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story.lead_photo.caption Carole Smith (seated), Marvin Maurras, John Monroe, Bill Yee, Amber McKnight, Chris White, and Scott Hamilton (all in back) and Marti Hamilton (seated) ( Cary Jenkins)

While Opus Ball XXXVI was forced to pivot to a virtual event this year, Melissa and Martin Thoma made sure guests were still treated to a glamorous, red carpet-worthy extravaganza.

The Thomas were chairs of the Nov. 7 gala dubbed Rhapsody in Blue and benefiting the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Before the event was streamed, patrons were delivered baskets to their homes containing either an ASO-branded wine bucket or a serving tray with white and red wine, gin and prosecco -- the ingredients necessary to concoct the evening's signature cocktail, the Opus 36.

Gallery: Opus XXXVI

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The baskets also included a lobster spread, mixed nuts, a candle, crackers, truffle chips, dried sausage, brie spread, Gouda spread, garlic and herb hard cheese, gala and Granny Smith apples, a pear, dried apricots, strawberry preserves and Cocoa Bella chocolates, pens, masks and ice scoops.

KTHV-TV anchor and all-around funnyman Craig O'Neill welcomed guests. After a virtual cocktail hour, guests were treated to performances by the ASO Jazz Quartet, ASO youth and professional musicians, students from the Sturgis Music Academy, the Rockefeller and Quapaw Quartets, America's Sweethearts, Praeclara and "American Idol" winner and ASO Youth Orchestra alumnus Kris Allen.

The evening also included a live auction and a virtual after party.

-- Story and photos by Rachel O'Neal

and Cary Jenkins


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