Monday, May 7, 2018

Gossips on the Great Gary Gala

On Saturday night, three hundred supporters and friends--some who were here for all twenty years of his tenure at the Hudson Opera House and some whose association is more recent--gathered, dressed in festive attire, at the building now called Hudson Hall to pay tribute to Gary Schiro, who retired as executive director of the Hudson Opera House at the end of 2017.

R. O. Blechman
Because Schiro loves Paris, the evening was French inspired. The food was French. The waiters who swept up the stairs bearing plates of duck confit in each hand wore black-and-white striped pullovers reminiscent of Parisian Apache dancers. Mx. Justin Vivian Bond sang in French.

During dinner, between courses, the co-chairs for the gala event paid tribute to Schiro. Barbara and Sven Huseby hailed his inspiring and indomitable spirit. They recalled an early fundraising ball that was to take place at waterfront park when the park was still a work in progress. After days of rain, a reconnaissance mission to the park on the morning of the event discovered that the ground was soaked and spongy. Undaunted, Schiro arranged a phone bank to contact the one hundred or more expected guests and advise them to wear boots. Carolyn Marks Blackwood spoke of her feelings of loss, after Schiro's retirement, coming to the opera house bereft of Schiro's congenial presence and then unveiled a portrait of Schiro to be hung on the landing of the staircase leading up the grand auditorium, so that his presence will always be there. Doug Thorn announced the creation of a fund in Schiro's name by the KeyBank Foundation. Assemblymember Didi Barrett presented an official proclamation acknowledging Schiro's role in revitalizing and restoring the state's oldest surviving theater and his contribution to the community and the region.

Interspersed were short films by Devin Pickering, featuring members of the diverse community who were in some way involved with the opera house over the past two decades, each expressing gratitude and admiration for Schiro and the central role he played in the rebirth of the Hudson Opera House house and the consequent revitalization of lower Warren Street. It was a night of well-deserved celebration and praise for a man whose larger-than-life warmth, energy, and unflagging commitment over the course of twenty years transformed a giant abandoned building into a vibrant center for the arts and the community.


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