When South Bronx youth charity Casita Maria hosted a musicale for its benefactors, it pulled out all the stops.
The setting was the stately 19th-century townhouse of culture mandarins Michael and Joan Steinberg in the West 70s off Central Park. Designed by John Hemingway Duncan, the genius behind Grant’s Tomb and the Arch in Grand Army Plaza, its scale and detail exemplify New York’s Golden Age, when civilization was civilized.
To entertain the supporters of its after-school music program, Casita brought along a choir of eight girls and one boy, whose enthusiasm stole the show. The irony is that he stole it from the choir’s instructress, who happened to be the orb-famous dramatic soprano, Deborah Voigt. The minute Debbie walked into the room, her charisma and charm suffused the air. (Her lovely new memoir is titled “Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva”.) She is that rare performer, nay that rare person who is 100% comfortable in her own skin.
Endearingly, as endearing as Maria Von Trapp ever was, Miss Voigt explained to the kids, and to us, who were “the two Richards”—Wagner and Strauss—and sang a couple of their tunes. Then she moved on to Richard Rodgers and they joined her in “Do Re Mi.” Hearts fluttered. But eyes welled when Debbie sang “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.” She found a truth that only a diva who is also an Earth Mother could unmine.
If you follow the link included with this story, you’ll see the video of Debbie y los niños singing “Do Re Mi.” Amusingly, in the background you’ll also see, wearing polka dots and shooting video on her phone, the eminent investment banker Violy McCausland, who had just deplaned from Madrid and Ubered straight over to support Casita. She was happy to bump into Luz Miriam Toro, whose personal collection of pre-Colombian pieces and jewelry is unequaled.
The writer Jacqueline Weld Drake, chairman of Casita’s board, hosted. Sarah Calderon, Casita’s director, presented an award to the distinguished philanthropist Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimo.
The evening was in honor of the memory of Dama di Commenda Gaetana Enders, the journalist and gadabout who founded Casita’s music program in 2010 and who died in 2014. No one who ever met Gaetana could ever forget her and there are damn few in this town who never met her. Her son Thomas Enders made some touching remarks on behalf of the family.
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Glasswing, a charity based in San Salvador that operates programs benefiting children in several Central American countries, held its first-ever fundraiser in New York, drew 400 guests, and raised over half a million dollars. How’s that for getting out of the gate?
The founders—Celina De Sola, Ken Baker, and Diego De Sola—took over that rooftop venue on Desbrosses Street, currently known as Tribeca Three Sixty, and the fiesta never flagged. With teenagers blowing into saxophones, what’s not to like?
The honoree was Roberto Kriete, a well-known pioneer in Latin American aviation and a board member of Avianca Holdings.
Gabriel Rivera-Barraza, one of the hosts, said, “Glasswing has directed over $17 million for children’s health and education programs, with less than 5% of that going to overhead.”
Miguel Henriquez, 24, social media director for ORB, represented this magazine at the event, but what with the profusion of bewitching señoritas and free-flowing libations, forgot to take notes. He did recall, “A guy from Dancing With The Stars spoke and got lots of applause.”
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Mexican-born ladies Juana Domenzain Girault and Gina X Moreno Valle and Venezuelan-born Maria Luisa Mendoza (she’s a daughter of the illustrious Eugenio Mendoza and sister of the soignee Luisana) decided to help put some little-known but really talented artists on the radar.
To do so, they formed a company they call Subject. (Why this name? Your guess is as good as mine.)
Their first exhibition, a one-night-only affair on the Lower East Side, featured Viky Garcia from Spain. Srta. Garcia imagines a mise en scène, painstakingly paints almost everything in it white (usually including herself and even her mother), then snaps a photo. The work is haunting, and so is the artist.
A jolly crowd assembled at the Ludlow Street gallery, including Wireimage’s Johnny Nunez, who has been called the Latin answer to Patrick McMullan. If so, he has a lot to answer for.