Pittsburgh Symphony black tie event raises $933,000


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The Year of the Dragon was celebrated in style Saturday when the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra held its annual black-tie benefit at Heinz Hall. The sold-out, two-tiered event grossed $933,000 for the orchestra, which gave a terrific concert featuring acclaimed Chinese pianist Lang Lang. His many ovations led to a confession -- he couldn't play an encore because union regulations mandated an intermission. Besides, dinner was waiting for the 500 gala guests who retreated to elegant spaces created throughout the hall. Another 300 guests headed for the Soiree after-party at the Fairmont chaired by Todd and Margaret Izzo, with Gerald Morosco and Paul Ford as honorary chairs.

Jim and Ellen Walton and their family -- PSO board member Rachel Walton Wymard and husband Franny, Molly and Joe Walton. Betsy and Jim Walton Jr. and Mary and Allen Whittemore -- chaired the gala portion of the night, which attracted a crowd of heavy-hitters and many longtime symphony supporters. Board chair Dick Simmons and his wife, Ginny, were honorary chairs along with Roy and Susie Dorrance. The Chinese theme was translated into festive floral decorations by Allison McGeary, with red lanterns raised on high. The Duquesne Club served an Asian-infused menu, including a wonderful corn soup, a spicy noodle and cucumber salad and tangerine and lemongrass chicken. Guests returned to the plaza where cocktails had been held earlier in the evening to find a decadent dessert buffet along with the chance to finalize bids on the auction items assembled by Carrington North. Maestro Manfred Honeck made a grand entrance during dinner, politely accepting his well-earned applause.

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