San Francisco Social Diary: 13th Annual Festival Napa Valley Opening Weekend, Part I

Festival Napa Valley celebrated its 13th season with a record number of performances, including a spectacular light and music show during the opening Founders Dinner.

13TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL NAPA VALLEY OPENING WEEKEND 2018 Part I – THE OPENING NIGHTS

Festival Napa Valley recently “uncorked” its 13th season. I made my annual summer pilgrimage, one of a delighted 10,000 attendees who enjoyed wine, food, and cultural events over ten days at a multitude of venues throughout the Valley’s Wine Country.

A dazzling roster of musicians and singers participated in an unprecedented 70 spectacular classical music, opera, and jazz performances, and the region’s top vintners and chefs hosted intimate food and wine events.

The internationally recognized Festival Napa Valley gets better and more popular each year, with waiting lists for many of the 2018 programs. Bravo to all involved!

Napa Valley is considered one of the top viticultural areas in both California and the entire United States, with a history dating back to the early nineteenth century.

In Napa Valley, more than 400 wineries grow numerous grape varieties, including cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, and zinfandel, among other popular varietals.

Continue reading

American Friends of Versailles in Paris, Part 2

An all-white fireworks display concluded the grand fete, a breathtaking celebration for a worthy achievement.

By Sharon Hoge and Jeanne Lawrence

In our last post, we recounted several exclusive events from the four-day trip to Paris with the American Friends of Versailles (AFV), including visits with the first lady of France, HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, and the American Ambassador to France.

But the trip’s high point was private time at Versailles Palace away from the crowds, touring the premises, admiring the three projects AFV sponsored there in honor of Franco-American fellowship, and attending an extraordinary black-tie evening with champagne and dinner served in the elegant palace chambers.

Continue reading

American Friends of Versailles in Paris, Part 1

The American Friends of Versailles group in the courtyard at the Palace of Versailles. Celebrating their restoration of historic paintings in Marie Antoinette’s Queen’s Guard Room, members of the American Friends of Versailles (AFV) spent four days in Paris visiting dignitaries and monuments, dining and dancing.

By Sharon Hoge and Jeanne Lawrence

On a four-day visit to Paris, members of the American Friends of Versailles enjoyed several exclusive events, including roaming around the Élysée Palace with France’s vivacious first lady, Brigitte Macron; dining with HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, Duke of Castro, head of the royal house of France; sipping cocktails with US Ambassador Jamie McCourt at the American Residence; and private visits to the Palace of Versailles, topped with a black-tie formal reception in the Hall of Mirrors and an elegant dinner.

Having raised the funds to rescue historic ceiling paintings in Marie Antoinette’s suite of apartments, the group gathered to view and celebrate the restorations. The formal events that took place at the palace will be covered in another post, but here is an account of some of the other privileged activities.

The AFV assembled on the garden steps of the Elysee Palace, with First Lady Brigitte Macron in front in the white blazer.

AFV Founder Catharine Hamilton and First Lady of France Brigitte Macron.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 6

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, such as the Xuankongsi Hanging Temple, which clings precariously to the side of Wutai Mountain.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Sixth of a Seven-part Series)

Wutai Mountains

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 7: HISTORIC SITES ON WUTAI MOUNTAIN

Leaving the ancient walled city of Pingyao, we continued further north to explore an amazing and unique set of historical sites on Wutai Mountain.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: SFMOMA Modern Ball 2018

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s second biannual “Modern Ball,” after reopening in 2016, was a hugely successful bash.

SAN FRANCISCO MOMA MODERN BALL 2018 RAISES $4 MILLION

The biannual Modern Ball at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)—always high on my must-attend list—was once again a spectacular event, this year raising $4 million for education and exhibition programs, including free admission for all visitors under age 18.

The new SFMOMA Snøhetta-designed building (2016) is visible behind the original red-brick Mario Botta-designed structure (1995).

Some 2,000 reveler-supporters came to have a ball at the ball—a fabulous, international, festively attired mix of all ages and types: VIPs, museum dignitaries, directors, and curators; artists, designers, and gallerists; collectors and art lovers; techies; and the old guard and the new.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 5

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some incredible off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including several sacred temples such as this Shuanglin complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(
Fifth of a Seven-Part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 6: HISTORICAL TEMPLES IN THE ANCIENT WALLED CITY OF PINGYAO

After spending a third day in historic Pingyao, we wrapped up our exploration of this ancient walled city with tours of several historically significant Taoist and Buddhist temples in and near the Old City.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: Winter Art Events

San Francisco’s winter social season was in full swing with a glamorous pair of artistic events—a “celestial” Ballet Gala and the FOG Design+Art Fair.

SAN FRANCISCO BALLET 2018 OPENING NIGHT GALA

Befitting the “Celestial” theme of the 2018 San Francisco Ballet Opening Night Gala, the ladies’ gowns sparkled, the décor set the room aglow, and the performance by the world-class SF Ballet dancers was heavenly.

It was all a spectacular success under the leadership of Gala Chair Kathryn A. Huber, Gala Dinner Chair Betsy Linder, Décor Chair Catherine Bergstrom, and Honorary Chairs Christine Russell and Mark Schlesinger.

Gala Committee members Jane Gazzola, Laura Miller, Pamela Bradley Preston, Rada Brooks, Andi Valo Espina, Lori Harmon, Catherine Bergstrom, Monica Moscoso, Kathy Huber, Claire Kostic, Betsy Linder, Ali Siever, Pam Zaragoza, Christine Desanze, Carolyn Koenig, and V’Anne Singleton.

SF Ballet General Manager Debra Bernard, Gala Chair Kathy Huber, SF Ballet Board Chair Carl Pascarella, and Yurie Pascarella.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: Celebrating Henry Segerstrom in Orange County, CA

The late Henry Segerstrom, public arts champion and founder of Orange County luxury shopping center South Coast Plaza, was honored during the Plaza’s 50th anniversary celebration that culminated in a Mariinsky Orchestra performance in Segerstrom Concert Hall.

On the 50th anniversary of the prestigious South Coast Plaza luxury shopping center in Costa Mesa, California, Elizabeth Segerstrom and her family honored the memory of her late husband, developer and plaza creator Henry Segerstrom.

Three days of activities and celebrations in Orange County culminated on October 30 in a concert at Segerstrom Hall by the Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev, general and artistic director of the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Valery Gergiev (left, with Russian pianist Denis Matsuev) is general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.

Continue reading

Exploring Palm Springs, Part II

Palm Springs, long a glamorous retreat for Hollywood stars, is now a flourishing arts community that has recently drawn a new surge of tourists.

I want to abandon New York this winter and join the international snow birds in flying to Palm Springs, in Southern California’s Coachella Valley (which locals call just “The Valley”), to enjoy the ultimate in resort pleasures: natural beauty, year-round sun, golf courses, tennis facilities, spas, hiking, gambling, and vibrant nightlife.

The nine desert towns that compose The Valley include Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella.

It’s just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego to Palm Springs, situated amid the dramatic peaks of the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains.

The temptations of the city’s Uptown Design District include shopping, dining, and cultural events.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: Art Happenings in Palm Springs, Coachella Valley (Part I)

Palm Springs, long a glamorous retreat for Hollywood stars, is now a flourishing arts community that has recently drawn a new surge of tourists.

ART HAPPENINGS IN PALM SPRINGS, COACHELLA VALLEY (PART I)

I’m making vacation plans now to leave Manhattan once winter arrives. One of the places that beckons is Southern California’s Coachella Valley, the desert resort area that lures international snow birds drawn by its natural beauty, year-round sun, golf courses, tennis facilities, spas, hiking, gambling, and vibrant nightlife.

The Coachella Valley (locals simply call it “The Valley”) is a string of nine desert towns — the best-known Palm Springs, as well as Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella.

A mere two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs is surrounded by the dramatic peaks of the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains.

The Uptown Design District of Palm Springs offers tempting shopping, dining, and cultural events.

Continue reading