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Oh, Mama! Can you imagine yourself standing on that grand little box in Symphony Hall and having all eyes on you as you pick up the baton and prepare to conduct the Joel Grey concert?

Sometimes dreams come true. If you are the kind of person who can be found at stop lights "directing" a radio concerto, the Utah Symphony Guild has a deal for you!On Friday, Feb. 7, at Little America Hotel from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, the guild is sponsoring its annual Black and White Ball with the theme, "A Jazzy Night in New Orleans." Besides great food and dancing, this year's auction items (including that chance to be guest conductor) promise some hot bidding.

The event again features the "Up and Coming Ball" held on the mezzanine, where Kurt Bestor will entertain following dinner. In the ballroom, the Cadillacs will keep things lively until dance time, when Joe Muscolino and his orchestra will strike up for both balls.

Tickets for the formal dinner in the Grand Ballroom are $150, $100 and $75 per person. Tickets for the "Up and Coming Ball" are $50 per person. There will be a drawing for Delta tickets to wherever the airline flies (with $500 spending money donated by Deseret Federal Credit Union). Tickets for the drawing are available at all symphony concerts or through Barbra Scott (571-0774) or Lynette Swapp (254-3149).

Auction chairwoman Eve Bertran throws her hands up in bewilderment over the desperate antics of would-be conductors. "I've had people call me long distance (from out-of-state) wanting me to take secret bids!" But Bertran has firmly refused all bribes, which will make the concert bidding even more lively.

If you're not successful at nabbing the conducting opportunity, there are other enticing treasures. Partygoers can bid on a signed necklace from Bennion Jewelry, an authentic German dinner prepared by orchestra first violinist Judith Rich and friends, three different one-week stays at condos anywhere in the world and several cruise and ski packages. The musically inclined can bid on a piano donated by Riverton Music.

The Utah Jazz are donating a signed basketball, tickets and life-size posters. Mothers of brides-to-be could have one headache removed from wedding plans: Bride Beautiful is donating three wedding gowns. "If it's the style and size you need, you'll have (the gown) that night," Bertran said.

Symphony Guild members are busy creating a New Orleans ambiance for the upcoming ball. Ball chairwoman Pat Hales and co-chairwoman Sharolyn Iverson are perfecting their French rendition of "Laisser le bontemps rouler" - let the good times roll! But never far from their minds is the knowledge that all funds raised will support the Utah Symphony.

"The arts have far-reaching ramifications in the community. There is a correlation between refined music and the actions of children," Hales said. Bertran noted that during statewide fifth-grade field trips where the students come to Salt Lake City to learn about the symphony, "Utah's children are given at least one opportunity to visit Symphony Hall. I love seeing the little ones in Sunday best on their best behavior as they come into Symphony Hall."

The major sponsor of the Black and White Ball is O.C. Tanner. Don Ostler, CEO of O.C. Tanner, said of the company's sponsorship, "It's our flagship as far as the arts are concerned. We've adopted the Utah Symphony. It goes back to Mr. Tanner." The late O.C. Tanner was instrumental in the building of Abravanel Hall and is remembered for the beautiful gold-leaf decoration of the hall and for the fountain outside. "Every time my little grandchildren run through that fountain, I thank O.C. Tanner," Hales said.