The arts social scene: When the curtain goes up, the festive parties follow
Ah, the glamour of the new fall season — the black-tie soirées, the simmering social swirl and, of course, opening nights. Nothing quite launches the season like a performing arts opening-night bash.
The coming months are loaded with every variation from black-tie late-night dinners to a beer fest at Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Herewith, CultureMap looks at the full spectrum of performing arts opening night parties scheduled for the upcoming season.
* The Houston Symphony launches the performance season (and the social season, for that matter) on Sept. 11 with its "Vienna Soirée" gala dinner and concert. Step into Old World Europe when maestro Hans Graf takes up his baton in Jones Hall to conduct Mozart's Sinfoniaconcertante and the waltz king Johann Strauss II's TheBlue Danube. It's a double celebration marking the Austrian-born music director's 10th anniversary with the symphony.
Post-concert, it's a short walk across the street to the Bank of America where the big-ticket buyers will sit down to a formal dinner prepared by Jackson & Co. Nancy and Robert Peiser chair the black-tie fete that honors long-time symphony supporters Barbara and Ulyesse LeGrange.
Lest you think this evening is all about music for long-hairs, consider that popular party band Toast and Jam will shake things up for the formal crowd.
* Ars Lyricatakes a different approach to its season launch with an annual "Sneak Peek" of the upcoming season. This one takes place Sept. 12 at — hold on to your party dresses — Frank's Chop House on Westheimer. Not your typical venue for an early music ensemble but certainly the right neighborhood — on the edge of River Oaks.
Guests will feast on food and wine compliments of restaurant owner Frank Crapitto and chef Frank Butera and be treated to a taste of the upcoming season complete with artist performances and special guests. Don't be surprised by the dramatic Baroque edge to the entertainment. The upcoming season theme is Teatro Mundi.
* The Houston Friends of Chamber Music embarks on its 50th anniversary season Sept. 16 with a celebratory concert featuring the famed Tokyo String Quartet on stage in Stude Hall at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.
A "Golden Celebration" cocktail reception follows at Cohen House on the Rice campus. The seated dinner will honor three distinguished past presidents of the non-profit: Dr. Harvey Gordon, Dr. Jack Mazow and Dr. Daniel Musher.
*When it comes to inaugurating a season, no group is more creative than theRiver Oaks Chamber Orchestra. On Sept. 21, ROCO takes over Saint Arnold Brewing Co. for an early evening of "Beer & Brass."
A trombone trio, led by principal trombonist Brian Logan, will present an upbeat program while ROCO supporters sample a variety of beers and graze through offerings from Cindy Mason Catering.
If you insist on a pure opening-night do, then look to Oct. 16 when ROCO holds its season debut conducted by JoAnn Falletta. The concert at St. John the Divine will be followed by a donor dinner at Ouisie's Table.
* It will be a late-night fiesta for Da Camera fans who attend the opening concert on Oct. 2. Early music superstar Jordi Savall, making a long-awaited Houston debut, sets the pace with "The Route to the New World: Spain to Mexico."
Following his presentation of centuries-old tunes, partygoers join him on stage at Cullen Theater in Wortham Theater Center for a night of flamenco, mariachi and lively Latin fare. Laura and Leo Sayavedra host the evening.
* Mercury Baroque embraces an international esthetic on Oct. 9 with its opening-night concert, Exotique!, featuring French Baroque orchestra stage music meant to capture the exotica of foreign lands.
With changing stage sets and period music performed on historically-appropriate instruments, Mercury Baroque promises a lively evening that concludes with a reception for subscribers and donors on stage at Cullen Theater in Wortham Theater Center. You'll love getting up-close-and-personal with the talented musicians. Fun.
* The contemporary music ensemble Musiqa takes an egalitarian approach to its Oct. 16 premiere concert of the season. The night begins with presentation of a newly-commissioned piece by Stewart Wallace, titled "She Told Me This . . .," from his opera based on Amy Tan's book The Bonesetter's Daughter.
Once guests are enraptured by the music, they can join the artists and composers on stage at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center for a tony meet-and-greet complete with food and drink.
* Once the curtain falls Oct. 22 on Houston Grand Opera's opening night performance of Madame Butterfly at Wortham Theater Center, the curtain rises on one of the most spectacular opening night events of the year. Guests in their black-tie and evening gown finery will move from the theater to an elaborately-decorated party tent on Fish Plaza where Richard Flowers of The Events Co. and Tony Vallone of his namesake restaurant fame will cosset guests in grand tradition.
Philanthropist Margaret Williams chairs the gala that honors HGO patrons Franci and Jim Crane. Guaranteeing a handsome take from the evening are dinner underwriter chairs Donna and Robert Bruni of San Antonio.