Divine Decadence and Hip Cats, Darling, at Breakfast at Tiffany Screening

by Wendy Sy Photographed by Julie Skarratt and Chris Lee
Saturday, May 13, 2017

Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia—especially when it comes to old movies, right? Last week, the New York Philharmonic hosted its Spring Gala at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, with a screening of the 1961 romantic comedy based on Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Assistant conductor Joshua Gersen led an orchestral performance of Henry Mancini’s acclaimed score, along with director Judith Clurman and The Symphony Singers. The gala was part of the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season celebration.

On the first page of the evening’s program was a copy of a letter to Mancini from Audrey Hepburn, who starred in the movie’s leading role as Holly Golightly. “Your music has lifted us all up and sent us soaring. Everything we cannot say with words or show with action you have expressed for us. You have done this with so much imagination, fun and beauty,” she writes. “You are the hippest of cats—and the most sensitive of conductors!”

Following the performance, dinner was served at the Grand Promenade, where the table décor included a few iconic essentials of Hepburn’s character: oversized black sunglasses, strings of pearls and cigarette holders.

Like a majority of the ladies in attendance, Daisy Soros, the 175th anniversary chair, wore a little black dress, aka LBD, another signature from the film. “Tonight’s Spring Gala is much more than the opportunity to experience a memorable performance in the company of good friends,” says Soros. “It is our way to assist the Philharmonic’s efforts to make orchestral music available from Brooklyn to the Bronx.”

Ginny Mancini was the honorary gala chair of the evening. “I think my husband would have been over the moon that his music is being recognized by the New York Philharmonic,” Ginny says of her late husband, Henry Mancini. “He will forever be remembered—not only for this film, but for so many he wrote for.”

In true Holly Golightly form, Ginny is also friends with her neighbor, who was her dinner seatmate. “I’m Jerry Shriver, spelled S-H-R-I-V-E-R. My wife Debra and I moved into our place in midtown west seven years ago and met Ginny in the hall,” says Shriver, a writer, like Golightly’s neighbor Paul Varjak, who also spells out his last name to new acquaintances. “We are blessed to have someone that sweet, unpretentious and vivacious in our lives.”

As for the preparation process of the performance, the Orchestra had two rehearsals leading up to the evening. “It was actually a luxury. Sometimes you only have one rehearsal and it comes down to working against the clock. This project took more conducting practice to make sure the music and movie sync up,” says Gersen, who began his tenure at the Philharmonic in 2015. “I have to say the end would be my favorite part of the movie, and of course, the ‘Moon River’ scene. It’s pretty classic.”

The gala raised more than $1.284 million for the Philharmonic. Attendees included the institution’s incoming president and CEO Deborah Borda, chairman Oscar S. Schafer and gala co-chairs Paul and Diane Guenther, Anna Khoruzhenko and Peter Gross, and Phoebe and Bobby Tudor.


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