- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

First there was a classical music concert with some pretty amazing indoor pyrotechnics accompanying the finale of Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture. Then classic fare (filet mignon) followed by a bit of fox-trotting under a fabulous, flower-filled tent. A perfect combination indeed to help kick off the fall social season as the National Symphony Orchestra welcomed guests Sunday night to its annual ball at the Kennedy Center.

Ball chairmen Elaine and James Wolfensohn and Sarah and Bill Walton were pleased with the turnout (including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson and British Ambassador Sir David Manning) which raised a whopping $1.8 million for the orchestra, helmed by maestro Leonard Slatkin for one more year.

“I’ve been passionate about music ever since I heard George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’” said Mr. Walton, looking dapper in black tie.

Nearby, Marc and Jacqueline Leland (in a long black taffeta gown) and George and Liz Stevens chatted while Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt and a superslim Lally Weymouth took to the dance floor. Vernon Jordan, escorting his stylish wife, Ann, chairman of the orchestra’s board of directors, wouldn’t stop to chat. “I want to dance,” he said.

Newly confirmed Ambassador to Barbados Mary Ourisman joked about the list of friends already planning to visit her and husband Mandy there (presumably this winter), while presidential historian Michael Beschloss and columnist Thomas Friedman discussed various high-brow topics. Across the tent, filled with topiaries of full-blown roses, George Stephanopoulos and wife Alexandra “Ali” Wentworth held court next to Rep. Jane Harman, looking chic in strapless red raspberry glitter.

A sizable contingent of diplomats turned out for a good cause, including Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov and wife Svetlana and Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah and the glamorous Rima, wearing a bejeweled caftan.

“It’s a terrific mixture of old and young,” Mrs. Jordan noted, summing up the scene as music filled the air and candles glittered. Perhaps not the white-tie-and-decorations event of years past, and increasingly pricey at $2,000 per couple, but still not one to miss.

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