Quintessential celebration of classical music with a Texas twist raises $100K for the nonprofit
CONROE, Texas – The Young Texas Artists (YTA) Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala on March 9 was jam packed with one phenomenal moment after another, including a performance by members of the iconic Kilgore College Rangerettes and a visit from Honored Guest Ron Losby, CEO of Steinway & Sons, who flew in from New York to celebrate the occasion of YTA’s 35th anniversary.
By the end of the night, the gala had raised more than $100,000 for the Young Texas Artists Music Competition. The competition, an Official Music Contest of the State of Texas, provides performance, growth and career development opportunities for exceptionally talented artists from around the world. Participation is open to classical artists ages 18-30 (ages 20-32 for Voice) who are Texas residents or affiliated with a Texas music school.
“We’re so grateful to those who join our cause, offering much-needed support to classical musicians in the early stages of their careers,” YTA President/CEO Susie Pokorski said. “We would especially like to thank our major sponsors: Planet Lincoln, Dr. Douglas and Carol Aycock, Lynda and Dan Kain, Amy and George Sowers, April Sound Country Club and the Conroe Convention & Visitors Bureau.”
The gala team extraordinaire of the Texas-themed classical music event included Chair Terry Husbands Giles, Co-Chair Allyson Ayton, Dinner Chair Mimi Sadler and YTA Young Professionals Chairs Annie and Mike Bradbury.
Pokorski expressed her gratitude for the team’s efforts. “They came together to create an unforgettable gala and anniversary party,” she said. “Throughout the planning process and preparations, they continuously impressed me with their hard work, creativity and devotion. And, of course, huge thanks also go out to our YTA committee volunteers. Each of them plays an important role in helping us make dreams come true.”
The gala, which serves as a kick-off to the YTA Music Competition’s Finalists’ Concert & Awards, opened with a lively reception at Martin’s Hall in downtown Conroe, where guests hobnobbed with other YTA supporters.
Also at the reception were special Texas guests Gray Hawn of Austin and Joy Saxton of Houston, who each recently released a book. Hawn, an internationally known master photographer, signed copies of Cowboy Heaven, her stunning portfolio book of fine photographic art. Saxton, an author, illustrator, actor, director, producer and educator, signed her children’s book, Joy and the Far Away Land,which has been selected by the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation for its outreach program.
A star attraction at the reception was a Steinway & Sons SPIRIO high-resolution player piano, which presented an eclectic mix of musical works from its vast library.
Later that evening, during the live auction, guests had an opportunity to bid on “The Steinway & Sons SPIRIO Experience,” courtesy of Steinway Gallery of Houston. The winning bidders will enjoy a SPIRIO in their home for two weeks.
Also included in the live auction was the Luxury Lincoln Weekend & Wine Tasting, made possible by Planet Lincoln. The package included a private wine-tasting and tour for up to 20 people at the award-winning Bernhardt Winery, just west of Conroe.
Guests had opportunities to bid on a Golf Package for Four at Eight Courses,courtesy of April Sound Country Club; a Summer Opera package in Santa Fe, New Mexico; a Historic Hill House & Farm getaway; and Fine Art by Gray Hawn as well.
The live auction, with Lady Lyn Howard, auctioneer, and Emmett Kelly, master of ceremonies, took place in the tented Grand Pavilion in the center of Simonton Street, along with dinner, dancing to live Texas swing music by Bill Mock and the Highway 105 Bandand the performance by Kilgore Rangerettes.
The gala culminated in YTA’s Finalists’ Concerts and Awards onstage at the Crighton Theatre, where Guest of Honor Ron Losby praised the caliber of musical talent competing that evening and spoke of music’s ability to build strong communities and make much-needed human connections.
“If you have any doubt about the power of music, I encourage you all to go on YouTube and Google the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Pyongyang,” he said. “About 10 or 11 years ago, it was the first American orchestra that ever went to North Korea. When the New York Philharmonic walked out upon that stage, you could feel the tension over the television—I was watching it live. By the time they got done, both the orchestra and the audience were crying and were waving at each other, and for that brief moment, culture, language, political system—whatever were our perceived barriers—melted away. That is the power of music.”
Chair Terry Husband Giles said she doubts anyone who attended will forget YTA’s special night. “The 35th anniversary of Young Texas Artists could have no better celebration than the 2019 Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala,” she said. “From the grand pavilion tent filled with cardinal red and white decor, delicious food and Texas swing music, to the finalists’ concert at Crighton Theatre, the evening provided great fun with something for everyone.”
At the After-Party following the YTA Finalists’ Concert & Awards, the anniversary cake—a tower of confection crowned with a miniature Steinway & Sons piano—was rolled in, all aglow with sparklers, and a toast was raised in celebration of the competition winners, YTA’s 35th anniversary and the 166th anniversary of Steinway & Sons. Guests also enjoyed decadent gourmet desserts provided by the Conroe Service League and finished off the evening with more music and dancing.
“The Bach, Beethoven & Barbecue gala events could only be accomplished through the intensive group efforts of our YTA team,” Giles said. “Our President/CEO Susie Moore Pokorski, loyal donors and volunteers, and generous sponsors provided the work and enthusiasm and behind-the-scenes determination that any event needs to succeed. I am very grateful to everyone who contributed to the 35th anniversary gala of YTA and will see you again soon as we gear up for 2020.”
About the Young Texas Artists Music Competition
An official music competition of the State of Texas, Young Texas Artists has, since its founding in 1983, encouraged excellence in young musicians, inspired their audiences and helped further the careers of thousands of classical musicians. It is one of the few competitions in the country that features four divisions: Voice; Piano; Strings; and Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Guitar. This Texas competition for Texas artists has helped produce many distinguished professionals who have gone on to join orchestras, opera companies, universities and music schools around the world. The Young Texas Artists Music Competition is a member of the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance, the Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Cultural Trust and Texans for the Arts.youngtexasartists.org#