Donna and David Cone reflect on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Opus Ball XXXIII and the statewide educational programs that enrich the lives of Arkansans.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by Sara Reeves | Makeup by Tom Crone with Barbara Jean
Donna and David Cone, patrons of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for nearly three decades, consider the key components to a happy life — three of which are good music, good wine and giving back to the community.
“Music is an ingredient of life,” David notes, “one of those ingredients of life that makes it special.” After a friend invited them to attend the Patrons Party in the late 80s, the Cones quickly became committed to ASO and began getting involved in significant ways. David served on the board of directors in the late 90s, and Donna joined the ASO Guild, the symphony’s auxiliary group that organizes programs and fundraisers such as the Symphony Designer House.
“The Cones are passionate about the work that ASO does for children across the state, and they enjoy working to ensure we have the support we need to make those education and outreach programs happen,” says Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Director of Special Events & Stewardship Tiffany Mattzela.
Though the Cones have attended the Opus Ball for many years, the most memorable transformed a beloved landmark into an intimate experience. “One year they floored over the seats at Robinson Auditorium, and when we arrived, our tables were almost on the stage next to the full orchestra,” Donna explains. “It was the most magical evening.”
David maintains that the symphony is a critical asset for the Capital City. “It’s a cultural experience for Central Arkansas,” he notes. “I think if you were to ask 10 business leaders why they want to have their headquarters in Little Rock, they’d mention the ASO as one of the reasons why.” Donna adds, “Every community needs a symphony.”
As the Cones look forward to this year’s Opus Ball, they recognize it is an evening of elegance + entertainment with a purpose. Proceeds support the symphony’s education programs in Arkansas schools and communities across the state and are also the primary source of funding for ASO Youth Orchestra. “The Opus Ball is one of – if not the – premier black-tie events in Little Rock,” David says.
One of the key ways the Cones have continued to support ASO, and countless other organizations, includes donating wine — first through Strauss Distributors, which later sold to Glazer’s, and now through Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, a 2016 merge between Glazer’s and Southern Wine & Spirits. David is regional director for Domain & Estates Fine Wine Group for Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee, a division of Southern Glazer’s. “Wine is an element, an ingredient, in life that enhances any type of function that you attend,” David notes. “Every event you go to has a wine component.”
In addition to the symphony, the Cones are intentional, devoted civic leaders — serving organizations such as Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Women and Children First and Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas. “We’ve been blessed in so many ways, and we live in a wonderful city and beautiful state; I think that you need to show appreciation for what you have. I feel like this is one of the ways we can do that. It’s an ingredient of our life, and it helps make us whole,” David says.
At the Opus Ball, the combination of these three ingredients – music, wine and philanthropy – will create a future filled with music and art appreciation.
Favorite musical composition?
David: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
Donna: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake
Favorite musical period?
David & Donna: Classical
Drink of choice?
David & Donna: French White Burgundies