Pacific Symphony logo

Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony recipient of $2 million gift given by James and Catherine Emmi in support of orchestra operations and endowment

February 25, 2014

Pacific Symphony recently received a generous gift of $2 million from long-time board member James Emmi and his wife, Catherine, providing continued support for orchestral operations and endowment. The philanthropic couple announced the gift during a dinner honoring the Symphony’s Crystal Society, held in the Samueli Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, following an announcement of the Symphony’s 2014-15 season celebrating Music Director Carl St.Clair’s 25th anniversary. Underwritten by Hollywood composer and Symphony board member James Newton Howard, the dinner recognized members of the Symphony’s Crystal Society, a group of more than 30 families, foundations and corporations who have been long-standing donors to the Symphony and major contributors to programmatic and endowment-building efforts.

James Emmi, the retired president of Kimberly Development Company, has served on the Symphony’s board of directors for 23 years. For more than 20 years, he has subscribed to both the Classical and Pops series, exemplifying his fervent commitment to the orchestra. He first supported the Symphony in 1987, and has attended and donated to the organization every year since.

Reflecting on the Emmi’s contributions to the Symphony, Maestro St.Clair says, “Jim’s and Catherine’s endowment of the principal viola chair was one of our first endowed chairs. Through their support, we have had Robert Becker in this chair for 30 years. This is meaningful not only to Bob but also to admirers of classical music who enjoy the richness of Bob’s performances.”

Catherine Emmi is an esteemed leader in the Symphony League and Symphony 100, and is a prominent philanthropist, dedicating her efforts to education and the pursuit of lifelong learning. She serves as a member of the ARCS Foundation Board of Trustees and is a member of the Sound of Music chapter of the Guilds for Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

“Catherine is a tireless volunteer and advocate for the Symphony,” says Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte. “Hardly a week goes by without a thoughtful note about how we can grow the organization, accompanied by a packet of clippings with news about all the social events happening in Orange County. If people chair a gala and they do not attend the Symphony gala, they can expect a call from Catherine!”

He adds: “Pacific Symphony is honored to receive this gift and admires James and Catherine Emmi for their philanthropy and commitment to symphonic music and the performing arts. Pacific Symphony is a young orchestra and it must build its endowment to ensure its ability to serve the next generation of music lovers. Jim and Catherine are visionary in that they fully understand the importance of music and its impact on our community.”