Fred UnLEEshed: Jan. 26, 2016

HIGH NOTES: The Vancouver Convention Centre transformed into an elegant ballroom for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s signature fundraiser. Party chairs AJ Mclean and Karin Smith, along with newly named president Kelly Tweeddale, formerly of Seattle Opera, led the 26th running of the Vancouver Symphony Ball. Braving the wet weather, more than 500 guests arrived dressed to the nines for the fittingly themed Singin’ In the Rain gala-do of fine wine, food and philanthropy. Before waltzing the night away to the company’s entire 78-member band, the well-heeled crowd of influencers, financiers and developers emptied their pockets and designer wallets of $750,000 to support the extensive performance and education activities of the VSO.

SCULPTOR FETED: The Neekoo Society — a wonderful group of do-gooders from the Iranian Canadian Community who have come together to provide goodness and guidance to others — presented a benefit featuring celebrated Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli, considered the father of modern Iranian sculpture. Tanavoli’s works can be found in many prestigious galleries worldwide, including the British Museum, the Metropolitan and Tate Modern. The acclaimed sculptor, who makes his home in West Vancouver, was on hand for the screening of Poetry in Bronze, Terrence Turner’s documentary film chronicling the sculptor’s journey of creation, which has spanned three continents and more than half a century. The night’s proceeds will support student scholarships and bursaries for the next generation of Iranian-Canadian leaders.

STUDENT WELCOME: UBC’s Arab Students Association, International Relations Students Association, STAND and Social Justice Centre recently presented the Syrian Refugee Benefit Gala, staged at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Three hundred guests gathered to enjoy a three-course, Middle Eastern-inspired dinner and to support the efforts of settlement agency MOSAIC and its charity refugee program dedicated to helping recent immigrants integrate into local communities. In addition to the fine food and musical performances, attendees heard first-hand heartfelt and heartbreaking stories from Syrians Majd Agha and Ghufran Alrez who lived through the crisis, and now, along with some 2,500 other newcomers, call B.C. their adopted home. Upwards of $10,000 was raised from the student initiative.

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