A Gala Dinner and Auction held in the grounds of Fairlight Hall to raise money for the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition proved to be a resounding success.
180 people paid £70 a head for an evening of food, wine and entertainment hosted by Bill Turnbull, BBC presenter and Classic FM DJ. They were serenaded on arrival by a lone piper and then served English sparkling wine and canapés in the magnificent hallway of Fairlight Hall.
The dinner itself was served in an elegant marquee set up in the grounds. The entertainment began with a stunning recital by Taek Gi Lee from South Korea, the winner of the 2014 piano competition.
After the main course was served, the guests were treated to a rousing session from Hastings’ very own jazz diva Liane Carroll, accompanying herself on the grand piano.
Then came the auction. A number of bids had already been placed online in the previous two weeks for some of the items, but four of the most attractive lots were only available live to those attending the dinner.
Highlights included £4,000 bid for a week for ten people at a luxury holiday home in Nantucket, donated by one of the competition’s patrons; £3,250 bid for a weekend in a luxury New York apartment; £2,265 bid for a private dinner for eight at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal; and £2,000 for a set of Giclee prints of Muhammad Ali.
For many, the high point of the evening was a song from veteran star Petula Clark, president of the Hastings Musical Festival, of which the competition is a part. But Bill Turnbull wouldn’t let her sing until the audience had pledged £1,000 to hear her. It took about three minutes for that total to be reached.
The evening ended with a swinging dance session to the music of the House Band.
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