WPAS Gala Performs Well in Supporting Arts

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

WPAS Gala Performs Well in Supporting Arts


Byline: Lisa Rauschart, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Forget the siren sounds of the campaign season. At Monday's fall fundraiser for the Washington Performing Arts Society, the talk was of the power of live performance. The Kennedy Center event, which raised $176,000 for WPAS arts and education programs, featured a sold-out performance by internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with British pianist Kathryn Stott, along with dinner and a post-recital reception. Throughout the night, benefactors devoted to the arts in general and live performance in particular provided some interesting grace notes.

"There's nothing like the transcendent experience of a live performance," event co-chairwoman Rachel Tinsley Pearson said. "It nourishes the soul in a very busy town." Jeanne Cooper, Toyota's group vice president for government and industry affairs and a co-chairwoman as well (Toyota underwrote the evening), talked about the time her mother first exposed her to classical music at a children's series at North Carolina State University. For Sen. John Sununu, it was playing the bassoon in his high school band.

Guests noted that WPAS has managed to showcase just about every major artist and helped promote the careers of many more in the more than 40 years since it was founded. "The arts in Washington are flourishing, thanks to the generosity of our patrons," noted Douglas Wheeler, the organization's president emeritus, recalling the days when WPAS mounted shows in the old Capitol movie theater downtown.

These days, the group has set its sights on a lot more than top-flight programs for well-heeled audiences. Now it provides a range of arts and education programs throughout the Greater Washington area, including the very popular Concerts in Schools program. A substantial number of seats for District youths are set aside at many performances.

"It's about giving opportunities," said WPAS President Neale Perl, who noted his own youthful life-changing experience: attending a recital by cellist Leonard Rose.

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