Mike and Mary Wallace

Cynthia Lufkin and Pamela Fiori

Peter Martins and
Kitty Carlisle Hart

Wynton Marsalis and
Renee Fleming

Tony Newman and
Christine Baranski

Renee Fleming Comes Full Circle
With A Dress From Student Days

Story by Roger Webster
Photos by Rob Rich

HAD an incredibly good time at the Juilliard School’s biannual benefit concert and dinner dance at Lincoln Center, dubbed Classified Jazz. It raised $1.2 million to support the 98-year-old institution’s diverse programs.

The gala chairmen were Mary Rodgers, who wore a colorful jacket decorated with a collage of romantic images by Amy Zerner, her husband Henry Guettel, Marvin Hamlisch and his wife Terre Blair.

The party, celebrating the third successful year of the school’s Jazz Studies Program, began with a cocktail reception where guests, such as Kitty Carlisle Hart, in a beaded and feathered sheath, Mike and Mary Wallace, Muffie Potter Aston, Jonathan and Somers Farkas, Town & Country’s Pamela Fiori and Mike Cannon, and Janet Freeman, chatted with Juilliard’s president Joseph W. Polisi and his wife Elizabeth, board chairman Bruce Kovner, board members Stephanie and Carter McClelland, and co-chairmen Julie Anne Choi, Melanie and Edward Johnson, Bradley Jack, and Dan and Cynthia Lufkin, in a white shirt and long taupe skirt by Gianfranco Ferre.

The concert in the Juilliard Theater was hosted by alums Christine Baranski in a black ruffled Vera Wang dress with a diamond bracelet by Gilan and Keith David, whose new TV series, The Big House, just premiered on ABC.

Renee Fleming and Wynton Marsalis, also alumni, opened the show with Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim with the Juilliard Baroque Ensemble and brought the house down with cool medley of Answer Me, My Love and Caravan.

Renee Fleming said, “Let’s talk about fashion. The truth is I never know what to wear to galas. In fact, I told Juilliard that they should have a class called Evening Gowns 101,—it’s absolutely crucial.

“Today, I went to my gown closet—yes, I have a gown closet—and there way back at the end of the rack was this lonely black dress that I’d bought at a thrift store when I went to Juilliard.

“I’m wearing it tonight, so this dress has brought me full circle from a student in the wings to performing here tonight.”

June Noble Larkin was honored for her extraordinary generosity to the arts. Good news: June said her particular new interest was jazz!

New York City Ballet’s ballet master in chief Peter Martins introduced the world premier of his jazzy ballet Café Music. He dedicated his choreography to philanthropist Irene Diamond.

The celebration continued with dinner for 650 supporters inside a festive tent erected just outside the school on the 65th Street overpass.

There was Frank Larkin, Joan and Michael Steinberg, Michael Kahn, director of the drama department, Susan and Elihu Rose, Agnes Gund in a black and white harlequin top, Alice Tittley with Judd Jones, who was bursting with pride because he’d been Keith David’s acting teacher at Manhattan’s High School of the Performing Arts, and chanteuse Rondi Charlston.

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