HOUSTON'S CLEAR DESIRE to return to normal times now has a soundtrack. The Houston Symphony, with a powerful assist by international opera diva and Tony-nominated Broadway star Renée Fleming, opened its 2021-2022 season with a rousing concert followed by a glamorous dinner.
With nods to the 9/11 anniversary of the same day, the orchestra, conducted by Houston Symphony's Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke, presented an eclectic program of French and Italian operas and American Broadway fare, highlighting its impressive range, and that of Fleming, who, in a flared aqua gown and suite of glittering diamonds, sang along. Highlights included the symphony on The Great White Way's "Carousel Waltz" and Fleming belting out the cute, comical "The Diva," a new song written by Andrew Lippa for Fleming, which was the tuned punchy tune guests won't have been able to get out of their heads since.
After the show, many masked concertgoers — who'd been treated to a Champagne reception before the performance — boarded busses en route to the Corinthian event space a few blocks away for a lavish celebratory dinner, per the annual event's custon. Under twinkling chandeliers, and amid the faint scent of the purple hydrangeas and deep lavender-colored roses that superstar event planner Richard Flowers had placed voluptuously on every table, guest enjoyed the Richard Brown Orchestra playing dinnertime standards — "Fly Me to the Moon," anyone — and dinner of pistachio-topped roasted halibut.
The glam cultural event, sponsored by ConocoPhillips, raised $600,000 for the Symphony's educational and community-oriented programming, which a rep for the company touts as "industry-leading." Initiative include "embedding" musicians at Texas Children's Hospital serving pediatric cancer patients.
Spotted in the crowd: Margaret Alkek Williams, Lynn Wyatt, Tony Bradfield, Kevin Black, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, John Mangum, Robin Angly, Miles Smith, John and Lindy Rydman, Janet Clark, Nick and Cari Olds, Anne and Albert Chao, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Jim and Whitney Crane, Mady and Ken Kades, Vicki West, Ralph Burch, Beth Wolff and Leslie Siller.
Renée Fleming and Steven Reineke with the Houston Symphony
Vicki West and Ralph Burch
Ishwaria and Vivek Subbiah
Margaret Alkek Williams and John Mangum
Ron Franklin and Janet Gurwitch
Jim and Whitney Crane
Leslie Siller and Cynthia Wolff