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Scene Last Night: Wolfensohn, Lauder Hear Israel Philharmonic

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Nancy Mehta and Zubin Mehta at the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra gala.

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Nancy Mehta and Zubin Mehta at the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra gala. Close

Nancy Mehta and Zubin Mehta at the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra gala.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

James Wolfensohn, chairman of Wolfensohn & Co LLC. Close

James Wolfensohn, chairman of Wolfensohn & Co LLC.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Marvin Hamlisch, composer and a benefit chairman, with Dr. Albert Lefkovitz. Close

Marvin Hamlisch, composer and a benefit chairman, with Dr. Albert Lefkovitz.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon

Gala chairman Lauren Veronis and investor Ronald Lauder. Close

Gala chairman Lauren Veronis and investor Ronald Lauder.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Larry Leeds, chairman of Buckingham Capital Partners, and Sharon Bush, former daughter-in-law of President George H.W. Bush. Close

Larry Leeds, chairman of Buckingham Capital Partners, and Sharon Bush, former daughter-in-law of President George H.W. Bush.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Karen LeFrak, children's book author, and Evgeny Kissin, classical pianist. Close

Karen LeFrak, children's book author, and Evgeny Kissin, classical pianist.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Ruth Westheimer, center, author and sex expert, with Dovid Efune, managing director of the Gershon Jacobson Foundation, and Mushkee Efune, co-founder of Lederblum, a vintage clothing boutique in Brooklyn. Close

Ruth Westheimer, center, author and sex expert, with Dovid Efune, managing director of the Gershon Jacobson... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Heidi Learner, a fixed-income trading consultant and co-chairman of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Associates party. Close

Heidi Learner, a fixed-income trading consultant and co-chairman of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Avner Dorman, composer, with Inbal Segev, cellist and her husband, Thomas Brener, portfolio manager at Quadrant Capital Advisors Inc. Dorman is writing a cello concerto for Segev. "I want it to have a lot of heart and a Middle Eastern feel," said Segev. Close

Avner Dorman, composer, with Inbal Segev, cellist and her husband, Thomas Brener, portfolio manager at Quadrant... Read More

“It’s the music,” said James Wolfensohn last night over hummus.

The chairman of investment firm Wolfensohn & Co. LLC and former World Bank Group president was explaining his support of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the sentiment was echoed throughout the Plaza Hotel’s ballroom.

The occasion was a black-tie fundraiser organized by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The group is responsible for raising 30 percent of the orchestra’s budget.

Heading back to his table after a round of greetings, composer Marvin Hamlisch commented on the orchestra’s music director of more than 40 years, Zubin Mehta.

“He leads an orchestra that wants to play for him,” Hamlisch said.

“He does everything with kindness,” said Lauren Veronis, a co-chairman of the gala. “It’s a tap on the shoulder, asking about the kids. It’s just his way.”

At the podium, Mehta thanked his musicians for “pouring their hearts out. And we haven’t finished,” he said.

The evening started at Carnegie Hall, with Mehta conducting the orchestra in the North American premiere of Avner Dorman’s “Azerbaijani Dance,” Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring Yefim Bronfman, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

By 9:30, much of the gala crowd had moved to the Plaza. Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, sex expert Ruth Westheimer, investor Ronald Lauder and Morris Offit, chairman of Offit Capital Advisors LLC, sat in the ballroom for dinner.

In the Terrace Room, one floor below, a younger crowd known as the Associates gathered for cocktails and lighter fare.

“This is the best way I know to support Israel in an apolitical way,” said Heidi Learner, a fixed-income trading consultant and co-chairman of the Associates party.

The 35-year-old composer Dorman has realized another benefit: he met his wife, Jenny, at an Associates event.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the art and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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