STARRY NIGHTS • Brooklyn Paper


The Brooklyn Papers / Gregory

We rubbed elbows with an internationally
acclaimed pianist, and we swooned when he played. The centerpieces
of peonies intoxicated us with their beauty – and the borough
president arrived just in time to make us laugh at ourselves.

We were at the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s Spring Gala at the Brooklyn
Museum of Art at 200 Eastern Parkway. The audience, packed into
the Cantor Auditorium, was regaled with an emotional recital
(akin to Geoffrey Rush’s performance in "Shine") by
19-year-old wunderkind pianist Lang Lang. He was joined in a
traditional Chinese folk song by his father, Guo-Ren Lang, on
erhu, and then the audience rewarded Lang’s impassioned performance
of Liszt with a standing ovation.

Noticeably absent at the black-tie soiree was the maestro – Philharmonic
music director Robert Spano who also serves as music director
for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, although Artistic Advisor
Evans Mirageas certainly had enough enthusiasm for two in his
introduction of Lang.

The Philharmonic honored Kevin Burke, president and CEO of Consolidated
Edison Company of New York, (who noted with a laugh that "New
York’s utilities are well represented this evening"), Frederic
Salerno, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Verizon
Communications, (who said, "Music washes away the dust of
everyday life," and so in the wake of Sept. 11, "We
need [the Brooklyn Philharmonic] now more than ever"), and
Craig Matthews, retired vice chairman and chief operating officer
of Keyspan Energy, and president of the Philharmonic’s board
of directors, who boldly predicted that the financially troubled
orchestra "will achieve its 50th anniversary in just two

Philharmonic CEO Catherine Cahill, dressed in red silk blouse
with mandarin collar, set the Asian theme for the evening, which
was echoed by glinting gold cane chairs in the Beaux Arts Court
and great heaps of peonies as centerpieces. (Brooklyn Borough
President Marty Markowitz was overheard saying Cahill had "a
million-dollar smile." Perhaps she could smile easier because
she was able to negotiate a new contract with the Philharmonic’s
union in April.)

Markowitz, the gala’s honorary chairman, showed up just in time
for dinner with a proclamation declaring May 13 annual Brooklyn
Philharmonic fundraising gala day. (The beep, on a highly publicized
diet, declined to eat, but then assured his tablemates that he
was just saving his appetite for a newly opened Applebees, his
next stop. I wonder how Abigail Kirsch Culinary Productions feels
about that?) He did make a point of remembering his party favor,
a Lang Lang CD, before dashing off to his next event.

Brooklyn Academy of Music executive producer Joe Melillo and
executive director Karen Brooks Hopkins were both on hand at
the fundraiser, perhaps to talk up the several co-productions
they will share with the Philharmonic in its 2002-2003 season,
including the 10th anniversary of choreographer Mark Morris’
"The Hard Nut," Mozart’s "Cosi fan tutte,"
and Osvaldo Golijov’s "La Pasion."

The Philharmonic’s Spring Gala raised $340,000 to benefit its
concert season, music education and community outreach programs.

Medal of honor

The Philharmonic, as well as one of its boardmembers, Richard
Hayden, will be presented with the 2002 Founders Medal by the
Brooklyn Hospital Foundation on May 31 at 7 pm at its "Dreams
of Summer" ball at Keyspan Park in Coney Island, home of
the Brooklyn Cyclones.

According to event organizers, cocktails will be held in the
stands and dinner will be served in a huge tent pitched over
second base. Fireworks will follow dinner. Guests are urged to
leave their black tie at home and don summer dresses

and linen instead. Tickets begin at $500. For more information,
call (718) 250-7799.

In the Garden

The Mighty Sparrow himself landed in the Brooklyn Center for
the Performing Arts gala at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Palm
House on May 8. The second annual Ovation Awards dinner honored
Markowitz, Health Plus chief marketing officer Dominic Mascara
and ABN AMRO executive vice-president Louis Rosenthal.

The evening was hosted by "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough"
writers Ashford & Simpson. Brooklyn Center raised $100,000
to benefit the Center’s diverse music, dance and educational
programs which they produce at Brooklyn College’s Walt Whitman
Theater, according to producing director Julie Pareles. Highlights
of their 2002-2003 season will include performances by Ben Vereen,
Dan Zanes (a Cobble Hill resident and former front man of the
Del Fuegos), singer Barbara Cook, the Moscow Ballet and comedian
Richard Lewis.

Movie mogul

At the Brooklyn Academy of Music Film Festa honoring his achievements,
legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis explained the source of
his longevity and strength as "Three Cs": capoccia
(head), cuore (heart) and coglioni (balls).

Honoring De Laurentiis was actress Julianne Moore (who played
Clarice Starling in "Hannibal," produced by De Laurentiis)
and producer Edward Pressman ("Badlands," "American
Psycho"), who introduced the screening of "Nights of
Cabiria," produced by De Laurentiis and directed by Federico
Fellini. Larry Gleason, special consultant for MGM Studios, served
as chairman of the event, which raised $250,000 for Audrey Cohen
College and BAM.

During the De Laurentiis series at BAM, May 2-19, actors Isabella
Rossellini and Bruce Campbell came to introduce screenings as
well as former NYC police detective Frank Serpico who inspired
Sidney Lumet’s "Serpico."

More from Around New York