Guests of Gala Fox Trot Their Way Back to Roaring ’20s for Party Worthy of Gatsby Himself!

GalaGlitz, glamour and decadence—it was the cat’s pajamas and the bee’s knees all rolled into one! More than 430 guests headed back to The Jazz Age for a night of flappers and speakeasies to celebrate Pacific Symphony’s 2017 Gala! Tassels flew and knees knocked as the Charleston became the rage again and Gala attendees learned first hand why the 1920s were called “roaring”! The exuberant, freewheeling popular culture of the decade came alive with a thematic evening that included a stylish reception, a ritzy gourmet dinner and sensational entertainment by a daring aerialist, Symphony musicians and JT & Friends. Tunes such as “Sunny Side of the Street,” “Blue Skies” and “Bill Bailey” set the tone, as the evening netted more than $1.5 million for the Symphony’s artistic and education programs!

GalaSponsored by Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin Newport Beach, Luxury Automotive Partner and Regency Air, Private Charter Partner, and chaired by last year’s gala co-chair, Symphony Board Member Ginny Davies, this swanky event took place in May at the Hotel Irvine. Along with the gala committee, Davies created a lavish evening that sparkled with festive, good-natured fun, bringing to mind a time at the end of World War I when a new sense of prosperity and freedom emerged. Davies says: “Everyone worked hard to make sure that this evening was a happy, joyful event! We are thrilled that the evening was a success, bringing in much needed funds to support the Symphony’s activities in the community."

The evening’s guests, all gussied up and looking like they’d stepped out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, found themselves in the midst of a hotsy totsy speakeasy (an illicit establishment selling “hooch” during the 1920s). They were a mere Lindy hop away from a night they would never forget! Inside, the speakeasy dazzled with bouquets of red roses and gold leaf, and stunning models in gold floor-length art-deco gowns added to the ambience. Guests enjoyed a little “giggle water”—either from the gold, towering, champagne fountain that bubbled and fizzed (adorned by a beautiful live flapper!), perfect for picture taking; or from the 1920s-era selection of cocktails, such as the Side Car and Mary Pickford, with a “swizzle stick!"

GalaGuests also kicked back in the lounge area, entertained by a spiffy band, with a singer and dancers, while others tried their luck in the casino, where gaming tables were hopping with roulette, blackjack and craps. A giant paper moon provided another key photo op! As the reception drew to a close, guests were ushered into the grand ballroom, decked out in opulent art-deco décor glistening in shades of white and gold. Guests half expected Jay Gatsby to greet them! The mouth-watering dinner, created by the hotel’s Executive Chef, Michael Beck, featured cuisine reminiscent of the 1920s.

Following greetings from Symphony President John Forsyte and Music Director Carl St.Clair, four Symphony musicians—Joseph Morris (clarinet), Paul Manaster (violin), Meredith Crawford (viola) and Timothy Landauer (cello)—performed Haydn’s Clarinet Quartet arranged by Gambaro. Then, Symphony cellist Laszlo Mezo and four Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles members (all cellists) delighted the rapt audiences with Mancini’s “Pink Panther” and a little Schubert (“Erlkönig”)!

GalaSoon the enticing live auction, led by Jim Nye, took off! Attendees enthusiastically participated in this yearly favorite, brimming with extravagant items, travel packages and one-of-a-kind experiences! Altogether, the auction brought in more than $221,000, while fund-a-dream, which included a heart-warming video presentation featuring the Symphony’s community programs, including “Class Act” and “Heartstrings,” added more than $628,000 to the final tally thanks to an inspiring challenge match of $250,000 provided by Symphony supporter and good friend John Tu of Kingston Technology, who also provided the band, JT & Friends.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tu’s band then played “St. Louis Blues,” as a sultry, jaw-dropping aerial act took place high overhead, before guests were treated to more Jazz Age tunes. Cannon bursts of confetti kept the festivities lively, even as the spectacular evening wrapped up. Before departing, guests visited the 20s-era candy bar and were sent home with Hershey Bars that read: “Save the Date for Gala March 3, 2018”!! If that doesn’t sound like “berries” to you—there’s only one possible response: “Applesauce”! There were no “wet blankets” at this Symphony event!