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Column: Atlanta Opera Ball to highlight season opener
by Sally F. White
Northside Neighbor Columnist
October 23, 2013 02:02 PM | 6983 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
The elegant 2013 Atlanta Opera Ball, “Puccini’s Palazzo,” will take place Saturday at the St. Regis in Buckhead.

Themed on this season’s opening production of “Tosca,” the black-tie evening will feature a gourmet dinner, dancing and luxury items in silent and live auctions. Artistic décor by Tony Brewer will set the scene with background music by The Platinum Band.

Guests will welcome the opera’s new General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun and honor Boyce and Shepard Ansley for their dedication to the success of the opera since the company’s beginning.

Co-chairs Chris Casey and Doug Weiss are headlining, with Jovita Moore of WSB-TV as the evening’s emcee.

Proceeds from the annual ball support the opera’s local productions and educational programs. Founded in 1979, the nonprofit opera is an outgrowth of the early 1900s annual tours by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It now hosts performances at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre near Vinings.

First, the Atlanta Civic Opera was born, a result of a merger between Atlanta Lyric Opera and the Georgia Opera. Now recognized as one of the finest regional opera companies in the U.S., the Atlanta Opera produces main stage productions and special arts education programs for all ages. It directly serves nearly 100,000 people annually in metro Atlanta and throughout the Southeast as it attracts the finest international, national and regional singers, conductors, stage directors and designers.

Tickets and information: (404) 591-2928 or

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The Evening of Inspiration Saturday at the Loews Hotel in Midtown will celebrate six years of fundraising efforts to support research projects for pediatric brain tumors.

As a catalyst for the Sandy Springs-based Ian’s Friends Foundation, Doug Ellin, creator of the hit HBO show “Entourage,” will be honored for his commitment to the foundation’s mission since it was founded in 2006.

Guests will enjoy a seated dinner, silent and live auctions and an after-party with a DJ providing music.

Rachael Abt and Michele Hirsch are serving as co-chairs for the upbeat evening.

The foundation was created as a nonprofit by Cheryl and Phil Yagoda when their 2-year-old son, Ian, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The Yagodas discovered how little funding was allocated to pediatric brain tumor research and they inspired friends in metro Atlanta and across the country to join them in filling the support void.

Today Ian’s Friends is committed to funding research and support initiatives through more than a dozen cutting-edge research labs in eight institutions across the country focused on new therapeutic treatment to overcome and abate pediatric brain cancer and ultimately find a cure.

Tickets and information: (404) 323-3352 or

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A reminder to talented, art-inspired high school students that the ongoing High Museum of Art after school studio program is continuing. Saturday will mark the second 2013 monthly Saturday ArTLabs designed to improve technique and understanding of particular medium and for teenagers to meet new people and nurture their creativity.

Students can explore current museum exhibits and choose between a photography class taught by artist-extraordinaire Juliana Thomas, and a multimedia class taught by artist and all-around good guy, Joe Tsambiras. Another teen program is Open Studio, complete with sewing machines, fabric and lots of thrift-store rags. It is open the first Thursday of each month for instructive after-school sessions.

Student families do not have to be members of the High. The nominal $20 session fee includes free art supplies plus drinks and snacks.

The nonprofit museum offers a variety of events and programs for students 15 and older students. They are led by Coordinator Beth Malone. As an outgrowth of Young Audiences at the Woodruff Arts Center, Georgia’s leading provider of arts-in-education programming, the mission is to transform the lives and learning of young people through the arts by providing a diverse array of curriculum-based assemblies, workshops and residencies in music, dance, theatre and literary and visual arts.

Information: (404) 733-4465 or

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The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead will celebrate a family-friendly day of cultural exploration with visitors of all ages Sunday to learn about the ancient Day of the Dead festival rooted in Mexican heritage. The tradition serves as a way for families to remember their deceased loved ones while celebrating children and the continuity of life.

The lively event, from noon to 5 p.m., will put smiles on faces with storytelling, swirling colors, decorated altars and authentic Mexican food accompanied by music and a variety of performances highlighting the celebratory day.

The center has presented this annual public program for 11 years in collaboration with the Institiuto de Mexico and the Mexican consulate and support from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council. The outdoor program is free. Admission to the Atlanta History Museum and historic houses will be free the entire day. Food and drinks are available for purchase.

Founded in 1926, the nonprofit center is an all-inclusive, 33-acre destination on West Paces Ferry Road. The complex includes: the nation’s largest history museum, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, the 1928 Swan House, the 1860 Smith Family Farm, the Kenan Research Center, the Grand Overlook event space and Chick-fil-A at the Coca-Cola Café, plus acres of historic gardens and pathways. The center also operates the Margaret Mitchell House Museum in Midtown.

Information: (404) 814-4000 or

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A bolo and boots black-tie benefit gala Tuesday will preview the High Museum of Art’s new exhibition of “Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West” in Cody, Wyo. The exhibition will be on public view Nov. 3 through April 13 at the museum on Peachtree Street in Midtown.

Drawn from the unparalleled collection of the center, the exhibit features major works of art and important artifacts including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, frontier firearms and objects from Native American cultures to showcase the exploration and settlement of the American West, 1830-1930.

The festive Go West evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing amid the iconic works of art and artifacts in the Margaretta Taylor Lobby and the Wieland Pavilion will give guests a taste of the history of the West and recall the colorful icons such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and Chief Sitting Bull, who lived it.

The two couples co-chairing the gala are Shearon and Taylor Glover and Karen and Richard Parker. Ann and Tom Cousins are serving as honorary co-chairs.

The exhibition is made possible through a consortium of local foundations and patrons. Funds from the Western-themed opening gala will go to the nonprofit High’s ongoing exhibition and education programs.

Registration and information: (404) 733-4557 or

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Nov. 1 will mark the 26th celebration of A Meal to Remember benefiting the Meals on Wheels Atlanta. The elegant, formal multi-course gourmet dinner and wine pairings starring renowned chefs from across the U.S. will be hosted at the St. Regis in Buckhead by dedicated Co-Chairs Marlene Alexander, Nancy Brown and Tony Conway.

Buckhead residents Elizabeth and Carl Allen will be honored for their inspiration and generosity in community activities.

“Carl and I are humbled to be honorees for this special night,” Elizabeth Allen said. “We know that many senior citizens are going to bed hungry in our very own city. Thanks to this event, Meals on Wheels Atlanta is slated to deliver more than 60,000 individual meals in this coming year providing a safety net for many homebound seniors in our community — we could not think of a more impacting cause.”

Radio and TV personalities Vikki Locke and Karyn Greer will emcee the evening, themed “A Celebration of Food and Wine.”

Guest chefs will include: R.J. Cooper, owner of Rogue 24 in Washington; Patrick Owens, owner of Opal in Mount  Pleasant, S.C.; Jean-Francois Suteau, executive pastry chef at The Greenbrier in Sulphur Springs, W.Va.; Joe Trevino, executive chef at the St. Regis; and Daniel Zeal, chef de cuisine at the Georgian Room at The Cloister on Sea Island. Wine pairings will be selected by Michael Venezia of United Distributors.

Meals on Wheels Atlanta, a community-based nonprofit, supports senior independence through meals, shelter, education and community. The umbrella help not only prepares and delivers meals, it also helps seniors and their families manage Alzheimer’s and dementia through shelter and wellness education.

Tickets and information: (404) 605-8450 or

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“The Future is Now” is the theme for this year’s Legendary Party Nov. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead to showcase the advances in therapy at the Shepherd Center, recipient of funds from the formal event.

Renowned for special décor and a gourmet menu, the annual fundraiser will mark its 25th year and retain the special glamorous gala elements with a futuristic look while adding exciting news about the astonishing advances in assistive technology being offered by the center.

In announcing the Legendary Party contributions, Chairwoman Karen Spiegel said, “Imagine the freedom when voice-and-eye command computer software allows patients to activate any electrical device, from door openers and appliances to lights and call systems in their homes or offices. Adaptive driving systems including joystick and touchpad controls can enable independent transportation. It is all possible through generous donations to the Shepherd Center.”

The honorary co-chairs are Sally and McKee Nunnally, recognized for their support of Shepherd. Cecilia Wright is chair-elect. Host committee co-chairs are: Elizabeth and Carl Allen, Susan Tucker, Ruth and Tom Anthony and Cindy and Bill Voyles.

The nonprofit center is the nation’s largest hospital specializing in rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries as well as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. This year’s gala will support the assistive technology program, which supports the latest high-tech tools and equipment for independent driving, communication, environment control and computer access.

Tickets and information: (404) 350-7302 or

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The Fernbank Museum of Natural History on Clifton Road in DeKalb County will be the site of this year’s Miracle Ball Nov. 2. The stunning IMAX theater along with extraordinary exhibits will add to the entertainment and excitement of the evening to benefit the Link Counseling Center in Sandy Springs.

Arriving for cocktails, guests will proceed to dinner, a silent auction and the IMAX movie. Co-chairs for this year’s event are Debra Patterson and Don Leonard.

Founded in 1971, the Link is a nonprofit community counseling center serving metro Atlanta by providing quality, affordable, confidential counseling, psychotherapy and support groups to all ages. Psychotherapy and counseling are provided for individuals, couples, families and groups.

The Link also offers three specialized programs: The National Resource Center for Suicide Prevention and Aftercare, the Marriage and Family Therapy Training Institute and Children and Adolescents in Crisis and Grief.

Tickets and information: (404) 256-9797, ext. 231 or

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The lively Yard Sale in the parking lot and Fellowship Hall at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Buckhead Nov. 2 will have wide appeal with different independent vendors selling everything — clothing, toys, household items, decorations, jewelry, books, furniture, rugs, lamps, etc.

While folks shop from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., a food truck will be in the back parking lot selling hot dogs, beverages and ice cream.

The event is free to attend, the sales areas are open to the public and there are no membership or age restrictions.

The vendors’ booth rentals go to the church’s Creation Care Outreach Ministry with the mission to educate and encourage the congregation and community about “ways they can help keep our air, water and land clean through energy efficiency, conservation and recycling — [to] help everyone to be stewards of the natural environment and God’s creations,” said the Rev. Leslie Watkins, the church’s associate minister.

The church provides year-round volunteer hands-on workshops for individuals, families and students to preserve the environment and add greenspace.

Information: (404) 240-8248 or visit

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The 29th annual Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain is off and running Nov. 2.

Always falling on the first Saturday in November, the Callaway races are part of the fall season’s sanctioned National Steeplechase Association circuit. Proceeds are divided among art organizations in the Columbus-Callaway area.

Over the years fans from metro Atlanta have been eager to participate not only for the equine sport, but to support Georgia area arts and enjoy a great outdoor socializing day with friends.

The steeplechase sport traces its roots to England around 1750, when horses ran over natural obstacles between two church steeples. In America, the National Steeplechase Association was founded in 1895 by August Belmont Jr., the first president of The Jockey Club in New York. Today, the steeplechase racing category involves horses running a pre-determined flat track with man-made obstacles including water and brush designed to mimic the obstructions a horse might encounter during an open range hunt.

Gates open at 10 a.m. for the two junior races at noon, followed by five sanctioned races beginning at 1 p.m.

Activities around the race track will be open all day: from Jack Russell terrier races to widescreen TV for college football coverage in the ticketed horseshoes tent and live race footage, to Vendor Village food vendors, silent auctions and art exhibits.

Kim Jinks is the 2013 executive director for the Callaway Gardens races and lists these Buckhead-area supporters: Don and Stacy Leebern, Lori Kennedy, Mary Rodriguez and Harry Strate.

Race proceeds are divided among the Historic Columbus Foundation, the Springer Opera House, the Columbus Symphony, the Columbus Museum, the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation and the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Tickets and information: (706) 324-6252 or

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