The 12th Annual Hartt Gala took place last Saturday, October 19, two days ago as I write this, at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Hartford. It was a blast. Over 300 people attended including several Hartt alums, one of whom, Miguel Vasquez, of the Class of 2013, sang brilliantly and thanked those present for their contributions which had made his arrival and continued attendance at Hartt possible in the first place.
The scheduled performances, all by Hartt students -- a chorus of pre-college students from the Community Division, a second chorus from the college and then four student performers from the musical, Barnum, two of whom were performing on stilts -- were all enthusiastically received by the audience… as they should have been. They were terrific. The live auction was fun with Maestro Edward Cumming filling the role as auctioneer for the second year in a row. A lot of the trips that were up for bid were sold out quickly and at least two of them were sold at least twice over. Hartt can use the money. And, Steve Metcalf and Mike Morris topped off the evening with their post-gala cabaret featuring pop music, unrehearsed and often wonderfully surprising, in a sing along that has now become a traditional way both to wind down and still continue the festiveness of the event. After all, why would such a youthful, hip audience, especially one as young as this one was (sic), want to go home and turn out the lights on Saturday night at 10:00 P.M? Besides, the Red Sox Game 7 Victory didn’t end until after midnight. There was plenty of time to catch the ending.
BTW, even Dean Aaron Flagg sang a solo, I’m told, though, alas, I had to exit before that. I’m sure that alone was worth the price of admission. Did anybody video it, I wonder? You-tube here we come???
Oh yeah, I almost forgot the food and drinks were plentiful and very tasty as always. Yum!
One of the great bits of fun at the gala for me is always the chance to bump into someone out of one’s past, recent or not so recent, and spend a few minutes reminiscing and catching up. One of those was Dr. Watson Morrison, better known as ”Will” Morrison to many of us, who turns 85 on Sunday, November 10th of this year and will be celebrating his birthday in his annual concert in Millard Auditorium at 3:00 P.M. on that day. He still plays “Willfully” and wonderfully. I hope that many of you who remember him “Will” -- Upper Case “W” definitely intended -- do your best to attend this memorable concert and have a piece of birthday cake with us afterwards.
The best thing about the gala, for me, and yet at the same time not-the-best, is to hear newcomers to the event rave about the quality of the student performances. It’s terrific, of course, but it’s still so surprising as Hartt approaches its own significant birthday. In this case, Hartt will turn 100 years old in seven years and there are so many locals who seem to know so little about the place.
What can I say? We’re working on spreading the word and the Hartt Board, under the inspired leadership of Tracy Flater in this area, is constantly inviting new Hartford area residents to student performances to increase awareness and to lessen the number of concert goers and potential friends of Hartt who remain unaware of the terrific actors, dancers and musicians all of whom continue to inspire those of us who are so proud to remain in the know.
Hope to see even more of you at next year’s 13th Annual Gala.