photo Courtesy of Zach Hilty,

On Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 420 cultural philanthropists, artists, musicians, art world luminaries, influencers and celebrities, including speakers David Byrne, Julianne Moore andAnn Ziff, gathered at one of New York’s most coveted venues, Gotham Hall, to honor heroes Renée Fleming, Philip Glass and Helga Davis, and to raise money for National Sawdust.

The evening celebrated and benefited National Sawdust’s commitment to guiding audiences through musical discovery and providing artists with invaluable resources to advance and expand their practice at pivotal stages in their careers through the artist residency program. Funds raised during the gala will also ensure accessible ticket prices.

Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner with sensational and unique performances by Timo Andres & Anthony Roth Costanzo, Kinan Azmeh, Brooklyn Youth Chorus & Caroline Shaw,Choir of Trinity Wall Street & Paola Prestini, Helga Davis & Yuka Honda, Gogol Bordello & Rapper Latasha Alcindor, and Magos Herrera. At their tables, guests played with centerpiece instruments specially made by world-class instrument designer Mark Stewart.

National Sawdust Executive Director Paola Prestini commented, “Last night, esteemed philanthropists came together with art world luminaries, such as Marina Abramovic, Karen Wong and Nicola Vassel, among many others, to launch National Sawdust into it’s second full year. All of the artists that performed, represented the rich and diverse community that makes New York so special. The values anchored in this young dynamic non-profit organization were strongly supported by the icons of the music world, from celebrated composer, Philip Glass and founding member of Talking Heads, David Byrne, to renowned opera singer, Renee Fleming. Julianne Moore spoke about her upcoming movie Bel Canto, for which she spent hours personally observing Renee Fleming in rehearsal to prepare for her role as a diva —Renee is also voicing the character for the film— while David Byrne spoke about his relationship with Philip Glass and the importance of breaking down musical barriers, and Renee Fleming emphasized the importance of championing women in the field.”

Paola added, “In a true representation of the types of unexpected collaborations that National Sawdust curates, the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello joined forces with the Brooklyn rapper Latasha Alcindor, for a lively finale to the gala.”

A live auction featured a private voice lesson with Renée Fleming, which realized $22,000, as well as an after-hours tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art won by Mario Batali. Other special experiences at auction included a private in-home concert with percussionist Glenn Kotche of Wilco and a meal prepared by James Beard Award-Winning Chef Patrick Connolly of Rider  — the neighboring restaurant to National Sawdust’s Williamsburg space — as well as jewelry designed by Tamsen Z, Ann Ziff’s jewelry line, tickets and backstage tour for two to Hello Dolly!, starring Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce, and a weekend stay for two at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach along with a private dinner prepared by James Beard Award Winning Chef Laurent Tourondel and a private musical performance.

Among the prominent guests in attendance were: Philip Glass, Renée Fleming, Marina Abramovic,Mario Batali, David Byrne, Helena Christensen, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Alberto Cribiore, Daisy Soros, Susan Graham, Terrance McKnight, Julianne Moore, Francisco Nunez, Jonathan Rose, Julie Taymor, Stephen and Diane Volk, Anthony Weintraub, Valda Witt, Karen Wong, Sherry Bronfman, Barbara Guggenheim, Eileen Guggenheim, Robert L. Turner, Nella and Dominic Habsburg, Leila Strauss.

Benefit Committee: Hilaria and Alec Baldwin, Olivia and Jean-Pierre Chessé, Helena Christensen, Kevin Dolan, Agnes Gund, Elizabeth Madigan Jost, Elena Park, David Hyde Pierce and Brian Hargrove, Kristin Soong and Phillip Rapoport, Diana and Jonathan Rose, Kris Sebastian and Alberto Cribiore, Catharine and Jeffrey Soros, Daisy M. Soros, Jill and Bill Steinberg

Event Committee: Nicholas Arons, Dan Breen, Rick D’Avino, Nicole Gary, Jeanne Giordano, Jen Gutmann, Sarah Johnson, Ellen O’Brien Kelly, Roger Krulak, Harvey Mogenson, Leslie and Fabien Moreau, Michelle Nakash, Nizam Siddiq, Rachel and Dan Widawsky, Peter Zuspan

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