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Annual Special Events and Gala

Sentimental Journey – Gala 2018 (Our 70th Season Celebration!)

The boffo bash, co-chaired by Marylove Thralls and Mary Dan Eades, revisited the year of the Choral Society’s founding (1948) channeling the iconic NYC Copacabana in the post-war era with Broadway musical and the Big Band sound.

JoAnne Wasserman, who is celebrating her 25th anniversary directing the choir, with David Potter on piano and Bob Lally narrating, conducted the chorus, featuring section leaders–Naomi Merer/Soprano, Kelly Newberry/Mezzo, James Kirkland/Tenor, Tyler Reese/Baritone and Jeffery Warlick/Bass–in a concert of Broadway hits from the 40s and classic songs of the era by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, and Ira Gershwin.

At left, Conductor JoAnne Wasserman, event co-chair Mary Dan Eades, steering committee member Debra Stewart, and guest Paula Von Simson admire the vintage 1941 Buick Convertible of local realtor Richard Mann that added a period flair to happy hour on the terrace of the beautiful Rockwood Woman’s Club.

After enjoying happy hour, silent auction opportunities, and the concert, the guests, many in vintage costume, tucked into a heaving buffet of appetizers, soup, Swedish meatballs, mini chicken pot pies, Chinese noodle boxes, lemon pound cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and mini eclairs. Not to mention retro cocktails

KEYT-TV dynamic duo, anchor Joe Buttitta and his meteorologist wife, Kelsey Gerckens, conducted the auction, which included a bespoke original oil on linen portrait commission, luxury vacation stays in Montana, North Carolina, and Mexico, as well as the opportunity to take the baton and conduct the chorus and orchestra in next season’s Hallelujah Project.

Among those facing the music were Todd and Allyson Aldrich, Barbara Burger and Paul Munch, Peter and Karen Brill, David Reichert and Diana Dodds Reichert, Michael Eades, Dick and Marilyn Mazess, Kostis Protopapas, Debra Stewart, Richard Mann, Gary Wasserman, and emcee Board President, Karen Williams. A rollicking 40s time was had by all!

Rockwood Abbey – Gala 2017

Royal Revival
Review by Richard Mineards, Montecito Journal May 2017

Downton Abbey, the delightful series about an English aristocratic family and their servants, may have ended on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater more than a year ago, but it was delight- fully resurrected at the Rockwood Woman’s Club by the Santa Barbara Choral Society for their annual fund- raiser, with yours truly as emcee.

To add to the majestic splendor of the occasion, former royal chef Darren McGrady, who worked in the cavernous kitchens of Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth and Kensington Palace for Princess Diana, flew in from his Dallas, Texas, home to regale the 175 guests with a torrent of royal anecdotes in a question and answer session I conducted, which went well over its allotted time so enthralling were the tales from both of us.

Veteran conductor JoAnne Wasserman, with David Potter on keyboard, took the talented singers through their paces with works from Gilbert and Sullivan, Handel, Bizet, and Verdi sung by soloists Naomi Merer, soprano; Sally Rose Bates, mezzo-soprano; James Kirkland, tenor; Tyler Reese, baritone; and Jeffrey Warlick, bass, as I narrated the musical journey to a script written by Mary Dan Eades.

The boffo beano, co-hosted by Brooks Firestone, dashingly attired in his hunting pinks, and his wife, Kate, costumed in a lady’s riding habit from the Edwardian era, was catered by local culinary wizard Michael Hutchings, while Darren, who also cooked for five U.S. presidents, curat- ed the special menu loved by the inhabitants of the royal residences.
Brooks, in the absence of his ubiq- uitous son Andrew Firestone – who had erroneously double-booked the date – put his auctioning skills to work with a five-night stay in London and a visit to Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle – going for $4,300; a week’s stay in Ansouis, Provence, going under the hammer for $4,000; a trip to New York with tickets for the Tony Award-winning show Hamilton selling for $4,600; and the chance to conduct Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus this Christmas snapped up for $1,200.

Among the royally costumed fans at the gala, which raised more than $25,000, were Debra Stewart, Marylove Thralls, Marilyn Gilbert, Jim and Lurleen Benzian, Peter and Karen Brill, Barbara Burger and Paul Munch, and Gary and Kate Rees, Fred and Nancy Golden, Ross and Karen Williams.
An evening of high note.

When in Rome – Gala 2016

Gala 2016 Casa Magazine Review clip




GALA 2016

Join us May 21st from 5:30 to 9:00 pm for our annual spring gala fundraiser!

Gala When in Rome Poster image w: borderWe will take you on a Roman Holiday, transporting you to the Italy made famous in the films of Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, and, of course, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, as we turn the beautiful Rockwood Woman’s Club into our little corner of Italy and offer you a delightful evening with strolling musicians, fabulous Italian antipasti, limoncello cocktails, buffet dinner (pasta feast, gluten-free and vegetarian options available) catered by Via Maestra 42, as well as vino, imported gelato, and caffe!  We encourage you to don your chic Italian finest and big sunglasses and get into the spirit!

Silent auction will feature Italian-themed baskets and bundles to bid on and the exciting live auction will cap the evening with the chance to bid on (and WIN!) fabulous vacation stays in Provence and Tuscany and more!  All, of course, to benefit keeping the song alive in Santa Barbara, now and for future generations!


 The theme is Italian because Conductor JoAnne Wasserman and members of the Santa Barbara Choral Society will be traveling to Italy in June as cultural emissaries of our community on our 4th International Performance Tour singing, among other things, Lauridsen WITH Lauridsen (yes, the legendary composer will be traveling with us!)  While there, we’ll be performing in beautiful cathedrals and chiese with fabulous acoustics in Naples, Rome, Florence, and Lecco (on the shores of Lake Como).

The evening’s gala entertainment will enchant you! You’ll enjoy A World of Song Concert , the acappella and keyboard accompanied repertoire the chorus will be taking on our 4th International Performance Tour in June and this is your chance to get a sneak preview! Plus, you’ll hear the choral premiere of Jeanette Vacca’s enchanting anthem to our fair city, “Santa Barbara”!

When in Rome… Gala + Concert

Saturday May 21, 2016

Rockwood Women’s Club

670 Mission Canyon Road

GALA 2015

Join us for music, fun and food at one of our special fundraising events!

In Taberna : A Night of Medieval Merriment (Gala 2015)

In Taberna Invite front

Sponsor a table in the Royal Court for yourself and your friends and make it a merry old night to remember!

Royale Court Table Sponsorships

GoldRush! Gala 2013

SBCS GoldRush Gala Performance Decked out in Old West style, in homage to California’s Goldrush history, Ms. Wasserman and the chorus took eager patrons along on a ride into the past with Kurt Weil’s folk operetta Down In The Valley. Read more about our 65th Anniversary  Gold Rush Gala – April 20, 2013 here!

 Out of Africa Gala 2012

Out of Africa MJ photo American gospel takes it roots from the music of East Africa. The chorus, under the baton of guest conductor Dr. Eugene Rogers, an expert in that genre of music, sang and swayed to the East African rhythms, much to the delight of the safari-clad patrons. Read more about our Out of Africa Gala – June 2012 here!