This Valentine’s is one I’ll never forget. It started out in Spanish Town and ended up with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s Irene & C.B. Pennington Great Performers in Concert. BRSO Executive Director Cary Byrd promised a magical evening and everyone involved delivered.
More than a few of us got “Misty” listening to the amazing Johnny Mathis sing his hits. “Chances Are” you would have, too, if you had been among the sold-out audience at the River Center Theatre fortunate enough to spend your Valentine’s night with Mathis and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.
Among my favorites were “99 Miles from LA,” “Mas Que Nada,” and “When I Fall in Love.” The first two were sung to the accompaniment of Mathis’ longtime guitarist. Every woman in the hall named “Laura” had to have thought Mathis was singing only to her when he sang that hit, as did anyone there named “Gina.” Mathis brought down the house and the audience to its feet for his finale, “Manhã de Carnaval.”
He earned even more applause when Mayor Kip Holden proclaimed it Johnny Mathis Day, made him an honorary mayor and gave him the key to the city. For his part, Mathis seemed genuinely touched by the gesture.
Backstage after the performance, Mathis was excited to receive the Great Performers medal the concert sponsors receive from honorary Chairwoman Paula Pennington de la Bretonne. He visited easily with everyone, including members of the symphony, who popped in to say what a pleasure it had been to perform with him, and yours truly, making my Valentine’s night one I’ll never forget.
Before Mathis took the stage, conductor Timothy Muffitt and the orchestra wowed as they went through a repertoire of Valentine’s appropriate tunes. They opened with an arrangement of “Night & Day” by Willis Delony, who joined the BRSO for this fantastic evening. Delony, who just returned from his Carnegie Hall debut, was also showcased in “Skylark.”
Tenor sax player Roger Moore showed his stuff in “Sophisticated Ladies” and Brian Shaw was in the spotlight for “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”
The evening began with a VIP black-tie gala at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum for several hundred guests. Still on a high from the concert, the night wrapped up with an after party and dancing to Ned Fasullo & the Fabulous Big Band Orchestra at The Lyceum.
Diane and Johnny Tate served as chairman for this truly magical night. Assisting were committee members Cynthia Campbell, Russ Chapman, Emily Davis, Debbie and Julio Dumas, Marianne and Bobby Freeman, Lindsay Guerin, Alice Kronenberger, Nicole Latiolais, Carole Marshall, Lois Saye and Marcy Simoneaux.
Valentine’s night was all about elegance. Valentine’s day was all about pink and … well, if you’ve ever been to Spanish Town Mardi Gras you know elegance is not a word you’d ever use to describe it. In fact, the city’s largest Mardi Gras parade is pretty much indescribable, but Karen Profita and I tried our best for those watching online at theadvocate.com and listening on Talk107.3. If you tuned in, we hope you had as much fun as we did.
A special shout out to Ann and Gerald Woods for allowing us to set up in their yard along Spanish Town Road and to our sponsors, Goodwood Hardware and Party Time.
Before climbing high atop my perch, I popped in at the Capitol Park Museum where its Friends group was hosting a parade-watching party. There was food, libations, activities for the kiddoes and a front-row seat for the parade. Josh Dickerhoof and Ben Pierce were in charge of this fun fundraiser.
The day before, downtown was a sea of red as the American Heart Association held its annual Go Red for Women luncheon at the River Center Ballroom. Before lunch, guests visited various booths to learn how to prevent heart disease and stroke. We also posed for photos with our girlfriends. I, of course, chose to don the red feather boa in my group.
Sharing their touching stories of why they were going red were Christiana Chaisson, Kristen Cobb Simpson and Morgan Leger. Then it was time for the fashion show, featuring the latest looks from Macy’s and one very special couture gown by designer Natasha Miller of Natasha Maria Bridal. It was won and worn by a very happy Danielle Dawson, who walked the runway as the show’s finale.
WBRZ’s Sylvia Weatherspoon served as mistress of ceremonies. Bridgette Coleman chaired this year’s event. Committee members included Coletta Barrett, Anna Cazes, Marianne Frazee, Kristie Genzer, Sabrina Heltz, Sandra Holub, Stephanie Hughson, Renée Indest, Vanessa Caston LaFleur, Debra Lockwood, Carolyn McKnight, Sonya Nelson, Terrie Sterling, Dionne Viator and Shivonne Wren.
Yes, they were over at Raffaele Furs for the Baton Rouge Symphony League’s Feb. 11 get-together. Members were having way too much fun trying on the beautiful furs, which will be featured in the style show at this year’s Mad Hatter’s luncheon March 2 at the Crowne Plaza. The style show will also feature fashions from nk boutique and Haute Dames Couture Milliners.
I’ll be judging the hat competition again this year and can’t wait to see what you ladies come up with for this year’s theme, “Viva Las Vegas.” Doors open at 10 a.m. with hat judging getting underway at 10:30. Categories are best ensemble, best theme, best vintage, most outrageous, most beautiful and best table theme. Tickets are $75 per person and are available by calling the symphony office at (225) 383-0500, ext. 112, or online at brslmadhatters2015.com .
Follow Pam on Twitter @pamspartyline. Items for Pam’s Party Line must be received by 9 a.m. the Monday preceding the run date. High-resolution digital photos should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copy photos should be dropped off at or mailed to The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Events will run no later than four weeks after they have taken place. The date, place of the event and a contact name and daytime phone number must be included. Photos will be used at the discretion of The Advocate.