When guests gracefully strolled onto the Wortham Center Brown Theater stage Saturday night, looking out into the vast world of red seats evoked the same sense of magic the musicians of Mercury Baroque experience every time they prepare to dazzle audiences with their impassioned performances. Forget any notion of jejune melodies that bore. Baroque music at the baton of artistic director Antoine Plante is elegantly raucous. Rumors say it's his chestnut curls that hold his creative powers.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the beloved and internationally recognized ensemble welcomed supporters to "Mercury Rising – ¡Fandango!" on a stage transformed into a whimsical and flamboyant Spanish fiesta with floating red abanicos under a canopy of lights resembling a starry night, courtesy of decorations chair Katrina Arnim. While speakers addressed the fashionable crowd, images of the people behind Mercury Baroque's success flashed across a large screen.
The evening was chaired by Viviana and David Denechaud and new to Houston, Joelle and Geoffroy Petit, and honored YES Prep Public Schools. As master of ceremonies Len Cannon noted, YES Prep does not hope their students stay in school, it expects them to. Accepting the school's first ever award was founder and CEO Chris Barbic.
As soprano Ana Trevino-Godfrey reminisced about a fateful chat over pizza that plotted Mercury Baroque's trajectory, the string orchestra rose from the pit, surrounded by flickering candles, performing Bach's Air followed by Francesco Geminiani La Folia and Boccherini's Fandango. On a period instrument built for him, concertmaster Jonathan Godfrey played with fantastical virtuosity and spontaneous off-the-cuff artistry.
One couldn't help but feel the splendors of baroque Spain.
Joining the fête were Lynn and Oscar Wyatt, Wade Wilson, Sonja Bruzauskas, Katherine and Mark Yzaguirre, Deana and Larry Blackburn, Janine Iannarelli, Lili and Hans Kirchner and Debra and Mark Gregg.
The gala raised $120,000 net for the non-profit's $1 million budget. Guests danced the night away accompanied by classic tunes by the Richard Brown Orchestra and enjoyed a themed dinner by Aramark.