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Press Release


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

Pacific Symphony’s 2014 Gala “By the Sea” delivers whimsy of turn-of-the-century seaside amusement park rife with bathing beauties, carnival stunts and red hot big band!

Orange County, Calif. — April 22, 2014

Hop on board the electric Red Car and escape down to the picturesque seaside of the turn of the last century for Pacific Symphony’s 2014 Gala “By the Sea,” a lavish evening of carnival fun, coastal delicacies, auction items and thrilling entertainment. To celebrate the orchestra’s 35 years in Orange County, the Gala committee has designed a soirée reminiscent of the first boardwalks, Ferris wheels, bath houses and dance floors that lined California’s beautiful coast. Taking place for the first time at the ocean-side Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday, May 31, at 5:30 p.m., guests enjoy the shimmering views and fresh salt air as they stroll along “The Walk of a Thousand Lights” and test their skills in a host of carnival games and fun houses along the boardwalk. A romantic ride on the Ferris wheel awaits, as do a bevy of bathing beauties, sideshow entertainers and tempting carnival-inspired treats.

“This year’s Gala takes its inspiration from the old seaside amusement parks that were built in the early 1900s in the beach-side towns of California,” says Joann Leatherby, who serves as the Gala chair along with Greg Bates. “The Long Beach Pike, just up the road from the Huntington Beach Hyatt where we are hosting the event, was founded in 1902. With its Grand Bathhouse, Majestic Ballroom and Walk of a Thousand Lights, the Pike provided us with a theme that is both entertaining and elegant.”

Adorned in blue and metallic art deco, the “Majestic Ballroom” opens at 6:45 p.m. for a gourmet feast of seaside cuisine, an exhilarating live auction and entertainment by Pacific Symphony musicians. The Ballroom was a favorite of many Big Bands of the time, so the

Symphony wraps up the memorable evening with its favorite “Big Band,” J.T. & Friends, courtesy of Symphony supporter, John Tu of Kingston Technology. Attire is black tie or formal art deco-era fashion, and valet is hosted. To RSVP (tables are $15,000-$100,000; individual seats are $1,000), please contact the special events department at (714) 876-2364 or

Leatherby, who is a dedicated Symphony board member with a long history of philanthropy in Orange County adds: “It’s such a meaningful year for Pacific Symphony, as the orchestra celebrates its 35th season in Orange County! Therefore, it’s so fitting for our Gala to celebrate some of what makes Orange County, with its access to the ocean and incredible weather, a wonderful home for such a world-class symphony.”

Upon entering the reception, guests are invited to “step right up” and experience the whimsy and delight of a 1900s’ carnival! While sipping delicious beverage concoctions and munching on upscale carnival fare such as black pepper bacon and truffle popcorn, Ahi cones, and mini “Pink” pups, guests may take in the sweet serenades of a barbershop quartet. Lining the boardwalk are a plethora of circus acts to entrance guests with amazing stunts and acts of bravery. These include the bearded lady on stilts, George the Giant who walks on glass and the man who eats fire! A carnival barker urges guests to try their luck in the Hall of Mirrors, have their fortunes told or be sure to see the contortionist bend like a pretzel—plus many other surprises!

Once Gala attendees have taken a ride on the Ferris wheel and proven their hands in games of skill, they make their way into the Majestic Ballroom for a scrumptious gourmet dinner, live auction and more entertainment! The multi-course meal includes a Waldorf salad with romaine, orchard apple, celery, candied walnuts and roasted grapes with a creamy honey dressing; duet of grilled filet mignon with caramelized shallots and cabernet demi and roasted sea bass topped with lemon fennel confit; a sweet pea and gruyere cheese soufflé; and market rainbow carrots and haricot verts. Dessert is a Neapolitan panna cotta with grilled pineapple and warm bananas foster (menu is subject to change). While guests enjoy their meal, members of the

Symphony and Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles showcase the music and education programs, all of which benefit from the Gala’s proceeds.

After dinner, the enticing live auction begins! A yearly favorite, the Gala auction is brimming with extravagant items, extraordinary travel packages and one-of-a-kind experiences. This year’s lucky guests have the opportunity to: bid on a luxury vacation to the St. Regis Bora Bora, courtesy of; join film composer James Newton Howard in London as he works on the score for the newest “Hunger Games” film, “Mockingjay”; and be part of an intimate luncheon with violinist Joshua Bell. After the auction and fund-a-need, J.T. & Friends heat up the dance floor with their full string section, brass, woodwinds, keyboard, percussion and myriad singers for a grand ending to the evening.

“I love music. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the many years I studied piano. I love classical music. I love fund-raising. And I love having fun. And I love being ‘By the Sea,’” concludes Leatherby. “What better job for me than to put that all together and chair the Pacific Symphony Gala?!”