Hot on the heels of the NBA's love fest with New Orleans came yesterday's star struck event for the fine arts, the 14th annual Tribute to the Classical Arts held at the Monteleone Hotel. With WWL TV's Angela Hill as Master of Ceremonies, the event featured an excellent luncheon and plenty of talented performances interspersed with awards presentations. Roger Dickerson, a New Orleans native who has excelled in both classical and jazz circles, was given the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award by his lifelong friend and admirer Ellis Marsalis. Only 15 hours previously Marsalis had been on stage playing a Steinway piano opposite Harry Connick, Jr. as part of the halftime festivities for the All Star Game at the New Orleans Arena. He thoroughly enjoyed that, he said, but giving an award to Dickerson held special favor in his eyes too and both he and his wife Delores were delighted to be at the fine arts event to single him out for his many years of playing, composing and teaching. The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Albinas and Manon Prizgintas for their work with the Trinity Church's series through the years that has presented both small and intimate pieces as well as grand and glorious works. Dennis Assaf, a Holy Cross High School graduate, was presented the award noting 30 years of contributions by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society by a Holy Cross teacher, Charles Digange, and one of his former classmates, Clancy Dubos, the editor and publisher of Gambit Magazine, which sponsors the Big Easy Entertainment Awards that presented yesterday's event. The saddest part of the day was when the 2008 Arts Education Award was presented by Dr. Anthony Decuir and New Orleans Opera Association director and fellow Loyola faculty member David Morelock to Ellen and Philip Frohnmayer. Philip has been battling peritoneal mesothelioma for some time now and was noticeably absent from the dais. Ellen graciously accepted the award on his behalf, but acknowledged this rare form of cancer is tough to beat. She vowed that Philip would do so and the hearts of everyone in the room hung heavy, but hopeful. Funds raised from yesterday's ceremonies went to further the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education, a 501 C-3 non-profit that funds programs and projects relating to the culture and economy of the city. The other two big awards shows that it draws funding from are the Big Easy Entertainment and Big Easy Theatre Awards as well as a wine tasting fundraiser each October called the Reds, Whites and Blues. Aside from the foundation, big winners yesterday were the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra's "Music of the Spheres" program named after Stephen Dankner's Symphony No. 8 as well as the "New Year's Eve with the New Orleans Opera" program that also merited attention for the best choral arts presentation of last year. Dance award recipients included the Delta Festival Ballet, the Tsunami Dance Company and the JPAS and The Ashe Cultural Arts Center for three different works. Two of those, "In the Land of Dreamy Dreams" by Delta Festival Ballet and "Portraits in a Forgotten City" centered on representations of post-Katrina life in New Orleans. One has to marvel at how robust and vibrant the cultural arts are in New Orleans and how fantastic nearly every program has rebounded since the storm that smashed nearly every existing cultural institution here. Thank God for the hard work and drive of the people honored at yesterday's event. But let's not forget to thank those who by their attendance at the Tribute to the Classical Arts yesterday furthered the local arts scene just a bit more.