I’m still on a high from Chris Botti’s performance on March 15 with the Baton Rouge Symphony. It was truly a magical night in the Raising Cane’s River Center.
I was a little skeptical of the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Great Performers in Concert taking place in the cavernous arena (the theater is undergoing renovations), but Botti and his talented band, with the symphony backing them, made it seem intimate — especially when Botti walked into the audience and was joined by talented songstress Sy Smith.
Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, honorary chairwoman of the series, was left speechless when Botti, who was making his third appearance with BRSO, dedicated “Hallelujah” to her.
The tears came when Botti and company played the achingly beautiful “Emmanuel,” featuring violinist Ania Filochowska. Opera tenor Rafael Moras gave a goosebump-inducing rendition of “Nessun Dorma.” Some concertgoers, including Paula and Leonard Augustus, were even coaxed ontothe dance floor. For major jazz fans, there was Miles Davis’ “Blue & Green.”
The talent Botti has assembled for his latest tour is absolutely fabulous. Aside from Smith and Moras, the group included Brazilian guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, saxophone player Andy Snitzer, pianist Eldar Djangirov, drummer Lee Pearson and bassist Reggie Hamilton. At a post-concert Champagne reception, hosted by Hancock Whitney Bank, sponsors got to meet Botti and his band — a perfect way to end the night!
The evening began with a VIP black-tie gala at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. One of the centerpieces was a towering cake that sported photos of Botti throughout the years.
Spotted in the crowd were Debbie and John L. Daniel, Charlene and Stan Montelaro, Ann and Duz Hamilton, Gracie Rigell, Donna Boé, Dovie Brady, George Bayhi, Liz Hampton, Nick Abraham, Michael McHugh, Ronnell Johnson, Kathy and Ed Baker, Patricia Calfrey, Laurie and Mark Aronson, Shannon and Alvin Kimble and Jolie LeBlanc, daughter Victoria and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Madison O’Neal.
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