The Crowd: Pacific Symphony wows in its opening night

October 05, 2012|By B.W. Cook
  • John Forsyte, president of Pacific Symphony, Michelle Forsyte, DeDe and Alex McKinnon.
John Forsyte, president of Pacific Symphony, Michelle… (Daily Pilot )

The Pacific Symphony Orchestra opened its 2012-13 season in grand style Sept. 20 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The opening-night concert led by music director Carl St.Clair featured acclaimed pianist André Watts performing selections from Brahms and a roof-raising Piano Concerto No. 2 conducted by St.Clair with the entire Pacific Symphony. It was arguably the finest debut evening that the Pacific Symphony has ever offered the Orange County audience.

Sponsored in large part by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series, the opening night was also hosted by symphony board of directors and gala co-chairs Ruth Ann and John Evans. The black tie evening began with a 5 p.m. reception at the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel followed by an Italian-themed dinner that organizers billed as "Festa di Firenze."

Generous opening-night underwriting came from Jane and Sonny Yada, Mary and Phil Lyons, Catherine and James Emmi, Pat and Bill Podlich, Michelle and David Horowitz, Bill Gillespie, and Barbara and Mark Chapin Johnson, all enjoying a preconcert dinner that began with butternut-squash ravioli followed by an entrée of sole Florentine in lemon-butter vinaigrette.


The presenting sponsor of the symphony's opening night was South Coast Plaza in conjunction with luxury retailer Tourbillon. Donors paid up to $25,000 for opening-night tables sponsored by local social standouts Sally Anderson and Tom Rogers, Susan and Sam Anderson, Betty and S.L. Huang, Jane and Richard Taylor, Carol and Kent Wilken, Janice and Ted Smith, and Deena and Steve Arnold, president of the Pacific Hospitality Group, new owners of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort.

Opening night also honored philanthropists Mike and Ellie Gordon along with extended Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom family members in attendance. Post concert, the party continued on the roof of the Westin South Coast Plaza on the Terrace Pavilion as the crowd enjoyed a dessert bar of Italian gelato and a midnight toast with fine champagne.

About $180,000 net was raised in support of the symphony's artistic and educational programs. To learn more, visit


Diamond education

A bit of celebrity glamour infused a Sept. 28 morning breakfast at Tiffany & Co., South Coast Plaza.

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