Wow! If you weren’t at the 30th Anniversary Star Studded Birthday Bash, oh, you shoulda been there! It turned out to be a memorable night, and a lot of fun! Every single seat right up to the back of the balcony was filled with participating artists, present and former Board and Staff members, old friends, elected officials, sponsors and supporters, and ticket buyers attracted by the dazzling list of participants. At the very end, tears streamed down many faces on and off stage, including mine, as all the artists, and many audience members, joined in the anthem to the tune of “Somewhere” from West Side Story…“You’re a home for us, artistic home for us, thirty years and you’re growing still, we’ve all loved you and always will, thirty more years—right here!!”
The logistics of the performance itself were always uncertain. Could we get each of the 46 performance slots on and off stage swiftly without the whole event shlepping on into the wee hours? But everyone arrived at the red carpet outside the theatre at 6:15, as instructed, and for just one hour, until the doors had to open for the audience at 7:30, the whole procedure had to be organized—who would sit where out in the house, when each group would be summoned backstage through the house right curtains by our fearless Project Coordinator, Allegra Vecchio, and my Assistant, Mac Barrett, and delivered over to the master stage manager Matthew Oberstein, our Assistant Producer, and sent by him and Technical Director Denis Heron to their assigned entrance points and microphones, while our Production Manager Richard Koch called the light cues. And I did voice-over intros on the stage left microphone.
But once the show started, it all ran smoothly and on schedule, and I was very proud of all our staff, including Ed Budz and the house managers who accomplished the challenging task of getting everyone back into their seats at the end of the intermission with a glass of champagne in their hands for the toast offered by Allan Miller and me to the artists and everyone else who made the evening, and the three decades of Symphony Space, possible. A friend of mine had one complaint: “It’s hard to applaud, with a champagne glass in your hand.”
The two and a half hours of performances fulfilled my hope of showing off the very broad range of Symphony Space’s cultural offerings, from the kickoff of the huge and spectacular Taikoza Japanese Drums, part of our CAP education program, to the great cellist Timothy Eddy’s unaccompanied Bach’s Cello Suite or Eugenia Zukerman playing a contemporary Chinese composer’s flute piece; from five Selected Shorts micro-fictions read by five stars of the series to Theodore Bikel coming from Los Angeles to sing “If I Were A Rich Man” in Yiddish! to all potential donors; from great poetry read by the likes of Marian Seldes, Estelle Parsons, Joanna Gleason, and Roy Blount, Jr, and from comedy turns by Stiller and Meara and Calvin Trillin to baseball haiku read by Stephen Lang and stirring vocal solos by Donna Murphy, James Naughton, Liz Callaway, Melissa Errico, and KT Sullivan, and choral works performed by such great groups as Hudson Shad and The Western Wind; from a Duke Ellington dance and song piece to Don Byron playing Bach on the clarinet, not to mention the 28 stars who took part in seven historical “Newsflashes” about Symphony Space’s past, present, and future! All this and much, much more. You hadda be there.
But if you were not, we will soon have an audio sampling right here on this website, and no doubt some bits of the video coverage will make their way online here before too long.
The morning after the Birthday Bash, we were already busy on what’s coming up next. For me, that’s the January 28th Thalia Follies on the subject of the tightening and perhaps frightening Presidential race. I hope you’ll come to the 6:30 or 8:30 show to hear songs about the front-runners and the big issues, as well as advance drafts of Mike Bloomberg’s “Big Announcement” and Mike Huckabee’s planned Inaugural Address. See you there.