Gaye LeBaron, Press Democrat columnist, honored at Santa Rosa Symphony gala

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Historic, really, was Friday night’s recital and dinner at Sonoma State University’s Donald & Maureen Green Music Center that launched the 92nd season of the Santa Rosa Symphony.

Present for the gala honoring premier Sonoma County history author, journalist and community conscience Gaye LeBaron were two founding pillars of the world-class performance hall that became the symphony’s home in 2012. Joining Green Music Center pioneers Don Green and Corrick Brown were more than 160 symphony champions, arts advocates and admirers of guest of honor LeBaron.

A reception in the music center’s Prelude Restaurant & Bar transitioned to the recital on the main stage by piano virtuoso Garrick Ohlsson.

He was introduced by Francesco Lecce-Chong, who begins his first full season as the symphony’s fifth music director. Ohlsson, the only North American to win the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, played selections by Brahms and Chopin.

He would go on to appear as guest pianist in the weekend and Monday performances that open the symphony’s new season.

From the recital, gala guests moved into the lobby for dinner and salutations to LeBaron, a longtime patron and chronicler of the Santa Rosa Symphony who declared it “the best in the whole world.”

State Sen. Mike McGuire led an auction, then a fund-a-need appeal that brought donations of nearly $245,000 to the symphony’s far-reaching Institute for Music Education.

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