Tag Archives: SRQ Bal Masque

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. 

Dear Pimento Cheese, Thank You. (And we’ll see you at Bal Masque)

Southern favorite (or is it a delicacy?) pimento cheese will be on the menu at Bal Masqué on October 3rd.

Southern favorite (or is it a delicacy?) pimento cheese will be on the menu at Bal Masqué on October 3rd.

Recently, the SRQ Team gathered around the kitchen island in our beautiful studio and snacked on pimento cheese. Homemade for a birthday celebration, we all shared stories on how our own favorite recipes of this time-honored spread are made. The beauty of pimento cheese is that no two recipes are exactly alike. Easy to make and the perfect bite to bring to a party or lunch, when following a tattered family recipe, there’s not many ways you can go wrong making this southern delicacy.

In our opinion, pimento cheese is the belle of the proverbial southern food ball. She has humble roots – often stored in well-worn Tuperware and eaten on a fold over sandwich over the kitchen sink, pimento cheese can now be found gracing menus of high-class establishments from New York to San Francisco and Portland to Miami. We can’t help feel a little nostalgic about pimento cheese in a way that the rest of the country may not understand. We are proud of her – making her mark on this big world (especially coming from such humble beginnings). And don’t dare mess with her—she needs no fancy ingredients to make her expensive or pretentious. Simple is best when it comes to this classic dish. She is just fine the way she is, no need for caviar or bacon or imported cheeses.

In an era when southern food is having a moment, we couldn’t be more excited about the menu for Bal Masqué on October 3rd. All of your favorites will be there. Traditional classics like shrimp and grits will be served up alongside elegant interpretations of simple southern staples. Come hungry! The talented team of culinary experts at Fete Catering have crafted a menu that will make your mouth water. Of course, we would never neglect the cocktail menu, either. This year, craft spirits will be served with Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka and Siesta Key Rum and an assortment of imported and local beers, and wine will be available at each bar.

Pimento cheese will be there. We think you should be, too. Tickets to Bal Masqué are available online at SRQBALMASQUE.COM.

See you on October 3rd!

2015 Bal Masque Performances Announced

On October 3rd, we have a lot to look forward to! At this year’s Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, we don’t know what we are most excited about—the food, the incredible venue, the music or seeing the gorgeous masks of our guest. One thing is for sure, we are on pins and needles to see this year’s performance!

Gracing the stage at Bal Masqué are three major acts that we know you will love!

Last year, the lyrical talent and fluid beauty of dance by Fuzion amazed guests. We are so happy to announce that they are coming back for another Bal Masqué. Expect incredible things. Part dramatic interpretation, part fluid movement, party storytelling, each performance by Fuzion is unique and we can’t wait to open the curtain for their performance this year.

Fuzion performs on center stage at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo credit: Shane Donglasan

Fuzion performs on center stage at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo credit: Shane Donglasan

Sarasota Circus Arts Conservatory always delivers a stunning performance. Not only are their performances beautiful, each performer’s level of skill, strength and talent is just astounding. Back by popular demand, an aerial performance that seems to defy gravity will be, in a word, mesmerizing.

The Sarasota Circus Arts Conservatory captivated the auditorium at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo credit: Shane Donglasan.

The Sarasota Circus Arts Conservatory captivated the auditorium at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo credit: Shane Donglasan.

Elegant costumes, precise yet graceful movement and expert choreography will be the showcased by the Sarasota Cuban Ballet. There’s a certain magic that happens on stage when pointe shoes, music and tulle mix under the lights of a theater. Don’t miss it.

Dancers with the Sarasota Cuban Ballet captivated the audience at Bal Masqué 2014. Photo credit: Shane Donglasan

Dancers with the Sarasota Cuban Ballet captivated the audience at Bal Masqué 2014. Photo credit: Shane Donglasan

Famous jazz legend Wynton Marsalis once said, “The bandstand is a sacred place.” We agree that there is something otherworldly about experiencing live music. In the spirit of creating an unforgettable evening, we’re planning on bringing the music down from the stage and amongst our guests. Before the doors of the auditorium open, the sounds of jazz by the Swingtide Combo will fill the expansive Sarasota Opera House. Outside in the courtyard, Jen&Ray’s melodies will serenade guests beneath the stars.

You won’t want to miss a moment of this year’s Bal Masqué. Tickets are available for purchase for $125 in advance or $150 at the door. Purchase yours now at SRQBALMASQUE.COM.

See you on October 3rd!

Flashback FRIDAY: Bal Masque Reminiscing

Guests of 2014 Bal Masqué enjoy the photo booth.

Guests of 2014 Bal Masqué enjoy the photo booth.

If you were at Bal Masqué last year, you already know. The night is like none other. Trying to pick out the highlight of the night is nearly impossible! Was it the masks, gorgeous gowns, dapper suits, incredible food or breathtaking performances? We can’t decide. If you need a refresher on your favorite part, check out a gallery of images here.

We’re so close to this year’s Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil that we can almost taste the shrimp and grits! On October 3rd, you can expect a few wonderful things. Lucky for you, we believe in sneak peeks!

Food
With a theme like Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, you can’t serve just anything. Only authentic, creative Southern food will do. A generous helping of classics (shrimp & grits, chicken & waffle sliders – and of course, you can’t throw an authentic Southern gathering without pimiento cheese) will be represented on the plate with creative offerings from Fete Catering. If you enjoyed the food last year, prepare yourself for an unforgettable culinary experience this year.

Savory southern bites are planned for the 2015 Bal Masuqé gala by Fete Catering. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund.

Savory southern bites are planned for the 2015 Bal Masuqé gala by Fete Catering. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund.

Libations
An event bar should have a little something special for everyone. A selection of wines, imported and local beers along with craft cocktails are planned for the evening. Recipes are in the works using fresh ingredients from Morton’s Market, Siesta Key Rum and Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka. Party tip: Bal Masqué boasts multiple bars! One in the courtyard and a designated service station on every floor, there’s no need to wait in line. Grab your friends and make your way upstairs and settle in for fantastic flavors until the performance begins.

Guests enjoy the Cool Today bar at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund.

Guests enjoy the Cool Today bar at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund.

Performance
We don’t think that performances should be limited to the main stage. In the spirit of a full evening of enchantment, musical acts will span the three floors of the Opera House and courtyard. When the curtain lifts in the auditorium at ten o’clock, mesmerizing acts from jaw-dropping aerialist routines to inspired dramatic dances round off the evening’s amusement.

Dancers and musicians took center stage at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo Credit: Shane Donglasan

Dancers and musicians took center stage at the 2014 Bal Masqué gala. Photo Credit: Shane Donglasan

 Helping a Great Cause
A portion of ticket sales benefit a local charitable organization of the purchaser’s choosing. As you plan your evening, know that your attendance directly supports critical missions within the community. This year, SRQ Media is proud to promote the nine worthy organizations:

Historic Venue
Take a step back in time to the grandeur of the 1920s at the historic Sarasota Opera House. Transformed into a stunning garden for the evening of Bal Masqué, the theater, grand foyer and mezzanines are a stunning display of glamour.

The historic Sarasota Opera House serves as the venue for the annual Bal Masqué gala. Photo Credit: Blake Spurlin

The historic Sarasota Opera House serves as the venue for the annual Bal Masqué gala. Photo Credit: Blake Spurlin

Masquerade
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the element of mystery and excitement of this year’s Bal Masqué – the mask. Intricate, show-stopping, feathered, adorned with dazzling jewels and shimmering sequins…we can’t get enough! Reserved for special occasions, donning a mask adds an element of fanfare and interest into this signature gala.

Anthony Vento (center) wears a mask from his store in downtown Sarasota, i tesori. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

Anthony Vento (center) wears a mask from his store in downtown Sarasota, i tesori. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

Tickets are on sale now at SRQBALMASQUE.COM and limited Harlequin Club VIP opportunities are available (click here for details).

See you in the garden!

The SRQ Team

 

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

Limited Availability: Bal Masque Harlequin VIP Club Memberships

 

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There’s nothing better than getting the VIP treatment. For Bal Masqué, held at the historic Sarasota Opera House on October 3, 2015, we’re taking it to a new level. With an exclusive set of benefits, including private bar and reserved performance seating, the Harlequin Club is ideal for client entertaining or hosting your favorite group of friends for an unforgettable evening. A portion of proceeds from each Harlequin Club membership supports a beneficiary of the purchaser’s choice.

This year, Action Realty, Sarasota YMCA, Sarasota Architectural Salvage, Mariash Lowther Wealth Management, Dr. Christina M. de Guia of CMDpsych, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty have reserved their memberships. Time is running out to join and space is limited in this elite group.

For more information, visit the Bal Masqué website.

See you in the Garden!