On the first day of summer June 21 in downtown Denver with temps reaching the mid-80s what better way to cool off than to reminisce over a snowy sleigh ride?
That’s maybe what Anna Maglione Sie had in mind when she took the baton and conducted the 88-piece National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel’s Capitol Ballroom as part of the orchestra’s annual gala.
Sie won conducting duties of the popular Christmas tune “Sleigh Ride” as part of a live auction benefit. She was followed by an energetic and animated Pamela Gray conducting Rossini’s “Overture to William Tell,” the popular galloping horses music best known as the theme for The Lone Ranger TV shows.
Winning an auction bid to conduct a real, live orchestra in front of 350 guests one of many highlights of the NRO Gala, one of several fundraisers for the Breckenridge-based non-profit that supports classical musical training for the world’s best young classical musicians. This year a record breaking 800 student musicians auditioned for the coveted 89-positions to be invited to play for eight weeks with the orchestra.
The gala theme “Fifty Shades of Fabulous!” had more to do with some fashion, silliness and goofy glasses than the steamy bestselling novel, explained Gala Chair Rita Bergman. And in keeping with this theme guests and the orchestra wore outrageously flamboyant shades while dining tables were decorated with ornate and customized lamp shades that could be purchased in support of a good cause.
Now in its 54th season, the NRO launched it’s new logo and web site last summer with a positive reception. And, thanks to generous support from Honorary Chairs Sharon Magness Blake & Ernie Blake the glamour and glitter and outstanding musical performances went off without a hitch. Among guests and donors were Breckenridge Mayor John Warner and his wife, Carre; Bonnie and David Mandarich; Robert Katz and Elana Amsterdam; Barbara and James Calvin; Nancy and Bob Follett; Rick Poppe and Jana Edwards; Nancy and Tom French; Joan Houlton; Kate and Jim Taucher; Janice Ward Parrish; NRO Board President Barbara Vonderheid; and some 24 long-time sustainers including Mike Altenberg, Libby Bortz, Gretchen and John Swift, Geri Cohen, Pamela and Reggie Gray, and many more donors, volunteers and coordinators.
At the cocktail reception and silent auction NRO CEO/COO Douglas Adams, wife Pamela, and Marketing & Development Director Julie Chandler welcomed guests and donors while office staff Cecile Forsberg, Director of Artistic & Operations Director; Kathleen Clabby, Development Associate; and Office Manager Christina McNally and other volunteers coordinated behind the scenes silent auction and dinner preparations.
After dinner board member Patrice Lara took the podium to announce a salute to Patrons of Distinction, some three dozen long-time symphony donors and supporters who have kept the NRO thriving over the years. After the presentation, student musicians streamed quickly into the ballroom and took their positions on stage.
Emcee Greg Dobbs and Music Director and Conductor Carl Topilow— now more than 30 years with the orchestra–directed the live auctions and musical program featuring Summon the Heroes by John Williams and Conga del Fuego Nuevo by Arturo Marquez. A special treat was a violin solo performed by Hugh Palmer of Henri Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concert No 5 in A Minor, opus 37. The event wound down with a ballroom dance featuring the orchestra with conductor Topilow playing his trademark red clarinet.
Corporate and individual funding from this and many other annual events help the NRO fund audition tours, musician housing, food, cost of promoting and producing concerts, career prospective programs and education and community engagement program training. The organization represents a global perspective with musicians representing eight countries and 23 states. During the eight-week season, the young student musicians perform some 30 events including ticketed season concerts and free community events.
For more information call the NRO at 970-453-5825 or visit the symphony online at www.nromusic.com