BlackRock’s soon-to-be chief investment officer for stocks in the Americas has been keeping busy.
“I play tennis, I hike, I’ve got a very big vegetable garden,” Christopher Jones said of time spent at his second home in Hillsdale, New York. “I play golf, and we have two cows, six Berkshire pigs, a flock of sheep, five goats and a donkey. We’ll slaughter a lot of animals this season.” (The meat is shared between 12 families.)
All this is “besides the Pillow,” the British transplant said on June 14 at the opening gala for the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts, the party of the season in the Berkshires. Among the 600 guests: John Studzinski, global head of Blackstone’s advisory practice, who likes hiking; Alex Kirk, chief investment officer of River Birch Capital; and David Hodgson, a managing director of General Atlantic, who danced a twist to Pharrell’s “Happy” after dinner.
Mark Leavitt, global co-head of technology, media and telecommunications investment banking at Piper Jaffray and chairman of the Pillow (Jones is its president), brought his best friend from Trinity College, restaurateur Danny Meyer, with whom he’s gotten drunk “a couple of times, a while ago.”
Meyer, who runs Union Square Hospitality Group, offered a wine tasting with bottles he’ll choose from Leavitt’s cellar in the silent auction.
Meyer has a home in Washington, Connecticut, where his pastimes are “running, hiking, tennis and just being,” he said before taking his first sip of the local Berkshire Mountain Distillery’s Ice Glen Vodka, mixed with tonic.
Country to City
That’s how they party in the country. And some of that fresh air and sunshine made it to the city too.
Last night in Manhattan, Norah Jones and Ryan Adams listened to music on vinyl in the Core Club’s library. Their patter and the quality of the sound (on equipment from McIntosh Laboratory, which amplified Woodstock and the Grateful Dead) kept about 100 guests riveted.
Adams’s playlist included “Girl Afraid” by The Smiths and “Schizophrenia” by Sonic Youth, which he said was from an album that was “the most beautiful thing I ever heard, I just didn’t understand it.”
Jones picked the Isley Brothers and a very young Jimi Hendrix on “Move Over & Let me Dance” and Linda Ronstadt’s “I Never Will Marry,” which she discovered from her grandmother. The crowd also got to hear two songs from Adams’s new album, and catch a glimpse of his wife, singer and actress Mandy Moore.
On the High Line on Tuesday, Coach set up a disco to benefit the elevated park with Chloe Sevigny, Kate Mara and a surprise performance by rappers De La Soul.
“The party was absolutely perfect,” said Jay Manuel, the former creative director of “America’s Next Top Model.” “I even lost my voice, I had so many great conversations. There was no pretense.”
Central Park Conservancy’s Taste of Summer gave guests Bethesda Terrace -- and Good Enough to Eat biscuits with strawberry butter. The Battery Conservancy’s benefit along the Hudson River started with a downpour and ended with rainbows. Not kidding.
Actress Olivia Wilde wasn’t so sure about the setting for the Ghetto Film School’s gala on Wednesday night, the Standard’s Biergarten.
“I think it’s great to support youth in a beer garden,” Wilde joked before introducing college scholarship winners. On Monday, the South Bronx-based nonprofit opened a public high school in Los Angeles, supported by James Murdoch and 21st Century Fox.
Wilde’s movie recommendations for the students: classics like “The Bicycle Thief.”
“I love ‘Philadelphia Story,’” she said. “I have a little brother who asked me the other day what one film he should watch. I said ‘The Graduate.’ It’s telling a story about a generation.”
Filmmaker David O. Russell, who’s been involved with Ghetto Film School for 12 years, talked with a student headed to Sweden (one of the organization’s “rich kid” experiences, along with internships, said Executive Director Joe Hall.).
“I told him to memorize a 20-to-40 minute section of a film that he loves, and be able to tell it to me as if he were telling a story,” Russell said. “I taught myself cinema with 40 minutes of ‘Chinatown.’”
Russell’s music supervisor, Susan Jacobs, who worked on “American Hustle,” said she sits and listens to vinyl at her country house in the Catskills. Her current picks: Beck, St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Sharon Van Etten.
When 1,039 public-school kids came to see the production of “Macbeth” at Park Avenue Armory, they were “as close to an Elizabethan audience we’ll likely ever have,” said Alex Kingston, who plays Lady Macbeth opposite Kenneth Branagh. “They listened and they really responded, so when Ken came in and gave me a big old smooch: ‘Yeeeaaahhhh.’”
Kingston was speaking at an intimate dinner after Tuesday night’s performance attended by Tom McWilliams of Court Square Capital Partners, React to Film founders Dennis and Coralie Paul, and Bill Rudin, who’s getting ready for the next sales push at his already 60-percent-sold Greenwich Lane luxury condominium project.
“The mud is good” compared with that used in the Manchester production, Kingston said. “They figured out the drainage.”
Billionaire David Koch asked Kingston if life in Scotland was as bloody as depicted. “Absolutely,” Kingston said. “They were used to killing each other.”
Back at the Pillow, a Hong Kong Ballet frog prince hopped and flirted, and Carmen de Lavallade, 83, mimed God’s creation set to a spiritual with the back of the Ted Shawn Theater open to the Berkshires forest on the woodsy campus.
“We’ve seen the first of what will be an entire summer of people doing astonishing things on stage that we can’t possibly do,” said Ella Baff, executive and artistic director of the Pillow.
Trey McIntyre Project’s pair of lovers coming together and apart, set to music by the Cinematic Orchestra, was the highlight for Alec Leavitt, Mark Leavitt’s son, who graduated from Trinity College last month and is moving to San Francisco to start a job at an investment bank. He brought along friends from high school and college, who posed for a photograph with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
The sold-out gala raised $477,806, an increase of more than $60,000 from last year.
From this weekend through August 23, the festival with international clout will host 52 companies on three stages.
Beauty and Soccer
“What I love about dance is there is the combination of the artistry and the physicality and the beauty of the dancers themselves,” said Jones, who joins BlackRock on July 1 from JPMorgan Asset Management. “It’s extraordinary, and this is ground zero right here.”
“It’s fabulous to make work here because you are isolated, sort of,” said John Heginbotham, a dancer and choreographer. “There are few distractions, but the distractions, all this nature, wind up feeding the work.”
Heginbotham, who received the $25,000 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, will be back July 30 through August 3 performing “Chalk and Soot” with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, experimental pop’s Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane of Craigslistlieder fame.
Asked if he has World Cup fever, Heginbotham said: “I happened during a layover to be forced to watch soccer, and I loved it. It’s so graceful, they have to travel so far. And the players are very easy on the eyes.”