When Crestview Preparatory School in California realized that their fundraiser was scheduled for April 14th, 2012 Spring Benefit Chairs Carlos and Helen Brooks decided to theme their event around this historic date - the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Inspired by the story of the Titanic they recreated the momentous evening at their benefit gala “A Night to Remember.”

Held on the ship The Queen Mary, the gala sought to pay homage to that fateful night. Said Carlos, “We thought we’d do a fundraiser inspired by an event in history that invites people to stop and reflect on the things that matter most.”

Guests in costume

In the spirit of authenticity, event Chairs brought in their own newspapers and steamer trunks filled with favors. They also encouraged period dress and many guests came in costume.   The gala transported members to the era, providing them with a “passport” upon their arrival. The passports detailed the story of an actual Titanic passenger. Guests read each other’s accounts piecing together pictures of the lives involved, meeting their traveling companions, and gaining insight into what happened that night. The Queen Mary’s dated atmosphere also added to the theme, having had its maiden voyage in 1936. “From the moment they arrived guests were immediately swept up in the story,” said Carlos. “And the music played a key role in that”. 

Music was an integral part of this event as the Titanic story includes the very moving account of the Titanic orchestra, who played as it sank to calm passengers. GigMasters members, classical string quartet, the Ondine Chamber Ensemble (Sherman Oaks, California) were asked to recreate the musical experience on the ship and performed throughout the evening. Ensemble member Kathleen Hood researched the repertoire list used by musicians working on the White Star Line (the line that owned the Titanic) to gain an authentic song list for the event. “I was surprised to learn that I already had numerous pieces from that list in my current repertoire, including many ragtime tunes, such as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and Scott Joplin’s ragtime songs. Strauss waltzes, which we play, were also popular then,” said Kathleen. Because there is some disagreement which final song was played the night of the tragic Titanic sinking, The Ondine Chamber Ensemble decided to play both the hymn “Nearer My God To Thee” and “Songe d’Automne.”

Funds raised at this unique event will be used for classroom resources and family financial aid. While it was a somber anniversary, the guests were in good spirits dining and dancing aboard the ship. With the venue, food, costume, story, and entertainment, attendees were truly immersed in the Titanic’s rich history.

What do you think of this interesting event? Let us know in the comments below.