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The Crowd: Concert raises more than $1M for OCPAC

December 08, 2010|By B.W. Cook
  • VIP LADIES: Jenny Cannon, Tara Troob and Jane Driscoll.
VIP LADIES: Jenny Cannon, Tara Troob and Jane Driscoll. (Hand in, Daily Pilot )

This was a party worthy of coverage in Town & Country magazine. The 37th annual Candlelight Concert, which celebrated the performing arts in Orange County, raised more than $1 million for the O.C. Performing Arts Center's artistic and educational programs. Chaired by two of the communities most philanthropic and classy women, Liz Merage and Eve Kornyei, the evening attracted a contingent of the region's best and brightest for what arguably is the grandest of charitable events on the Orange Coast.

It was a night of high spirits and reminiscing for many in the crowd who have attended the concert year after year, generously donating significant sums of money in support of the performing arts. Raising $1 million after expenses is no easy task in this economy. Serious underwriting was needed to cover the cost of organizing the event, which featured a show by legendary songwriter-singer Smokey Robinson, who was backed up by talented musicians, singers and dancers.

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Fronting the contingent of loyal center donors were honorary chairs of the gala Julia and George Argyros. The former U.S. Ambassador to Spain and his ultra-fashionable bride told the audience a little about their long-time love affair with Orange County, their heartfelt appreciation for the phenomenal success the region has afforded them personally, and their commitment to giving back to the community.

Joining them were fellow significant contributors, including members of the Segerstrom family, Barbara and Alex Bowie, Roberta and Howard Ahmanson, Ronnie and Byron Allumbaugh, Marsha and Darrell Anderson, and Deborah and Larry Bridges. Also among the generous were Sally and Randy Crockett, Jane and Jim Driscoll, Carol and Kent Wilken, Idit and Moti Ferder, Kathy and Cliff Fleming, Sandy and Ron Simon, Zee Allred and Drago Gligic, Ellie and Michael Gordon, and Donna and David Janes.

Year after year it is a challenge to create a spectacular setting that is new and fresh and full of surprises for a "who's who" guest list of patrons, paying thousands of dollars per person to attend the party. Some critics have suggested that the event needs to be totally reinvented, perhaps through a change of venue. Suggestions range from a tent on the adjacent courtyard to a creative destination elsewhere in Orange County, to a private estate, or simply back to the former program, which began with a performance in Segerstrom Hall followed by the raising of the curtain to reveal a spectacular dinner party on stage.

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