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Performance and Politics At the Executive’s Ball

'Getting Around'

Neither the eminent threat of rain, sleet and/or snow was about to keep them at home last Thursday night and miss the Montgomery County Executive’s Ball.

THE 20TH ANNUAL event “for the benefit of the arts and humanities” drew a crowd of nearly 1,000 hearty souls all who are reportedly arts and humanity enthusiasts. However, if one listened closely to the buzz of the evening, it was also very much a Doug Duncan night.

Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan’s bid to win the democratic nomination in 2006 for the governor’s seat in Annapolis was prominently foremost on many minds.

When asked about how she feels about the possibility of being Maryland’s first lady, Barbara Duncan replied, “It’s going to be perfect. We will be great in Annapolis. Montgomery County is ready to be at the plate and have a home run. Just feel the energy in this room tonight," she added, while glancing around the crowded, cavernous ballroom festively decorated with huge Christmas wreathes and holiday glitter.

Energy there was. And, certainly there were plenty of agendas brewing at The North Bethesda Marriott where sponsors ranging in diversity from the Montgomery County Career Firefighters Association to Macys had more than a black tie evening of dancing and dining in mind.

Arts and humanities organizations were also well represented, including Eliot Pfanstiehl, of Strathmore Hall who certainly numbers among the most visible, and Montgomery College representatives, Jessica Warnick and Bernice Grossman, all of whom have been hanging around Montgomery County doing good works for decades.

Adrienne Gude Lewis bent the ear of the County Executive during the pre- ball VIP reception. She was among the many wearing two proverbial hats that evening; one, as coordinator for the many performers on the program (including members of the National Philharmonic Singers who greeted arriving guests with their fabulous voices), and the other as a representative for Glen Echo Park preservation and restoration. “We need $700,000 each from the state, county and federal governments to finish the renovation,” she explained.

THE EVENING was so jammed packed with entertainment including Potomac Elementary School fifth-grade student Katy Koegel's reciting a poem she wrote, commemorating the works of the late stone sculptor Constantine Seferlisa, a Takoma Park resident. Seferlisa created more than 200 pieces for the Washington National Cathedral and is most known for his design and carving of the Ten Great Saints.

Winston Churchill High School junior Tudor Dominik Maican also performed. An accomplished pianist, and composer, the 16-year-old played “Imaginary Letter To Gershwin,” a piece he wrote at age 13.

Meanwhile, an extensive awards program saluted various accomplishments of Montgomery Countians including the “Excellence in Arts and Humanities Award” to Peter A. Jablow, president and CEO of Levine School of Music; “Achievement of the Arts and Humanities Community Award” to David Eisner, president, Institute of Musical Traditions; “Arts and Humanities Volunteer Award” to John O. Moser for his many years of contributions to the arts, including president of Rockville Little Theatre since 1960; “Arts and Humanities in Education Award,” to octogenarian Tensia Fonseca, artistic director, Maryland Youth Ballet, who has recently begun rehearsals for a new program; and the “Corporate Patron for the Arts and Humanities,” to the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation.

Introducing all this hoopla, to an audience well sated by an extensive buffet and free-flowing wine, were television personalities Chris Matthews and Kathleen Matthews. The latter advised the audience she had been given special instructions as to what to wear by her teen-age daughter. She told her to wear her best bustier. “I want you to impress Mr. Duncan so much he will declare a snow emergency tomorrow and close school,” she prompted.

Following a standing ovation, when he took the microphone, Duncan said, “Tell her not to worry. She should hear some good news.”

HOWEVER, THE threatening weather obviously didn’t hasten many departures. Post awards, post entertainment, post dinner and dessert, there was a crowded dance floor.

Co-chairs of the evening, Barbara Duncan and Tom Ladd can chalk up another successful event for the arts. And, from the amount of politicking going on, well, that wasn’t so shoddy either.