Holiday Hoorahs!

Piano Powerhouses

Any introduction that uses the word “seduction” perks up the audience. And that’s just what happened at the recent Nocturne XVI of the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans when featured pianist Greg Anderson invited attendees to be seduced by the music. They were — and were wowed.

Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, known for their adrenalized performances, are “revolutionizing the piano duo experience for the 21st century. “Rock stars of the classical music world,” they delivered the keyboard goods on a recent Sunday evening at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The program included a variety of classical and popular choices arranged for two pianos and/or four hands, starting with Piazzolla’s “Libertango” and concluding with, as the encore, their original arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “America” from “West Side Story.”

Guests first rubbed shoulders during the cocktail reception when bubbly was quaffed and effervescence abounded. The post-pianism dinner included a farmers market salad, herb-roasted chicken and bananas Foster cheesecake. The take-home (to a lucky winner) centerpieces were potted cyclamen in a variety of colors.

Notables, in addition to the Emmy-nominated Anderson and Roe, were MASNO Co-Presidents Anne Gauthier (attending with Dr. Sanford Pailet) and Dr. James Farrow; event Co-Chairwomen Susan Lafaye and Elissa Bluth (with Dr. Ed), MASNO’s respective treasurer and secretary; and Nocturne committee members: MASNO President-elect Mary Albert with Doug, Machelle Johnson, Steven Kinchen (representing Hall Piano and Steinway & Sons) with Gina, Will Marshall with wife Emery Whalen, Millie Mince and MASNO executive director Cara McCool Woolf with Vance. Additional board members were Emel Songu Mize with Ranney (both answer to doctor), Julianne Nice with Herbert Larson, Dr. Arthur Dickerson with past President Darlene, Joni Jensen with husband Bruce Regeczi, Dr. Andrea Brown, Bruce Crutcher with Robin, Allan Ledbetter, Hans Mulder, Casey Dietz Zainey with Chris, Jep Epstein, Fred Kasten, June Cognevich with Ken, Courtney Bryan, Hristo Birbochukov, Julie Doan and Joan Coulter.

Representing sponsors were David Gaines (Ochsner Health Systems) with Millie, Louis Fishman (Fishman Haygood L.L.P.) with Carla and Ron Biava (WWNO 89.9 and Classical 104.9 FM) with wife Emily Clark. Kate Byars milled about taking photos, some of which included past board members Clay LeJeune with Noonie, Dr. Edward Levy, Robert Pope, Edgar Chase with Alva and Diane and Dr. Charles Dupin.

Dancing for the Arts

Young Audiences, which has as its mission “Inspiring, empowering and uniting children and communities through education, arts and culture,” held Dancing for the Arts at Harrah’s Casino Theatre with Gail Barnes McKenna, Stella Del Bianco and Tyree Smith as the chairing threesome. Another such group was Melissa Booth, Anita Demps and Allison Kupperman, who spearheaded the silent auction, and Cynthia Beaulieu, Ana Gershanik, Beverly Matheney, board President Marguerite “Rite” Moisio, Tamara J. Wyre and Joan Zaslow forming the committee. Rickie Nutik is YA’s CEO and Richard Bates, the associate director.

The program was opened by Honorary Dancer Mayor LaToya Cantrell and dance partner Ector Gutierrez. Additional program principals were Rite and Rickie – that’s Moisio and Nutik – for the welcome; Camille Whitworth as mistress of ceremonies; Stephanie Burks, Mary Katherine Lonatro-Tusa, Kenny Lopez and Steven Putt as the dance contest judges; and as dancers, Sandra Herman and Jay Hendrix, Tamara J. Wyre and Kenneth “Kynt” Bryan, Brionne Janée Stewart and Trent Marcelle, Nadine Brown and Chance Bushman, Austin Marks and Gabrielle Slack and Christina Famularo Rodrigue and Tony Rodrigue. The choreographers were Javier Juarez (for Stewart and Marcelle) and Zakiya L. Cornish (for Christina and Tony).

Not only was the dance contest (consisting of local philanthropists and community activists paired with professional dancers) part of the party package, but so were the cocktail reception, auction, and dinner. The centerpieces were created by middle school visual arts students at Young Audiences Charter School under the direction of Valorie Polmer. Further pleasures of the table were buffet attractions of a winter salad, chicken, potatoes and Apple Berry Delights, the sweet-treats business of dancer Nadine Brown. The Carl LeBlanc Band provided musical entertainment, concluding with the call for general dancing.

Joining many of the above were Fulvio Del Blanco, Warren McKenna, Shane Kupperman, Gordon Nutik, Mary and Peter Nass, Byron Stewart, Kim Glazer Goldberg, Cathy and Morris Bart, Edna Moore (president of the YA Charter School board) and Juan Gershanik.

And the winners? As did her husband Russ two years ago, Sandra Herman copped the People’s Choice, having raised the most money for YA. For the Judges’ Choice, the winning names were Rodrigue.

May the Wine Be with You

The Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration given annually by the French American Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast, filled the JW Marriott’s Ile de France Ballroom and surrounding area with vinous glee as guests relished the “First Wine of the Harvest.” Additionally there was a slew of food stations, a silent auction, the Pussyfooters as entertainers and a special toast by Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Another VIP was French Consul General Vincent Sciama. Sponsor tables were filled with baguettes, compliments of Bellegarde Bakery, while painted oyster shells and fall flower arrangements (Larkspur Florals) and Edna Greenbaum’s handmade holiday ornaments added decorative touches.

Joining the Beaujolais brigade were Henry and Cheryl Battle, Terry Dufrene, Greg and Sarah Elizabeth Lambousy, Paul and Pascale Meyer, Colette and Joe Friend, Jean Cranmer, Millie Baudier and Mike Haase, John and Amy Haspel, Tom Krentel and Courtney Maheu, the Rick Vitas, Tim Reagan with guest Alycia Daumas, Robert Young with guests David and Jessica Gentry, and from FACC, executive director Loretta Krentel Krasnow and President Eric Belin. Many of them ended up on the dance floor when show band Sha’on and the Girls with Success revved up the decibels. “September” generated a lot of autumnal gyrating that became intense with “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Two days later, almost all of the above (and well over 2,000 others) gathered at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the U.S. Mint for the FACC-presented inaugural Fete des Fromages, a festival of cheeses, libations, music and related shopping, directed by Holly Barnett.

'Habana Nights'

Cuba called thematically when the French Quarter Activists held its annual gala to benefit the Quarter and to sponsor the Graffiti Removal Project operated by the French Quarter Management District. The historic home of Dr. Carlos Trujillo and FQA President Bryan Drude was the site for night, when some men sported guayabera shirts and the ladies were dressed to dance. Bright hues in lights and flowers added atmosphere; Crescent City Brewhouse and Bourbon Heat purveyed tasty Cuban fare; and artists such as Alex Beard, Emilie Rhys and David McPherson donated to the auction.

“Habana” hobnobbers included board officers Drude, Kay Baxter, Leslie Perrin, Lynda DePanicis and Joey DiFatta, along with Dr. Jim and Rhonda Caridi, Angelo Farrell, Ben and Molly Marriner, Robert Ripley, Bob and Elaine Bergeron, Michael Wilkinson, Alvin Able and Virginia Boulet, Frances Hegenberber, Nina and Mary Neivens, Peggy and Timber Floyd and Brian Hooper. To mention a few, who relished the music making of the nine piece band, AsheSon and Javier Olondo.