Bloomberg News

Scene Last Night: Iseman, Cameron, Marilyn Horne, Wendy Schmidt

October 12, 2011

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Last night the Mariinsky Orchestra finished a week of performances at Carnegie Hall with the audience cheering.

This summer also saw a sold-out run of the Mariinsky Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera. And there’ll be more.

“The more Mariinsky the better,” said Frederick Iseman, chairman and CEO of the hedge fund CI Capital Partners LLC, and the newly installed chairman of the White Nights Foundation of America, which supports the Mariinsky Theatre.

Iseman disclosed that the ballet company will return to New York in the spring of 2013 with a two-week engagement at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. The orchestra will have a monthlong tour of the U.S. next year followed by a return to Carnegie Hall in the fall of both 2012 and the following autumn.

Guests at a reception in Carnegie Hall’s Rohatyn Room after last night’s concert included the writer and director James Cameron, violinist Julian Rachlin, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith.

The 20-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov gave a fiery performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, then shed his bowtie to sign autographs at the reception.

“I constantly come up with new ideas and interpretations,” said Trifonov, who was awarded the First Prize, Gold Medal and Grand Prix at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

The chairman of the competition is Valery Gergiev, who conducted the concert and is the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre.

“His success is the success of the competition,” Gergiev said.

Trifonov began his musical studies when he was 5 years old. Since 2009, he has studied piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music under Armenian-born concert pianist Sergei Babayan.

“He’s like a rare diamond,” said Babayan. “A talent like this is maybe born every 100 years. He breathes music.”

Oil-Spill Cleanup

Some oil-spill problem-solvers gathered last night in a garden on Sutton Place overlooking the East River.

Wendy Schmidt, in a Prada lace dress and white leather Armani jacket, was one to toast: She put up the money for the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, a program of the X Prize Foundation. ($1.4 million for the prize, and another $1.4 million to support it, she said).

“I spread venture money out into the world,” said Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation. “This is a relatively small amount of money for a great impact.”

The winners of the prize, Jeff Cantrell and Donnie Wilson, co-founders of Elastec/American Marine, based in Carmi, Illinois, hung out under trees lit by paper lanterns as jazz played from an iPod. Their invention is a spinning, grooved disc that picks up oil without picking up a lot of water with it.

‘Above the Bar’

Oil cleanup is Elastec’s business, but the prize “gave us a reason, a timeline,” said Wilson, the company’s chief executive. “It forced us to shoot above the bar in every way possible.”

Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles- based X Prize Foundation, said the prize model is efficient. “You only pay the winner, but you get a lot of teams working on a problem,” Diamandis said. “Instead of backing a single solution, you’re backing an entire industry.”

The hosts of the party were Paul H. O’Reilly-Hyland and Joelle Wyser-Pratte, managing partners at Ounavarra Capital LLC.

Guests were impressed with their garden, which they share with the owners of other townhouses on their cobblestone street. “Someone just asked me if he could propose marriage here,” said Wyser-Pratte.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

--With assistance from Katya Kazakina. Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Lili Rosboch.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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