Paul Von Wupperfeld, left, and Andy Smith

Dallas couple Smith, Von Wupperfeld serving as chairs for 2021 DSO event

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
rich@dallasvoice.com

On Saturday, Sept. 25, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will present its 2021 Gala concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center. The event returns with two big debuts, including that of music director Fabio Luisi and of violinist Ann-Sophie Mutter.

The gala will also mark another first this year: Andy Smith and his husband Paul Von Wupperfeld are serving as this year’s DSO Gala chairs and are the first same-sex couple to do so.

“It’s so exciting, and it’s been a long time coming since we were asked back in the fall of 2019,” Smith said.

Von Wupperfeld added, “Of course, we were delighted to say ‘Yes’ to this.”

They will serve alongside Gala Honorary Chairs Rich and Mary Templeton.

This year’s event will be a celebration of more than 60 years of support from Texas Instruments and the TI Foundation.

That is particularly meaningful to Von Wupperfeld and Smith. Von Wupperfeld, now retired from TI where he was a global manager at TI and working as a director in the marketing and communications department at SMU, and Smith is the executive director of the foundation.

“It’s amazing to think that relationship has been around so long, and it’s so strong,” Smith said. “For 22 years, we’ve had the Texas Instruments Classical Series. At TI, we believe the arts are one of the building blocks of a strong and vibrant community.”

As chairs, the two have led the planning and fundraising for the event. Proceeds raised from the gala directly benefit the DSO’s education and community programs.

“Other than being the faces of the event, we take care of the technical aspects. We help with the letters and arrangements to make the ask of various people,” von Wupperfeld said. “When it’s someone you know that is asking for a donation, that can be much more powerful and effective and really make a difference.”

And while he and husband may be the faces of the gala, Smith reminds that this is all about the DSO. “Certainly we get to do some fun things like the tastings, but this isn’t about us. We’re serving as ambassadors and, first and foremost, helping to lead those fundraising efforts. We wanted to do this in order to help raise the money they need.”

The announcement was an interesting one. It was both exciting but at the same time nonchalant in the best way.

Announcing Smith and von Wupperfeld as the chairs almost felt like any previous chair announcement the DSO has made for its galas.

“I think, number one, it’s just an indication that the DSO is mindful of being inclusive and thoughtful to the fact that we are part of the community,” Von Wupperfeld said. “However, it also shouldn’t be remarkable to have a same-sex couple as the chair.”

Smith added “We’re judged on the work we do and not any other characteristic. One of the things I talked with Kim [Noltemy, DSO president] about was diversity, equity and inclusion and that she wanted to bring that to the DSO. Participating as co-chair reaffirmed to me their commitment to that.”

Von Wupperfeld noted that DSO continued to perform during the pandemic and took part in the June 2020 Pride concert in Turtle Creek Park with a quartet of LGBTQ musicians. “They have been out there and part of this community all along,” he said.

While this year’s gala will be a swanky kickoff to the season, there will be some changes for obvious reasons. “The symphony has been great about wanting this to be a safe space for guests,” Smith said.

The full gala experience includes a seated dinner prior to the concert in the Meyerson. In consideration of providing a healthy and comfortable atmosphere, the DSO has made changes this year to provide a safer environment. Guests will be seated at tables of four or six guests each, and the tables will be spaced to allow for social distancing. The Gala Concert will have assigned seating to provide space between guests. When not actively eating or drinking, attendees are required to wear masks while inside the building.

“Given the fact we are still going through the pandemic, the gala will be very dignified but fun. We’re going to have a great time and raise some money,” von Wupperfeld said. “Plus, they have an incredible season this year. The DSO is the crown jewel here, and it’s important their education and outreach programs stay strong to keep them out into the community.”

And of course, there’s always the music.

“Having that music bring us together as a community is healing; it gives us hope,” Smith said.

“But just know, we’ll be putting the ‘gay’ in gala this year,” Von Wupperfeld mentioned.

For more about the gala and the DSO, visit dallassymphony.org.

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DSO Highlights

Highlights from the upcoming Texas Instruments Classical Series 2021-22 season at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. All concerts held at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. dallassymphony.org.

• Oct. 14-17: Beethoven’s “Emperor”
• Oct. 28-30: Elgar “Symphony No. 1”
• Nov. 4 and 6: Mozart’s “Requiem”
• Nov. 5 and 7: Luisi and Fleming
• Nov. 18-21: Bartok and Beethoven
• Jan. 7-9: Ravel + Urioste
• Jan. 13 and 14: Ehnes plays Elgar
• Jan. 20-23: Trifonov plays Brahms
• Feb. 3-5: Welcome Back Maestro Litton
• Feb. 17-19: Tchaikovsky “Pathetique”
• March 17-20: Shostakovich and R. Strauss
• March 24-26: All-Mozart Concert
• April 1-5: Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”
• April 8-10: Berlioz “Symphonie Fantastique”
• April 14-16: Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”
• April 28-May 1: Kavakos, Kerr and Kufchak
• May 12-15: Fabio Luisi Conducts Beethoven 9
• May 19-22: Rachmaninoff “Piano Concerto No. 2”