HughE Dillon: Academy Ball 2012

The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates 155 years with Yo-Yo Ma, Mayor Nutter, Governor Corbett and more.

The Academy of Music celebrated 155 years with its annual concert and ball on Saturday night. It was a night filled with festivities all over Center City, and then at 8 p.m., nearly 1,500 people walked down Broad Street to enter the Academy of Music to attend a performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, jazz singer Diana Krall, and dancers from Philadanco and Society Hill Dance Studio. This was the first Academy anniversary concert for Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who is slated to become the Orchestra’s music director next fall. Bucking a century-old tradition, party-goers had dinner before the concert at restaurants around town, and then headed over to the Academy, where they stayed the entire night; after the concert, the party was held in the building instead of at the Bellevue, as had also been the tradition for several generations.

Below: The Central Committee for the Philadelphia Orchestra welcomed guests at the third-annual pre-party cocktail reception at Tiffany & Co. Tiffany McCauley, group director, Philadelphia, Tiffany & Co., Frank Leto and Anita Leto, committee chairperson, and Nicole Cashman, event chair, and Nigel Richards. Guests mingled about while enjoying music by Tres Compadres and food by Jean-Marie Lacroix’s Brûlée Catering.

Below: Joanne Berwind, Richard Woosnam and Diane Dalto Woosnam were also on hand, and dressed to the nines. The Woosnams are generous patrons of the city’s arts and cultural organizations. Next up for Mrs. Woosnam is co-hosting (with Stephen Harmelin) the 2012 Mütter Ball, benefiting the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on March 31, 2012.

Below: Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and partner Eric Lochner, chief marketing officer for Kenexa Corp in Wayne. Becher is gearing up for the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show, “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha!,” which runs Sunday, March 4th through 11th. Look for many new and exciting things at the show, including a new floor plan, expansive shopping area, a 25-foot waterfall, an “Iron Chef”-like competition for creating floral arrangements, and my favorite, 10 chefs from all over the United States celebrating 70 years of the publication of Organic Gardening magazine, where chefs will create locally sourced dishes for flower show guests.

Below: Decked out in her Dalia MacPhee dress and diamonds by Tiffany & Co., GN Kang, director of operations for the Hamels Foundation, is looking stylish with Ian B. Butler. The duo is getting ready to head to Aruba this weekend for a friend’s wedding. They tell me it involves sarongs and horses on the beach. Others spotted at the party: Priscilla and Larry Holmes, Sally and Roland Bullard, John and Nancy Galloway, Karen and Kevin Coleman, Christyn and Michael Muscarella, Matt Wellenbach and Katie Zagrabbe.

Below: Steve Thorne and Sabrina Tamburino Thorne, with Maria Papadakis and Brendan Kent. Sabrina is wearing Nicole Miller with a stunning Bernie Robbins necklace, while Maria is wearing Jovani and a beautiful Harry Winston necklace and earrings.

Below: At 6 p.m., I ran over to Daniel Stern’s R2L for the Young Friends of the Academy Ball, co-chaired by Teresa C. Nino (second from left) and Samuel M.V. Hamilton III (right), pictured here with two Philadelphia Orchestra members, double bassist Joseph Conyers (left), and Yumi Kendall, cello (right).

Below: While his parents held court over at Tiffany & Co, Chris Leto enjoyed hanging out at the Young Friends party at R2L with a few friends, Jennifer Brown, Chris Calvey, and Jeff Flynn.

Below: Christie Honigman, of the Honigman Group, and Dan Engel. Christie is wearing a smashing Jovani dress. The gorgeous illusion bodice is topped off by a sweetheart neckline that’s bolstered by clusters of chic floral appliques. The two met in college as roommates, and have remained good friends. Christie has a golden tan because she just got back from St. Barts.

Below: Dorrance Hamilton, Chelsea Irwin and Deron Winter were looking forward to another glamorous night at the Academy Ball and looking every bit the part of it.

Below: Molly Whiteman, Caroline Barth, Kyle Whiteman and Marisa Magnatta, producer of WMMR’s Preston & Steve. Others spotted at the party included Thomas Finnegan, Reed Irwin, Hillary Kane, Megan Hayes, Jill and Bob Ruggieri, James Price and his fellow Wisconsin Badger Ashley Orleans, Crawford Hamilton, Sara Uhr, and James Spinelli.

Below: The night’s official host, actor David Morse, told the audience that he and his wife have been Philadelphia residents for 18 years. He noted that the auditorium had been set up much as it had been for the Academy’s opening night on January 26, 1857, with a floor where the orchestra seats were and tables and chairs in their place. He said that party had been declared the greatest ever given in the city. Then he added, after a pause, “until tonight.” The audience responded enthusiastically. Looking on is co-chair and Academy president Joanna McNeil Lewis. (The other co-chair was Stradley Ronon’s John Saler.)

Below: In a box situated right next to the stage, in the front row, Governor Tom Corbett and his wife, Susan, and Mayor Michael Nutter and his wife, Lisa. In the back, Senator Bob Casey, Jr. and his wife, Terese. Others spotted in the crowd were Sheryl Lee Ralph and State Senator Vincent Hughes, Anne Ewers, president of the Kimmel Center, Erik Newmann and Mary Dougherty, Kelly Boyd, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and wife Jenni, Linda and Ian Swain, Karen and Carl Buchholz, Eliana Papaddis, and Allison Vulgamore, president and CEO of the Orchestra.

Below: The Orchestra’s music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, applauds in appreciation after the Philadanco performance.

Below: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz singer Diana Krall finish a duet; Nézet-Séguin thanks them for their performance.

Below: After the concert concluded, the guests scattered throughout the ornate building to dance and mingle in the ballroom, the rehearsal hall and the auditorium, which seemed to be the most popular space. The auditorium was converted into a big reception hall. It was the most magnificent site, the newly restored chandelier was lowered to the awe of the guests; many wanted me to photograph them under it. The stage was set for the Harper Blynn band to play into the night.

Below: Anne Callahan, a professional cellist for the past 25 years, in a dress designed by Rose Taft, and husband Charles Croce. Charles tells me that he is the new executive director and CEO of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent. The museum has been undergoing a two-year renovation and should be open later this year.

Councilman Bill Green and Margie Green, with Allison Young and Dave Maser. At the end of the night, we headed over to the Union League and dined on cheesesteaks, Tastykakes and chicken wings.

Below: Werten Bellamy, president of Stakeholders, Kellye Walker, American Water Works Co., and Michael Curley, owner of Curley & Mullen.

Below: Richard and Sharon Jones, of Malvern. Mrs. Jones is wearing an Oscar de la Renta gown—one of the most colorful of the evening.

Below: AJ Marsico, senior associate at Greenlee Partners, Annie McCormick, reporter at Harrisburg CBS 21, and Peter and Celeste Madden, of Newtown Square.

Below: Jimmy Kazanjian and Lisa Gaudio loved the new concept of the Academy Ball this year. They’re pictured with Samantha Barth and Michael Spatacco in the lobby of the grand music hall. Change is hard, and I know it was difficult for many of the people who were used to dinner after the concert at the Bellevue, but I applaud the people who made the decision to celebrate the opening night 155 years ago and have dinner and mini-parities before the concert, and a grand party using the rooms of the newly renovated Academy of Music afterward. The dance party in the concert hall where the orchestra seats were covered with flooring and filled with cocktail tables, a sea of white ties, glamorous designer red-carpet-ready gowns, and more than 150 years of memorable moments, seemed like a perfect fit.