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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”