Behind the Scenes: Gala Bel Canto

Yes, you likely know something about the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir's annual Gala Bel Canto. It's one of the best parties in the city. It raises just over 10% of the income needed for the entire season in just one night. It's unique in that it includes not just a dinner and silent auction (like many gala events do), but also a performance featuring the Symphonic Choir.

General Manager Andrew Lannerd surrounded by silent auction items
General Manager Andrew Lannerd surrounded by silent auction items.

But, before the curtain goes up on the seventh annual Gala Bel Canto, let's peek behind the scenes to see a few of the goings-on leading up to the big event.

The Choir's black-tie event is at the Conrad Indianapolis which is attached to the sparkling Arts Garden in downtown Indianapolis. But before a note is sung, and a toast is raised, General Manager Andrew Lannerd has explored every option, secured rare and seen-nowhere-else silent auction items, and ensures every I is dotted and T crossed. In spite of the 9-months of preparation that goes into that one night, Andrew says it is entirely worth it “at the end of the night, after the auction is closed, the live ‘fund-a-need' concludes, and everyone's toasted to the power of choral music, the preparation is completely worth it. One night raises over 10% of our annual revenue. That's highly rewarding and energizing to me.”

Concluding the 4-course culinary tour-de-force is a brand new dessert: The Big Apple

Concluding the 3-course culinary tour-de-force is a brand new dessert: The Big Apple

The menu (click here to check out the menu) was finalized in December by a team that included not only locally-minded foodies, but also chef Thom England, pastry chef Karen Mangia and the team at the Conrad. Especially unique is a brand new dessert called The Big Apple, which is an entire apple – we couldn't resist, given the New York theme – wrapped in pastry dough with a cheesecake mousse stuffing. You counted correctly: A 3-course dinner!

Gala Bel Canto is chaired by Dr. Kathy Landschulz, a scientist by day, an alto in the Choir, and the vice president of the Choir's Board of Directors. She and a committee of 18 persons secure silent auction items and sponsorships at monthly meetings starting in September. The Choir uses an online bidding system that allows persons to bid on the unique items ahead of the event (even if you can't be at the Gala), and then bidding at the actual event takes place via your smart phone. It's also handy that anyone who either doesn't have a smart phone, or who appreciates a little extra help, has a team of staff persons ready to assist with their bidding. The team of red-shirt-wearing techie gurus makes bidding easy. From a Chicago getaway (Free Tesla car for the weekend, the Drake Hotel, bubbly, shopping gift card and more) to a sunny Florida Oceanside Condo (it's never sounded better than mid-winter, has it?) you can click here to see the auction items now.

If you've not been to Gala Bel Canto before, it really is the best black-tie arts event in the city. It doesn't get there without thousands of volunteer and staff hours, the generous support of the community, and without the support of a loving and loyal patron base. But, when it comes to raising money to support music education initiatives for kids, youth and even for persons in the “golden years” of life, it's entirely worth it.

To learn more about Gala Bel Canto, click here. (Tickets must be purchased by March 3.)
See you at Gala Bel Canto on Saturday, March 7, 6:00 p.m. at The Conrad Indianapolis.