- Everyone knew what to expect, and everyone was taken by surprise at the Russian Arts Foundation Gala to honor Dave Brubeck
with the prestigious Silver Baton Award. The event had been announced. Invitations had been mailed announcing the line-up of concert artists - Maxim Rubtsov
, principal flute and Vladislav Lavrik
, principal trumpet of the RNO and three members of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet; pianist Chuck Lamb
and sons of the honoree Chris
and Dan Brubeck
Still, no one at the over-sold benefit knew precisely what to expect.
Marianne Wyman and Jean-Louis
Brubeck is more than a jazz legend. More than a musical goodwill ambassador, or composer, or legendary jazz pianist. He was the first jazz millionaire to make the cover of Time
magazine. He was invited by President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan
to play at Spaso House (Home for the U.S. Ambassador to Russia) during the Moscow Summit. In 1997 he returned to Russia to perform with the Russian National Orchestra. During the visit, he became the first jazz musician to have a dialogue with the faculty and students of the Moscow State Conservatory. He answered questions and performed spontaneously with young musicians who jumped on stage in response to his solo piano interpretation of the "Volga Boatman."
As Anthony Rinaldo
, a founder with Catherine Brubeck Yaghsizian
(daughter of the honoree) and her husband, Arne
of Jazz'4 Life, one of the evening's two beneficiaries, said, "When Dave gets behind something, it gets done."
The Russian National Orchestra (RNO) was founded in 1990. It was a demonstration of courage and artistic freedom during the Soviet regime. In 2004, the RNO was the first Russian Orchestra to receive a Grammy for their recording of "Peter and the Wolf" conducted by Kent Nagano
with Sophia Loren
, Bill Clinton
and Mikhail Gorbachev
narrating. Four years later, a panel of international critics named the RNO one of the world's top orchestras (Gramophone
, December 2008). The RNO is the only Moscow ensemble to be so honored, the youngest by far and the only European orchestra on the list that is independent of a government. It is the first Russian Orchestra to perform in the Vatican and in Israel.
John Wyman and Tina Wyman
In recognition of both its artistic quality and its pioneering structure, the Russian Federation has awarded the RNO the first-ever grant to a nongovernmental orchestra.
As part of their 20th Anniversary celebration, Rubtsov
under the auspices of the Russian Arts Foundation on behalf of the RNO made the trip to Greenwich to honor the man who brought so much to Russia. Anastasia
and Gene Shapiro
, both Russian born and living in the States said, "Russians got their impressions of Americans from jazz music."
Everything was in place for an intimate concert at Richards of Greenwich, the exclusive men's and women's store owned by the Mitchell Family. The performing area was set up inside the front door facing the grand staircase leading to the second floor. Brubeck and company were rehearsing until the doors opened to the guests.
Behind the staircase a DVD played the Brubeck RNO concert in Moscow. As guests entered, they picked up a glass of champagne, wine or vodka, courtesy of Peter Paul Wines and Champagnes. They turned and stood before the television screen, watching the maestro teach the chorus.
, representing the Mitchell Family who own Richards, hosted the evening. After welcoming everyone he introduced Marianne Wyman
, a Co-chair of the evening and an RNO Board Member. She presented the Russian Arts Foundation's prestigious Silver Baton Award to Chris Brubeck
, who accepted on behalf of his 90-year old father. In his acceptance speech, he said, "Everyone asks me how my father is. I say he's like a Rolls Royce with 475,000 miles on him."
Marianne Wyman and Ruth Aewme
The Honorary Chairmen were Bim
and Donald Kendall
. The Gala Chairman was Thomas Hampson
of the Metropolitan Opera. In addition to Mrs. Wyman, the evening's co chairs were Irene Ioffe
, Anne Perlin
and Tatiana Panchenkova
Prior to the concert, there was a reception courtesy of Peter Paul Wines and Champagnes. After the concert, the delicious buffet served offerings from popular Greenwich restaurants Jean Louis, La Panetiere, La Cremaillere, l'escale and Bakovina.
Put simply, the jazz concert was a blowout. Among the musical highlights in the slightly more than hour long program were Claude Bolling's
"Suite for Flute and Piano," Chuck Lamb's
"Cool on the Coast" and two of Dave Brubeck's
most famous compositions "Blue Rondo à la Turk" and "Take Five."
, who plays classical cello, said at the end of the concert, "We've had lots of evenings at the store, but the was the best." No hyperbole on his part. He stood to the side during the concert, his fingers moving in time with the rhythm, drumming on a display shelf.
The audience was an amalgam of old line Greenwich and young hip Greenwich with some Manhattanites thrown in for spice. Classical music lovers were there because of the RNO; jazz aficionados because of the Brubecks. But absolutely everyone was there to honor Dave Brubeck who has been a musical ambassador since the 1970s, bringing the people of the U.S. and Russia together.
Guests included Prince Vladimir
and Princess Tatiana Galitzine
, Catherine Brubeck
and Arne Yaghsizian
, Trish Brubeck
, Rita Mehos
, Hermitage Museum Foundation's Chauncie Rodzianko
, Stamford Center for Performing Arts Director Elissa Getto
, John Wyman
and Bob Newman
, Cristina Wyman
, Thomas Ferguson
and Richard Granoff
, Bob Pape
and Jonathan Moffly
, Elizabeth Stribling
and Guy Robinson
and Ernie Torizzo
, Michael Ioffe
, Michael Polenske
and Dennis Lukas
and Nat Day
and Gerret Copeland
, Marei von Saher
, Mikhail Prokhorov
and Charles Wyman
and Necdet Ergul
, and Paul Rodzianko
. Major RNO supporters Barbara Roach
and Peter T. Paul
flew in from California to be at the concert.
Beneficiaries of the evening were the Russian National Orchestra's Instrument Acquisition Program and Jazz'4 Life, a charity dedicated to helping children throughout the world.
Rita Mehos, Peter Paul and Bim Kendall