Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s “Symphony Night Fever” fundraiser

Theme Party Fun like Bathtub Gin – Emily McEvoy attendee at 2016 Grapes & Escapes theme night

By Tim Smith

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) has been entertaining and educating the Miami Valley for 74 years, with a mixture of classical and pop music. It’s also heavily invested in providing youth programs and many other community activities. It will hold its annual fundraiser, “Grapes & Escapes: Symphony Night Fever,” on Feb. 3.

The theme of this year’s fundraising activity is reliving the disco from the 1970s, when platform shoes, polyester suits, and shag haircuts held sway, and calling someone a “foxy lady” was considered a compliment. According to Lou Ross, Director of Marketing for the SSO, the committee has some unique treats planned.

“The event starts with the opportunity to taste wines from around the world, along with a selection of high-end bourbons and scotch,” he says. “It continues on the Symphony stage with an open bar, a served meal, and then a live travel auction of trips and experiences. We finish with dancing to a live band, so bring your boogie shoes! The event is themed each year, and this year it’s Symphony Night Fever, so attendees should time travel back to the disco era of the 1970s fashion, hairstyles, and makeup to match the style of this fundraiser.”

Though “Saturday Night Fever,” is set in Manhattan, the movie has a unique Ohio connection, which the planning committee decided to capitalize on.

“Ohio-based restaurant chain, White Castle, was featured in the movie, ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ where John Travolta’s Tony Manero character and his friends stop in for a bite to eat,” Ross says. “Sliders will be offered as appetizers during the opening reception in the Davidson Grand Lobby at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. The attendees then head to the stage of the Kuss Auditorium for a served dinner with wines and an open bar. The celebration concludes with dancing on the apron of the stage in the Kuss to the sounds of The Street Players, a central Ohio-based, high-energy dance band.”

The Escapes portion of Grapes & Escapes consists of vacation packages that attendees can bid on. These include The Greenbrier Hotel, located in the mountains of West Virginia; a Fly-Fishing Adventure with local expert Hal Goodrich; The Welsh Hill Inn, a bed and breakfast located in Granville, Ohio; The Grand Hotel, an historic resort overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan; an AAA certificate good for two round-trip tickets on Delta Airlines to anywhere within the continental United States; and the Columbus Experience.

Throughout a typical year, the SSO performs a concert subscription series, free concerts for the Springfield Summer Arts Festival, Concerts for Young People, and special outreach concerts for underserved parts of the community. The orchestra manages a Youth Symphony educational program that includes three orchestras, a student ensemble program, a children’s chorus, and in addition, provides a students-at-the-symphony program for Springfield City Elementary School students. Summer outreach includes free concerts on the Springfield Art Museum lawn, and music and arts education activities for children.

“The monies raised during this event are crucial to the continued success of the SSO and all of the programs offered year-round,” Ross says. “We want the attendees to realize that the Springfield Symphony Orchestra reaches more than 2,000 students through our youth music education programs. We are the only orchestral opportunity for many students in the area. Students participating in high quality music programs score higher on reading and spelling tests. Your attendance and participation in the auction helps us keep these programs flourishing.”

Putting together an annual event like this takes time and the combined efforts of numerous people. Ross points out that many suborganizations are involved, along with community members.

“We start planning in August by selecting the chairs of the event,” he says. “The chairs can select a theme, or our planning committee will help with that. The theme is what guides the rest of our planning. We work with a talented graphic designer who guides our marketing efforts, and Ambience Events provides our decor. The patrons of the Symphony and of past Grapes & Escapes fundraisers suggest themes and travel destinations to the Symphony Board of Trustees and the G&E Committee. The Women’s Association of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra gives year-round support and input on Symphony activities. We have been blessed for 74 years with active support from this community, including corporate underwriting, foundation grants, and individual donors. Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital and Wallace & Turner Insurance are the event sponsor partners for Grapes & Escapes this year.”

The biggest challenge in putting on a program like this?

“Balancing the event budget,” Ross says. “We want to give our guests the very best experience possible, while also honoring that this is a fundraiser for our organization. We have been fortunate to have great event partners over the years who help us find a good balance.”

The SSO and the various committees involved want attendees to boogie down and have a good time for a great cause.

“This is really one of the most unique and exciting events in Springfield,” Ross says. “Our guests really take the theme to heart, and most will dress up to support the event. We’re expecting a lot of bell bottoms and platform shoes this year. Also, people who attend will get a lot of bang for their ticket buck with the meal, the wine tasting, and the open bar, not to mention the dancing.”

Grapes & Escapes: Symphony Night Fever will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 6-11 p.m. at Kuss Auditorium, 300 South Fountain Avenue, Springfield. Tickets are $95.00 per person, and tables seat 10. Buy tickets online at SpringfieldSym.org.  Tickets are also available by email, info@springfieldsym.org, or by calling 937.325.8100.

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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