Shelby's Social Diary
Houston Symphony music director Hans Graf exited his post in grand style Sunday night, ending his tenure as the symphony's longest-serving music director amid a stage full of admiring fans. The annual Maestro's Wine Dinner and Collector's Auction, held under the lights at Jones Hall, served as a generous toast to the man who also is an avid wine connoisseur and serious collector.
More than 300 close friends, symphony supporters and musicians gathered for the successful fundraiser (more than $400,000). While the evening could not help but be nostalgic on the heels of Graf's farewell concerts, there was an electric buzz as guests recalled the countless curtain calls that followed the final notes of the symphony's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 the night before.
The black-tie evening was orchestrated by chairs Mary Lynn and Steve Marks and Judy and Rodney Margolis with Dr. Tom Nichols and Robert Sakowitz serving as wine auction chairmen.
While guests dined on a five-course dinner by Jackson & Co., entertainment was provided Houston Symphony harpist Paula Page and flutist Judy Dines, performing duets by French composers. The dinner courses were presented with exceptional wine pairings, selected by dinner wine chairs Lindy and John Rydman of Spec's Wines, Spirit & Finer Foods.
Toasts to the Graf and his beloved wife, Rita Graf, flowed with Symphony CEO Mark Hanson, concertmaster Frank Huang and gala chair Rodney Margolis praising the couple. Along with his words of praise, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst presented the Grafs with a Texas state flag that had flown over the capitol in Austin earlier in the day.
Well-wishers included Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Danielle and Josh Batchelor, Darlene and Cappy Bisso, Viviana and David Denechaud, Tricia Dewhurst, Linda and Gene Dewhurst, Marie Bosarge, Katie Flaherty, April and Tom Lykos, Barbara and Ulyesse LeGrange, Nancy and Bob Peiser and Betty and Jesse Tutor. They all went home with commemorative Riedel wine glasses bearing the image of Graf.
Special guests were Matthew VanBesien and wife Rosie Jowitt, who had flown in from China. VanBesien, currently CEO of the New York Philharmonic, served as symphony executive director in association with Graf from 2005 to 2010.