Wednesday night's San Francisco Symphony Opening Gala introduced the new arts season with thoughtful music, fine delectables, and throngs of fetching gowns. As the sun set on the warm Bay Area, the event kept buzzing. Turning up the heat, the concert featured one of People magazine's "Sexiest Men Alive," Lang Lang, the 27 year-old piano virtuoso and a trio of dizzying waltzes conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.
The evening began with cocktails and parallel dinner events organized by the San Francisco Symphony League and Symphonix, the young professional league. McCall's catered, and everything looked grand, beginning in the tent pavilion, City Hall, and of course Davies Symphony Hall where patrons flocked for the main event.
While this year's gala lacked some of the pomp and fanfare of previous years, the waltzes and concerto selected provided overtones of hope, mixed with dissonant bass and a crisp denouement. Lang Lang, channeling composer-pianist Prokofiev himself, flew across the piano like a hummingbird, and his solo encore left the audience on their feet.
Following the concert, patrons took to the after-party featuring over a dozen local restaurants and bakeries. Among the favorites, Asia de Cuba's executive chef, Thomas Rhodes, passed out Tunapica (tuna tartare picadillo) and Kingdom Cakes provided a selection highlighted by oreo-topped mini-cupcakes.
For the people-watchers in the crowd, the night did not disappoint. Bright colors flooded the atrium as guests mingled on their way to their seats, showing brilliant reds, turquoise, and aurulent. Now staples on the society circuit, gowns by Oscar de la Renta, Chanel and Lily Samii graced the red carpet for the Patrons' Dinner.
Not to be outdone, friends of Symphonix were wearing some brilliant fall designs with hints of neon, sequins, backless lace, translucent webbing, and luxe ruffles. It also was hard not to notice the glittering jewelry provided by Judith Ripka worn by Michelle Curtis (right) and Kelly Grimes, in custom Emily Jane and Alexander McQueen Couture, respectively. Gala Chairwoman, Jessica Wu (shown above, with Lang Lang and MTT), wore a statuesque Badgley Mischka.
Of course, this is just the beginning. As the symphony gears up for the rest of the season, the Mahler festival begins next week. Tickets start at $15. Couture not required, but expect the atmosphere to continue sparkling.
(Author's note: Stay tuned - more great photos from the event coming soon in our next article!)
Photos by Drew Altizer Photography & Video.
Article by Sarah Granger, Founder of SFBayStyle.