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Monday, November 23, 2009

NIGHTLIGHT: Sing for Hope Gala was a Resounding Success! Songs for Our Future led by Co-Chairs Joseph and Judi Flom, Board Chair Eva Haller and Co-Founders Monica Yunus and Camille Zamora Honor Renee Fleming, Jane Fonda, Reynold Levy and Muhammad Yunus in an evening of Arts Activism in Action in Lincoln Center November 21st. Special Surprise Birthday Guest: Billie Jean King

It is a rare occasion when one finds themselves in a room as densely populated in talent as the Kaplan Penthouse of Lincoln Center was this past Saturday night, November 21.  Sing for Hope is a non-profit organization that mobilizes professional artists in volunteer service programs to benefit communities in need. Founded by opera singers with a desire to lift their voices for social change, Sing for Hope is a non-profit organization that mobilizes more than 600 professional artists – from classical musicians to photographers to Broadway performers – in volunteer service programs that benefit communities in need.  Each Sing for Hope project is defined by the volunteerism of professional artists and our belief in the transformative power of the performing arts.

We quote from the program:

"I know firsthand the power of art to unite and transform communities...Sing for Hope is dedicated to bringing the healing power of art to those who need it most, and in today's world, that feels more urgent than ever."

-Renee Fleming, Grammy Award-winning Soprano and Sing for Hope Board Member

"What Sing for Hope does is wonderfully simple.  It maintains a roster of compassionate, world-class artists who donate time and talent to the humanitarian causes that inspire them."
-Dr. Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate,
2009 Presidential Medal of Honor Recipient,
and Sing for Hope Board Member

As serenaded by South Pacific star Joshua Hopkins, the Sing for Hope 2009 Gala, “Songs for our Future” was truly an enchanted evening from start to finish.   The evening began at the perfect location for this event, the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse that overlooks Lincoln Center and a windowed panorama onto the west side.

The evening commenced with a lovely cocktail hour which included the fabulous honoree Ms. Jane Fonda, Billie Jean King, Martha Stewart, and Renee Fleming.  Each outstanding woman radiated confidence and sincerity, and were all personable and down-to-earth in conversation. An added perk was being amongst opera and theater's crème de la crème serenading Ms. King for her birthday, who in turn wished all of us that our birthdays would be as wonderful.  Thank goodness Peachy was a Perilhette!  (Hearing Perilhettes was the last time she heard so much singing at dinner...and she did run into someone from her MPS class for the first time since the day they graduated!)

Sing for Hope’s Co-Founding Directors and our hostesses, Sopranos Camille Zamora & Monica Yunus brought talent and enthusiasm to the night, performing solo during ensembles with Broadway and Lincoln Center’s great talents. The event was highlighted with video and LIVE performances from some of their roster of 600 member professional performers who quite simply, donate their time and talents to communities in need. Sing for Hope endeavors to uplift the spirits of 1,500 patients, family members and healthcare practitioners by going to hospitals, hospices and healthcare facilities.

The performers describe with pride their opportunity to bring “passion and humanity” to “those oppressed by the healthcare system” and the “difference a human presence” makes, demonstrating to patients and administration that “people matter”: Additionally they connect with 2,000 students who are under-served or lack access to fine arts to use arts as a catalyst for positive change. The commitment shown by last night by performers, hosts and honorees (Fleming, Fonda, Reynold Levy, author, Philanthropist & President of Lincoln Center and Nobel Prize Laureate, Muhammad Yunus) to this cause was infectious.   Monica Yunus did a fabulous rendition of "I Could've Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady (we hope you got a chance to swing by Sotheby's this weekend to see Audrey Hepburn's display  Dr. Muhammad Yunus who spoke after Monica's performance began by saying something along the lines of: "[If my daugher wants to dance all night we're all in trouble]" but in addition to connecting to the audience he complemented Monica by saying Sing for Hope is so successful, now she'll have to tell him how to run his organization(s).

The evening was an opportunity for classic beauties to shine (Jane Fonda in a black sequin blazer and skinny pants); show off some up & comers (Tenor Tituss Burgess, Violinist & composer Daisy Jopling) and be in awe of stylish-sophistication and finesses (birthday girl, Billie Jean King, the 2009 mahogany grand L, Martha Stewart, Renee Fleming)

Among the highlights of the evening was the Sotheby’s live auction for the gorgeous 2009 Steinway mahogany grand L piano autographed by Ms. Fleming and Plácido Domingo. The winning bid of $75,000 got a ‘bargain’ in this economy as the Steinway grand L comes with a private concert from Plácido & Renee, has been used through out the season at Lincoln Center and on tour. The mahogany grand was just stunning and its tone shown through out the night as we were treated to performances byMezzo-Sopranos, Kirstin ChavezEdyta Kulczak, and Baritone Michael Todd Simpson.

Among the lovely guests Whom You Know met during the cocktail hour included:
Jane Fonda (we look forward to featuring her in "Read This" in months to come)
Andy Sandberg
Izabel Lam
Camille Zamora
Patty Reitkopf
Barbara Butcher
Jacquie Berger
Michael Warner
Martha Stewart (We met her actually as we went into dinner!  Maybe she reads the Etiquette from Connecticut column?

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Whom You Know was honored to cover "Songs For Our Future," the Sing for Hope 2009 Gala event and we are so impressed with this organization, we had a coverage team for the event.  We encourage you to follow the development of this fabulous organization!  An outstanding effort by all at Sing For Hope.  Thank you Chris!

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