Outside the Preston Hollow home of Sherwood Wagner early on Tuesday, April 26, the weather was still warm but dry ahead of the drenching that had been predicted for later. But, once inside Sherwood’s manse, some 150 guests were confronted with a sight that had them forgetting about the forecast: Just beyond the doors leading to Wagner’s yard, a huge, sky-high white tent had been erected that looked like someone’s idea of heaven. Beneath its Hollywood-style spotlights, colorful dinner tables had been neatly arranged, each one sporting generous arrangements of peonies, tulips, lilies or purple orchids. Hanging above each table was a fanciful oversized scultped “bird,” in hues ranging from white, aqua and yellow to pink and gold. Ah, now they recalled the extraordinary invitation that Sherwood had been hand-delivered — a box containing a dazzling feathered faux bird and a printed invite.
The stunning environment was the handiwork of Shari Kelley Events of Palm Springs, California, which Sherwood had retained to make this kick-off dinner for the Friday, September 16th Dallas Symphony Gala one the guests won’t soon forget. Affirmed one of them as she took it all in: “This is the prettiest party I’ve been to in the last five years.” The party was also full of surprises, from the real live bird that was chirping somewhere high in the tent, to the virtuoso violinist who played while guests enjoyed drinks and canapés, to the curtain that was suddenly yanked back to reveal a stage with six rockabilly band members beneath lettering that read, Million Dollar Quartet. When the expert musicians tore into tunes like “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” guests including Doris and Jack Jacobs and Donna and Herb Weitzman packed the little dance floor.
Others, like Kara and Randall Goss, Kathy and Richard Holt, Lynn McBee, Carole and Scott Murray, Holly and Doug Deason and Katherine and Key Coker, were content to chat with friends until dinner (Panzanella artichoke salad and braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and sweet peas) was served. That’s when Sherwood (she’s the 2016 Gala honorary chair) and her buddies 2016 Gala Chairs Marena and Roger Gault took the stage, along with DSO CEO Jonathan Martin. After thanking Gala Underwriting Chairs Margaret and Barry Hancock and Kristi and Ron Hoyl, Roger announced, “We are well on our way to meeting our goal for the Gala.” Jonathan reiterated that the “most famous classical musician on the planet,” pianist Lang Lang, would perform at the Gala. Then, as rain began spattering on the tent’s roof, Marena added, “Come hell or high water, we’re going to have a good time tonight!”
And that’s just what they did—at least until just before 9:30 and the scheduled desserts (lemon bar with raspberries, or double chocolate chip brownie with strawberries). It was announced then that “Mother Nature’s coming home to roost, so we feel that it’s better to get you on your way and to turn the party off.” With that everyone made happily for the valet line, where they could hear thunder and see lightning flashing off in the distance.
Can’t wait to see what Sherwood and the Gaults have in store for the 2016 fall season’s first black-tie gala. Tickets and sponsorships are available now.
* Photo credit: Sylvia Elzafron