Portland, OR. The popping of celebratory champagne, the Rex Putnam High School Marching Band, and applause from the nearly 400 attendees provided a fitting end to the Symphony’s annual gala, which marked another first in the organization’s 120-year history – shattering the $1 million gala fundraising mark. Guests of Oregon Symphony’s Gala 2017, “Classically American” arrived to a tented reception in the Park Blocks adjacent to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. In attendance were State Architect Alice Wiewel, Liz Fuller, President of Gard Communications, Representative Brent Barton, Jordan Schnitzer, OSA President Scott Showalter, Portland State University President Wim Wiewel, and Mayor Ted Wheeler. (Photo credit, Jason DeSomer, Andie Petkus and James Clark)

Oregon Symphony’s Associate Conductor Norman Huynh, in the Park Blocks pavilion with party-goers Holly Smith, Adrienne Adelberg, and Eli Wall.

OSA President Scott Showalter in the Park Blocks pavilion, with Ginette DePreist, wife of the late James DePreist, who was Oregon Symphony Music Director from 1980 –2003

The work of the Oregon Symphony is made possible by committed Board Members, including Robyn Gastineau, John Gastineau, Renée Holzman, Robby Cunningham, James Lynch, OSA President Scott Showalter, Veronica Hinkes, Peggy Harris, Rick Hinkes, Tige Harris, and Walt Weyler.

At the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Mayor Ted Wheeler and symphony President Scott Showalter welcomed thousands of the Symphony’s gala patrons and community partners, who enjoyed a free classical concert led by Music Director Carlos Kalmar and sponsored by Umpqua Bank with additional support from FamilyCare Health and NW Natural. The concert, titled “Classically American,” featured works by Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Aaron Jay Kernis, George Gershwin, and John Williams.


Gala Honorary Chairperson Mayor Ted Wheeler joined OSA President Scott Showalter on stage prior to the Classically American concert. As they concluded their comments, they took a moment to share their support for the Oregon Ducks, who were in the midst of their Final Four game.

The 2017 Schnitzer Wonder Award, created by Jordan Schnitzer in honor of his parents Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, was awarded to Julane Stites, artistic director of Dance West, whose students also performed during the concert. The award included a $10,000 contribution to Dance West. Stites was the third recipient of the award, following Bonnie Reagan (BRAVO Youth Orchestras) in 2015 and Mia Hall Miller (Pacific Youth Choir) in 2016.

Julane Stites receives Schnitzer Wonder Award. The award recognizes arts leaders for their outstanding contributions towards building community through the next generation of artists.

Guests had a photo-op as they entered the hall for the Gala concert, Classically American. Pink Martini vocalist China Forbes arrived in festive attire with Reed Professor Steven Arkonovich.

Following the concert, Gala guests moved to the Portland Art Museum for cocktails and dinner. Upon entering, they were greeted with life-size floral puppets from Michael Curry Design. Michael Curry is the designer and staging director for Oregon Symphony’s upcoming SoundSights concert Perséphone.

In attendance were Daniel Capuia and Dr. Alisha Moreland Capuia, Co-Founders of the Capuia Foundation, former Portland First Lady Nancy Hales, and Ed Tenny.

One of many highlights of the evening was a performance by Native American drum group the Thunder Lodge Singers.

The reception, concert, and cocktail party were followed by an elegant dinner in the Portland Art Museum’s Kridel Grand Ballroom.

Auctioneer Randy Parnell revved up enthusiasm for spontaneous donations during the Special Appeal paddle raise.

Portland native and Miss America 2002 Katie Harmon described how her high school experience with the Oregon Symphony influenced her to pursue her passion for music.

Celebrating the event that night were Suzanne Nance of All Classical radio, Oregon Symphony Associate Conductor Norman Huynh, Holly Smith, Prue Miller, Harry Miller, Gala Co-Chair Renée Holzman, Scott Showalter, philanthropist Lois Schnitzer, and philanthropist and business leader Jordan Schnitzer.

Scott Showalter takes the stage with the Gala Co-Chairs and special guests to announce the evening’s unprecedented fundraising results. Also on stage (l-r) James Lynch, Renée Holzman, Robby Cunningham, Katie Harmon, Oregon Symphony Music Director Carlos Kalmar.

The 2017 Oregon Symphony Gala Committee was headed by Legacy Chairs Arlene Schnitzer and Howard Hedinger, Honorary Co-Chairs Mayor Ted Wheeler and Jordan Schnitzer, and Gala Co-Chairs Renée and Irwin Holzman and James Lynch and Robby Cunningham.

Commenting on the success of the evening, Symphony President Scott Showalter said, “We are all touched by the immense generosity of our gala patrons and grateful for the support of the countless volunteers who made the event so extraordinary.”

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