I’m always puzzled by the phrase "Black tie optional." I know what the definition is, according to various fashion and etiquette sources, but it doesn’t convey the host’s true intent. Does it mean that the host would prefer that you wear a tux, but a suit is fine if you don’t have one (which I guess would be "Black tie preferred.") Or, does it mean that the host is hoping that a portion of the male guests will show up in tuxedoes.
What makes the phrase even more difficult is when the organization’s members usually were formal attire to their functions – in this case, performers in a concert. I chose to wear a dark suit instead of my tux, since I wear my tux to just about every other official Chorale function. It seems that many of my collegues had the same idea.
The Gala for the Greenville Chorale certainly was festive. It was held at the Poinsett Club, and featured a martini bar, sushi bar, and the piano stylings of Emile Pandolfi. There was a silent auction to raise money for the group, and an open bar to make bidding large some seem sensible.
Laura and I mingled with our fellow musicians and donors, but managed to avoid bidding on anything. The food and drink was excellent. Then came the entertainment. Pandolfi had graciously agreed to donate an hour’s worth of performance. Personally, that was about as much as I could take. His piano playing is excellent, but he intersperses the performance with attempts at stand-up humor. The jokes are belabored, and you can predict the punch lines miles in advance. However, I guess that’s comforting to some, and adds to his appeal to a certain set.
The Gala is organzied by the Chorale Board. I, for one, appreciate their efforts for purely selfish reasons. Prior to my taking the office, the vice-President of the Chorale was responsible for organizing the group’s end-of-year banquet. The decision was made to merge the Chorale banquet with the Gala, so I was off the hook as far as organization was concerned. Regardless, the organizers did a nice job, and it was fun. I hope they managed to meet their fund-raising goals.