SSaturday night’s Houston Symphony Ball was a far cry from the eerily intimate COVID-induced event of 2021. The Post Oak Hotel ballroom spun over the weekend to the excitement of 350 revelers and the rock sounds of Sammy Hagar. The guests chatted enthusiastically. Air kisses have become cheek brushes. And hugs were allowed.
Over $1.1 million was raised. Ball chairs Cheryl Byington, Bill Stubbs and Beth Wolff were on hand to welcome their guests unlike last year where chairs had to stay home due to the COVID threat and health issues.
In 2021, 115 rather moderate guests, temperatures taken before entry, were scattered around the same ballroom where masks were required for those not dining. It was the first black tie post COVID lockdown and restrictions were in place.
So it was with a bit of abandon that the joyful crowd that night (we believe most are fully immunized) joined in the celebratory spirit that honored two of Houston Symphony’s most important patrons and one of its leaders.
All eyes were on the town’s leading philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams not only for her honor as a recipient of the Lifetime of Philanthropy Award, but also for her magical ensemble – a lavender ball gown shimmering with lavender beads, her necklace adorned with amethysts and diamonds, and her matching earrings and her lavender-dyed chinchilla wrap. Her beauty, style and energy once again belie her 80s.
Next in the spotlight was the energy director and longtime leader of Symphony’s board of directors. Janet F Clark, who received the Ima Hogg Philanthropy Award, followed by Houston Symphony Orchestra executive director and CEO John Mangoawarded with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership.
Mangum has been recognized for his steadfast and brilliant leadership of the orchestra taking the reins just months after Hurricane Harvey and then marching through the choppy waters of the pandemic.
Each dinner course in the talented hands of Post Oak Hotel Executive Chef Jean-Luc Royere was elegantly paired with wines selected by the Houston Symphony’s Chairman of the Board John Rydman of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Delicatessen.
The talented Dave Bennett Quartet entertained for most of the evening, inspiring a few floor dancers. When the title rocks – the big one Sami Agar — and his longtime guitarist Vic Johnson took the stage, the dance floor was packed with fans who weren’t dancing but rolling along with the beats and cheering on the Grammy Award winner. It was a toggle switch of distinguished music from the string quartet that greeted guests in the ballroom.
Seen on PC: Lilly and Thurmon Andress, Lindy Rydman, Betty and Jess Tutor, Susan and Denis DeBakey, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, David Wuthrich, Regan and oneLex Bregman, Leila Perrin, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, Joanne King Herring, Soraya and Scott McClelland, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklinand Betsy and Rick Weber.