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Pacific Symphony celebrates Music Director Car St.Clair’s “25 Years on a Journey of Illumination” with 2014-15 Opening Night concert party—raising more than $150,000
Orange County, Calif. — September 30, 2014
More than 300 guests dressed in elegant cocktail attire gathered at The Westin South Coast Plaza for Pacific Symphony’s Opening Night party on Thursday, Sept. 25, eager to celebrate Music Director Carl St.Clair’s milestone 25th anniversary with the orchestra. A festive poolside cocktail reception and gourmet dinner in the Terrace Pavilion featured a bounty of surprises for St.Clair, including performances by Pacific Symphony musicians, the John Alexander Singers and music by the maestro’s mentor, Leonard Bernstein. Hosted by the Symphony’s Board of Directors, the special event continued through the opening concert of the 2014-15 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical series, featuring classical superstar Joshua Bell, and included a reception on the Box Circle level of the hall during intermission and a post-concert party back at The Westin. The evening—presented by South Coast Plaza—raised more than $150,000 to support the Symphony’s artistic and education programs. Additional sponsors included platinum sponsors Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin Newport Beach and artist sponsors Ellie and Mike Gordon.
The sunlit reception began at 5 p.m. as guests lounged and mingled poolside, sipping champagne and wine and enjoying tray-passed hors d’oeuvres and live music by guitarist Eric Henderson. The appetizers included bite-sized, tangerine-glazed seared ahi tuna on wonton chips, sugar snap peas filled with curried chicken salad, and papaya and lump crab salad on English cucumber. Guests were also invited to enter an opportunity drawing for a chance to win one of 54 commemorative bottles of Far Niente wine, etched with a special anniversary logo, or one of the four grand prizes: a $1,500 South Coast Plaza gift certificate with complimentary valet parking for one year; “James Bond for a Day,” which featured a 24-hour use of an Aston Martin; “A Westin Staycation” that included two Box-Circle tickets to a Pacific Symphony classical concert and a one-night weekend stay for two at the Westin South Coast Plaza; and a “St. Regis Unwind and Dine” with one couple’s massage at Spa Gaucin and a dinner for two at Stonehill Tavern.
Inside the Terrace Pavilion, silver sparkled and twinkled around the room, most magnificently in the décor hanging from the ceiling where beaded crystals hung like icicles from silver-painted baby’s breath and green leaves. Photos of significant moments throughout St.Clair’s career bordered the walls and a silver backdrop gave way to a stage. Dinner tables were covered in silver linens and centerpieces of white tulips, white calla lilies, white hydrangeas and accents of midnight burgundy mini calla lilies.
Before dinner began, Symphony Board Chair Michael Kerr extended a warm welcome and sincere thank you to St.Clair, which was followed by a prayer given by Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann. Guests in the crowd then said “cheers” as they raised their glasses in honor of St.Clair. John Alexander, artistic director of Pacific Chorale, surprised his colleague and friend, St.Clair, as 12 members of the John Alexander Singers entered to sing works by Bernstein. Later, Pacific Symphony musicians, Bridget Dolkas, violin; Jeanne Skrocki, violin; Robert Becker, viola; Timothy Landauer, cello; and Robert Slack, percussion, performed a mash-up of “West Side Story” pieces, as guests shouted “Mambo” and snapped their fingers to the beat.
The menu for the evening started with a wedge salad composed of hearts of romaine, stilton cheese, mendjool dates and dried cherries dressed with port vinaigrette and parmesan focaccia crostini. Following the salad, whole roasted beef tenderloin was served with roasted cippollini onions, chive risotto, roasted seasonal vegetables and black truffle jus.
The reception ended on a sweet note, with a flourless chocolate caramel crunch cake with raspberries and blueberries with passion fruit coulis, and during dessert, Steve Perry (husband of Susie Segerstrom Perry), read a heartfelt letter of appreciation from Sandy Daniels on behalf of the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation. Other guests in attendance and recognized from the podium included: Segerstrom Center for the Arts President Terry Dwyer, President and CEO of Pacific Chorale Elizabeth Pearson, President and Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Society John Mangum, Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman, Executive Director of the National Symphony of Costa Rica Guillermo Madriz, composer Christopher Rouse, Hollywood film composer James Newton Howard, Dean of USC Thornton School of Music Robert Cutietta, Chapman University President James Doti and Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia.
At the dinner’s conclusion, guests proceeded along a walkway lit with silver and white floating candles and tall white pillar candles in silver lanterns, headed to the Opening Night concert in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which began at 8 p.m. The performance featured one of classical music’s most famous and highly acclaimed violinists, Joshua Bell, who performed Alexander Glazunov’s intricate and finely crafted Violin Concerto on his rare 1713 Huberman Stradivarius. Bell responded to the standing ovation by performing the theme from “Ladies in Lavender” as an encore. The program opened with a joyous fanfare called “Sound the Bells!,” written by St.Clair’s longtime friend, renowned film composer John Williams. The maestro then led the West Coast premiere of Christopher Rouse’s “Supplica,” and the orchestra was showcased in Strauss’ “Dance of the Seven Veils” from the opera “Salome,”and Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from the ballet, “Daphnis and Chloé.”
Following the performance, guests strolled back to The Westin to attend the post-concert reception, which was filled with more sweet desserts including macaroons, cakes and savory puddings, accompanied by coffee, champagne, wines and soft drinks. They enjoyed listening to the Argus Quartet, which was made up of students from USC’s Thornton School of Music, where St.Clair teaches. And the final treat was an appearance by Bell himself, who strolled into the festivities with his violin hanging off his right shoulder and ready to join the party and pose for photos with his fans. The guest of honor, enjoying his continued “Journey of Illumination,” was equally swarmed with adoration, as St.Clair and the other guests continued to enjoy the party well into the night.
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