What: Houston Symphony Opening Night concert and gala
Where: Jones Hall
The scoop: The Houston Symphony’s 2020–21 Opening Night concert and gala, chaired by Sippi and Ajay Khurana, raised more than $500,000 for the Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Programming. ConocoPhillips served as the concert sponsor and lead gala corporate underwriter for the 34th year.
The symphony welcomed over 60 guests to attend the concert live at Jones Hall, other gala attendees watched from the comfort of their homes. John Mangum, executive director/CEO, and holder of the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair for the Houston Symphony, greeted guests and introduced new symphony board chair and president, John Rydman. Mangum served as host for the evening, adding a new dimension for live and streaming audiences with vivid descriptions of each musical selection, as well as an interview with concertmaster and Max Levine Chair, Yoonshin Song.
Song was the violinist and leader for the program that included works by three of today’s pre-eminent female composers: Jessie Montgomery’s "Banner" for string quartet and string orchestra (based on the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing"), Keiko Abe’s "Conversations in the Forest" for marimba duo, and Jennifer Higdon’s "Autumn Music" for wind quintet. Those works were performed alongside Gabrieli’s "Duodecimi Toni," Ravel’s "Introduction and Allegro," and Vivaldi’s "Concerto for Four Violins," in honor of event chair Sippi Khurana.
The Events Company took inspiration from the romantic theme by creating two arrangements at the Jones Hall entrance. Guests were met by vibrant red and blush roses combined with antique hydrangeas and eucalyptus.
Due to the pandemic, the Symphony was unable to host the traditional seated dinner following the concert. To stick to theme, however, City Kitchen delivered dinners and charcuterie trays with wine selected by John Rydman/Spec’s Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods to guests. Patrons were thus able to enjoy tasty bites at home before, or after, the concert.
Who: Margaret Alkek Williams, Bill Bullock, Barbara Burger, Fayez Sarofim, Jesse B. Tutor, Mary Lynn and Stephen Marks, Barbara and Pat McCelvey, John and Regina Mangum, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Wayne and Tammy Nguyen, Jeff Gremillion, Amber Elliot, Fran Fawcett-Peterson, and Leslie Siller.