Star power

We've applauded popular actress Lois Chiles for many years, but last week the native Houstonian, now living in New York, received a special honor thanks to her generous husband, financier Richard Gilder. Following his $1 million gift for the arts and theater program at Northfield Mount Hermon secondary school, the school's new 225-seat theater was named in Lois' honor. The official dedication took place on Thursday.

Richard attended the coed boarding and day school, bordering the Connecticut River in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, and made the generous gift in honor his wife and in appreciation for the education he received there. Richard is senior partner of the New York-based brokerage firm Gilder, Gagnon, Howe & Co.

In June, Lois told the Wall Street Journal, "I was touched by it, I really was . . .  I know how much Dick loves the school and he wanted to do something for them." 

NFL veterans on the links

Charity golf tournaments are popping up all over including at Sugar Creek Country Club where the NFL Alumni hosted a benefit outing for Be an Angel. More than 60 former National Football League players joined the tournament chaired by former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini and sponsored by Insperity. 

Helping raise $200,000 for the non-profit were former Houston Oilers Giff Nielsen, Zeke Moore, Gregg Bingham, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and former coach Bum Phillips. John Mecom, former owner of the New Orleans Saints, joined the golfing fray as did former astronaut Walt Cunningham and wife Dot, plus former Green Bay Packer Lynn Dickey.

Sight 'ems

Martha Adger, Minnie Baird and Karen Henry partying at RDG + Bar Annie, where across the room Patrice Ferguson and John Camp entertained Sheridan and John Eddie Williams over dinner . . .

Dancie and Jim Ware, Katie and Harry Cullen and Cindy and Jim Earthman dining in the bar at Tony's following the Gucci opening in The Galleria . . .

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