After dinner at the 2011 Wolf Trap Ball, the crowd enjoyed the sounds of Sound Connection. Photograph by Jeff Martin
What: 2011 Wolf Trap Ball: Celebrating 40 Years
Where: The Filene Center at Wolf Trap
When: Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 7 PM
Tickets: $500 to $1,000
Who: Nine hundred Wolf Trap supporters from civil servants to corporate sponsors and other patrons of the arts showed up to help give the theater a record-breaking $1 million night of fundraising. President and CEO of Wolf Trap Terre Jones worked the crowd with a smile, greeting hundreds of guests at the door, dancing happily with his radiant wife and later joining a congo line with dozens of other party-goers. Redskins hall-of-famer and Wolf Trap Education spokesperson Darrell Green, known as the “Ageless Wonder” over his 20 NFL seasons, was on hand. Politicos in attendance included Virginia representative Frank Wolf, Ambassador of Iraq Samir Sumayda’ie and members of the Virginia state cabinet, senate, and house of delegates.
Food and drink: The early and punctual were rewarded with a splendid panoply of hors d’oeuvres from quick and delicious fried mac-and-cheese bites to an exquisite seared lamb crostini. The bar served two signature cocktails: the Encore, which was orange juice mixed with champagne, and the Lawn Rush, made of gin, lemonade, and basil.
An artistically stacked arrangement of heirloom tomatoes and avocados mounted a miniature column of quinoa for the first course. But the melt-in-your-mouth mound of jumbo lump crab dressed in capers stole the show. Course two boasted a beef tenderloin of buttery tenderness accompanied by wild mushroom tortelloni in romesco sauce, fresh corn with mushrooms, and corn flan.
Dessert’s four-textured chocolate cake lived up to its name—the rice crisp crunch contrasted scrumptiously with the silky mousse. But the popcorn sorbet with which it was served was an oddity we could have done without.
Scene: Befitting of a gala for the arts, tone-setting music was omnipresent throughout the evening. A plucky, lively jazz band greeted guests at valet parking, and a harmony of strings accompanied them on their way onto the Filene Center’s expansive stage. Ladies and gents mingled and migrated downstage towards the bar, where we caught a few of them taking bows in front of an imaginary audience. Guests took their seats and the first course arrived with a few pleasantly brief speeches. Ball co-chair Tim Keating thanked donors and announced the raffle prize: an evening at a Broadway show with composer Marvin Hamlisch, “hearing stories he couldn’t tell here on stage.” Then came a video celebrating Wolf Trap’s 40th anniversary, featuring well wishes from the likes of Bill Cosby, Earth Wind & Fire, and Tony Bennett.
Previous event attendees noted the mild weather pleasantly contrasted with last year’s sweltering affair, where gentleman were invited to remove their suit coats for a little relief. The temperament of the night was cool as well, with one guest noting that, considering the diversity of politics in the room, “everyone [was] very well behaved.”
The décor enveloped the crowd in an enchanted adaptation of Wolf Trap’s natural surroundings. Bountiful bouquets of hydrangeas, gerbera daisies, and mums graced some tables. On others, small, elegantly bare shrubs held votives lined with rose petals. The theme, designed and created by Wolf Trap Opera Company’s production team, emulated Wolf Trap’s four pillars: the grandiose Filene center; the rural charm of The Barns, Wolf Trap’s smaller music venue; the Wolf Trap Opera Company; and Wolf Trap Education Programs, for which the event raised money.
After dinner the crowd went from brushing shoulders to bumpin’ shoulders to the music of Sound Connection, which did spot-on covers of songs from “Lady Marmalade” to “Don’t Stop Believin’.” At least half the crowd filled the dance floor, even breaking into a congo line before the band brought it on home with a few slow songs. On their way out, guests picked up gift bags that included bottles of chardonnay. They also took something else, as Terre Jones pointed out: “You can now put on your resume that you’ve danced onstage at Wolf Trap.”
Boldface Names: 2 out of 5
Swankiness: 4 out of 5
Food and Drink: 4 out of 5
Exclusivity: 3 out of 5