Big names in Philadelphia society celebrated the 154th anniversary of the Academy of Music with a Philadelphia Orchestra concert and ball on Saturday. Renee Fleming, considered by many the world’s greatest soprano, and singer Paul Simon headlined the concert.
The crowd of 2,100 included Mike Mills of REM and political figures such as Senator Casey and Mayor Nutter. The Academy Ball is the longest-running benefit of any American orchestra.
The women were resplendent in long couture gowns, sparkling jewels and furs. The men wore white-tie tails.
Simon introduced his first-ever duet with Fleming by declaring “the beginning of the Simon and Fleming era.” After hearing their powerful rendition of “Sounds of Silence,” the audience could only hope so.
Joanna McNeil Lewis, president of the Academy of Music, urged the audience “to support Philadelphia cultural treasures such as the Orchestra, Academy of Music and Tastykakes —
or Philadelphia will lose its uniqueness.”