Supporters of the Lied Center for Performing Arts donned masks and enjoyed being the stars on the Lied Center’s 30- by 70-foot main stage Feb. 3 at the Friends of Lied’s 14th biennial gala, “Carnivale de Lied: A Masquerade Ball.”

“The power of the mask is onstage tonight,” Bill Stephan, the Lied’s executive director, told an audience of 330 seated at tables throughout the stage. “Tonight, it is our turn to wear the masks and experience the magic.”

Evening highlights included feasting on a three-course dinner on the main stage catered by Yes Chef Catering, enjoying cocktails by Meier's Cork 'n bottle, dancing to Musivo Live from Kansas City, and listening to live jazz in the Johnny Carson theater by Vince Learned, Darryl White, Ron Cooley and Kellyn Wooten.

To create the ballroom onstage with a Parisian opera house theme, 13 large chandeliers made from cream-colored feathers and strings of crystals were hung from the overhead stage railings, explained Megan Darlington of Darling Designs, who co-chaired the event with Kathy McCoy. Across the back of the stage were oversized gold-gilded frames over black velvet stage drapes with three openings revealing gothic windows. Tables were decorated with black candelabras dripping with crystals, tall feather plume arrangements and deep-pink roses.

While guests placed bids on over 500 silent auction items donated by local businesses and individuals in the upper orchestra level, musicians such as Ye-Eun Lyla Cho (violin) and Chris Sayre (concertina) provided live entertainment. Guests watched as artist Ashley Spitsnogle created an original painting that later sold for $3,000 at the live auction. Also displayed on the orchestra level was a “Big Blue” bronze heron sculpture by artist David Biehl, which later sold for $6,500 at the live auction.

During a “Share the Passion” activity, in which guests learned about Lied Center programs and used their smartphones to make nearly $25,000 in donations to Friends of Lied, artistic director Ann Chang told the audience: “If you use your smartphone to donate tonight, you can say you have performed on the main stage at the Lied Center for Performing Arts!” She added with a laugh, “Is that going too far?”

At the end of the day, attendees had enjoyed an evening of mystery, masks and music to remember while supporting world-class performing arts.

“We always enjoy attending the Friends of Lied gala,” said a masked Clover Frederick, who came with her husband Matt. “The volunteers put countless hours into producing a magnificent event that not only entertains, but raises significant funds to help the Lied Center continue to bring quality performing arts programming to Lincoln and our state.”

For more information about Friends of Lied or to make a donation, see

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