By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
9:56 PM EST, November 17, 2012
The Maryland Symphony Orchestra Guild hosted “An Elegant Evening,” the group’s 30th annual ball and auction, Saturday at Fountain Head Country Club.
In recent years, the ball has been punctuated by elaborate themes. At “Egypt, Jewel of the Nile,” guests were greeted outdoors by a large, stately camel and then led inside to a Bedouin tent, hookah pipes and a mural of King Tut. At “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” they posed for pictures alongside a shiny 1939 Buick, then stepped away from the paparazzi-like camera flashes onto a red carpet where men in top hats and white gloves tended to their needs.
Saturday’s black tie optional event offered less flash, but plenty of elegance, with focus on the basics — the symphony and its music.
Frederica “Freddie” Erath, a past president of the guild, said the goal from the early planning stages for this year’s event was “simple but elegant.”
“The guild wanted (all the money) we could possibly make to go to the symphony, especially in this economy,” she said.
Greeting guests at the door were not a camel or a vintage car, but a display featuring a trumpet, a flute and a violin. In the dining room, tables and chairs were draped with black and white coverings. Centerpieces were clear glass vases with white daisy mums, carnations and willows branches. Treble clefs and eighth note-illustrations lighted the window panes.
Georgia Pierne, ball co-chair along with her husband Jim Pierne, said organizers hoped to raise $50,000 through the event and through individual and corporate donations. Ball tickets cost $125 per person. The evening opened with cocktails at 6 p.m. while attendees mingled and perused silent auction items.
Pat Tarpley of Woodsboro, Md., who attended with her husband Thomas Tarpley, M.D., and said she supports the MSO because it is “first rate,” bid on a red Sachi handbag.
“I like red and I like glitz and I don’t need it,” she said. “I call it ‘soul food.’ It makes you feel happy.”
Brendan Fitzsimmons, honorary event co-chair with his wife Katie Fitzsimmons, said the symphony is “very dependent” upon the ball and auction for its programs such as Masterworks classical pieces, Pops presentations and educational outreach.
“Every year, (the ball) is a very diverse group of patrons all here for a common cause — we all love the symphony,” Fitzsimmons said.
Sandy and Bob Wantz of Hagerstown said they have supported the MSO “since its genesis.” They commended Music Director Elizabeth Schulze, orchestra members and the community at large for its success. Sandy Wantz said she enjoyed the November Masterworks II concert featuring guest violinist Timothy Fain and a collaboration with students from Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
“I feel pretty good about what goes on,” Sandy Wantz said. “”We have a director who does a wonderful job programming and the orchestra itself plays so well. We are all very proud of the symphony.”
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