WASHINGTON, D.C. The Choral Arts Society of Washington hosted its 33rd annual holiday concert and gala last week at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this year jumping on the bandwagon that has been the Year of Italian Culture. Begun as a marketing campaign by the Italian Embassy, the initiative had two goals: to promote goodwill with the United States and its cultural institutions, and to showcase Italy's creativity and innovation in music, art, architectural heritage, cinema, literature, sciences, and technology.
To accomplish these goals, the embassy partnered with Italian consulates around the U.S. as well as about 80 museums, universities, and other cultural institutions to host more than 300 events throughout 2013. The varied events included gala dinners in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles sponsored by water brands S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna; a furniture design and wine event in Miami; opera performances in Boston; and an advertising campaign on Washington buses juxtaposing contemporary Italian photographers’ work alongside classic Italian art.
The Italian theme proved popular among Washington benefits, with both the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Annual Spring Gala in March and the Opera Ball in April adopting it. Coming at the end of the year, the Choral Arts Society team consulted the Italian ambassador and his wife, honorary hosts for the evening, to make its gala stand out from the rest.
“The idea was to speak to Italy as a whole in a softer and non-commercial way by creating an atmosphere reminiscent of Florence, Rome, and Venice,” executive director Debra Kraft said.
Here’s a look at how it came together.