Wednesday, August 15 , 2018, 2:29 pm | Fair 77º


‘Downton Abbey’ Era Sets Theme for Choral Society Gala

The Santa Barbara Choral Society’s annual Spring Concert and Gala will evoke the iconic Masterpiece Theater series Downton Abbey at the dawn of the Jazz Age.

Chef Darren McGrady Click to view larger
Chef Darren McGrady

Dubbed Rockwood Abbey, the event will be 5-9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Rockwood Woman’s Club, 670 Mission Canyon Road.

Period attire (Edwardian through Art Deco) is encouraged by Honorary Chairs Brooks and Kate Firestone, whose son, Andrew, will be the celebrity auctioneer for a live auction.

Jo Anne Wasserman Click to view larger
Jo Anne Wasserman

The auction will feature vacation stays, including one in London, with a private car to and tour of Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton Abbey.

Dinner follows, curated by Royal Chef Darren McGrady, formerly personal chef to both the late Princess Diana and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His menu comes from recipes he created during his 15 years at Buckingham Palace.

McGrady has cooked for five U.S. presidents; he is now an author, culinary consultant, event planner, and public speaker. He lives in Dallas. His cookbook Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen is in its sixth printing.

The concert, which precedes the dinner, will be conducted by Choral Society Artistic Director Jo Anne Wasserman.

In the spirit of the turn of the last century’s popular Promenade Concerts, the Choral Society’s concert will feature eclectic musical treats including some selections from operettas by Gilbert & Sullivan.

Montecito Journal’s Richard Mineards will serve as emcee, lending yet another British note to the evening.

Tickets, which include cocktails, concert, dinner and auction, are $125 per person. Patron tables for eight are available for $1,800 and include valet parking, prime seating, and first service for dinner. All proceeds go toward general operating expenses of the Choral Society.

Reservations should be made by May 12 either online at or by calling the SBCS office, 965.6577.

— Mary Dan Eades for the Santa Barbara Choral Society.


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