Scene in D.C.: Rubenstein Notes Organ, Sparks Sings Komen

NSO Opening Gala
The Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, and his wife Alice. They recently donated a 5,000-pipe organ to the Kennedy Center. David Rubenstein said his "Jewish mother" would be happy with the donation as he disappointed her by dropping out of piano lessons as a child. He paid tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, whom he called a "mensch." Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein and his wife, Alice, recently donated a 5,000-pipe organ to the Kennedy Center.

“The best part about it is I won’t be playing it,” said Rubenstein, a piano-lessons dropout.

The organ will make its debut in November with the National Symphony Orchestra, which celebrated its 82nd season last night with a performance, dinner and dancing.

Under the direction of Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO performed a suite from “Der Rosenkavalier” for an audience that included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and Librarian of Congress James Billington.

Anne-Sophie Mutter, in Kelly-green Dior, was the soloist on Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra.

That was one of the favorites of Jay Johnson, the chief executive officer of General Dynamics Corp., which is sponsoring the NSO season.

The evening raised more than $1 million for the orchestra’s educational and artistic initiatives.

Other guests included attorney Vernon Jordan, Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero.

Pink Alphas

John Castellani and Ray Lahood are two alpha males who don’t mind wearing a little pink.

The chief executive officer of trade group Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America and Secretary of Transportation Lahood wore pink pocket squares and lapel ribbons Friday night at the Kennedy Center.

It’s the signature color of breast-cancer awareness and of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which works to end the disease. The organization’s Honoring the Promise Gala, with its pink ball gowns and cupcakes, raised about $2 million.

That’s about the same amount as last year and follows a public-relations disaster in January when the organization said it would pull funding from Planned Parenthood clinics. It reversed its decision a few days later.

Nancy Brinker, who started the organization after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died of breast cancer, wore peachy-pink Carolina Herrera at the gala.

Brinker said she wished more media attention were given to young researchers looking into “killer diseases” rather than to young techies looking for “the next killer app.”

Washington has one of the highest breast-cancer mortality rates in the country, yet the gala also celebrated progress made: The national rate has declined by a third since 1991.

Jordin Sparks ignited the crowd with hits like “One Step at a Time,” and actress Jaclyn Smith and country singer Naomi Judd presented awards.

Representative John Dingell, Michigan Democrat, and Susan Bales Ford, the daughter of former first lady Betty Ford, presented the Betty Ford Lifetime Achievement Award to Senator Olympia Snowe, Maine Republican, whose mother died of breast cancer when the senator was eight.

Chicago Mayor

Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley choked up as he accepted the Community Distinction Award on behalf of his late wife, Maggie, who died from the disease last year.

Carlyle’s Rubenstein, a founding chairman of the Komen gala, sent a video message explaining he had to deliver a speech at his alma mater, Duke University, where Susan G. Komen was given an honorary degree posthumously this year.

Other business leaders present included Fred Malek, the chairman and founder of Thayer Capital Partners LP, who said his wife, Marlene, got him involved with the cause.

Casino Night

“Just drink a lot and remember your number,” joked Dean D’Angelo, a director at Laminar Direct Capital LLC, Saturday night at the Capital for Children Casino Night.

D’Angelo and more than a dozen private-equity players founded Capital for Children in 2007 to help needy youngsters in the D.C. area.

“We’ve been so fortunate. We have got to give back,” said Phil Deutch, a managing partner at NGP Energy Technology Partners.

The gamblers gathered at Long View Gallery, an art gallery and event space. There were 10 blackjack tables, two craps tables, one double roulette table, and a Texas Hold ’Em lounge. An oyster bar and sleek white couches marked the “High Rollers” tent.

Chip girls in miniskirts and fish-net stockings added to the Vegas vibe. The women guests seemed just as eager to roll the dice.

Deutch says that in addition to the money raised at the casino nights, each member of Capital for Children makes a yearly personal contribution of $5,000 to $10,000.

Proceeds benefit several local charities including Horton’s Kids, a nonprofit that helps children improve their math and reading skills.

Argy, Arnold & Porter LLP, Blank Rome LP and BB&T Capital Markets were among the main corporate sponsors.

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

Muse highlights include John Mariani on wine.