Philadelphia High Society celebrated the 154th anniversary of the Academy of Music with a Philadelphia Orchestra concert and ball on Saturday, January 29.
But first I stopped by Tiffany & Co as they were co-hosting a party with The Central Committee for The Philadelphia Orchestra with Anita Leto, Chairperson, The Committee for The Philadelphia Orchestra, Ray Raby, Group Director Philadelphia Market, Tiffany & Co., Nicole A. Cashman, Event Chair; President and CEO of Cashman & Associates, Sally Bullard – President of the Volunteer Committees and John Colabelli – Sponsor; Publisher of Philadelphia Style Magazine. (This event will be a separate entry later this week)

This would be the first year that I would be in town to photograph the Academy Ball as I would often be in NYC preparing for pre-Fashion Week events & parties. After leaving the Tiffany & Co party I hurried over to the Academy just as the last of the 2100 guest dressed to the nines with men in white ties and women in full-length gowns, to find my place in the press line to shoot the concert. Thank you to the PR ladies, Kathleen & Kate who represent the Philadelphia Orchestra for waiting for my arrival and allowing me to get into place. (I did miss The President’s Reception which is held before the concert and usually the only place “press” can photograph the guests.)Joanna McNeil Lewis, president of the Academy of Music welcomed guests to the historic night and urged the audience, “To support Philadelphia cultural treasures such as the Orchestra, Academy of Music, and Tastykakes or Philadelphia will lose its uniqueness.” MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall, host of the evening, announced that the Academy of Music restoration had just won the prestigious American Institute of Architects 2011 Honor Award for Interior Architecture. (source) Lester Holt was supposed to be the MC of the evening but was called away to cover the breaking story in Egypt.
Conductor Jonathan Nott acknowledges the applause after he conducted the orchestra in Shostakovich’s “Festive overture, Op. 96 at the Academy of Music’s 154 Anniversary Concert.
Renee Fleming sang an aria from composer Leoncavallo’s La Boheme, the aria “Musetta svaria sulla bocca viva” from La Boheme by Leoncavallo, “I feel Pretty” from West Side Story, plus Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” one of my favorite songs. She’s probably the only international artist who has recorded both Mozart’s Alleluia from Exultate Jubilate, and Cohen’s Hallelujah (Although interesting enough she doesn’t sing the entire song, and skips the verses that are really dramatic, odd yes?)

Renee Fleming’s Hallelujah (but the brass shouldn’t get upset, this is a BBS clip. When I first started out doing this blog 3 years ago, I was shooting the Marian Anderson Awards and whipped out my camera to capture a few moments and was shut down. Had no idea about rules on filming in a Union House and all those things. Now I’m educated on it)

Paul Simon performing with the Philadelphia orchestra at the 154th Anniversary Concert of the Academy of Music. His set opened with “Boy in the Bubble”, “Still Crazy After All these Years”, “Cecilia”, a new song “Love and Hard Times” “Only Living Boy in NY”, one of my favorites “Loves me Like a Rock”, “The Boxer”
and a duet with Renee Fleming “The Sounds of Silence”. Around 9PM after the end of the concert, the legendary stroll up Broad Street begins to the destination of the dame of Broad Street The Bellevue where dinner and dancing would commence on each floor as the Gala takes over the building. For for years I’ve admired the photos on the 19th floor near XIX of balls gone by and dreamed one day of documenting the night. (Wait til you see what went on in that room when I cover the party on Wednesday’s PhillyChitChat)
I ran into a few of my friends on their stroll including State Rep. Dwight Evans and Ahmeenah Young, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. In a split minute Ahmeenah asked me why I haven’t contacted her yet for my private tour. I said I would, I have the time now.
I can’t think of another event that I would have wanted to write about on this my first day in business than this event that romanticizes Philadelphia Society.
Thanks to all the readers who recognized me and gave me shout outs while I was waiting outside.
Guest, Steven and Linda Siegfried. Linda co-chaired the Invitations Committee.
See the book Linda is carrying. That’s the Academy Ball Sponsor Book. It’s a huge honor to be in the book as the sponsorships range from $5,000 to $10,000. Proceeds from the Anniversary Concert and Ball benefit the Academy of Music and The Philadelphia Orchestra Association. The theme of the concert was “Protecting Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures”
I am honored and grateful for Eliana and Maria Papadakis who sponsored a page in honor of and the coverage I give to the many charitable organizations in Philadelphia, all of which protect Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures which touch people. I was also grateful for the mention of Philadelphia Singer/Songwriter Linda Creed and my sister Judy Dillon Wilkins, two women who courageously battled cancer and in death went to help ease the pain and financial burden of women in similar situations with their charitable organizations. Photographer Alan Kolc who has photographed for the Academy Ball Sponsor Book for nearly 25 years with his assistant Heidi Schetter
Thank you to the legendary Kenny Gamble who worked with Linda Creed, Flyers Captain & Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Richards, Lisa Gaudio and Maria Papadakis who represent the subjects I photograph at the charity events that helps me get press for the charities that I cover. (Besides appearing in I’ve gotten them all in Michael Klein’s column in the Inquirer which helps me maximize the coverage I stride to obtain for charitable organizations.)
Two years ago I met Marcia and Ron Rubin when I covered one of George Rubin’s favorite charities Thorncroft which is held every year at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Mark your calendars for 4/2/11
Drew Becher and his partner Eric. Drew is the new president of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and is getting ready for the The 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show “Springtime in Paris” March 6 – 11; I am too, it means Spring really is right around the corner.

Joan Spain makes her way to the Bellevue with her BFF Joan Pileggi in tow as well as her husband Bernie coming down the steps.
Karen Lamsback (fur coat), Brian Lamsback, Tina Lamsback, and Bob Lamsback.
David Nugiel and Lisa Simon of Simon Public Relations Group on the right, with guests
Pretty in pink, plum, purple and red helped brighten
what has been a dreary series of days after the snow and sleet earlier in the week.
Nataliia Pestell and Dr. Richard Pestell of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson

White tie (or evening dress, full evening dress; slang top hat and tails or white tie and tails) is the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion. It is worn to events such as balls, the opera, and banquets. The chief components for men are the dress coat, white bow tie and waistcoat, and starched shirt, while women wear a suitable dress for the occasion, such as a ball gown.
Socialite, Philanthropist, beautiful Dana Spain being escorted by Eric.
Another beautiful women, and one of my former co-workers at Kohn, Swift & Graf, attorney Christina Saler and husband John Saler. What a cozy coat. If the City isn’t buried under two feet of snow come back tomorrow as I will have the photos of inside the gala, an event that is rarely photographed as it’s off limits, but I explained to the doorman, I’m not press, I consider myself a documentarian, I am capturing Philadelphia’s Social History in the new century. All the photos from tonight’s event can be purchased ($7) at the end of the week; So check back tomorrow for more fashion, and the story of what happens inside the Academy Ball Gala. It truly is a Philadelphia gem.