It has been a momentous year for the Houston Symphony, as symphony society president Bobby Tudor noted at Friday night's symphony ball. With a stupendous United Kingdom tour of The Planets, a long-term contract signed with musicians and a glorious gala theme, there was reason to celebrate.
From the moment guests entered the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom, a new-found energy was palpable thanks in no small part to a riveting decor that colorfully played off of the "Scheherazade and Her Magical Nights" theme. That exotic party plan was the brainchild of gala chair Sharin Anneysa Gaille.
Colorful swaths of fabric ribboned across the ballroom and sheik's tents provided focal points around the venue. Particularly fetching were the stuffed peacocks that were mounted on cloth-covered columns that defined the dance floor. Kudos to The Events Co.
The theme inspired a bit of ethnic dressing ranging from Nidhika Mehta's beyond-stunning black-and-gold ensemble to Omana Abraham's traditional, gilded sari to Cindi Rose in a sari-inspired outfit. "I think I nailed it," she said of her costuming.
But the most interesting gown of all was that of the ball chair. Gaille wore a stunning gown designed specifically for this evening by Iranian-born designer Nima Taherzadeh. (His designs are carried by Saks and have a future with Tootsies.) The charming designer escorted Gaille to the soirée.
The evening honored Shirley and Jay Marks with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership and recognized Spec's Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, represented by Lindy and John Rydman, with the Maurice Hirsch Corporate Citizenship Award.
Also recognized were Houston Symphony Society chairman, tapped with the Ima Hogg Philanthropy Award. That included everyone from the first chairman, the late Gus S. Wortham, who held the post from 1946 to 1948, through to today's chairman Ed Wulfe, who took up the reins in 2008.
Also holding leading roles in the evening were Houston Symphony League president Nancy Littlejohn, symphony music director Hans Graf and symphony executive director and CEO Mark Hanson.
Headliners in the crowd and Symphony Ball regulars were Tricia and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. His brother and sister-in-law, Gene and Linda Dewhurst, served as underwriting chairs for the gala that was expected to bring in $1 million.
Applause go to auction co-chairs Gabriela Dror, Paula Fyhr and Robin Reimer who compiled one of the most enticing silent auctions in recent years — loads of great trips, great wine and opportunities to conduct a piece with the Houston Symphony. The Lt. Gov. was among those bidding on that latter opportunity.
Rounding out the stunning crowd were Mike Stude, Betty and Jesse Tutor, Phoebe Tudor, Erik Littlejohn, Penelope and Jay Marks, Beth Madison, Kathy and John Orton, Margaret Williams and Jim Daniel, Karen and Bob Aspromonte, Danielle and John Ellis, Janice and Bob McNair, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Julia and Russell Frankel, Barbara and Pat McCelvey, Helen and Jim Shaffer, Barbara and Ulyesse LeGrange and Tara and David Wuthrich.