ARts & Lectures Club celebrates symphony acheivement

The ARts & Lectures Club of Shelby County hosted a “Big Apple” evening Feb. 25 to celebrate the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s invitation to perform at the second annual Spring for Music Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York, May 10. ASO is the smallest orchestra, and one of only six, to be selected from more than 65 orchestras from the U.S. and Canada. A sold-out crowd of more than 100 attended the local Symphony Celebration.

Mindy Boggs and Patty McDonald present Dr. Erica Liebelt the 2011 ARts Patron of the Year award. Photo courtesy of Mindy Boggs.

“All Things New York” was the event theme. Guests from north and south of I-459  were greeted by two “Big Apples”, a.k.a. Samford University sophomores Drew Smith and Emily Elder. Bond #9 representative Carol Balch also greeted guests with luxury fragrance samples named for famous New York City districts, along with  specialty maps of Manhattan, a handy gift for those who’ll travel to New York for the concert.

Cocktails and hors d’ouevres were served in “Times Square,” where faces of ALSCS members were projected larger than life in a billboard size slide show of past ALCSC events. Guests were occasionally interrupted by “paparazzi” snapping photographs. “Street vendors” included All Seasons Travel, which ASO contracted to offer a variety of Manhattan hotel packages, which includes an exclusive preperformance party with Maestro Justin Brown at the famous Russian Tea Room. Suggestive of hawkers for on, and off, Broadway shows, playbills were available to promote upcoming shows produced by Birmingham’s own Red Mountain Theatre and Virginia Samford Theatre. Playbills were also available for upcoming productions of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the Alabama Ballet.

ARts & Lectures Club founder and president Mindy Boggs introduced musicians representing ASO: Jeff Solomon, Lucina Horner, and Concertmaster Daniel Sasz, accompanied by his wife, Alina Voicu.

The 2011 ARts Patron of the Year award was presented to the Birmingham Museum of ARt’s nominee, Dr. Erica Liebelt. The etched crystal award was presented by last year’s ARts Patron of the Year, Patty McDonald. Alabama Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Curt Long, was presented his crystal award for ARts Executive of the Year by retired Alys Stephens Center Director Caron Thornton. Thornton was last year’s honoree and flew in from her Washington DC area home to present this year’s award.

Following the awards presentation, guests were treated to a 40- minute original song and dance show starring Four for Time: Carl Dean, Kristi Tingle-Higginbotham, Jan D. Hunter and Lonnie Parsons. Accompanists were Debbie Mielke, Lissa LaGrand and Joe Cooley. Four for Time also performed duets and solos to include favorite hits from Broadway, Sinatra, Joel, the Beatles, and more. Crowd favorites included Come Fly with Me, That’s Life, I Love Paris, New York State of Mind, and naturally, New York, New York.

Samford University was represented by Howard College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Chapman, accompanied by his wife, Bonnie. The Alabama School of Fine Arts was represented by Executive Director Michael Meeks with his wife, Lynne. Representing Indian Springs School was Dr. Jonathan Horn, accompanied by Donna Francavilla.

The mission of ARts & Lectures Club of Shelby County is to foster community spirit by supporting the arts, civil discourse, and life-long learning. For more information on how to join ARts & Lectures Club, visit www.artsandlecturesclubofshelbyco.com or call Mindy Boggs at 205-218-4303.

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