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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony’s Opening Night was a Black and White Paradise, Celebrating Music, Musicians and The Community, and Raising More Than $135,000!

Orange County, Calif. — September 28, 2016

The Special Occasion Marked the 10th Anniversary of Orange County’s Acoustic Gem, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

Dripping in elegant black and white detail, Pacific Symphony’s “2016-17 Classical Opening Night Celebration and Concert” was a visual homage to music and the talented musicians who bring it to life for our community. Held on Thursday, Sept. 22, at The Westin South Coast Plaza, the party marked a decade since the orchestra’s move into the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. More than 210 guests dressed in black tie joined in the grand festivities that included pre-, mid- and post-concert receptions, a three-course dinner and live music performances. The centerpiece of the evening was the first concert of the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series led by Music Director Carl St.Clair and featuring Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Olga Kern in a powerful display of virtuosity during Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” Hosted by the Board of Directors, the charming affair opening the Symphony’s 38th season raised more than $135,000 to support its artistic and education programs.

“This year, the 10th anniversary of the Symphony’s residence in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall offered the perfect opportunity to celebrate all that the Symphony does for our community,” said Opening Night Event Chair Jo Ellen Chatham who is a longtime supporter of the Symphony. “Acoustically, we have one of the finest concert halls in the world, so we not only get to hear great music, but we hear it in its purity and perfection. And it’s not just about enjoying the music because it’s so beautiful and inspirational, but for what it does for the human soul.”

Reveling in anticipation of the concert and season to come, partygoers arrived at 5 p.m. on a red carpet where PBS SoCal’s Maria Hall-Brown and her video crew added to the excitement of the evening, reporting as she did when the hall opened 10 years ago. Friends reconnected and reminisced during the cocktail reception while enjoying the sounds of Third Wheel Trio. Guests cozied up against silver and black draped high-top tables and posed for photos among beautiful white paper roses. Tasty tray-passed appetizers included tangerine glazed ahi tuna with wonton chips; dried pear, brie and walnut quesadillas; and petite tender crostinis with blue cheese crumbles and caramelized shallot aioli.

“The evening was elegant, inspirational and memorable,” described Chatham. “The black and white décor reflecting the notes on a musical score and the keys on a piano, along with the red carpet, fine cuisine and exquisite musical interludes by several of our Pacific Symphony musicians, all contributed to the understated, yet elegant ambiance.”

Guests entered the ballroom at 6 p.m. and took their seats at black and white tables decorated with white roses and tulips with green foliage, musical scores and tall black candles in glass cylinder vases. Each guest was presented with a rare CD (only 300 copies made) of Pacific Symphony performing two pieces recorded live in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall: Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. The first course was served: a caprese salad with yellow and red beets, mozzarella cheese, balsamic drizzle and Hawaiian pink sea salt. The main entrée was a delicious Chilean sea bass with miso glaze and black truffle risotto, prepared with shiitake, Portobello and cremini mushrooms, plus asparagus and carrots.

Symphony President John Forsyte welcomed guests and thanked presenting sponsor South Coast Plaza and Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin Newport Beach, who sponsored the musicians. He also recognized the partnership the Symphony has with Orange County universities, thanking those in attendance. After a word of appreciation to the musicians, he introduced Associate Concertmaster Paul Manaster who performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 with pianist Hye-Young Kim, who is a member of the faculty at Chapman University. Music Director Carl St.Clair took the stage to offer an exuberant overview of the season’s highlights to come, thanking the audience for their support. The final performance of the dinner featured the Symphony’s four principal woodwinds, Benjamin Smolen (flute), Jessica Pearlman Fields (oboe), Joseph Morris (clarinet) and Rose Corrigan (bassoon) playing Eugène Bozza’s Three Pieces for Music of the Night. Dessert added a triple-sweet note to the first part of the evening with a decadent trio of chocolate blackberry mousse in a dark chocolate cup on chocolate sand, fresh berry sorbet and pistachio crème brûlée.

“Our goals were to raise funds for Pacific Symphony, to recognize our musicians and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Symphony’s performance in the new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall,” said Chatham. “Due to the excellent work of the Opening Night Committee and the Symphony’s first-rate professional staff, we met and exceeded them. It was one of those nights where everything went well....and some things (the music!) went extraordinarily well.”

Dinner concluded with warm words of thanks from Chatham, before a procession of guests made their way to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for Pacific Symphony’s concert at 8 p.m. The program opened with Dvorák’s celebratory “Carnival Overture” followed by pianist Olga Kern’s tour-de-force performance of Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” Guests spent intermission enjoying coffee and treats at a reception in the Box Circle lobby. The second half opened with a world premiere by pianist/composer Conrad Tao, which is inspired by the architecture of the concert hall. Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” was the finale, washing the audience over with lush symphonic sound.

“Many who attended the concert were heard to comment on how fine the orchestra sounded—so strong, clear and robust,” said Chatham. “I was particularly moved by the way the orchestra played our national anthem. Others must have felt the same way, because I seldom remember hearing so many in the audience sing as they played. And then, the audience demanded an encore by Olga Kern. Some things cannot be described in words; they can only be felt, but if such music does not inspire you, I don’t know what can.”

After the concert, all were welcomed back to The Westin’s poolside Terrace Pavilion to enjoy champagne and a decadent display of luxurious desserts. Many Symphony musicians joined in the fun, and guest star Olga Kern made a special appearance.