New England Conservatory (NEC) is celebrating the most successful “Feast of Music” in the gala’s history. The annual event regularly attracts more than 400 guests and features a unique format of alternating courses of spectacular cuisine and fine wines, with virtuoso musical performances by NEC students. At this year’s Viennese-themed evening at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, 425 guests attended and net proceeds exceeded $600,000, enough to support 52 scholarships.
The event was chaired by Trustee Joan Yogg and her husband Michael of Wellesley; Visitor Deborah Hanley and her husband Frank McGuire of Beacon Hill; and Trustee Joseph Bower and his wife Elizabeth Potter of Cambridge.
Among the highlights of the evening were a menu of updated Austrian dished designed by acclaimed Austrian Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner of New York’s Café Kristall, Wallsé, Café Sabarsky in the Neue Gallerie and Blaue Gans. Among the courses was a smoked trout crepe tart with horseradish, chestnut soup with Armagnac prunes, venison goulash, and Apple Strudel “Café Sabarsky.” The dishes were accompanied by Austrian wines, including Zweigelt, Dornenvogel, Glatzer 2009; and Gruener Veltliner, Kammerner Heiligenstein, Hirsch 2009.
Musical selections ranged from Johann Strauss II’s Tritsch-Tratsch Polka in a bravura arrangement for piano by Georges Cziffra; three Fritz Kreisler virtuoso violin pieces, and excerpts from Die Fledermaus and Der Rosenkavalier.
At the after party, guests danced to Strauss waltzes performed by chamber orchestra directed by student conductor Andres Lopera.
A highlight of the event is the spectacular silent auction, which offers bidders an opportunity to extend the pleasures of the evening through a variety of luxurious prizes, including, this year, Sacher Torte, tickets to the Vienna Staatsoper and behind-the-scenes restaurant tours, among others. Two showstoppers at the auction were a dinner for 10 offered by Chef Gutenbrunner that sold for $20,000 and an operatic evening in the winning bidder’s home presented by Metropolitan Opera and Seattle Opera bass-baritone Greer Grimsley that sold for $10,000.