Notre Dame Seminary Gala

During the course of the Notre Dame Seminary gala, one prominent attendee beamed with satisfaction, saying, “We had well over 900 reservations.” And the party pack was truly out in numbers, making rounds from 6 p.m. (the patron party ran from 6-7 p.m.) until the 10 p.m. closing of all the social ado.

Billed as the Notre Dame Seminary Gala & Auction, and held on the South Carrollton premises of the seminary, the event offered a range of activities. Especially exciting — and with abundant thanks to the chairing forces of Deacon Carlo and Debbie Maniglia and Frank and Rhonda Tusa — were the seven auction boards and their scores of offerings. After those bids were made and capped, guests moved out to Mary’s Courtyard, where honorary Chaircouple Byron and Shannon Adams held forth. Last year, Lloyd and Sharon Tate held that title.

Next was the live auction and the “going, going, gone” prowess of Deacon Maniglia and auction announcer Greg Raymond. Among the top offerings were bijoux (Boudreaux’s Jewelry) and a dinner for 10 guests captained by former Upperline executive chef Ken Smith, who is now one of the 116 enrolled seminarians. Seminarian Smith offered to cook at the home of the top bidder or at the Archbishop’s Residence and folks were bidding with gusto.

Leading off the who’s who were Archbishop Gregory Aymond, seminary Rector/President the Very Rev. James Webner, S.T.D., Mr. and Mrs. Harry Connick Sr., patron party Chaircouple David and Anna Jouandot, Joseph and Erin Caruso, retired Archbishop Alfred Hughes, OJ and Sandy LaCour, the Rev. Joseph Kraft, Tim and Beverly Napier, Patrick and Mitzi Taylor, the John Dupuys, John and Shannon Lagarde, Tim and Lisa Thriffiley, Virginia Barkley, and the Mike Nolans. About 888 others, too.

The Gregory Agid Trio launched the music making and continued playing throughout the evening. Adding further resonant sounds were Patrick LaCour and seminarian Jared Rodrigue, with thanks to the Seminary Choir (Schola Cantorum). All the while, guests relished the gala menu provided by 26 restaurants, several generous individuals, and friends of the seminary, as well as the beverage donations. Café du Monde provided the perfect nightcap.

And then there was the dessert room! An entire room was dedicated to this suite of sweets that included silver platters and tiered trays holding almost any manner of delicacies. Everyone particularly remarked on the cookie tree and the Cuban flan maker.

Further features counted the floral arrangements of red and white roses and lilies in clear glass bowls; the Leap of Faith gift bags for which people paid $25 for the “surprise” goodies and gift certificates; the Drago’s and the Raymond’s Jewelry Creations raffles; and the celebration of the seminary’s 91 years.

Meeting and greeting is in the near forecast with the Christmas Luncheon for Priests on the docket for Dec. 5. The Roosevelt Hotel will be the site for the midday merriment that includes another extensive auction, a tasty luncheon, fabulous seasonal decorations, and an early nod to Noel.

  • Nocturne XII

“Richer by the dozen” can apply to the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans’ Nocturne, a Celebration of the Piano, that just hailed its 12th year of offering keyboard classics and an elegant seated dinner. Black tie was the suggested dress.

Guests arrived for the Champagne Reception, which was held in the Lafayette Foyer of the Ritz-Carlton. An hour later, at 7 p.m., the movement was to the Lafayette Ballroom for the recital by the acclaimed American pianist, Anne-Marie McDermott, whose performance was sponsored by Latter & Blum. Joining her for the evening was her husband, Michael. (Joining both of them for their stay was their Maltese, Samantha.)

The program included works by Bach, Haydn, Schumann and Liszt, and A. Grunfeld. After multiple standing ovations, McDermott took to the keys for a brace of encores.

Comments about the performance were legion, with MASNO executive director Cara McCool, one of the gala’s 180 attendees, commenting, “Anne-Marie McDermott was just splendid. Her exquisite playing blended with her lovely personality and impeccable charm.”

The three course meal in the Grand Ballroom prepared by the host hotel’s culinary staff featured a delicious spinach salad, mushroom-stuffed chicken breast, and strawberry shortcake. Bedecking the tables were roses, hydrangeas, and lilies, all artfully arranged by Federico’s Family Florist.

Relishing this mix of pianism and palate pleasures were MASNO President James Farrow, President-Elect Anne Gauthier, and immediate past President Emel Songu Mize, the event’s three chairmen, and MASNO artistic director Daniel Weilbaecher. Joining Emel was husband Ranney, the current president of the New Orleans Opera Association.

From the MASNO board came Emily McWilliams (also the Hall Piano representative), Louise Bush with husband Henry, Dee Clubb with Russ, Kathan Dearman, Loyola School of Music and Fine Arts Dean Anthony Decuir with Sarah, Arthur Dickerson with Darlene, Joni Jensen with husband Bruce Regeczi, Susan Lafaye, Keith Lescale, Mary Lee Murphy, and Julie Nice with husband Herb Larson.

More Nocturne devotees included Anne Bradburn, Edgar Chase III, Diane and Charles Dupin, Mignon Faget, Raymond Gitz, Richard Goula, Clay and Noonie LeJeune, Edward Levy, Sanford Pailet, Albert Palumbo and Shelley Lawrence of Latter & Blum, Robert Pope, Sharon and Bob Weilbaecher, and Marilyn Dittmann and Paul Lehman.

Ochsner Goes Pink

“Get Your Pink On!” beckoned a brigade to the Audubon Tea Room for the Pink Luncheon in partnership with the Breastoration Fund. Deborah Larkins, Jeanette Larkins, Ava Jo Collins, Blanche “Dee” McCloskey, Sandra Dartus, Diane Huber, and Holley Haag were among those breaking bread.

Ochsner’s Michelle Dodenhoff made the opening remarks, which were followed by words from “Pink” hostesses Kim Sport, Breastoration founder, and Dr. Dana Smetherman of Ochsner, who stressed the importance of mammograms. Some of the most moving — and amusing — words came from Laura Claverie (“I’m so happy to be here, here on Earth, and happy and healthy”) and Barbara Turner Windhorst (addressing all her “bosom buddies”), who related their stories as patients. Dr. Joel Marcus closed the program with “I’m not Crazy, I have Cancer.”

The decorative touches were decidedly pink, from the table cloths to the floral centerpieces. An innovative salad was flanked by two courses.

Also noted were Jane Goldring, Jill Fitzpatrick, Skylene Montgomery, Melanie Loomis, Jennifer Lauscha, Elizabeth Manshel, Charel Katz, Marcie O’Dwyer, Carol Wise, Joan Mollohan, Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, and Mikell Johnson. From Ochsner Leadership came Janet Snow-Godfrey, Dr. and Mrs. Joe Bisordi, Dr. and Mrs. William Pinsky, Scott Posecai, Dr. Renee Reymond and Mike Hulefeld, Dr. John Cole, and the Pete Novembers.

Gorgeous autumn weather and cerulean skies added the outside complement to the luncheon’s “Pink” interior. When she got up to speak, the above Michelle Dodenhoff smiled, saying, “They put me in charge of the weather.”

  • Around and About

“Book Launch Party” was the come-on extended by the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses at the Hermann-Grima House on St. Louis Street. “Luxury, Inequality & Yellow Fever: Living Legacies and the Story of Old New Orleans” was the attraction, as were live music, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and remarks by executive director Mamie Sterkx Gasperecz.

Gathered were David and Marsha Johnson, Carolyn Fitzpatrick, Grace Kaynor, Caroline Ferguson, Paul Willis, Jeremy Lawrence, Doug Brantley and Kevin Viverata, Poppy Tooker, Chad Graci, Lisa Samuels, Steve Smith, Morgan Pierce, Alexandra Mann, and Sarah Waits.