Opening Night Windfall

Houston Symphony scores record everything on best opening night ever, applause, applause

Houston Symphony scores record everything on best opening night ever

News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, David Wuthrich, Margaret Williams, Vicki West, Janet Clark
David Wuthrich, Margaret Alkek Williams, Vicki West, Janet F. Clark. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, The Corinthian
The Corinthian packed with more than 660 black-tie attired guests. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Reggie and Leigh Smith, Gretchen & Andrew McFarland
Reggie Smith, Leigh Smith, Gretchen McFarland, Andrew McFarland. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Kelli Cohen Fein, Joshua Bell
Andres Orozco-Estrada, Kelli Cohen Fein, Joshua Bell. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia
Gina Bhatia, Dr. Devinder Bhatia. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Margarita Graf, Hans Graf
Margarita Graf, Hans Graf. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015
Paul Somerville, Cappy Bisso, David Wuthrich. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015. Alie Pruner, Dave Pruner
Alile Pruner, Dave Pruner. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Christina & Mark Hanson
Christina Hanson, Mark Hanson. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, John & Ting Bresnahan, Peter Brown, Divya & Chris Brown
John Bresnehan, John Bresnehan, Peter Brown, Divya Brown, Chris Brown. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Betty & Jesse Tutor
Betty Tutor, Jesse Tutor. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Andrew Kaldis, Catherine Kaldis
Andrew Kaldis, Catherine Kaldis. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Cora Sue & Harry Mach
Cora Sue Mach, Harry Mach. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, David Eenechud, Vivian Denechaud
David Denechaud, Vivian Denechaud. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Billy McCartney, Christie McCartney
Billy McCartney, Christie McCartney. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, David Wuthrich, Margaret Williams, Vicki West, Janet Clark
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, The Corinthian
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Reggie and Leigh Smith, Gretchen & Andrew McFarland
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Kelli Cohen Fein, Joshua Bell
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Margarita Graf, Hans Graf
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015. Alie Pruner, Dave Pruner
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Christina & Mark Hanson
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, John & Ting Bresnahan, Peter Brown, Divya & Chris Brown
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Betty & Jesse Tutor
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Andrew Kaldis, Catherine Kaldis
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Cora Sue & Harry Mach
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, David Eenechud, Vivian Denechaud
News, Shelby, Houston Symphony Opening Night, Sept. 2015, Billy McCartney, Christie McCartney

"Black-tie energy" can often seem an oxymoron. But Saturday night's Houston Symphony season opener and black-tie dinner obliterated any notion of sleepy formal evenings. The party popped from the moment that Andrés Orozco-Estrada took the podium in Jones Hall and continued with an out-of-the-gate fervor throughout the late-night dinner at The Corinthian.

Surely, the stirring musical program contributed as did the soaring talents of guest artist violinist Joshua Bell. The swell mix of guests, well beyond the coterie of the symphony's most ardent supporters, ignited a further spark. And then there was the honoree — the much-beloved philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams, her 80th birthday celebration continuing and inspiring a record evening.

The Corinthian overflowed with the largest attendance ever for the opening night dinner — more than 660 guests. They helped raise another record — more than $800,000, that super figure due in part to generous gifts from Kristina and Paul Somerville and Joella and Steve Mach, Houston Symphony Society president.

The symphony had its own gift for the birthday girl — the full orchestra performing "Happy Birthday" while the Jones Hall entourage joined the chorus. It was her hour again at The Corinthian, where she was honored with a champagne toast, the entire room raising their glasses in salute.

Applause, applause for chair Janet F. Clark, recently retired CFO of Marathon Oil and chair of the symphony board's strategic planning, for honorary chair Vicki West and for David Wuthrich, gala underwriting chair.

Icing on the cake of the glorious evening was provided by Bergner and Johnson which decorated the striking hall in shades of purple, green and fuschia; the multi-course dinner which concluded with a divine Sacher torte (in Margaret's honor and worth every calorie) from Jackson and Co.; and dance tunes from the Richard Brown Orchestra. 

There were so many notables in the crowd that it's difficult to name a few but here we go: Linda and Gene Dewhurst, Betty and Jesse Tutor, Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Sydney and Don Faust, Linda Chin and Dr. Ron DePinho, Ralph Burch, Nancy and Bob Peiser, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Amy and Jim Lee, Beth Madison and Catherine and Andrew Kaldis.

Special guests on this evening were Magarita and Hans Graf, the symphony's longest tenured music director, back in Houston for a week of what he described as "fun and friends."