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Scene Last Night: Wilbur Ross, Kenneth Buckfire, Henry Cornell

New York Philharmonic Year of the Dragon
Wilbur Ross of WL Ross & Co. LLC. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

At the New York Philharmonic’s Year of the Dragon gala last night, plenty of guests had advice for doing business in China.

Wilbur Ross, dressed in a black-and-red Chinese jacket, said, “You’re dealing with a much more sophisticated culture than we have.”

Thomas Wu, a consultant based in Dusseldorf, Germany, who helps foreign companies do business in China, was more exact.

“When you invest according to the Five Year Plan, the likelihood of success is high,” Wu said. “The plan is future-oriented, so good investments are clean tech, renewable energy and rare earths, used to produce LED chips. China will be leading in lighting products.”

As Kenneth Buckfire, chief executive officer of Miller Buckfire & Co., mingled with fellow Philharmonic board member Daisy Soros, Gary Parr, Philharmonic chairman and vice chairman of Lazard Ltd., talked with Joan Weill about Alvin Ailey’s tentative plans to perform in China.

Ansso Wang of American International Group Inc. knew the Year of the Dragon was auspicious: “This is the year to have children.”

The topic of doing business with China returned as waiters passed duck rolls and dumplings.

U.S. diplomat Nicholas Platt, father of actor Oliver Platt and restaurant critic Adam Platt, said the key is to “keep showing up.”

“Be patient,” added Andrew Xuejun Mao, chief marketing officer of the New York branch of China Merchants Bank Co.

“Ensure you have a really good Chinese friend,” said Anthony Walton, vice chairman, Americas, at Standard Chartered Bank.

Dragon Puppet

“All of the above,” said Maurice Greenberg, chairman and chief executive of C.V. Starr & Co.

The concert at Avery Fisher Hall began, to the beating of a drum wrapped in red silk. A dragon puppet danced across the stage.

The showstopper was the Quintessenso Mongolian Children’s Choir, from the area of the Hulun Buir Grassland. Dressed in colorful robes, boots and white-fur pompoms, the 22 children performed folk songs without an ounce of stage fright.

Their sweet voices and Lady Gaga-caliber dance moves earned them a standing ovation, led by Damian Woetzel, a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and Alan Patricof, managing director and founder of Greycroft Partners LLC.

At intermission, Henry Cornell, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said he was looking forward to the oboe piece, “Extase” by Quigang Chen, featuring New York Philharmonic oboist Liang Wang.

“I played the bassoon and oboe until I was 16,” Cornell said. “Now my 6-year-old is studying piano. We take lessons together on Saturday mornings.”

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

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