HughE Dillon: Voice Foundation’s Voices Gala

Opera singers and doctors gathered for a night of song and dance.

Last weekend, I attended an extraordinary event at the Westin Hotel, the Voices Gala of Summer 2012 Awards Dinner, sponsored by the Voice Foundation of Philadelphia with gala chairs Sandra Schultz Newman and Maria Russo, managing director of the Voice Foundation. The Voice Foundation is the world’s oldest organization dedicated to voice medicine, science and education.

The gala fundraiser was part of the 41st annual symposium held at the hotel over the weekend. The event draws doctors, voice teachers and students from all over the world. Below: Michael and Riki Sheehan, with Robert Thayer Sataloff, board chairman of the Voice Foundation, from the Department of Otolaryngology at Drexel University College of Medicine (and one of Philadelphia magazine’s Top Doctors 2012), and Dahlia Sataloff, vice-chair of the Department of Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. Michael Sheehan, who is one of America’s leading communications trainers and strategists for corporate CEOs, policy makers and political leaders, was awarded with the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award. Overcoming a stuttering problem as a child, he’s been the media coach for the Democratic Convention since 1988.

Below: Bruce A. Eisenstein and Toby Eisenstein.

Below: Frederica von Stade, the mezzo-soprano known by her nickname “Flicka,” has enriched the world of classical music for three decades, and Byron Janis, renowned internationally as one of the world’s greatest concert pianists, were both honored with the 2012 VERA Award. Also pictured, Maria Cooper Janis, an artist and actor Gary Cooper’s daughter, and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board Michael Benninger.

Below: Iris Rodriguez, Adam Rubin, director, Lakeshore Professional Voice Center, Michael J. Pitman, director, Division of Laryngology and director, the Voice and Swallowing Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Samantha Warhurst, University of Sydney’s Discipline of Speech Pathology in Australia. During the dinner reception, both Samantha and then Adam entertained their fellow guests with song.

What a thrill it was to hear baritone Luis Ledesma perform a few songs after dinner. He has sung with many companies, including Houston Grand Opera and Portland Opera (Escamillo in Carmen), Indiana and Connecticut Opera (Don Giovanni in Don Giovanni), Palm Beach Opera (Scarpia in Tosca), as well as with the great Andrea Bocelli in the Pearl Fishers duet “Au Fond Du Temple Saint” at Madison Square Garden. He is now with Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. You can hear him yourself at the Mann Music Center when the Philadelphia Orchestra performs the Beethoven’s 9th on Wednesday, June 27th.

After the performances, the dance floor opened to the sounds of a swing band, and everyone enjoyed a spin around the dance floor. Below: David Persica and Madonna Marie Refugia. Actor Danny Aiello was scheduled to receive the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award, but had to cancel at the last minute.