Tag Archives: SRQ Bal Masque 2015

An Evening Like None Other: SRQ Bal Masque

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The historic Sarasota Opera House was transformed into a gorgeous garden on the night of Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

On Saturday, October 3rd the historic Sarasota Opera House lit up downtown Sarasota with the sounds of music and laughter as guests gathered for the second annual SRQ Bal Masqué Gala: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. Though the dazzling venue is best known for hosting the likes of famous operatic performances, guests arrived to find it transformed into a garden of beautiful blooms and branches, complete with a green carpet leading up to the door. The foyer entrance was flanked by gorgeous garden gates provided by Sarasota Architectural Salvage and nodded to the evening’s theme.

Jesse White (right), owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage attends Bal Masqué on October 3rd. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jesse White (right), owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage attends Bal Masqué on October 3rd. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Traditional jazz played by Swingtide Combo of Venice resounded along the first floor and expansive atrium, where guests posed at the Mojo Photo Booth and sipped southern-inspired cocktails. Flooded in a mirage-like light display, the courtyard garden featured sweet melodies by Jen&Ray, a local Sarasota duo known for their crooning of classic and acoustic melodies.

Guests enjoyed custom Tervis Tumblers provided by event sponsor Cool Today in the courtyard. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests enjoyed custom Tervis Tumblers provided by event sponsor Cool Today in the courtyard. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Located on the balcony above the courtyard, Jen&Ray helped make the outdoor area of the event something spectacular. Students from Ringling College of Art and Design were stationed with easels throughout the floors of the Opera House, painting as the event stretched on into the night, providing entertainment and artistry as guests looked on.

Jaime Gee (right) entertained the VIP guests in the Harlequin Club on the third floor of the Opera House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jami Gee (right) entertained the VIP guests in the Harlequin Club on the third floor of the Opera House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

The towering third floor hosted the Harlequin Club, a VIP experience providing reserved seating, a private bar (complete with a display of Cool Today Tervis Tumblers) and entertainment by Jami Gee. An incredible spread of southern delicacies graced the table, all provided by Fete Catering at Polo Grill. Classic favorites like shrimp and grits paired with a rich gumbo, fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffle sliders. Guests couldn’t resist grilled pimiento cheese sandwiches served up at the Sweet & Savory dessert bar.

Guests take their seats to enjoy thrilling performances from the arts community in Sarasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests take their seats to enjoy thrilling performances from the arts community in Sarasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Doors to the auditorium opened at 9:45PM for an unforgettable main stage performance. Kicking off the evening with high energy and moving vocals, the Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida lit up the stage with colorful garb and a palpable enthusiasm that prepared the crowd for what was to come. Ringmaster and SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts greeted guests and led them through the performances on stage, beginning with a dizzying aerial duo performance by LunaStorme of the Circus Arts Conservatory. Hanging high above the stage, both performers exuded grace and acrobatic finesse as they whirled, at times intertwined, on a suspended hoop. The audience cheered at their amazing skill.

The Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida opened the evening with a resounding performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

The Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida opened the evening with a resounding performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

LunaStorme, performers with the Circus Arts Conservatory shared a duo lyra number. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

LunaStorme, performers with the Circus Arts Conservatory shared a duo lyra number. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

When Sarasota Contemporary Dance took the stage, the audience waited in hushed silence for the music to begin. A solitary dancer, Jahrel Thompson, delivered a stunning solo number. Part physical storytelling, part dramatic performance and wholly incredible, Sarasota Contemporary Dance delivered a powerful example of how dance can be a transformative experience.

Jahrel Thompson with Sarasota Contemporary Dance (formerly Fuzion), delivered a moving performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jahrel Thompson with Sarasota Contemporary Dance (formerly Fuzion), delivered a moving performance. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Also with the Circus Arts Conservatory, Rikki delivered a stunning performance on the silks. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Also with the Circus Arts Conservatory, Rikki delivered a stunning performance on the silks. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

Students from the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School demonstrated the dedication and precision required of the ballet in a carefully choreographed display of strength and ability. The curtains opened once more for an astounding routine by Rikki of the Circus Arts Conservatory on silks. She mesmerized the audience with seamless movement striking physical stamina while suspended in mid-air.

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Post performance, the party continued into the courtyard for dancing and desserts. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

 

As midnight quickly approached, desserts and dancing commenced in the courtyard under the moonlight. An assortment of cookies from Sift Bakehouse in the shape of masks and apples were the perfect bite to close out a fantastic evening in Sarasota.

SRQ Media is incredibly grateful for the community’s support of this magical evening. Special thanks to Bal Masqué Sponsors: Chillounge, Cool Today, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Mojo Foto Booth, Morton’s Gourmet Market, Sarasota Opera House, Short Stop Market, SignZoo, Sift Bakehouse, Siesta Key Rum, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, Spotlight Graphics, SunTrust Bank, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Tropex Plant Leasing, US Tent Rental and Victoria Blooms.

Thank you to the Harlequin Club, performers and beneficiaries. For a full gallery of photos from the night, click here.

See you next year!

 

An Ode to the Ampersand (and how it makes food taste better)

Shrimp & Grits is on the menu for Bal Masqué on October 3rd!

Shrimp & Grits is on the menu for Bal Masqué on October 3rd!

There are things in this life that are undoubtedly better when standing alone. But as we are writing this very post, we can’t think of one. If you’re a fan of milk, we’d be willing to bet that you think it tastes better with a cookie. Spaghetti by its lonesome? The thought of this hallowed noodle dish without meatballs is almost heartbreaking. Don’t even get us started on peanut butter.

At Bal Masqué on October 3rd, we’re happy that two famous food couples bound in holy matrimony by the ampersand will be on the menu. Classically southern and delicious in every interpretation, we needed little convincing to add them to the savory spread for the evening.

Famous Southern Duo Dishes

First is a mashup of southern-coastal fare: Shrimp & Grits. Sweet and briny gulf shrimp are the most perfect sea creature to sit atop a pillowy serving of cheese grits. The recipes vary from cook to cook including tomatoes or perhaps a rich broth simmered with wine. Or maybe even addition of spicy heat from andouille sausage…but one thing is always constant: the shrimp & the grits. Perfectly paired, this is a special occasion dish that we can’t wait to dive right into at Bal Masqué!

Crispy, savory with a drizzle of sweet, Chicken & Waffles is equally tempting. Less mainstream than shrimp & grits, this dish is quickly making its way on to the southern menu roster of all-stars. Delicately fried chicken is the perfect balance for the slightly sweet and bready texture of waffles that everyone loves. At Bal Masqué this dish will be reinvented as a slider with special sauces for dipping.

Don't miss the Chicken & Waffle sliders at Bal Masqué.

Don’t miss the Chicken & Waffle sliders at Bal Masqué.

We know that the ampersand itself has no magical culinary ability to transform a dish into something more special than its components. The genius behind these culinary duos is that someone long ago put them together. The rest is food matrimony history. Regardless of the ampersand’s involvement in the matchmaking, we tip our hats to you, Ampersand. Thank you for taking a simple sautéed shrimp a reason to celebrate. And thank you for keeping the breakfast waffle out way past its bedtime to meet up with hot fried chicken.

These and other great dishes are on the menu and artfully catered by Fete Catering for Bal Masqué on October 3rd. Tickets are available at SRQBALMASQUE.COM. 

SRQ Hosts Bal Masque Preview Party

Models wore stunning dresses at the SRQ Bal Masque VIP Preview Party provided by Saks Fifth Avenue. Masks by i tesori. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Models wore stunning dresses at the SRQ Bal Masque VIP Preview Party provided by Saks Fifth Avenue. Masks by i tesori. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

We didn’t think it was possible to be more excited about 2015 Bal Masqué than we were on Monday. The performance lineup has been announced. The food order is set. And we have visions of beautiful dances in our heads. Then, we hosted a VIP Preview Party on Tuesday evening for members of the Harlequin Club, sponsor representatives and our beneficiaries, and now we’re counting down the days to October 3rd.

Guests of the SRQ Bal Masque VIP Party enjoyed savory bites from Sophie's at Saks Fifth Avenue. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests of the SRQ Bal Masque VIP Party enjoyed savory bites from Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

As guests arrived to Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, they were greeted with champagne and some of the most delicious small bites we’ve ever tasted – including crowd favorites of lump crab cakes and fried goat cheese topped with pistachios and honey. Always elegant, Sophie’s was the perfect location for a sophisticated preview party for Sarasota’s premier annual gala.

Elizabeth Fisher, Selah Freedom, (left) enjoys conversation with Jesse White (center) of Sarasota Architectural Salvage and Wes Roberts of SRQ Media. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Elizabeth Fisher, Selah Freedom, (left) enjoys conversation with Jesse White (center) of Sarasota Architectural Salvage and Wes Roberts of SRQ Media. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Models mingled with guests while wearing some of the season’s hottest gowns that were selected by Saks Fifth Avenue Marketing Director Sally Schule. Bold prints and stunning hues from La Petite Robe, Teri Jon, Theia and BCBGMAXAZARIA were modeled throughout the evening. Expertly paired with gorgeous handmade Venetian masks from i tesori in downtown Sarasota, the evening’s looks were a lovely preview of the elegant attire worn by guests to Bal Masqué.

Models at Sophie's at Saks Fifth Avenue wore Bal Masque inspired dresses with masks from i tesori. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Models at Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue wore Bal Masque inspired dresses with masks from i tesori. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

If Tuesday night was any indication, we fully predict that October 3rd will be an unforgettable evening of fun with great people. To purchase your tickets, visit SRQBALMASQUE.COM. 

Marybeth Flynn (left) and Kelly Davis Strausbaugh enjoyed conversation and libations at the Bal Masque Preview Party. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Marybeth Flynn (left) and Kelly Davis Strausbaugh enjoyed conversation and libations at the Bal Masque Preview Party. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

A gallery of images from VIP Preview Party can be viewed here.

Champagne greeted guests as they arrived to the Bal Masque VIP Preview Party. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Champagne greeted guests as they arrived to the Bal Masque VIP Preview Party. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

See you on October 3rd!

Mask Shopping for Bal Masqué at iTesori

Anthony Vento, owner of i tesori on Main Street in Sarasota, and a portion of his Venetian mask inventory. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

Anthony Vento, owner of i tesori on First Street in Sarasota, and a portion of his Venetian mask inventory. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz


SRQ Bal Masqué is one month away! Now is the perfect time to plan your outfit and select your most important accessory for the evening: the mask. Lucky for those planning to attend, there’s a shop in downtown Sarasota that has an incredible selection of authentic Venetian masks in every look and color imaginable. i tesori is a swoon-worthy boutique along First Street owned by Anthony Vento that always feels cool and fresh, like stepping into an air-conditioned oasis on a hot July day. Full of flowing of-the-moment fashions for men and women, Anthony is proud to carry an authentic array of Italian masks.

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Hand embellished Venetian paiper måché masks at i tesori in downtown Sarasota. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

“For last year’s Bal Masqué, I almost sold out. This year, I have a higher inventory with some new looks,” said Vento. Each mask in i tesori is imported from Venice, so shoppers can trust that their purchases are as authentic as they are artistic. Anthony personally selects each one from a mask maker in Italy that specializes in hand-designed, artfully crafted pieces. Having a family friend in the business, Anthony is the unofficial mask expert of Sarasota.

Delicate laser cut masks and traditional masks adorned with feathers make a lovely accessory for Bal Masqué on October 3, 2015. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

The selection at i tesori includes delicate metal masks with unreal detail. “Each one is laser cut and the glitter is hand applied,” said Anthony. If  you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, he offers a wide selection of masks made from paiper måché as well. “A carved wooden mold is used to shape the mask when wet. Once they’re dry, artisans paint and embellish them with glitter, gold leaf, lace or Swarovski crystals.”

i tesori also carries traditional Harlequin-style masks in bright jewel tones. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

i tesori also carries traditional Harlequin-style masks in bright jewel tones. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

This year, Anthony has increased his inventory with more men’s masks and Phantom of the Opera style.

SRQ Client Development Director Ashley Ryan tries on a feminine Phantom of the Opera style mask at i tesori. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

SRQ Client Development Director Ashley Ryan tries on a feminine Phantom of the Opera style mask at i tesori. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

Masks at i tesori range in price from $39.00 – $150.00. While a few styles can be found on his website, Anthony recommends coming to i tesori to ensure a perfect fit and comfortable mask that you’ll want to wear for the duration of the night at Bal Masqué.

For more information on masks, pricing and hours, contact i tesori at (941) 907-9296 or visit the shop on First Street and Central next to Starbucks in the heart of downtown Sarasota.

Tickets for Bal Masqué are on sale now! To make your purchase, visit SRQBALMASQUE.COM today!

An embellished venetian mask for sale at i tesori in Sarasota. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz

An embellished venetian mask for sale at i tesori in Sarasota. Photo credit: Mary Darby Guidroz