Gala Helps Celebrate Houston Symphony’s 100th Birthday

By Jen Roosth
Photography by
Jenny Antill, Jeff Fitlow and Michelle Watson

Over 650 Houston music lovers donned white ties, coat tails, and glamorous ball gowns at this year’s annual Houston Symphony Ball’s Russian Rhapsody a White Night Salute to Hans and Margarita Graf. Chairs Phoebe and Bobby Tudor welcomed arriving guests with champagne and Russian vodka as they gasped at the scenery, an opulent expression of Russian cultures designed by Dallas design dynamo Todd Fiscus at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Following a special tribute performance honoring Hans Graf’s twelve-year tenure as music director of the Symphony, eager attendees filed through a red velvet draped hallway, past the awe-inspiring James Turrell Skyspace, and into an extravagant ballroom.

The extravagant Russian theme took center stage at the event. There were ivory velvet settees, topped with raised platforms that featured live dancing ballerinas from the Houston Ballet Academy, seven Swarovski crystal chandeliers, 12,000 roses and orchids, 4,000 cherry love red roses and 4,800 feet of crystal draping. A “living fountain” by performance artist “Pearl” entranced guests with streams of water elegantly flowing from her fingertips. Talk about over the top.

The decadence continued with dinner designed by Jackson and Company, and silent auction packages celebrating arts festivals around the world (auction bidding was done on iPads roaming the ballroom). The evening concluded with dancing to the sounds of New Orleans Jazz Virtuoso, Jeremy Davenport. A younger generation of Symphony supporters joined for the After-Party, “Club Russe,” chaired by Lindley and Jason Arnoldy. The dance floor of this posh Russian nightclub scene was at full capacity rocking to the sounds of NYC DJ Zone, flown in for the luxe occasion.  The event successfully raised almost $1.3 million for the Symphony’s education and community engagement programs, Music Matters!


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