The spring social season in the arts tracks those in sports, schools, charities and festivals. In other words, it cranks up at the end of February, gathers strength in March and April, then sputters out by the end of May. That’s one reason why our reports about socializing around the arts bunch up during these spring weeks.
We recently reported on the open social feel of the assembled Austin Opera masses during “Romeo and Juliet,” which attracted a man in overalls. The crowd for Austin Symphony Orchestra‘s evening of Sibelius did not go so far, fashion-wise. Although the violin concerto and the symphony from the Finnish composer could be called Romantic with a big “R,” they aren’t precisely romantic in the way that “Romeo and Juliet” can be. So fewer young couples on dates, more quiet adorers of symphonic music.
The ones we queried during intermission definitely don’t take Austin’s big ensemble for granted. They considered themselves lucky to hear and watch conductor Peter Bay lead violinist Karen Gomyo and the resident musicians in such a relaxed yet restrained setting.
The matinee gang for Zach Theatre‘s “Peter and the Starcatcher” — a thumping take on the Peter Pan stories — seemed more animated, ready to guffaw at some of the show’s outrageous humor. I expected more children, but, truthfully, this complicated romp is not for the youngest set.
One interesting story I heard at intermission: A man from Fort Hood who didn’t want me to use his last name was looking for a way to entertain his mother and stepfather, in from out of state. They brunched at Iron Cactus downtown, then — what does a grown man do with his mother? — he took her to the theater. He was delighted that Zach could deliver a performance that would be welcome in any regional theater.
The Blanton Museum Gala is among the city’s few statewide charity shindigs, in part because University of Texas graduates spread out all over the state and, indeed, the nation. Also, the art place’s late namesake, Jack Blanton, was based in Houston and remains as revered there as in Austin. Among the glitterati on hand was Houston volunteer fundraiser Carolyn Farb, who says she’s raised more than $35 million for charitable causes.
Also attending were former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the Blanton family as well as the Kleins and Booths, all donors to the Ellsworth Kelly house they hope to build on the museum grounds. Museum director Simone Wicha lavishly praised outgoing UT President Bill Powers, unequivocally a friend of the museum. The take for the night, which included dinner across the street at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, proved $850,000.