Photo Flash: WNET Salutes Nathan Lane, Renée Fleming, And More At Annual Gala
Last night, WNET hosted its annual WNET Gala, to celebrate artists and honor patrons of the American arts community in gratitude of their continued support of emerging creatives. A who's who of stars and patrons gathered at the Plaza Hotel Monday evening to shine a spotlight on seven 2019 honorees for their contributions to the arts including two-time Tony Award-winning actor Nathan Lane, American opera singer Renée Fleming, CEO of AMC Networks Josh Sapan, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Hispánico Eduardo Vilaro, and philanthropists Jody and John Arnhold of the Arnhold Foundation, recognizing them for their outstanding work in the arts, media, and philanthropy.
Kicking off the program were the vocal stylings of Juilliard Soprano, Shereen Pimentel, who performed "Everybody Says Don't" from Steven Sondheim's acclaimed Anyone Can Whistle. Garen Scribner, host of WNET's ALL ARTS series "Broadway Sandwich," served as the evening's Master of Ceremonies - setting the stage for the tremendous talent to be honored throughout the evening. Edgar Wachenheim, III, Chairman of WNET's Board of Trustees, gave opening remarks about the station's leadership and legacy in public media and introduced WNET President & CEO, Neal Shapiro, who in turn ignited attendees' passion for the arts and arts education. The night also featured an especially evocative performance by Ballet Hispánico, bringing a mesmerizing meld of ballet and Cuban dance hall movement to the Plaza's mainstage.
WNET emcee, Garen Scribner, then invited the honorees: Josh Sapan, Nathan Lane, Renée Fleming, Eduardo Vilaro, and Jody Arnhold onstage for a live Q&A to discuss their earliest memories and associations with arts. The honorees spoke about their experiences with memorable art in their childhoods - Eduardo Vilaro mentioned that his earliest exposure and subsequent love of classical ballet and dance, came from WNET's programming he viewed as a child and hoped that exposure to arts would enable diverse players to develop their passions in the future. In speaking of the effect of early exposure to dance and arts in general, Philanthropist Jody Arnhold received roaring applause when she affirmed: "Our goal is that dance be at the table, wherever education is discussed."
Renée Fleming credited WNET for her continued education in the arts and in opera performances, having begun learning from her own mother and piano teacher at an early age. When asked about his thoughts on social media and the arts, Nathan Lane implored avid social media users to "stop posting and to start listening to one another - otherwise we'll lose what makes us connect."
The evening concluded with a stirring performance from classical-meets-rockstar duo, violinist Charles Yang, and pianist Peter Dugan, whose renditions of The Beatles' "Blackbird" and The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" roused the attendees and honorees in standing ovation.
Notable Guests in attendance included: Paula Zahn (journalist), Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (Filmmaker), Ric Burns (Filmmaker), David Horn (Great Performances executive producer), Michael Kanter (American Masters executive producer), Hari Sreenivasan (Amanpour and Company Contributor and PBS Newshour Weekend Anchor), Juju Chang (Nightline Anchor), Dr. Bill Baker (WNET President Emeritus), and Cheryl and Philip Milstein.
Photo Credit: Bridget Badore For WNET Gala 2019; Joseph Sinnott For WNET Gala 2019
Shireen Pimentel and Renee Fleming
John and Jody Arnhold
Ballet Hispanico CEO Eduardo Vilaro and Friend