Every wonderful wedding begins with an engagement story and that of Erica Gibson, a cancer researcher, and Evan Turner, who works in sales, is one filled with magical musical memories. And it's all thanks to Ars Lyrica and the romantic New Year's Eve "Felice Fiesta!" concert and gala.
The wheels were put in motion in early December when Evan decided that not only did he want to share New Year's Eve with Erica but he also hoped to turn the evening into something extra special. He wanted to ask for her hand in marriage in a surprise moment.
"I chose the New Year's event because I felt that it would be the perfect setting," Evan emailed. "Ars Lyrica is an amazingly talented ensemble. I had read about their previous New Year's event and how great the performance was. I also heard that the gala event afterwards was a site to behold."
As they moved to the jewelry table, Evan pointed out an empty ring box with a card that read "Erica, Can I lock in your love?"
With the approval of the Ars Lyrica board and working with Jacqueline Gonzalez, marketing and administrative director, the entire Ars Lyrica team joined in the fun. Evan dropped by for the late-December rehearsal where he met the musicians, took in the lay of the land and then developed a plan. Artistic director Matthew Dirst was among those to congratulate the soon-to-be-groom.
The evening began with dinner and cocktails in the Hobby Center foyer, followed by the concert of Spanish and Latin American baroque classics in Zilkha Hall with three opera singers. A champagne and dessert reception came next, closing in on midnight. It was during the late-night dessert fest that Evan invited Erica to check out the silent auction. As they moved to the jewelry table, Evan pointed out an empty ring box with a card that read "Erica, Can I lock in your love?"
The Ars Lyrica team arranged it all including pink roses — Erica's favorite flower — on their table and a photographer to capture the moment.
Evan dropped to his knee and made the official proposal to Erica's complete surprise. Of course, through tears and smiles, she said, "Yes."
"Everything from the decor down to the quality of the food was outstanding," he noted. "I also loved the fact that it was a formal event and the location coupled with the view of the city made for an awesome setting."
The duo plans on reliving that magic moment by attending Ars Lyrica's Valentine's Day concert, "Love Letters," also in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center. The program includes romantic duets from Claudio Monteverdi and cantatas by Vivaldi and Scarlatti. Rising opera stars countertenor John Holiday and mezzo-soprano Ellie Jarrett Shattles will join the orchestra for the evening.
As Ars Lyrica promotional material on the Feb. 14 concert states, "Italians make everything sound romantic, especially in music! A swoon advisory is thus in effect . . . "