Oh, to have been among the 136 lucky souls who were first in line to sign on for Yo-Yo Ma's concert at the Menil Collection and the intimate dinner with the famed cellist that followed. Tuesday night's musical soirée was the first in several extraordinary events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the museum founded by Dominique de Menil. And it was a sellout.
Performing before the black-tie crowd, Ma selected Appalachia Waltz by Mark O'Connor, Sonata for Solo Cello by George Crumb and Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 5 by J.S. Bach.
The artist dedicated the evening to the memory of Henriette de Vitry, Dominique de Menil's niece. Vitry, a patron of the arts with a focus on musicians in her native France, was a close friend of Ma. (At his encouragement, she took up study of the cello at the age of 53.)
The artist dedicated the evening to the memory of Henriette de Vitry, Dominique de Menil's niece.
Dominique de Menil's daughter Adelaide de Menil Carpenter, in from New York for the festivities, recalled to friends that she had met Ma when he was only 7 years old (he began performing at age 5) "never knowing he would become a superstar." She continued, "He is not only an amazing maker of music but also an amazing man."
Indeed, anyone who has had dinner with Ma will confirm that the world-renowned musician is a grand dinner partner. Following the concert, he joined museum director Josef Helfenstein at a key table where guests included Louisa Stude Sarofim, Mike Stude, Beth and Jeff Early, Nancy Brown Negley, Richard Dunn, Dorothee Helfenstein and de Menil Carpenter.
The dinner was held in the art-filled main foyer of the Menil Collection where Jackson and Co. proved its mettle with a divine menu that included curried shrimp with long-grain rice, veal tenderloin medallions in lemon-artichoke sauce and a dessert of grapefruit-basil mousse.
In his remarks to guests Helfenstein welcomed old friends and new to the Menil fold and singled out Northern Trust Bank, Lisa and Jerry Simon and the Earlys for their support.