Raleigh Now Spotlight: N.C. Symphony Gala

Harmony Downtown

The N.C. Symphony gala takes to the street

by Liza Roberts
painting by Dan Nelson

On the first Saturday in October, as many as 300 music lovers will don black tie to dine al fresco under a transparent, chandelier-lit canopy in the middle of Fayetteville Street.

They’ll gather to raise more than $200,000 for the North Carolina Symphony, which is celebrating its 85th season. Known for its prolific profile, music education, and statewide outreach, the Symphony stages 175 concerts and events annually at Raleigh’s Meymandi Concert Hall and across the state. As the country’s first state-supported symphony, the NCS is unique among American orchestras for serving the entire state the way it does, travelling 18,000 miles every year to bring music to as many as 250,000 North Carolinians, including 55,000 4th and 5th grade students. It also takes pride in showcasing new music, and has performed nearly 50 U.S. or world premiers in its history.

The gala will also represent a first: Fayetteville Street has never before been closed for a black-tie fundraiser, organizers say. Chaired by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, and co-chaired by Rebecca Quinn-Wolf of PNC bank and Symphony trustee Patty Briguglio of PFB Connect, the party will feature music by Symphony members and local jazz musicians, and a menu created by James Beard award-winning chef Vivian Howard, whose Kinston Chef and the Farmer restaurant is the subject of the popular PBS series A Chef’s Life.

Two complete outdoor kitchens will be constructed on the eastern side of Fayetteville Street to prepare the three-course farm-to-table menu. Chefs Jason Smith of 18 Seaboard and Dean Ogan of Rocky Top Hospitality will collaborate with Howard to prepare the meal, which will be served under a 100-foot long, 50-foot wide translucent canopy.