Memories are elastic, so it would be easy to think that when I say Pops Night during Music in the Mountains this year was the best ever, it’s a matter of Neighbors columnist hyperbole. It’s not.
The evening worked on every level, including Mother Nature’s contribution of a flawless summer evening. Guests arrived to tables full of amazing silent auction items and appetizers including Sevillan marinated carrots, artichokes with toasted Parmesan cheese and truffle oil wrapped in prosciutto and quail breasts with honey-coffee dressing.
The silent auction was amazing. One volunteer told me this was clearly a sign we’re coming out of the recession because people were bidding on everything, and she was selling raffle tickets for the gift certificates to Star Liquors like crazy.
(The prizes are one $1,000 and two $500 gift certificates. They’re $20 each or six for $100. And our children are the big winners because funds raised go to the Music in the Mountains Goes to School program. Buy them at any concert or at the festival office at 1063 Main Ave. or by calling 385-6820.)
Jewelry designers Carol Salomon, Chiara Amoroso and Donna Frank all donated beautiful pieces, but it was worth being there just to see the 16 pieces Michelle Oppenheimer had cleaned out of her jewelry box. (She has fabulous jewelry, and let’s just say her husband, Robert, is an excellent gift giver.) Wowsers, as my colleague from Nebraska is wont to say.
Photographers Branson Reynolds, Chet Anderson, Howard Rachlin, Debra Parmenter, Dr. Ronald Ritz, Jerry Baumann and Walter Pfau all donated shots, and Claude Steelman donated a copy of his book. Karen Skelly donated studio sessions.
Knitters Myriam Palmer and Marilyn Swanson gave some of their finest pieces. Palmer and her husband, Tony, also donated a bottle of vintage port from their wine cellar.
Local businesses and organizations really stepped up, too. Bill Cook from the Jewelry Works donated a Nambé salad bowl with servers, and Roger Sterling from Southwest Appliance gave a GE wine cellar. Fort Lewis College’s Continuing Education program donated class tuition, the Snowdown Follies and San Juan Symphony gave tickets, the Durango Community Recreation Center donated passes, there were trips to Telluride and Scottsdale, Arizona, propane, gift certificates for shoes, facials and dermatology treatments ...
Artists Jane Mercer, David Sipe, Anna Passalaqua, Georgann Reitz, Alycia Fulcher, the Chihuly Workshop, Sandy Baumann, Caroline Reeves Johnson and others created works in a variety of media, and board members and individuals Nancy Fisher, Mary Ann McCarthy, John Anderson, Jan Bowler and many others donated items. The final count for the silent auction alone was a whopping 78 items.
Jimmy Nicholson of Durangourmet and his crew once again handled the meal with aplomb. After the appetizers, guests sat down to a green salad with sprouts, local cheese, grapefruit and roasted golden beets with shallot-herb dressing. The main course, passed family-style – one of the charming traditions of the event – featured garlic-herb-crusted beef tenderloin with arugula-horseradish sauce; roast chicken breast with saffron, macadamia nuts and honey sauce; grilled cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, dill and capers with whole grain mustard dressing; and couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash. Dessert was pistachio shortbread and 1st Southwest Bank’s contribution of Animas Chocolate Co.’s chocolate bars in a variety of flavors, which many people could not save to take home as a party favor and broke into at the party.
A crew led by Diane Welle, including Sylvia Kehle, Jan Bowler and Cindy Cortese, spent three days with glue guns creating black-sequined bow tie napkin holders, and the rest of the color scheme in black and silver was perfectly elegant for the theme.
Calvin and Pat Story reprised their role as auctioneers for the live auction, which contained just five special items. Two paintings – the season’s signature art by Melanie Kirkpatrick and “Peonies by Carol Carpenter; a week at Jean-Pierre and Rebecca Bléger’s condo in Paris as well as a week at Ralph and Syliva Kehle’s condo in Panama; and a Greek summer feast prepared by DLucia Poole.
Of course, it’s not a Music in the Mountains event without music. Guest Conductor Carl Topilow returned to lead the Festival Orchestra in a wonderful homage to Broadway. Many attendees couldn’t resist at least a little singing along, and more than a few’s toes were tapping so much they just had to dance.
Guest soloists tenor Daniel Fosha and mezzo-soprano Jennifer DeDominici were utterly splendid, and perhaps the only complaint is that Topilow, who is an amazing clarinetist, only played one number, a vivid klezmerish “Fiddler on the Roof” medley.
He did not, however, fail to model the lining of his purple jacket, a pattern of sheet music perfect for its owner.
The singers definitely dressed for their pieces, with DeDominici bringing out a new outfit for virtually every number. “Dancing Queen” from “Mama Mia?” Jumpsuit with big sleeves. Western look for “People Will Say We’re in Love?” Check on the cowboy hats. Black and slinky for the evil queen from “The Little Mermaid” and the Wicked Witch of the West from “Wicked,” beautiful glittery green for “Through the Eyes of Love” from “Ice Castles” and so on.
Not only was she a quick-change artist, she changed characters just as fast. We knew what to expect by the time Fosha arrived for the finale of “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera.” A cape and a moving performance.
It’s easy to forget, as some people did, that this is a concert, when there’s so much social time. So there was a little too much talking in the back of the tent during the quiet, emotional numbers. A reminder next year might not be a bad idea.
But all in all, the ladies looked fabulous, the evening was equal parts fun, delicious and entertaining, we raised some significant moolah for an important cause, and we went home with gourmet chocolate and hummable tunes in our heads.
What’s not to like?
Trying not to be swept away in the monsoonal rains for their birthdays are Nancy Welch, Barbara Morris, Carolyn Brown, Harlan Steinle, Tami Graham, Tom Hamilton, Jeff Eisele, Wanda Ellingson, Mark Epstein, Sandra Joyce, Doug Mason, Nancy Richmond (Alaska’s gain), James Trump, John Hening, Lea Leach, Annelore Miller, Alice Crapo, Sue Magyar, Vickie Hose, Merrilee Fleming, Carla Branson, Carol Gunderson, Alona Grinnan, Caroni Adams, Emily Jordan, Betty Carroll and Janey Silver.
Happy 90th birthday wishes go out to Wally Mason.
Dancin’ in the rain for their anniversaries are John and Judy Peel, Harlan and Bonna Steinle, Dan and Judy Harris, Paul and Cathy Duggan, Jack Harry and Jill Carlson, Bob and Betsy Morris, Bob and Mary Sieger, Mike and Marie Davidson and Darrell and Mary Brown.
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I need to know who’s who, left to right, and who to credit with the photo. Candid photos are better than posed.