Houston Snapshots

Houston symphony’s royal phoenix ball was a virtual and actual success

Event Date:  February 27, 2021
Location:  The Post Oak at Uptown
Event:  Gala
No. of Attendees:  114 Actual; 140 Virtual
Money Raised:  $800,000+
Beneficiary:  Houston Symphony
Chairpersons:  Rini and Edward Ziegler
Honorees:  Robin Angly, Miles Smith, John Neighbors and Phillips 66
Photography:  Wilson Parish

Houston Symphony’s “Royal Phoenix” Ball was a Virtual and Actual Success!

As most charitable organizations continue to suffer in their fundraising efforts, our Houston Symphony has orchestrated a triumphant gala, not only for those who want to return to getting decked out in their finery, but also for those who still do not yet feel comfortable attending an event inside a ballroom filled with guests.

Their smart decision to create a hybrid event, whereby guests would have a choice of where to attend the gala is still fairly new, but these dual location events are becoming popular in Houston’s event scene. Until attendees feel safe enough to enjoy themselves fully at events of all kinds, smaller intimate gatherings inside patron’s homes—wherein the event programs are digitally streamed and one or more tables of guests are safely catered and managed—are becoming the norm. The logistics for the charities and their event team or planner must be meticulously programmed and executed, but guests seem to enjoy the camaraderie with their friends in a safe and familiar environment.

For the 114 in-person guests attending the limited capacity and socially distanced gala at The Post Oak at Uptown Houston, the “Royal Phoenix Ball,” was magnificently chaired by Rini and Edward Ziegler. The Zieglers and the event team were challenged by the disruptions of Houston’s extraordinary winter storm and electricity blackout two weeks before the gala, but they were not to be deterred. An absolutely beautiful gala was held in multiple locations (hotel ballroom and numerous patrons’ homes), raising an astounding $800,000+ for the Houston Symphony’s coffers. The Zieglers explain that “having a dual live and virtual format increased both live ticket sales and overall revenue for The Houston Symphony. A longer online or virtual bidding will both increase the exposure time for the auction and give bidders more time to make decisions and think about an auction strategy or priorities. Supporters who might not attend can virtually and remotely support and participate.” More than 70 households (140+ attendees) supported the event virtually.

Renowned event decorator Richard Flowers and his The Events Company transformed the hotel’s ballroom with magnificent floral arrangements, while its walls were draped with red curtains and phoenix murals inspired by the “Royal Phoenix” theme.

The evening program honored social stalwarts Robin Angly, Miles Smith and John Neighbors. Afterward, guests enjoyed an exquisite three-course dinner paired with special wines selected by John and Lindy Rydman and Lisa Rydman of Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods. Phillips 66, serving as the Presenting Sponsor for the seventh straight year, remarked through their Social Impact Director Claudia Kreisle, “The Houston Symphony plays a significant role in Houston’s world-class arts and music scene, bringing people together and enriching the culture of our community. That’s why we’ve been proud supporters of both the Symphony and their annual ball for the past seven years.”

Houston Symphony’s Director of Special Events Stacey Swift said, “Doing a hybrid was like planning two galas. Since the gala was live and lasted 3 hours, we wanted to make sure the streaming guests felt engaged and entertained which we felt was accomplished. It was a beautiful evening in support of our Houston Symphony.” A big round of congratulations to the Zieglers, the event team and those who supported in-person and from afar.

Socially present: John Mangum, Eric Lindsay, Betty and Jesse Tutor, Bobbie Nau, Vicki West, Ralph Burch, Alan and Elizabeth Stein, Fran Fawcett Peterson, Beth Wolff, Cheryl Byington, Leslie SillerRini & Edward ZieglerMargaret Williams, Phoebe and Bobby TudorAnn and Jonathan AyreAstley BlairMady Kades and Danielle Ellis.

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