Both upstairs and downstairs — in the Grand Foyer and in the Brown Theater — music filled Wortham Theater Center during the University of Houston Moores School of Music Society annual concert and gala.
Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald started the party on a high note with a contemporary American repertoire in the theater, her talent earning cheers and a standing ovation. She closed her hour-long presentation with "Ten Thousand Four Hundred Thirty-two Sheep," her pianist/music director Andy Einhorn joined by the University of Houston Jazz Orchestra for the finale.
McDonald's performance was part of the Moores School Madison Artist Series, sponsored by UH grad and UH System regent Beth Madison.
The Gallic ambience of "An American in Paris" evening was bolstered by the French flag and the towering and sparkling Eiffel Tower (20 feet tall).
With that, gala chairs Kelli Cohen Fein, on the arm of Marty Fein, and Nancy Strohmer, escorted by Hans Strohmer, led the black-tie contingent of 200 to the Grand Foyer for a French flavored dinner and a musical program presented by Moores School students.
The Gallic ambience of "An American in Paris" evening was bolstered by the French flag and the towering and sparkling Eiffel Tower (20 feet tall) that rose from the stage. Amid the glam glitter, la belle soirée raised $245,000.
Taking bows as honoree recipient of the 2015 John Moores Award was David Ashley White, Moores School director, 1999-2014.
In keeping with UH loyalty, Moores pianist Henry Darragh performed on a Steinway, the underside of the lid painted UH red. Steinway has a special relationship with the Moores School, which eventually will have only Steinways in its collection of 175 pianos. Representing the piano company on this night were Steinway America president Ron Losby and director of institutional relations Sally Coveleskie, both in from New York, and Danny Saliba and Bryan Elmore of Steinway Houston-Dallas.
Among those applauding the spectacular evening were honorary chair Margaret Alkek Williams, Moores School director Andrew Davis, emcee Ernie Manouse, Moores Society president Beverly Kaufman, auction chair Phyllis Williams and host committee chairs Cora Sue and Harry Mach.