News & Politics

PHOTOS: Wolf Trap’s 50th Anniversary Gala

Attendees were treated to a private concert by The Avett Brothers.

Terry McAuliffe, Virginia's Democratic candidate for governor, and the Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, with current Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Arvind Manocha, president and CEO of Wolf Trap.
Dan About Town

About Dan About Town

Party photographer Dan Swartz’s diary of bashes, benefits, and galas.

The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts closed out its 50th anniversary season over the weekend, with a giant gala that raised over $2 million.

One of the three outdoor pavilions used for Saturday’s gala.
2021 Gala co-chairs Jon Feiger, Nancy Laben, Shashi and Margaret Gupta, and General (Ret.) Lester L. and Mina Lyles.

Wolf Trap, an official partner of the National Park Service, was originally conceived back in 1966 when philanthropist Catherine Filene Shouse donated 100 acres of her then personal farm to the American people. Since that time, Wolf Trap has welcomed hundreds of the world’s most renowned artists to its massive Filene Center stage, including Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, and Tony Bennett. The National Symphony Orchestra has performed at the park every year since it first opened.

Virginia Governor Northam’s place setting.
The Capital One team, which served as the official event sponsor, joined by Virginia Senator Dave Marsden and Virginia Delegate Karrie Delaney.

The fact that current Virginia Governor Ralph Northam—who shared a date with now Virginia First Lady Pam Northam early in their courtship on the lawn at Wolf Trap (“Maybe on our next date night, I’ll spring for an actual seat,” he quipped at the benefit)—and both Democratic and Republican candidates vying to replace him in November were in attendance, served as a testament to the importance of the institution to the state and greater Washington region.

Blair and Sandra Sawyer walk the purple carpet as they arrive at the gala.
Wolf Trap’s Ovations Pavilion backlit for dinner.

Bucking the old black tie gala standard, guests were invited to don their finest “concert chic” attire for the evening, which included a welcome reception, seated dinner, concert, and after party with dessert and dancing. Attendees were treated to a private concert by three-time Grammy Award nominees The Avett Brothers, who sold out three nights at Wolf Trap back in 2019.

The Avett Brothers performed a private concert for guests to close out Wolf Trap’s 50th Anniversary Season.
Saturday’s gala raised more than $2 million, a record for the foundation.

“Tonight is a very special night for so many reasons,” said Campaign for Wolf Trap co-chair Hillary Baltimore. “The return to music here at Wolf Trap, even while we continue to confront the perils of this pandemic, has been incredibly moving, and I for one, am incredibly grateful to all those that have worked tirelessly to ensure that we would have this opportunity to be together.”

The Boeing Company’s table at the gala.
One of the dessert tables at the after party.

To safeguard everyone’s health, organizers made sure that, with the exception of the restrooms, every aspect of this year’s gala took place outdoors. Guests were spread out across three separate open-air pavilions for dinner and seated in distanced groups for the concert inside the amphitheater.

The PNC Financial Services Group’s table, including chief corporate responsibility officer Richard Bynum (top row, center) and Jermaine Johnson, regional president, Greater Washington & Virginia (bottom row, center).
Suneetha and Satya Akula.

Beyond serving as a celebration of a banner milestone for Wolf Trap, Saturday night marked the official kickoff of Wolf Trap’s “Next Chapter” fundraising initiative. The goal is to raise $50 million in honor of the park’s 50 year history. So far, the foundation has already raised $35 million.

The PwC Team.
“Wolf” Trap prizes made available to guests at the after party.

“We’re confident in Wolf Trap’s uniqueness as a living time capsule of diversity in the arts and education for our patrons, both locally and nationally,” saidd Dan D’Aniello, chairman of the board of directors for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. “We revere the legacies of all genres, past and present, and we look forward to the future with optimism.”

Dr. Mahinder Tak and Sonia Boveja.
Paul Kalb, Susan Ascher, Kwaku Akowuah, Lily Faulhaber, Carter Phillips, and Sue Henry.