Photo Flash: Renee Fleming and Friends Celebrate SING FOR HOPE's 2014 Gala
Sing for Hope's 2014 Gala united New York's philanthropic and cultural elite for a magical evening in support of arts outreach to communities in need. Nearly 400 guests gathered at the downtown hotspot TriBeCa Rooftop to support the organization's programs that democratize the arts and ignite the spark of creative innovation in all people. Scroll down for photos from the event!
The centerpiece of the evening was a musical tour de force by "The People's Diva" Renée Fleming, one of the most celebrated musical ambassadors of our time. Ms. Fleming's performance -- an intimate appearance rare for the in-demand star -- was motivated by her commitment to Sing for Hope's "art for all" programs, which range from youth arts classes to hospital bedside performances to the Sing for Hope Pianos that appear each summer in the city's parks and public spaces for anyone and everyone to play.
The Grammy-winning Ms. Fleming is arguably the world's most acclaimed opera star. At the gala, with Manhattan's skyline as her backdrop, she performed classic and contemporary favorites, ranging from Lennon and McCartney's "In My Life" to Gershwin's "Our Love is Here to Stay." She was joined in her finale, "You'll Never Walk Alone," by Sing for Hope's Youth Chorus, conducted by the organization's Youth Arts Director Stephanie Martinez in an arrangement by Chief Operating Officer Brian Neff. More than one audience member was seen to wipe away a tear.
Ms. Fleming's performance was accompanied by Fred Hersch ("the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade," according to Vanity Fair) on a special grand piano on loan from one of the evening's lead sponsors: Steinway & Sons. In the company's words: "Steinway & Sons believes that music has a unique ability to touch the human spirit, and we are proud to partner with Sing for Hope to touch the lives of people in New York City and beyond."
In the words of Sing for Hope Co-Founder Monica Yunus, "Amidst all of the excitement around this year's gala, we were particularly thrilled about the generous support of Steinway & Sons. From our student days at Juilliard onward, we've always felt (like all musicians!) that a Steinway is the piano you dream of having at your fingertips. And in light of Sing for Hope's plan to bring our Sing for Hope Pianos back to the five boroughs in Summer 2015, Steinway's generosity feels particularly meaningful."
Yunus' fellow soprano and Sing for Hope Co-Founder Camille Zamora continued, "The Sing for Hope Pianos act as a creative gateway, especially for the most vulnerable young New Yorkers who may have never touched a piano before. These colorful pianos - first in their public spaces and later in their donated community homes - ignite a creative spark and facilitate the first crucial steps toward a lifelong love of music-making."
Ms. Fleming and Mr. Hersch's performance was introduced by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus. About the organization of which he is also a founding board member, Dr. Yunus says, "I believe we have a responsibility and a built-in urge to use our creativity to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. Sing for Hope Volunteer Artists do this every day, and I am inspired by this work and proud to be a part of an organization that uses creative expression to transform the lives of the underserved."
The event was co-chaired by a trifecta of passionate arts philanthropists -- Marina Kellen French, Margie Loeb, and Ann Ziff -- and the evening's Honoree was Jim Woolery, the charismatic Chairman-elect of Cadwalader and a founding board member of Sing for Hope. From the podium, both Ms. Ziff and Mr. Woolery both spoke movingly of their support of Sing for Hope and their belief in its model for community transformation, with Mr. Woolery invoking the power of volunteerism, and Ms. Ziff citing the organization as the nexus of her two passions: art and healing.
Other gala guests and supporters included Hugh Jackman & Deborra-lee Furness, Arianna Huffington, John & Jody Arnhold, Diana & Joel Peterson, Joan & Barry Tucker, William & Maria Eugenia Haseltine, Shelley & Donald Rubin, Ellen & James S. Marcus, Lili & Wilson Ervin, Cynthia Vance & Bob Abrams, Polly & Mike Brandmeyer, Dr. William Isacoff, Flavia Gale, Linda Saul Schejola, David Kleinberg, Yeardley Smith, and Mark Epstein, as well as Sing for Hope board members Jeffrey Chertoff, Valerie Demont, Linda E. Johnson, Jodi Kahn, Lilia Marini-Calves, Kara Unterberg, Billy Weisman, Damian Woetzel, Board Chair David Miller, and Board Chair Emeritus Eva Haller. Generous corporate and foundation supporters of the event included Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, Centerview Partners, Steinway & Sons, Global Gaming Initiative, Mark Bruce International, Martino Family Foundation, Okapi Partners LLC, Teneo Strategy, Bulova Stetson Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Perella Weinberg Partners, Skoll Foundation, Stanley M. Bogen Foundation, United Nations Foundation, Beatrice & Reymont Paul Foundation, and The Capital Group.
With the evening beginning to come toward its close, some final in-room donations were inspired by a video tribute to the Sing for Hope Pianos, projected to return in 2015. As the last guests headed out into the clear New York night, they carried with them the echoes of the special performance and the lingering joy of having fun while doing good.
Photo Credit: Allan Zepeda
Gala Co-Chair Ann Ziff opened the evening with words of welcome.
Gala Honoree Jim Woolery spoke about his involvement with Sing for Hope since helping the organization achieve 501(c)(3) status in 2007.
Grammy-winning composer Robert Livingston Aldridge.
Renee Fleming invited the Sing for Hope Youth Chorus to sing the final song of the night with her.
Sing for Hope Volunteer Artists provided jazz entertainment during the cocktail hour.
Steinway & Sons loaned Sing for Hope a beautiful instrument for the event.
The crowd mingled over hors d'oeuvres catered by Tribeca Rooftop.
The mood was celebratory as guests anticipated the featured musical performance. Pictured here are Sing for Hope's Gala 2013 Honoree, Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani, and Sujean Lee, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Chobani.
The sold out event raised funds to support Sing for Hope's mission of making arts accessible to all. Sing for Hope Board Member Linda E. Johnson pictured at right.