One of the most unique events of the season, the annual Yaddo Summer Benefit took place at the beautiful mansion on the grounds of the historic 400-acre estate of Spencer and Katrina Trask last Thursday evening.
Founded in 1900 by Trask and his wife Katrina, herself a poet, Yaddo is an artists' community with the mission to nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment.
This year's benefit was another sold out night for Yaddo with over 200 in attendance. Expenses are kept to a minimum for this event, thanks to local restaurants and florists, who donate the wonderful food and flowers, so over 90% of the proceeds will go directly to the artists' residency program.
After a special cocktail party on the second floor, guests descended the grand staircase to join the celebration below, this year dedicated to Yaddo's longtime friend, board member, and benefit supporter, Anne Palamountain, who passed away in January. Anne served on the Yaddo Board for almost 30 years, and during that time in particular played a significant role in the annual Saratoga benefit.
The event planning committee, chaired by Kim Swidler along with the co-chairs of the Sponsorship Committee, Stacie Arpey and Cindy Hollowood, put together a knock out silent auction with generous items like Giants tickets, Dinner in the Mansion for 10, beautiful jewelry from N. Fox and deJonghe; a tour of Triuna Island-the Trasks' summer place on Lake George, and tickets for a clubhouse box and the opportunity to present the trophy in the winner's circle at the Yaddo Stakes here at the Saratoga Racecourse. Guests placed their bids and crossed their fingers before heading into the music room for the presentation from the evening's special guest, Yaddo artist Gabriel Kahane, a wonderful singer-songwriter and musician.
Yaddo's President, Elaina Richardson, introduced the guest of honor by saying, "This room, where Aaron Copland launched the Festivals of American Music in the 1930s will now reverberate with the beautiful music of one of the most remarkable indie-classical composers working today. His major label debut, The Ambassador, was hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the year's best albums." Guests thrilled at the performance, with Kahane moving from piano to guitar with much applause in between.
After the program guests filled the first floor of the mansion, circled the incredible spread put on by local restaurants and spilled out onto the breathtaking veranda to mingle and chat with friends, remarking on the stirring performance.
Spotted in the crowd we saw Wally and Sue Allerdice, Stacie and Mike Arpey, Dave DeMarco, Anthony and Susan DePaula, Evan deJonghe, Stephen and Susan Dorsey, Dan and Kathleen Fortier, Avram and Rhoda Freedberg, Kathleen Fyfe, Jerry and Gerry Golub, Mark and Elisa Haworth, Sandy and Gail Keeler, Sally and Larry King, Amy Knoeller and James North, Beverley Mastrianni, Timothy and Colleen O'Hara, Will and Tab Orthwein, Rick Partyka, Mike and Marci Phinney, Lucy Tower, Bob and Heidi West, and Madison Zanetti.
A successful evening by all accounts, and because of the successful sponsorship campaign, they raised $140,000 in support of Yaddo's artists' residency program.