This past Thursday, National Sawdust, the Brooklyn-based performance venue and a recording studio, raised funds to support its mission of continuing to build new audiences for classical and new musicians by honoring several internationally renowned artists for its 2018 Spring Gala at the uptown Alhambra Ballroom.
This year’s theme, “movement of disruption,” demonstrated the power of art to disrupt and challenge the musical landscape of today. Honorees of the night included countertenor and operatic trailblazer Anthony Roth Costanzo; mezzo-soprano and arts advocate Joyce DiDonato; Grammy-nominated vocalist and UN Women activist Magos Herrera; Emmy-nominated genre-bending composer, violinist, and arts leader Daniel Bernard Roumain; award-winning throat singer and activist Tanya Tagaq; and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist Du Yun. The gala was chaired by Ann Ziff, hosted by Jill Steinberg, and emceed by Terrance McKnight.
The evening featured impressive performances, including a rare collaboration inspired from the text of Frank O’Hara’s “Opening hymn: To the poem” by composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, vocalist and bassist Esperanza Spalding, former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones. Other performances included Magos Herrera and string quartet Brooklyn Rider performing “Niña-Poem” by Octavio Paz with music by Herrera & Felipe Perez Santiago; Procession & Scene III “Feathers are Prickly” from Du Yun’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel’s Bone performed by choral group The Crossing, featuring Michael Nicolas of Brooklyn Rider providing cello drone; Anthony Roth Costanzo and banjoist Noam Pikelny (The Punch Brothers) performing George Frideric Handel’s “Lascia Ch’io Pianga;” a selection from Paola Prestini’s Body Maps performed by soprano Marguerite Jones and cellists Jeffrey Zeigler, Michael Nicolas, and Marika Hughes; Tanya Tagaq, Yuka C. Honda, and Jeffrey Zeigler performed a collaborative improv.
There was a live auction presented by auctioneer and poet, Lucas Hunt. Items included an original handwritten manuscript from Philip Glass; a private recital with Joyce DiDonato; a wine tasting and dinner prepared by Anthony Roth Costanzo and hosted by Ann Ziff; and premium tickets and backstage access to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel on Broadway starring Renee Fleming.
The gala’s menu was prepared by Award-winning chef Patrick Connolly from Rider, the restaurant located at National Sawdust. The night concluded with dancing to live music performed by Mwenso and the Shakes featuring dancing by FlexN.
Support for the gala was graciously provided by Devialet, HSBC Private Banking, American Express, Hermès of Paris, TOWN Residential, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.