IN CONCERT: Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and Maya Buchanan, 2018 Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition Winner

By Dawson Sellers

For over 35 years, the Montgomery Symphony  League has held a concerto competition for pre-college instrumentalists where the winner receives not only a large monetary prize to help secure the continuance of their music education, but the opportunity  to appear as a guest  artist in the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra’s final concert of their Classical Concert Series.

With the combined efforts and help of the Blount Foundation, the Guice Slawson Family, the enthusiasm of numerous  Symphony League volunteers, as well as the partnership of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and National Public Radio’s award-winning “From the Top”, what has become known as the Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition has grown from a local event, with a dozen contestants competing for a few hundred dollars, to a national competition, where 70-80 young musicians compete for nearly $17,000 to help further their musical career.

This year, we congratulate Ms. Maya Buchanan for her outstanding performance of Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35.  Ms. Buchanan, who hails from the Black Hills of South Dakota, is no stranger to winning national competitions or playing with symphony orchestras. In 2015, Maya became the only American violinist to be awarded a top prize at the Johansen International Competition held in Washington D.C.  In 2016 she became the 2nd Place Laureate of the Stradivarius International Violin Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Most recently, before winning the Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition, Ms. Buchanan was named winner at the 2017 Chicago Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition.

On Monday, April 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra is very pleased to welcome Ms. Maya Anjali Buchanan to the stage of the Davis Theatre in Downtown Montgomery.  Featuring Ms. Buchanan’s multi-award winning Korngold Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35, as well as Lachian Dances by Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88, a season closing concert that you will not want to miss!

For more information on programming, seating and ticket purchases, the Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, or any other programs of the Montgomery Symphony Association, please visit or call the Symphony  Office at 334-240-4004.

Montgomery Assembly holds 57th annual dance

Gathering at the home of Julie and Marc Green before the dance are (Front L-R) Honoree Mary Frances Green, Lindsey Pinkham, Loren Potts, Drue Walker (Back L-R) Nolan Sasser, Ben Bricken, Honoree Russell McIntyre, and Max Williams.

A time-honored tradition was the pinnacle of the holiday season for more than 500 Montgomery area high school students who gathered for the 57th annual dance sponsored by The Montgomery Assembly.  The Holiday Dance was held December 27th at the RSA Activity Center in downtown Montgomery.  The highly anticipated event included teens in grades 9 through 12, representing many area high schools.

Posing with her cousin, Honoree Whit Sheperd, during the dance is Honoree Arden Lieux.

For more than five decades, the members of The Montgomery Assembly have hosted an annual Holiday Dance to honor their high school children.  This tradition began in 1961 under the leadership of Mrs. John Ashley.  Mrs. Ashley organized a group of parents and celebrated the holiday season with the first Assembly dance at the Whitley Hotel in downtown Montgomery.

The tradition continued this Christmas under the leadership of president, Julie Green, dance chairmen, Stuart Yelverton, treasurer, Lucile Lieux, secretary, Pam Stevenson, membership, Myra Dorey, and committee chairmen, Pat Budny, chaperones; Alex Parks, decorations; Holly Shegon, lead-out; Mary Lee Yelverton, coat check; Drennen Moore, invitations; Mary Elizabeth Collett, publicity; and Beth Hope, hospitality.  These ladies along with many other parents prepared for an evening of music and dancing for the honorees and their guests.

Dining is a pre-dance tradition, whether at area restaurants or at special dinner parties hosted by parents.  Many parents across the city opened their homes to groups of honorees and their guests for pre-dance dinners.  These lovely homes were decorated for the holidays and provided wonderful backdrops for keepsake photographs as well.

Cousins smiling together at The Montgomery Assembly’s 57th Holiday Dance are (L-R) Honorees Pruitt Lee, Jane Yelverton, Kay Yelverton, Lee Yelverton, and Chase Lee.

As the honorees and guests began to arrive downtown, they were greeted by Assembly member chaperones in the magically transformed RSA Activity Center ballroom.  Music by Just A Few Cats filled the room and promised to keep the dance floor hopping long into the night.  Decorations chairman, Alex Parks and her committee used a theme of gold and white for the evening.Six round tables each featuring a small pre-lit Christmas tree added to the elegance of the evening.  In addition to the Christmas tree, each table was adorned with snowflake confetti and votive candles.  At the far end of the venue a large table contained glass containers overflowing with an assortment of candy. The table was decorated with pre-lit Christmas trees on each end and white snowflakes.  Two large Christmas trees decorated with white lights and beautiful gold bows flanked the stage that was ready for the traditional lead-out presentation of senior and freshman honorees.

Looking forward to a fun night at Montgomery Assembly are (Front L-R) Honoree Susannah Blount, Lizanne Livings, Honoree Millie Stevenson, Emilee Arrington, Honoree Jane Yelverton (Back L-R) Honoree William Robertson, Honoree Oliver Bear, Cam Holmes, Hilsman James, and William Norrell

The flag featuring The Montgomery Assembly emblem hung behind the stage, bearing the image our state’s capitol dome, a shield surrounded by magnolia blossoms, and seven of the most well known flags to have flown over the site that is now Montgomery.

Promptly at nine o’clock, the doors closed and the most anticipated moment of the evening was underway.  Proud parents and grandparents sat in chairs that lined the path their children would take as they were announced couple by couple by Master of Ceremonies, Pat Shegon.  Cheered on by parents, grandparents, and friends, the honorees carried on the tradition of being presented to the group as they made their way through the festive crowd.

Senior Honoree Lee Chapman Parks escorted by Michael Thomas.

The senior honorees were John Quincy Adams sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. John Quincy Adams III; Thomas Melton Amster sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Troy Alan Amster; William Chandler Armagost sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William Bradley Armagost; Austyn Elizabeth Barnes sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Rocky Barnes; Madeline Elizabeth Brazil sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Lee Brazil; Philip Carter Burwell, Jr. sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Philip Carter Burwell; William Penton Cousins sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William Penton Cousins, Sr.; Stephen Wyatt Davidson sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Lee Davidson; Anne Miles DeMott sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Miles Lamar DeMott; Myra Rivers Dorey sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Jason Hollister Dorey; Bennett Clark Griffin sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Woodfin Holland Griffin; Charles Andrew Harris sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William Marks Harris; Katharine Walraven Harris sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William Marks Harris; William Oliver Hooper sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Earle Conwell Hooper, Sr.; Mimi Elizabeth Hope sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Mark Randall Hope; Morgan Elizabeth Karst sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Keith Charles Karst; Charles William Lee III sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Charles William Lee, Jr.; Mackenzie Lynn LeGrand sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Michael Vann LeGrand; Katherine Grace McIntyre sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Innes Thornton McIntyre IV; Lee Chapman Parks sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Lee Chapman Parks; Altson McKinney Parsons sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Todd Malone Parsons; James Wells Rutland V sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. James Wells Rutland IV; Mary Stewart Shegon sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Michael Shegon; Elizabeth Ann Skoneki sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Scott James Skoneki; Frederick Somers Tippett sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Christopher Tippett; Margaret Collins Tippett sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Christopher Tippett; Isabel Riley Trehern sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Leo Riley Trehern, Jr.; Kenneth Dallon Wallis IV sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Dallon Wallis III; Sidney Foster Ward sponsored by Ms. Burton Ward; Amelia Lancaster Whaley sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Alex Whaley II; Luke Jackson Whetstone sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. John David Barranco; Bradley Weldon Willis, Jr. sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Bradley Weldon Willis; Lee Gayle Yelverton sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. John Douglas Yelverton III.

Sisters with their dates at the dance are (L-R) Kylar Williamson, Honoree Hollister Dorey, Honoree Myra Rivers Dorey, and Paul Bishop.

Incoming freshman honorees were Winton Preston Cole Armagost sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William Bradley Armagost; William Micou Jordan Barganier, Jr. sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William Micou Jordan Barganier; James Alexander Brewbaker sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Dick Lansden Brewbaker; Alex Sabine Budny sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Patrick Budny; Louis Jones Corley IV sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jones Corley III; Jon Everett Dennis sponsored by David Jordan Dennis, Sr.; Hollister Kennedy Dorey sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Jason Hollister Dorey; Mary Elizabeth Hill sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Chappell Henry Lipscomb Hill; Virginia Irene Hope Mr. and Mrs. Mark Randall Hope; Campbell McLemore Watson Jernigan sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Alexander Conniff; James Pruitt Lee sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Charles William Lee, Jr.; Keith Stewart Miller, Jr. sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Keith Stewart Miller, Sr.; Bentley Anne Moore sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Tanner Moore III; Thomas Hardwich Morris sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Buford Harrison Morris III; Ella Katherine Osmer sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Raymond Osmer; Samuel Parker Patterson sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Weakley Patterson; Leighton McKinney Robertson sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. John Douglas Robertson; Robert Whitfield Shepherd VI sponsored by Mr. Robert Whitfield Shepherd V; James Mark Snead III Mr. and Mrs. James Mark Snead, Jr.; Harper Elizabeth Thomas Mr. and Mrs. Henry Randall Thomas, Jr.; Allen Carter Wallis sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Dallon Wallis III; Katherine Noble Yelverton sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Noble Crump Yelverton.

Danna Black and Andrew Showalter exchange vows

Danna and Andrew with their wedding party.
Photo by Marty Chadwick

Danna Rae Black and Joseph Andrew Showalter were united in marriage, Saturday, April 29, 2017 at Eastwood Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama. The Reverend Bart Lester officiated the service.

Danna is the daughter of Barbara and Robert Harrington, Montgomery, and Dan R. Black of Mathews, Alabama. She is the granddaughter of Jane M. Stearns of Montgomery, the late Ray Black of Brundidge, Alabama and the late Thera Findley McAbee and the late J.H. Findley of Evergreen, Alabama.

Andrew’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. George Showalter of Andalusia, Alabama. He is the grandson of Mrs. Bobby Driver and the late Reverend Driver of Andalusia, Alabama, and the late Mr. and Mrs. George Blaine Showalter of Cumberland, Maryland.

Given in marriage by her father, Danna wore a full-length gown in candlelight, and her veil was designed and created by her mother, Barbara. Danna carried a bouquet of hydrangeas, magnolias, and spring wildflowers wrapped in satin ribbon, assembled by her sister and Matron of Honor Meredith Black Sellars. Her something borrowed was a pearl necklace from Meredith.

Danna’s bridesmaids were Neeley Boston, Montgomery, cousin of the bride; Allison Crusey of Tampa, Florida, cousin of the bride; Caroline Crusey of Tampa, Florida, cousin of the bride; and junior bridesmaid, Madilyn Sellars, niece of the bride, Montgomery. They each wore individual style dresses of petal pink while carrying bouquets that complemented the bride’s.  Her precious flower girl was Claire McLure, of Hoover, Alabama, dressed in an ecru hand sewn dress. She carried her flower petals in a satin basket.

The new Showalter family, Andrew, Danna and Sawyer.
Photos by Meredith
Sellers Photography

Andrew’s best man was his father George, his groomsmen were long time friends Lee Davis and Josh Calhoun both of Opp, Alabama. Brother-in-law of the bride, Ryan Sellars, also served as a groomsman, along with his son Weston Sellars who was a junior groomsman, both of Montgomery. The groom and attendants wore navy blue suits, petal pink bow ties, along with navy blue suspenders given as a gift from the groom. Sawyer Wiley Black was the ring bearer, and he wore a family heirloom hand sewn outfit of ecru color.

As friends and family entered the church, Dr. Sarah Mason, dearest family friend, provided music. They were greeted by the bride’s long time friends Mary Beth McLure of Hoover, Alabama, Johanna L. Stewart of Tallassee, Alabama, and Andrea Fretts of St. Louis, Missouri.

Mrs. Mac Cutchins of Auburn, Alabama decorated the church with banks of magnolias, hydrangeas and spring wildflowers as well as beautiful holly ferns.

The Showalters have fun as they dance to Sawyers’ favorite song, “Shout” by The Isley Brothers.
Photos by Marty Chadwick

The wedding reception was held at the Prattville Country Club where guests enjoyed a Taco Bar catered by the couple’s favorite restaurant, El Rey’s in Montgomery, along with other various favorite foods. The Bride’s cake was a key lime cake decorated with a Mr. & Mrs. topper and magnolias, while the groom chose a chocolate peanut butter cake with small peanut butter cups surrounding it.  On the pool terrace, Ben Norris, a local musician, provided entertainment.

After their honeymoon in Florida, the couple now resides in Montgomery.