By Donna Cornelius
C.T. and Kelley Fitzpatrick have been supporters of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 2008. This year, the Mountain Brook couple is taking that support to a new level by serving as hosts of the ASO’s Maestro’s Ball.
The ball is the organization’s largest fundraising event. It raises money for the ASO’s artistic, educational and outreach programs.
This year’s event will be Sept. 11 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center. It begins at 6 p.m. with a champagne reception in the lobby followed by a 7 p.m. concert in the Jemison Concert Hall.
Carlos Izcaray, leading his inaugural concert as ASO music director, will conduct the ball. The new maestro has chosen a program of passionate music with a sultry Latin dance theme. Music will include Aaron Copland’s “Three Latin American Sketches,” Astor Piazzolla’s “Tangazo” and Paul Desenne’s “Palenkumbe,” an overture by the ASO’s 2015-16 sound investment composer.
After the concert, dinner at 8 p.m. on the Stephens Center grounds will be catered by Idie and Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club with decorations by Sybil Sylvester of Wildflower Designs.
For information about attending the Maestro’s Ball, call Ashley Blomeyer at 314-6917.
About the Hosts
C.T. Fitzpatrick is the founder and chief executive officer of Vulcan Value Partners, a Birmingham company with clients and investments all over the world. With more than $12 billion under management, VVP is in the top 1 percent of its peers in every strategy it manages and is closed to new investors, he said.
The Montgomery native has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and earned an MBA from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management.
He is a member of the Downtown Rotary Club and Society of International Business Fellows. He serves on the board of directors of The Bell Center and the Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts.
Fitzpatrick is the founder and a board member of Bridge Builders of Central Alabama and the founder and chairman of Explorefaith.org.
He also serves on the University of Alabama’s President’s Cabinet and on the Culverhouse College of Commerce board of visitors
Kelley Manderson Fitzpatrick, a Tuscaloosa native, majored in economics/business management at Sweet Briar College and is a former Wall Street Trader.
She has worked in social services benefiting the elderly and volunteered with the Junior League of Memphis. She has served on several nonprofit boards, including two terms each with the ASO and the YWCA of Central Alabama. She led a successful grassroots campaign to stop the operation of a nuclear waste incinerator in her community.
She is the president of her family foundation, which makes grants to education, environmental issues and the promotion of mental and spiritual well-being. Through the foundation, she and her husband recently endowed the Value Investing Program, research library and trading room at the University of Alabama. The Manderson family endowed the graduate business school at the University of Alabama.
The couple has two sons, college students Tranum and Lewis. The family attends St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Mountain Brook.
How did you first become involved with the ASO?
C.T.: We went to one of the first, if not the first, Maestro’s Balls in 2007. We were blown away by the performance and the event. Charlie Perry invited us to that event, and we became involved shortly thereafter because we thought it was a world-class symphony and was worthy of our support.
Kelley: I was asked to join the board in 2008. I have served two terms on the ASO board.
Do you come from homes where music was appreciated?
C.T.: Yes! My parents listened to classical music, outlaw country (Johnny Cash) and some rock ‘n’ roll. Our immediate family is very musically appreciative. Our oldest son, Tranum, is a talented guitar player. Kelley and I just returned from hearing the Los Angeles Philharmonic play “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Hollywood Bowl.
Kelley: My parents were very hip; my mother played The Beatles on piano, and I learned growing up all the words to all Johnny Cash’s songs. Today our family travels together to music festivals such as Outside Lands in San Francisco, and we are regulars at our great Birmingham venues like WorkPlay, Iron City and the Alabama Theatre. We mourn the closing of Bottletree and look forward to the opening of the renovated Lyric Theatre, which will be a fantastic music intimate venue.
Why is it important for a city like Birmingham to have a vital symphony?
C.T.: Birmingham is an amazing city. It has so many things going for it. I think we are in a place in our development as a community that we can attract more businesses with higher skill levels and higher-paying jobs. We have beautiful surroundings; great people; recreation; great restaurants; a vibrant, supportive business community; many topnotch schools; sports; and a great museum. Having a world-class symphony is a key asset for us to retain the talent we have and to attract new talent to our community. The ASO is an important recruiting tool for our company, Vulcan Value Partners. Also, I really enjoy the music.
Kelley: Richard Florida has written a lot about what he calls the “creative class” and the importance of a vibrant art scene. For a city to really thrive, it needs to attract creative, educated people who contribute to the innovation and health of a city. To attract and retain them, we must have the arts. And music transcends society’s barriers; it is something everyone can relate to, and it elevates us as a society.
Other than attending concerts, what are some ways that the average person can support the ASO?
C.T.: I would love to see the ASO get younger people involved in something like Art on The Rocks at the Birmingham Museum of Art. I would like to see the ASO create an opportunity for younger folks to form an organization that revolves around introducing other folks to the ASO.
Kelley: Attend a youth orchestra concert. Use social media to spread the word about our fabulous new maestro, Carlos Izcaray.
What are your responsibilities as Maestro’s Ball hosts?
C.T.: The most important thing we did was getting Jesse Vogtle to chair the table committee. Thanks to his leadership and the committee that we put together, the ASO has broken all fundraising records for this event. We also have worked closely with Chris Hastings and Ashley Blomeyer at the ASO to build on lessons learned from past events to ensure that this year’s is the best ever. Lines will be shorter, there will be more servers, and we are having an “after party” for younger attendees who are not yet active in the ASO for the first time ever. We hope that the evening will be so fantastic that everyone attending will want to get more involved with the ASO.
Kelley: C.T. says it all: Jesse Vogtle, Chris and Idie Hastings at Hot and Hot Fish Club, Sybil Sylvester at Wildflower Designs, Ashley Blomeyer at the ASO and Angela Darden at Vulcan Value Partners did all the work. It is a well-oiled machine!
What have been some of your favorite ASO concerts or other events over the past few years?
C.T.: We love the Classical Edge program. I have also enjoyed learning about the not as obvious composers such as Grieg and Nilsson. I loved “Carmina Burana” by Orff performed by the ASO with a full choir. In terms of the more obvious composers, we have enjoyed Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Bach.
Kelley: My favorite is the Classical Edge program. Did you know that the ASO has won national awards for inventive and new programming? I always like the new, innovative, edgy programming.
What do you see in the future for the ASO?
C.T.: I see an organization attracting younger listeners by providing a better experience for everyone. I see the ASO learning from other successful organizations here in Birmingham like the Birmingham Museum of Art and from around the world. They really do things right in London. They create an overall experience that attracts a wide audience and results in greater attendance. They make it easy to get a cocktail at intermission by allowing patrons to reserve refreshments in advance, and this increases revenue. It is a more relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels welcome. When we start doing the same things, it will increase attendance by multiples.
Kelley: I see growth in the Youth Orchestra and bringing in younger audiences. Our new maestro, Carlos Izcaray, is young and energetic with great ideas, and I think he will attract a younger audience who will support the ASO in the future.
What should those who are attending the Maestro’s Ball for the first time — or who may want to consider going this year — expect from the evening?
C.T.: Great music, champagne, great food, great drinks, short lines and great service. Thank you to Susan and Tom Curtin of DuMOL Winery, longtime ASO supporters who generously donate exceptionally good wine to the ball. Expect a huge celebration of Carlos, our new maestro, and of Birmingham.
Kelley: You will enjoy an hour of beautiful music and then a beautiful meal by the amazing Chris and Idie Hastings. Sybil Sylvester’s flowers are always thrilling. Can’t get any better!
Both of you seem to be extremely civic-minded. Why is it important to you to donate your time to the ASO and other causes?
C.T.: Birmingham has been very good to us and our family. Our wonderful community did not become this way by accident. We are in awe of the leadership that has turned Birmingham into a world-class city. We hope to build upon our collective successes and make Birmingham an even better place for future generations.
Kelley: You have to help create the community you want to live in. And in Birmingham, we stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us, and we must do our part to continue that vision.
You’re extremely busy people. When you do have down time, how do you most like to spend it?
C.T.: We try to follow the ancient tradition of keeping the Sabbath. That means that we really try to take one day and be total introverts. We do not want to go anywhere or see anybody for one day a week. We just want to recharge. It seems to work for us.
Kelley: I am actually quite introverted, so I need “alone time” to recharge, and I find walking and working in my art studio to be indispensable. ϖ