Promoting Classical Music for Houston Kids, Virtuosi Hits High Note at 25th Anny

Tarek and Nadia Akaweih

ONE OF HOUSTON'S most important and prestigious organizations for young artists turned 25 over the weekend, as one of the torrent of in-person parties dotting the social calendar in what would typically be the last weeks of the spring season. Some 250 filled the Hyatt Hotel Downtown's ballroom for Virtuosi of Houston's Silver Jubilee gala, which raised $180,000.


Red roses and accents of silver filled the space, with mini musical instruments factoring into the centerpieces. Other highlights of the event included a wine pull, a raffle with prizes including a gift card to the fabulous new Zadok Jewelers and remarks from emcee Ernie Manouse. But, of course, the most memorable parts of the night were the performances by Virtuosi's student musicians.

Gala chairs were Cheryl Byington and Beth Wolf, with honorary chairs Philamena Baird and Monzer Hourani. Honorees for the special anniversary affair were the org's founding artistic directors Andrzej Grabiec and Franz Anton Krager; longtime volunteers Carolyn Vandiver and Cathy and Earle Steinberg; and the Moores School of Music at UH. Guests included Lia Vallone, Dianna and David Voll, Deborah Krager, Danuta Grabiec, Joel Oppenheim, Moores School Director Courtney Crappell and his wife Conny Crappell. Andrew Davis, founding dean of UH's Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, was also on hand.

Virtuosi of Houston is said to foster a "pre-professional" environment and provide performance opportunities for the city's best and most dedicated young classical musicians, many of whom go on to study at the world's most prestigious music schools and to undertake artistic careers.

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