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April 24, 2012 > Venetian Masquerade Ball

Venetian Masquerade Ball

By M.J. Laird

What happens when two musicians envision living in a city with a thriving arts community, offering live classical performances that rival those in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose? Aileen Chanco and Bill Everett, musicians married to each other, created a change they wanted to see happen. They launched Music at the Mission seven years ago, carrying on a history of music at Mission San Jose, the 14th mission that became an active center for musical performance almost from its founding by Spanish padres.

To help offset costs of providing a chamber music performance season that includes larger chamber ensembles, Music at the Mission annually sponsors a spring masquerade ball. Funds raised also support programs to bring professional artists to perform in Fremont schools.

Set for Friday, April 27, this year's event, a Venetian Masquerade Ball, will take over The Grand Ballroom at The Hilton Hotel in Newark from 6 p.m. to midnight. After-dinner entertainment will feature jazz singer Cheryl Morrell, known for velvety and vivacious sounds. Morrell has toured both coasts, singing in cities from New York to Seattle and performing with Jack Jones, Brooks Hartell, Bruce Innes, and Paul Tillotson among others.

Everett and Chanco, who serve as co-artistic directors for Music at the Mission, first heard her sing at a Sun Valley, Idaho, festival and instantly identified her as an artist to bring to the Bay Area. A small jazz dance ensemble of local Bay Area and visiting musicians will accompany her.

More than 130 people are expected to attend this year's event, nearly twice the attendance of last year's Carnival Masquerade Ball. Seven years ago, the first fundraiser ball was simply a formal affair. Three years ago, Everett and Chanco inserted a masquerade theme, reflecting their zest for bringing fun to everything they do. While masks are provided, attendees are welcome to bring their own. The evening also includes a silent auction.

This year, Music at the Mission launches a new tradition, supporting the arts locally with a cultural arts appreciation award to recognize efforts of others to advance a thriving, local arts community. The first award will honor Bill and Sharon Marshak, founders of Tri-City Voice newspaper, for their "commitment to people they serve, their steadfast pursuit of truth and their love of the Tri-City Community" as well as "extensive news coverage and unwavering support" of local performing arts organizations. "We are lucky to have an independent newspaper like the Tri-City Voice bringing to life the events and the news of this wonderful community!" says Chanco.

"Right from the very start with our organization, they [the Marshaks] have done so much to give us exposure and help people learn about us. Without the Tri-City Voice we would not have gotten as far as we have. The award recognizes not just what they have done for our organization but what they have done for the arts community, helping to promote and foster the arts locally," says Everett.

"We are lucky in Fremont to have the thriving arts community that we do. Not just our organization, but the symphony and a wonderful theater group," he says. "We can see performances without having to drive to San Francisco and Oakland and we should. Fremont is the fourth largest city in the Bay Area, and we deserve the same caliber of arts that you see in those cities."

Launching an arts organization was not as easy as Everett, a bass player who performs regularly with Symphony Silicon Valley and Opera San Jose, had envisioned. Chanco, a well-known pianist and Fremont native, tested the receptivity for live, classical performances in 2005 with a concert at Mission San Jose, leading her to believe that the Tri-Cities would support live chamber performances.

"It's been an eye-opening experience," says Everett. "So much goes into trying to run a program. We've had a lot of support which has really helped." Still, the organization relies upon grants and a small number of people for its seven-month performance season. Its non-profit board numbers nine people and six or seven dedicated volunteers assist at every event. Everett and Chanco use a cadre of 15 Bay Area musicians to create the contemporary classical programs.

Two events remain in this year's season: Crossroad: Intersection of 20th Century Music and Film, a multi-media performance, on Saturday, May 19, and a more intimate Salon Series of "Jazz meets Classical" set for Sunday, June 3 with works of Bach, Beethoven, and Brubeck.

For information about the Venetian Masquerade Ball and upcoming performances, contact Music at the Mission at or (510) 402-1724.

Venetian Masquerade Ball
Friday, April 27
6 p.m. - midnight
Hilton Hotel
39900 Balentine Dr., Newark
(510) 402-1724

Tickets: $75 each, $700 table for 10

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