American Academy of Music Concert and Ball Raise $1 Million


Left to right: Mayor Michael Nutter and his wife Lisa with the Temple University School of Medicine’s vice president for development, Nina Weisbord, and dean, Dr. Larry Kaiser.

— article and photos by Bonnie Squires

More than $1 million was raised at the American Academy of Music’s 157th annual anniversary concert and ball in Philadelphia last weekend.

Despite bitter cold and snow-covered streets, the events attracted about 1,200 guests, including Mayor Michael Nutter and many Jewish philanthropists.

The event’s theme was “Preserving the Heritage,” and accordingly, the raised money will be used for installing a new HVAC system and other repairs to the historic Academy building — the first opera house built in the U.S.

The building resides in the Avenue of the Arts, and is often called the “Grand Old Lady of Broad Street.”

More after the jump.


Jimmy Schaeffer and his wife, Nicole Dresnin, with Jimmy’s parents, Adele and Harold, at the pre-concert reception.

The newly-appointed president of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, Adele Schaeffer, reigned over the evening. The Bacon Brothers — actor Kevin and composer Michael — served as the hosts on stage.

Another Philadelphia native, Grammy-award-winning singer, actress and poet Jill Scott, performed the song “Summertime” from the opera “Porgy and Bess,” and other material from her platinum-selling albums.

Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducted The Philadelphia Orchestra in a medley of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” songs.

Later that evening, the Bacon Brothers performed in front of the Eddie Bruce Orchestra, in the Bellevue Park Hyatt Hotel ballroom.


Left to right: Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan, Roberta and Carl Dranoff, and Renee and Joseph Zuritsky.

Ken and Nancy Davis in the lobby of the Academy building.

While Adele Schaeffer was busy in the receiving line, greeting hundreds of patrons, her husband was surrounded by some of their grandchildren.

John and Christina Saler, long-time Academy supporters.

Academy of Music 155th Anniversary Concert and Ball


Major movers and shakers in Philadelphia’s economy were among the 1500 supporters at Saturday night’s 155th Anniversary Academy of Music Concert and Ball, including (left to right) Ron and Rachelle Kaiserman, Robert and Caroline Zuritsky, and Renee and Joe Zuritsky.

— by Bonnie Squires

Philadelphia’s premier white-tie event took place at the historic Academy of Music, preceded by receptions and dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 155th Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball featured the debut on the Academy of Music stage of. Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin , with special guests multiple Grammy Award®-winners singer/pianist Diana Krall and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Tipping its hat once again to the first Academy concert, the program was a mix of popular and classical music, just as the 1857 opening concert was.

Jazz performer Krall surprised the audience by calling back on stage her friend and collaborator, Yo-Yo Ma, to the delight of everyone.

More after the jump.


Terese Casey, wife of Senator Bob Casey, and Felice Wiener

Yannick also had the Philadanco dancers, reflecting the rainbow of colores which lit the stage and columns of the Academy, perform to the strains of the orchestra.  A surprise finish was the appearance of the Society Hill Dancers, dressed in formal attire of the 1850s, doing a waltz.

The Jewish community was among 1500 supporters of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Academy of Music, an historic monument to music, opera and dance. The Gala evening began with a pre-concert dinner. Guests could choose from two exciting offerings this year: the President’s Cocktail Party and Dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, or a Dine Around option, which allows patrons to dine at selected restaurants along the Avenue of the Arts, or on their own. In a nod to the Academy’s early years, and in a unique departure from recent history, both the Anniversary Concert and the Academy Ball were held entirely within the Academy of Music. A “symphony in three movements,” this unique evening gave attendees the chance to celebrate the “Grand Old Lady of Locust Street” within her very walls.

Public officials attending the evening included Governor and Mrs. Tom Corbett, Senator and Mrs. Bob Casey, a number of city and state officials, and corporate, cultural, arts organizations and philanthropic foundation leaders.


Christina and John Saler

The gala was co-chaired by Joanna McNeil Lewis, president and CEO of the Academy of Music,  and John R. Saler, chairman of Stradley and Ronon’s Government Affairs Practice Group, who also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Corbetts greet Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Joanna McNeil Lewis and John Saler, co-chairs of the Academy of Music Concert and Ball, in the background.

In the receiving line with the co-chairs and the Corbetts were Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra board of trustees, and Allison Vulgamore, CEO of the Orchestra.

The energy of Yannick, the Orchestra, the guest artists and the dancers enthralled the audience.  And the impressive program journal, reflecting the support of various segments of the community, was the parting gift as people finally left the Academy balls, held in various sections of the Grand Old Lady of Broad Street.

Photos credit: Bonnie Squires.


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