top of page

Magic and Romance Take Center Stage

A surprise wedding ups the romance factor at Ars Lyrica’s

A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream” Gala

Photo credit: Annie Mulligan  

General Editor: Margaret MacMillan

Publisher: Connie Kwan-Wong

The Celebration

Magic was in the air when the beautiful Hotel Alessandria hosted Ars Lyrica’s “A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream” Gala. Chaired by Stephanie von Stein and Dr. Mark A. Schusterman, the memorable evening honored Dr. Sippi Khurana. The proceeds will support Ars Lyrica’s biennial Baroque opera productions, which began in the fall of 2018 with Handel’s Agrippina. The ambitious production garnered glowing reviews.


The Story

Harpist Joanna Whitsett welcomed guests to the whimsically transformed hotel. Upon arriving at the second floor, guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The opening of the doors to the main ballroom revealed transcendent decorations and design flourishes courtesy of Debbie Pakzaban and Hanh Gallery. Unique touches included a spectacular flower wall and delicate magnolia-leaf name cards. The evening’s musical performance featured mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte, lutenist Arash Noori, and percussionist Jesús Pacheco performing selections by Purcell and Spanish Baroque composers. Ars Lyrica Artistic Director, Matthew Dirst, delivered a few remarks. The evening continued with a seated wintry themed dinner served by the Alessandra’s Lucienne restaurant. An upbeat after-party, chaired by Amanda Kingston-Beetle, where guests danced the night away to the tunes of DJ Forrest, concluded the unforgettable evening.

The Moments

Dr. Sippi Khurana delighted participants with an impromptu performance of a Vivaldi violin concerto movement, which was accompanied by lute.

The biggest surprise of the evening occurred when gala chair Stephanie von Stein appeared at the back of the ballroom wearing a gorgeous white gown. She proceeded down the aisle to Schubert’s Ave Maria. Joining her gala cochair, Dr. Mark A. Schusterman, Stephanie and Mark were married in front of the spellbound crowd.

The gala surpassed its previous fund-raising record by raising over $110,000.


About Ars Lyrica Houston

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston (ALH) presents a diverse array of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston. The company also appears regularly at major festivals and conferences. ALH’s distinctive programming favors Baroque dramatic and chamber works, and its pioneering efforts have won international acclaim.

bottom of page