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Choral Society Goes All ‘Downton Abbey’ for Its Gala

Dubbed Rockwood Abbey, the Santa Barbara Choral Society’s annual gala and concert will evoke the Masterpiece Theater series Downton Abbey at the dawn of the Jazz Age.

Royal Chef Darren McGrady Click to view larger
Royal Chef Darren McGrady

The event takes place 5-9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Rockwood Woman’s Club, 670 Mission Canyon Road.

The concert will be performed at 6 p.m. in the club's ballroom, which will be transformed into an Art Deco “Proms” scene.

Guests can partake of appetizers and wine as the Choral Society sings opera choruses from Carmen, La Traviata, Alcina, Il Trovatore and Nabucco, and selections from Gilbert & Sullivan.

The chorus will premiere Did I Make the Most of Loving You, written to the musical theme from Downton Abbey, arranged by Jason Pano. Artistic Director Jo Anne Wasserman will conduct the full SBCS chorus with accompaniment by David Potter.

Following the concert, Chef Darren McGrady, former royal chef to Queen Elizabeth II, the late Princess Diana and her sons, will be curating a very British menu for guests to enjoy.

McGrady will speak about his 15 years at Buckingham Palace and will be on hand all evening to offer behind-the-scenes tales of life at the palace.

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

For those attending the event, Art Deco attire is encouraged by Honorary Chairs Brooks and Kate Firestone, whose son Andrew, will be the celebrity auctioneer for a live auction.

Tickets are $125 per person. Patron tables for eight are available for $1,800 and include valet parking, prime seating and first-service for dinner. Reservations should be made by May 12 online at sbchoral.org or by phone, 965-6577.

All proceeds go toward general operating expenses of the Choral Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

— Mary Dan Eades for the Santa Barbara Choral Society.

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