- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2004

An outdoor black-tie event in the swelter of the Washington summer?”What a crazy idea,” quipped Ashok Kaveeshwar, who chaired the Wolf Trap Foundation’s annual gala fund-raiser last week.

To his pleasant surprise, Mr. Kaveeshwar, a senior executive at Raytheon, wasn’t roasted alive Wednesday night.

Balmy temperatures and a battery of industrial fans kept formally-clad arts patrons cool and dry under a tent on the grounds of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, where Linda Ronstadttopped off a dinner party — a sellout, according to chairman John C. Backus Jr.— that raised about $500,000 for the philanthropic arm of the Vienna performing arts organization.

“This isn’t about increasing artists’ salaries,” said foundation president and CEO Terrence D. Jones. “Education is our priority.”

The Wolf Trap Foundation funds early learning programs, with a focus on the arts, in the Washington area and in about a dozen other regions across the country.

“This is right in line with my passions,” said retired Redskins legend Darrell Green, a Wolf Trap gala regular.

About 1,000 other guests, including reps from companies such as AOL, Riggs Bank, Boeing and Capital One, walked down a long black carpet for fruity cocktails and hors d’oeurves.

During the main course of surf (red snapper) and turf (beef medallions), Public Broadcasting Service President Pat Mitchell was spotted with a date (her teenage son, Clark) discussing ways to link up PBS’ arts-education efforts with the good folks of Wolf Trap.

“We need to have a business meeting,” she reported.

Sen. George Allen’s wife, Susan, who wore a sharp peach-colored dress, was bombarded with meet-and-greeters as she tried to make her way into the pavilion. Miss Ronstadt and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra were slated for a prompt 8:30 p.m. showtime.

Raising money for early childhood education was the priority Wednesday, but seeing Miss Ronstadt was a nice dessert, she said. (The chocolate meringue wasn’t bad, either.)

“She’s one of my favorites,” said Mrs. Allen, who confessed to owning some, so to speak, old-fashioned recordings of the ‘70s pop-folk singer.

“I have all her cassettes,” she said.

Mrs. Allen must have doubly appreciated Wolf Trap’s party favor — a fresh new compact disc of Miss Ronstadt’s greatest hits.

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