Concert Artist of Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun

Blue was everywhere but in the moods of the guests at "Rhapsody in Blue: A Salute to the Gershwin Era," the Concert Artists of Baltimore gala. You had huge blue back-lit cutouts of skyscrapers around the edges of the Belvedere ballroom. Tables were draped in blue. And so were some of the guests.

"I bought my blue gown just for this," said Towson University student Andy Berman, in a gorgeous navy one-shoulder number.

Event chair Barbara Cox - decked out in a black-and-blue brocade jacket - also pointed out the evening's gift bags were made of blue velvet.

CAB artistic director Edward Polochick explained that the evening was a reflection of the Gershwin era, when composer George Gershwin wrote many of his most famous pieces. "It was the Roaring Twenties, a time of great celebration."

Even the building itself fit with the theme. Board president Barry Williams mused about flappers doing the Charleston in the same ballroom where he now stood.

"This setting, which is so Old Baltimore, certainly adds [to the romance of the evening]," said Ed Brody, CEO of Brody Transportation, who was there with his wife, Barbara.

That thought seemed to ring true for Deborah Dopkin, a Towson-based attorney, and her husband, Mark Dopkin, a Tydings & Rosenberg partner.

"I'm looking forward to a very romantic dance with my husband," said Deborah Dopkin, with a twinkle in her eye.

Maximizing his host potential

Throwing a holiday party can be exhausting - and expensive. So, how about throwing six? That's how Baltimore bon vivant Curt Decker has spent the last month.

Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, lives in Mount Vernon, where he has perfected the art of party-giving. He began in December with an opening night party for the cast and friends of The Nutcracker ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts. Decker is a longtime member of that cast in his role as the magical toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer. A few days later, he hosted the annual meeting/holiday party for the Friends of Research Institute, of which he is a board member. Then, there was a pre-opening night soiree for friends of David Schweizer, director of Caroline, Or Change at Center Stage. On the 13th, there was a holiday bash for 60 to 70 of his old chums. And last weekend, more friends on Saturday and Sunday nights.

"Once I've hung the decorations and bought the poinsettias, I might as well get my money's worth."

So, how will he spend New Year's Eve?


Welcome back Not every celebration is holiday-themed these days. Take the little party at the Prime Rib this week for Michele Whelley. The former Downtown Partnership of Baltimore prez moved north this summer when she took the job of CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, Conn. However, her friends know her heart - and home - remains here. So, with Michele back in town for the holidays, Baltimore School for the Arts outreach assistant coordinator Leslie Polakoff organized a "girls' dinner" for her, including: Enterprise Homes CEO/president Chickie Grayson, Constellation Energy Public Affairs managing director Mary Dempsey, Classic Catering People's special events v.p. Gail Kaplan, and yours truly.

"This is just to keep her in touch with everybody," Polakoff says, convinced of Baltimore's inevitable allure. "Because we know she's going to come home."

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