A night to remember

Magician Jonathan Usher in mesmerising mood.
Magician Jonathan Usher in mesmerising mood.
Electric violinist Yoomia Sim kicked up a storm with a high energy Queen medley.
Electric violinist Yoomia Sim kicked up a storm with a high energy Queen medley.
Brad Blaze puts the final touches to his Freddie Mercury portrait.
Brad Blaze puts the final touches to his Freddie Mercury portrait.

Wow – what an occasion!

A Night to Remember 2020, the Otaga Medical Research Foundation’s eighth annual black-tie dinner in the Dunedin Town Hall lifted the bar again.

In between the opening chords of Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, played majestically on the historic Town Hall organ by city organist David Burchell and the two-hour showstopper by the fabulous Queenstown-based band LA Social, the crowd was treated to some magnificent entertainment.

Magician extraordinaire Jonathan Usher held the audience spell-bound … among his repertoire was the turning of a $10 bank note into $100, the formation of a human xylophone which played Happy Birthday to one lucky guest, the swallowing of a balloon over a metre long and the perennial favourite of a beer can emptied and the contents consumed before magically returning to its former state.

Internationally acclaimed electric violinist Yoomia Sim then enthralled everyone present with a high-energy production including Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, the theme to the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, Guns ‘n Roses' Sweet Child O’ Mine and a medley of Queen’s greatest hits. To celebrate it being Valentine’s Day, Yoomia also played Etta James’ At Last, one of the all-time love classics which has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and been a chart success for both Celine Dion and Beyonce.

Not to be outdone, the world’s fastest portrait painter (self-titled) Brad Blaze returned after being the headline act at A Night to Remember 2014. Brad’s portraits are painted at blinding speed and upside down … revealed to the amazement of the crowd were Sir Elton John (in recognition of the Rocketman movie and the superstar’s final world tour), Marilyn Munro, whose image came to life in a shower of gold glitter, and Freddie Mercury, the late Queen front man’s face appearing after a burst of flame.

Each of Brad’s pieces sold for $6,000 in the record-breaking auction.

Alison Paul, Corporate Affairs and Legal Manager for the OceanaGold Corp, the dinner’s major sponsor, spoke on behalf of the company and all sponsors, while leading cancer researcher Dr Chris Jackson told a good news story about the progress being made in tackling the disease head-on as the night’s Face of Research.

Thanks to the skills of auctioneer Rob Fowler and some extraordinary generosity by bidders, raffle buyers and donations made on the night, the dinner raised a record $130,000 for the Foundation’s work of establishing catalyst research projects and summer scholarships.

 - Steve Davie

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