New York social types would have been forgiven for extending their holiday weekends and staying in on Monday night–we’re confident that even today, some enviable leftovers still remain in Upper East Side fridges. But Manhattanites are a tireless bunch, and they showed up in droves to a cocktail party hosted by Marvin Hamlisch and his wife, Terre Blair, at the elegant Leviev jewelry boutique on Madison Avenue and 62nd Street. The evening’s purpose was to fete the upcoming concert that will mark the 75th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as conductor Zubin Mehta’s 50th anniversary as its conductor.
Though the Carnegie Hall concert isn’t until Feb. 22, the evening’s hosts did a fine job of ensuring that excitement about the orchestra was sufficiently drummed up. So many revelers crowded the upper level of the boutique, sipping Champagne and munching on veal sliders–which several of the diamonds on display matched in size–that The Observer, upon arriving, found it easiest to wait on the stairs.
As it turned out, the stairs weren’t such a bad place to watch the comings and goings of the party: It was there that we managed to intercept Mr. Hamlisch, who is one of just two people in history to have won an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Pulitzer. (The other is Richard Rodgers.) He was in great spirits. “My wife and I care about this; I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Mr. Hamlisch said. “The orchestra does a lot of things besides just playing and doing tours. They’ve helped a lot of children, 20,000 people, through enrichment programs. It’s a very good cause.”
We told Mr. Hamlisch that The Observer comes out on Wednesdays–which, this week, also marks the beginning of Chanukah. “What’s great about Chanukah, as you know, in the Jewish religion, it’s one of the few happy holidays. You got that, you got Pesach, and everything else, you want to just feel lousy,” he replied. “You can just tell your readers that it’s eight presents; and you can Google me and you can find out where to send those presents.”
“It’s eight,” he added for emphasis.
Nibbling on mushroom ravioli, we made our way into a peaceful, airy room just off the main upstairs boutique, with a lovely view of Madison Avenue and a center table filled with the largest number of blooming purple orchids we’d ever seen collected in one place. It was there that we caught up with Lauren Veronis, one of the event’s co-hosts along with her husband, John. Ms. Veronis explained that in addition to the cocktail party in November and the gala in February, the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic also puts together a children’s day in December. “We introduce the little ones, from 1 year old to about 12, to music,” she said. “It’s a very brief program, so they don’t get distracted.”
We couldn’t help but ask Ms. Veronis: Had any of the jewels on display caught her eye as wish-list items for the holiday season? “Everything, almost!” she laughed. “I mean, my eye has been caught all night long! Beautiful, aren’t they?” Beautiful they were–The Observer was particularly taken with the collection of rare red diamonds.
We also chatted with Leviev’s executive vice president, the shockingly young and unfairly gorgeous Lisa Klein, who told us a little about the interior design we admired and emphasized that the customer should find the store relaxing.
The Observer, afraid we might get to feeling too comfortable and forget we have a credit limit, decided to call it an evening. Alas, the gift bags–though generous by any measure–contained not a single diamond. We’ll try our luck again at the gala in February.