Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cocktails for a Cause: Alberta Theatre Projects and Calgary Health Trust

In a year of economic uncertainty, charity might seem like a hard sell. Not so in Calgary. The latest example of philanthropy in this town was at the Telus Convention Centre, where “celebrities” mingled with the common folk to raise money for Alberta Theatre Projects.

This was the seventeenth year for the Lawson Lundell Celebrity Hors d’Oeuvres cocktail party. It featured a silent auction, where money was raised for the Enbridge Playwrights Festival. The festival sponsors emerging theatre talent and produces new plays which are workshopped and premiered in Calgary. This year’s line-up included How Do I Love Thee by Florence Gibson Mac Donald of Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre and Abraham Lincoln Goes to the Theatre by Montreal’s Larry Tremblay, who is in residence at Lark Play Development Centre in New York.

The 2010 winners of the Emerging Playwright Award were Toronto’s Erin Shields and Maev Beaty for their show Montparnasse, an intriguing look at Parisian literary circles in the 1920’s. The award was granted at a separate cocktail function earlier in the month, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

At the Celebrity Hors D’Oeuvres function, several of Calgary’s upscale restaurants created mouth-watering morsels which were then sold for $2.00 each. The hook was in the serving. Well-known Calgarians wandered around the oddly shaped room (it was held in a rectangular foyer-type space outside the main conference hall). In their hands were trays of perfectly assembled, bite-sized appetizers and deserts. The celebrities included a Don Cherry look-alike, City Alderman Brian Pincott, charismatic CBC Radio hosts David Gray and Danielle Nerman along with charming side-kick Jenny Howe, also of CBC’s The Homestretch, Michael Bigattini, sommelier of Willow Park Wines & Spirits, designer Alykhan Velji, and City TV's Jill Belland.

Calgary’s Apheresis Clinic at the Foothills Medical Centre also got a boost this season, thanks to a gala fundraiser hosted by Calgary Health Trust and Vendemmia Wines. This clinic provides highly specialized procedures for blood cell separation and bone marrow testing, particularly important to cancer patients, as well as research, staff education, and out-patient services.

The Great Italian Wine Encounter brought first class wine-makers to the Fairmont Palliser Hotel. An incredible spread of food, including fine cheeses, chocolate, lobster risotto and rack of lamb, were paired with extraordinary – and rare – wine tastings. Among some of the more impressive were Trinoro di Trinoro, a perfectly balanced, full mix of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. It was represented in person by Elena Capobiano of Tuscany.

Published in National Post on March 6, 2010

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