For Virtuosi of Houston's 11th anniversary gala, the ballroom of the Hotel InterContinental pulsated with the talents of student musicians, who performed everything from The Nutcracker's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" to big band sounds reminiscent of Duke Ellington to original compositions.
It was applause, applause for the talented musicians who performed under direction of Franz Anton Krager and Andrzej Grabiec, Virtuosi founding artistic directors and University of Houston Moores School of Music professors. Even as guests arrived before the dinner concert, they were greeted by the sounds of a string quintet, the same group that performed for a Houston Symphony patrons party at New York's Carnegie Hall on Sunday.
The positive reception was especially gratifying due to the presence of the evening's honorees — Crown Prince Alexander II and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia. They received the Virtuosi of Houston Achievement Award for their commitment to humanitarian aid and economic development in Serbia. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst presented the couple with the State of Texas flag that had flown over the capitol in their honor.
Pleased with proceeds of $300,000 were gala chairs Catherine Daniel Kaldis, Andrew Kaldis and Zarine and Meherwan Boyce. Joining them in key roles were honorary chairs Tiba Parsa and John Sheptor, Monzer Hourani and Linda and John Barrett. Sheptor's Imperial Sugar and Hourani's MediStar were major underwriters of the evening.
Applauding the student talent were Serbian American Chamber of Commerce president Branko Strbac, the Rev. Dejan Tiosavljevic of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, Margaret Williams and Jim Daniel, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Marianne and Bob Ivany, Mary Ann and David McKeithan, Julia and Russell Frankel, Danielle and John Ellis, Barbara and Ulyesse LeGrange and Mary Kay and Michael Poulos.