Evercore's Schlosstein Goes Country, Janice Savin Brings BligeBy
Financiers join galas for Lincoln Center, Harlem arts school
Guests talk of arts as diplomacy, performing under pressure
A masquerade at the Plaza Hotel a week before Halloween is a solid premise for a party. Then the Harlem School of the Arts added Mary J. Blige as one of its four honorees, and it was off to the bank. The nonprofit, which about 7 years ago had to be bailed out by New York City, raised $1.1 million from its benefit on Monday night — about a fifth of its annual budget.
To give a sense of the accomplishment, across town, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts — that gargantuan temple of the humanities on the Upper West Side — raised $3.1 million toward an operating budget of about $138 million at one of its many galas throughout the year, with Bennett Goodman, Blair Effron, Roy Furman and Laurie Tisch on hand.
This one honored Ralph Schlosstein of Evercore, a Lincoln Center trustee, and his wife, Jane Hartley, who brought several Lincoln Center constituents to Paris while serving as U.S. ambassador to France.
"What I saw there is how art transcends all boundaries," Hartley said outside Alice Tully Hall on a balmy evening. "We took the New York Philharmonic out to the suburbs, to some of the toughest communities. You should see these kids. It’s a way of bonding and we need to use it more. I’m thinking diplomacy and soft power." Hartley said she knows French President Emmanuel Macron and respects him. "He and his wife love art and love culture," she said.
The entertainment was Emmylou Harris and Melissa Etheridge. "I’m a little star-struck," said Debora Spar, CEO of Lincoln Center. "At the risk of sounding horribly middle-aged, these women wrote and sang real lyrics. There’s heartbreak in those lyrics."
She’s not heartbroken over the the decision to halt a major renovation of David Geffen Hall, home to the Philharmonic. "It’s about doing the right thing for that building, which means focusing on the inside, preserving what’s gorgeous, a right-sized project."
The honorees had approved the performers, but hadn’t requested them.
“When Jane and I worked in Washington in the ’70s, I heard Emmylou sing at a bar," Schlosstein said.
“I’d say he’s more into folk music,” said his daughter, Kate Schlosstein, who works in marketing for Loro Piana, standing next to her husband, Jacob Strumwasser. The couple were married in June by Tom Brokaw, who on this evening presented her parents with Lincoln Center’s award for distinguished service.
Whereas Lincoln Center presents world-class music, dance, theater and opera on its stages, around which its arts education is built, the Harlem School of the Arts teaches these disciplines to children and teens, and offers tuition breaks to families in need. Two students have appeared on the television show "The Voice." And as honoree Renee Elise Goldsberry recounted, she studied with the school’s dance director when she was preparing for "The Lion King" and before she won a Tony Award for her performance in "Hamilton."
Michelle Parker, 16, studies ballet there. Her mom enrolled her when “it was right up the block from our house,” and she returns even though they’ve moved to Brooklyn. “Dance is my life,” Parker said, as she struck a pose on the stairwell of the Plaza to help guests get in a masquerade mood.
A longtime supporter is Janice Savin of Williams Capital Group. When she was raising her kids, before she was involved in Harlem School of the Arts, she signed up her son for violin lessons.
“I started at the age of 4, and studied for 14 years,” said Christopher Williams, who works at Citigroup. The most valuable lesson: “Being able to perform under pressure.” Favorite piece he can no longer play: “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
“I wanted to keep him busy and keep him out of trouble, that’s the whole concept,” Savin said. “And not everybody wants to do sports.”