Pacific Symphony’s Glamorous Gala Benefit Raised Funds for Music Education and Artist Programs

Pacific Symphony 2022 Gala – “A Night in Old Hollywood” was held at the Potocki Center for the Arts in Mission Viejo, California on June 18, 2022. All photos by Doug Gifford unless otherwise noted.

Pacific Symphony presented “A Night in Old Hollywood” on Saturday, June 18 at Potocki Center for the Arts World Cup Field in Mission Viejo. One of the premier philanthropic events in the Southland, the Symphony’s Gala Benefit honored Valerie and Hans Imhof for their dedicated philanthropy and advocacy of Pacific Symphony’s music education initiatives.

The festive evening featured a chic red-carpet entrance leading to an elegant reception on a black-and-white silent movie set, gourmet dinner of cuisine inspired by the iconic Brown Derby restaurant associated with the Golden Age of Hollywood and a lively auction of luxury items and experiences. Broadway star Lisa Vroman made a surprise appearance performing such Judy Garland favorites as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Trolley Song” as well as classics from the American Songbook The event finished with late-night dancing under the stars to the sounds of the JT and Friends with bandleader and tech executive John Tu of Kingston Technology on the drums. In addition to making beautiful music, John Tu and his wife Mary announced the pledge of a $1 million challenge grant to encourage Orange County donors to match their gift dollar-for-dollar.

The sold-out Gala Benefit Evening event, chaired by Joann Leatherby, Judy Whitmore and Pat McAuley, was attended by 380 guests. It raised $2,313,200 with proceeds benefiting Pacific Symphony’s education and community engagement programs and artistic programming.

Gala-goers arriving at Potocki Center for the Arts found themselves transported back in time to the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood. Garlands of white flowers—peonies, Phalaenopsis orchids, tulips and baby’s breath—were draped dramatically throughout the entire setting.  Black-and-white movie impersonators Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Gene Kelly, living “Oscar” statues and feathery show girls posed for photo ops with the guests. Additional pre-dinner entertainment included a strolling saxophonist and tuxedo-clad tap-dancing Top Hat Dancers. Artists Creating Entertainment (A.C.E.), an experiential entertainment booking agency based in LA, provided all the performers.

Here are some photos from the event. You may want to consider attending next year!

Row 1. L-R. Photo 1: Gala entrance. Photo by Annie White. Photo 2: Pre-concert performers. Photo 3: Charlie and Ling Zhang.
Row 2. L-R. Photo 1: The Imhofs with Ben Smolen. Photo 2: Richard Kaufman, Carl St.Clair and Jake Sustaita. Photo 3: Diana Martin, John Forsyte, and Heidi Zuckerman.
Row 3. L-R. Photo 1: Scharrell Jackson and friend. Photo 2: John and Mary Tu with Carl St.Clair. Photo 3: Feathered showgirls. Photo by Annie White.

Arts Leader Gary Good Retires From Pacific Symphony

Gary Good addressing Symphony donors and colleagues. All photos in this post are by Doug Gifford.

After an illustrious 48-year arts management career with a wide range of orchestras and opera companies, Gary Good will be transitioning from his present work with Pacific Symphony as senior executive for endowment and legacy giving.

With so many achievements in a long and prestigious career, highlights of Gary Good’s work in the performing arts field range from his beginnings with the Boston Symphony to achieving notable “firsts” for a number of orchestras: Under Good’s leadership, Baltimore Symphony toured Europe for the first time and became the first America orchestra to tour East Germany; and the following year the orchestra played the inaugural concert in their new venue, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Gary Good was the longest serving CEO for the Buffalo Philharmonic. He led the orchestra to its first Carnegie Hall appearance and its first international tour with Semyon Bychkov. While at the helm of the Milwaukee Symphony, he led the orchestra on two international tours and built a 400 station syndication radio network, along with production of more than two dozen recordings for Koss Recordings. He also initiated major fundraising efforts for the Omaha Performing Arts Center and the opening of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Florida.

At John Forsyte’s invitation in the fall of 2008, Gary Good came to Pacific Symphony where he worked in a variety of fundraising and project roles over the past 14 years. His many achievements with the orchestra include the following:

  • Endowments for three new principal chairs;
  • Building of the Opera-Vocal Initiative and growth of Opera Focus;
  • Special campaigns, including “Music for Generations,” Carl St.Clair’s 25th and 30th anniversaries, Pacific Symphony’s 40th anniversary and the expansion of the “Heartstrings” program; and
  • Stewardship of the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor Pacific Symphony project and subsequent national PBS Great Performances broadcast.

Gary Good and his wife Jackie have been generous contributors to Pacific Symphony’s Annual Fund and special events. They will be relocating to Kansas City this summer, where Jackie will be sustaining her longtime financial consulting business, and they will be closer to children and grandchildren. Good will continue his relationship with Pacific Symphony in a consulting role and as an author of guest blog posts. Pacific Symphony expresses its appreciation to Gary Good for his many contributions to Pacific Symphony during his distinguished 14-year tenure with the organization. 

L-R. Photo 1: Gary Good with Music Director Carl St.Clair. Photo 2: Gary with his wife, Jackie. Photo 3: President & CEO John Forsyte presents a gift basket to Gary.


Pacific Symphony’s official classical radio station, Classical California KUSC is part of the most-listened-to network of classical music radio stations in America, serving more than 900,000 listeners each week from Nothern California to the Mexican border. 

Popular radio personality Rich Capparela hosts the Pacific Symphony broadcasts, which include fascinating interviews with Music Director Carl St.Clair, guest artists and Symphony musicians.

The performances are broadcast Sundays at 7 p.m on KUSC 91.5 FM.

2021-22 Broadcast Schedule

7/10/22Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto
7/17/22Beethoven & Rachmaninoff
7/24/22Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony
7/31/22Verdi’s Otello
8/7/22 Yang Plays Rachmaninoff
8/14/22Mozart & Salieri
8/21/22Beethoven’s Piano Concertos
8/28/22Mozart & Mahler

Classical California KUSC
, located in downtown Los Angeles, serves communities throughout Southern California:

91.5 FM in Los Angeles and Orange County
88.5 FM in Palm Springs
91.1 FM in Thousand Oaks
93.7 FM in Santa Barbara
99.7 FM in Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo

Classical California KDFC, located in downtown San Francisco, serves the Bay area and other communities in Northern California:

90.3 FM in San Francisco
104.9 FM in San Jose
89.9 FM in Napa Wine Country
103.9 FM in Monterey
92.5 FM in Ukiah.

Listeners can also hear these stations streaming at and on their smartphone apps.

Pacific Symphony Named “Nonprofit of the Year”

Pacific Symphony was recently named California’s 37th Senate District’s 2022 Nonprofit of the Year honoree by Senator Dave Min this month. Senator Min also presented the award to Carl St.Clair and John Forsyte onstage before the beginning of the final Mozart & Mahler concert on Saturday, June 25.
Sen. Dave Min announces Pacific Symphony as “Nonprofit of the Year” while
Carl St.Clair (left) and John Forsyte (right) look on.

Photo by Doug Gifford.

Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced the 37th Senate District’s 2022 Nonprofit of the Year honoree, Pacific Symphony. The resident orchestra of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Pacific Symphony is renowned for its outstanding ensemble, in addition to a robust set of education and community engagement programs that cultivate new artists and inspire a love of music in children and adults. Its music director of 32 years, Carl St.Clair, is one of America’s most visionary musicians with a strong belief that music is a birthright and that Pacific Symphony must be an orchestra for the community.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization closed its doors and shutdown operations—a devastating blow to Orange County’s arts and entertainment epicenter. Quick to adapt to these challenging circumstances, Pacific Symphony offered virtual performances as well as online educational activities that captivated and engaged audiences at home.

Throughout the pandemic, the Symphony maintained its strong commitment to the community by producing and distributing an extraordinary number of free online and virtual opportunities. The orchestra bounced back with a resounding return to live music and performances when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Pacific Symphony retains its position as a national leader among American orchestras. Senator Min presented the “Nonprofit of the Year” award to Carl St.Clair and John Forsyte onstage before the beginning of the Mozart & Mahler concert on June 25.” 

“It is my distinct honor to announce that Pacific Symphony has been selected as the 37th Senate District’s Nonprofit of the Year for 2022,” said Senator Min. “Pacific Symphony has always served as a pillar of the arts here in Orange County, but during the pandemic, it has stepped up its cultural and educational contributions to our lives at a time when we needed it most. As we celebrate the return of live music, let us also recall the innovative spirit that led to so many virtual and outdoor performances and remote educational efforts over the past two years. Pacific Symphony has been a guiding star and a stalwart of resiliency for all of us, and I want to thank the entire Symphony family for keeping our spirts up throughout the pandemic.” 

President and CEO of Pacific Symphony, John E. Forsyte added, “On behalf of the musicians, board of directors, staff, and Music Director Carl St.Clair, Pacific Symphony is humbled and deeply gratified to receive the honor of ‘2022 Nonprofit of the Year’ for the 37th Senate District. We strongly believe in the role of music to uplift, connect diverse people, and celebrate our common humanity. Pacific Symphony’s comprehensive education and community engagement programs provide services for under-resourced, Title I and other underserved communities of Orange County. The Symphony devotes more resources per capita to children’s education and those in high need. Through these efforts, the orchestra dedicates 10% of its annual operating budget—among the highest of any orchestra in the country—for education and community engagement programs. From fundamental arts education to world-class performances, Pacific Symphony, its Music Director Carl St.Clair and 77 exceptional professional musicians continue to seek ways to educate children, provide therapeutic benefit, and inspire audiences throughout the region.”

L-R Photo 1: Sen. Dave Min with his wife Jane K. Stoever, who is a law professor at UCI, attended the June 25th concert; Photo 2: Sen. Dave Min (center) meets Pacific Symphony concertmaster and 37th district resident Dennis Kim (left) with John Forsyte (right) backstage before the onstage award presentation; Photo 3: During the concert intermission, Sen. Dave Min (right) discusses the concert with Assistant Conductor Dr. Jacob Sustaita.

Farmers & Merchants Bank

Sponsor Spotlight

Pacific Symphony gratefully acknowledges Farmers & Merchants Bank for its strong support as the presenting sponsor of the Family Musical Mornings series for nearly two decades, dating back to 2004. Pacific Symphony’s President and CEO John Forsyte commented, “We are proud to be in partnership with Farmers & Merchants Bank, and we are deeply grateful for their past support and continuing commitment. Pacific Symphony can continue music education and family programming only because of wonderful investors like Farmers & Merchants.”

Forsyte continued, “Pacific Symphony is fortunate that Henry Walker and the Walker Family have been so dedicated to improving the quality of life for the region. Henry serves on the Symphony Board of Directors and has been a strong advocate family support and engagement.”

The Family Music Mornings series includes 45-minute, kid-friendly concerts that engage and entertain young audiences, setting them on the path to a lifelong love of music. The series comprises five Saturday morning programs, with two performances each day at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. 

Tailored for children and their families, each program explores a different theme and is designed to be interactive, engaging and participatory. Pacific Symphony, led by Dr. Jacob Sustaita, Assistant Conductor (and Music Director for the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra), is joined by singers, actors and dancers to take audiences on a musical journey through the secrets and inner workings of the orchestra with a captivating, multimedia format. 


Here is the lineup for the 2022-23 Family Musical Mornings series presented by


Learn about the magical, mystical powers of the orchestra through the eyes of a wizard’s young apprentice. You’ll hear selections from A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and even Harry Potter. Don’t forget to wear your Halloween costume! Oct. 22, 2022


Festival Ballet Theatre – Salwa Rizkalla, Artistic Director 
Visions of sugarplums and ballerinas will dance in your head after seeing Tchaikovsky’s Christmas ballet, performed in a condensed version just for kids. This annual favorite finishes with a jolly visit from Santa Claus himself! Dec. 3, 2022


Experience the sweeping sounds of the great outdoors brought to life in the concert hall when Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra joins forces with Pacific Symphony for this side-by-side performance. You’ll hear the sound of swirling waters and majestic scenes from nature as painted by the musical pen of famous composers. Feb. 25, 2023


Celebrating iconic musical moments from favorite films released over the last decade, this melodic journey explores Disney Animation’s latest stories through unforgettable film clips and scores performed live by a symphony orchestra. This thrilling performance includes music from Moana (2016), Academy Award-winning Frozen (2013), Academy Award-winning Big Hero 6 (2014) and Tangled (2010). Come dressed as your favorite Disney character! March 18, 2023


This fairytale adventure tells the story of two hungry children lost in an enchanted forest, an inviting gingerbread house and a wicked witch. This kid-friendly production features spoken narration and acting, as well as the most charming and catchy tunes from the original opera, sung by talented opera singers. June 3, 2023

SummerFest 2022

Presented By

Pacific Symphony is pleased to welcome City of Hope Orange County as the lead sponsor of the 2022 SummerFest series and a new partner. Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte commented, “City of Hope is building a comprehensive campus of the future in Irvine intentionally built around the needs of patients and their families. Pacific Symphony applauds City of Hope’s commitment to Orange County and we are proud to partner on the concert offerings this summer.” Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County, added, “A healthy community needs advanced medicine to heal the body and the arts to replenish the soul. City of Hope Orange County is delighted to sponsor SummerFest and looks forward to seeing Orange County residents coming together once again to enjoy beautiful music.”

For this summer’s programming, all three concerts will be held in the beautiful setting of FivePoint Amphitheatre (located in the heart of Orange County) in Irvine. This attractive venue offers ticket buyers an opportunity to sit at tables directly in front of the stage, along with grandstand seating for a panoramic view. Prior to concerts, gourmet food trucks with a diverse array of offerings are available for picnicking. Sip some champagne, kick back, relax and enjoy the perfect soundtrack for summer evenings under the stars. 

This season features the high-energy pop rock of Windborne’s The Music of Queen  (July 4); John Williams’ thrilling soundtrack of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert performed live to film (Aug. 20); and everyone’s favorite summer finale: Tchaikovsky Spectacular (Sept. 4), featuring a medalist from the Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, who will make an important debut with Pacific Symphony. The combination of music under the stars, friendship, food and a relaxing atmosphere have attracted thousands of fans each summer to hear Pacific Symphony’s brilliant musicians, led by outstanding conductors like Music Director Carl St.Clair.

The grounds at FivePoint Amphitheatre

Robin Liu

Meet Our New Board Member

From China to an art gallery in Laguna Beach, Robin Liu has had an interesting journey on his way to becoming a new Pacific Symphony board member. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Hunan University, he went on to pursue an MBA at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. After graduating, he joined Sprint and shortly after that he was relocated to Hong Kong as Sprint’s Chief Financial Officer for Asia, managing sales across 14 countries in the Asian-Pacific region.

When Sprint merged with Nextel in 2005, he joined Visador Holding Corporation as the Vice-President of Global Sourcing. When the company downsized four years later, Liu left and started his own company, Affordable Home Products. He built a kitchen cabinet warehouse while seeing domestic manufacturers were downsizing their operations. In 2015 he expanded into production to support growing nationwide multifamily projects and rebranded to Cabinetry 1. It is a full-service company offering custom designs, architect detail shop drawings, logistic service and turn-key installations.

In 2019, Robin Liu was among the first kitchen cabinet manufacturers relocating manufacturing to Vietnam. Working through the supply chain challenges over the last few years, he continues using Asian sourcing to mitigate the impact of rising material costs and labor shortages. 

In spite of his busy professional life, Robin Liu enjoys classical music and fine art. Seeing the public’s emergent interest in Pop Art, he started a Pop Art Gallery in downtown Laguna Beach that sells art works from such prominent masters as Picasso, Dali, Miro, Chagall, as well as Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami. He lives with his wife Maggie Peng, son Adam and daughters Vicky and Chloe. He is pleased to be a new member of Pacific Symphony’s board of directors.

Valerie and Hans Imhof

Faces of Philanthropy

Valerie and Hans Imhof are longtime Pacific Symphony patrons who have contributed greatly to the success of many local arts organizations including Pacific Chorale, South Coast Repertory and Laguna Playhouse. Hans joined the Board of Directors of Pacific Symphony Association in 1993 and is a life member. The role he especially enjoyed was that of Chair of the Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles Board of Directors. Under his leadership, the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble was created, and the already established and vibrant Santiago Strings was brought into the Symphony and was re-named Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings. Valerie studied violin and played Principal Second Violin in the Orange Coast Symphony. In 1994, inspired by conversations with local parents, Valerie co-founded Class Act with Kelly Lucero, the Symphony’s first Education Director. The Frieda Belinfante Class Act program has served over 275,000 students since its founding, making a lasting impact on students and school communities through a unique partnership model, now in its 27th year. Valerie, the program’s unofficial ‘godmother,’ still serves as Program Chair.

Hans, a native of Switzerland, grew up in a small village outside of Zurich on a large family farm. His interest in classical music began when he was a student at the University of Zurich, where he graduated in 1965 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He immigrated to the United States the next year and worked for General Electric in Philadelphia. In 1969 he moved to Borg Warner Controls in Santa Ana as manager of engineering. In 1972 he started EPE Technologies in Costa Mesa, a manufacturing firm which built power protection equipment for computers. The company grew from two to 550 employees and $65 million in sales. He sold the company in 1990 to Merlin Gerin, a billion-dollar French company. In 1992 he founded eight different companies. Hans’ hobbies include tennis, skiing, mountain climbing, deep-sea fishing, theater and classical music. Aside from his Pacific Symphony activities, Hans has been a past member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and Electronics Engineer (IEEE). Hans holds 2 patents. 

Valerie grew up in Studio City, California. Her parents were artists who met while working on the movie Fantasia at Disney Studios, and as classical music was always playing on the radio in her home, she fell in love with the sound of the violin and began playing when she was seven. She graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Social Sciences and a minor in music, traveled for a year in Europe, and then completed a masters and teaching degree at UC Berkeley, specializing in disadvantaged children. She studied violin with the Principal of the San Francisco Symphony and enjoyed playing in many free-lance ensembles. She taught a year of ninth-grade history at Seaside, California, then moved to Laguna Beach where she taught French and remedial English five years at Thurston Intermediate School under an innovative daily-demand flexible scheduling program. She met Hans soon after he moved to Orange County and among their first dates was a performance at South Coast Repertory. They were married in 1971, and have three children, all who have settled in Southern California. Valerie and Hans are devoted grandparents, and currently have two grandchildren pursuing the arts at the university level. 

Valerie and Hans are members of Pacific Symphony’s Crystal Society, recognizing lifetime contributions in excess of one million dollars. This represents extraordinary giving, demonstrating the Imhof’s exceptional leadership as their gifts have inspired many others to give. Valerie’s outstanding guidance has brought many additional leaders, volunteers and philanthropists to Pacific Symphony. She has given her time, resources and passion​ generously to the Symphony. She inspires musicians, staff and school partners to continue to evolve Class Act to best serve students through the power of symphonic music.  

Avenue of the Arts – Costa Mesa

A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, and the official hotel of Pacific Symphony.

Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa

Pacific Symphony gratefully acknowledges the generous sponsorship of Avenue of the Arts. This award-winning hotel, just steps from Pacific Symphony, is sponsoring Beethoven Piano Concertos (June 9-11) and Mozart & Mahler (June 23-25). 

Nestled in the hub of Orange County’s Theater and Arts District, the Four Diamond award-winning Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel offers art enthusiasts and locals the perfect City of the Arts experience.

• 238 Stylish Rooms and Suites with Hardwood Floors
• Modern Art
• Scenic Lake or Garden Views
• Award-Winning Dining at Silver Trumpet Restaurant & Bar
• Vibrant Cocktail Lounge and Outdoor Patio with TVs and Firepits
• Year-Round Heated Outdoor Pool
• Wireless Internet
• Complimentary Shuttle to John Wayne Airport

Experience an award-winning hotel just steps from Pacific Symphony.

Silver Trumpet Restaurant & Bar

Silver Trumpet Restaurant & Bar

Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar, the hotel’s award-winning signature restaurant, presents modern California cuisine using fresh, locally sourced, sustainable ingredients and house-made desserts.

The lakeside hideaway offers an elegant private dining room styled with warm modern décor and seamless glass windows providing fabulous lake or city views. All complemented by the contemporary bar lounge and newly enhanced outdoor patio space, which features custom firepits, lounge seating, and flat-screen TVs. Perfect for enjoying SoCal’s ideal weather. Perfect for pre-concert dining and post-concert cocktails.

3350 Avenue of the Arts
Costa Mesa, California 92626