Happy 45th Anniversary
Pacific Symphony launched its 45th anniversary season on Thursday, Sept. 21 with an Opening Night Celebration featuring a grand reception, dinner, and entertainment surrounding the first concert of the 2023-24 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series: “A Hero’s Life.” Hosted by the Symphony’s board of directors and chaired by Joann Leatherby, the sold-out event, attended by 250 guests, raised $375,000 to benefit the Symphony’s artistic programming and education and community engagement programs.
One of the premier philanthropic events in the Southland, the Symphony’s opening night honored the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation. Pacific Symphony is profoundly grateful for the commitment of the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation and their sponsorship of the Classical Series, which the Foundation will continue to sponsor for the coming seasons up to the orchestra’s 50th anniversary in 2028-29.
The festivities began with a lively cocktail reception in the lobby and patio of the Samueli Theater at 5 p.m. The décor featured warm, inviting autumnal colors, and just outside the lobby a majestic maple tree stood sentinel with its vibrant foliage ablaze with radiant hues of amber, gold, and fiery crimson. Followed by a sumptuous multi-course meal inside the beautifully decorated Theater. Pacific Symphony’s Chairman Arthur Ong welcomed everyone to dinner and introduced the opening night chair, Joann Leatherby who expressed her pleasure at chairing the opening night event. She introduced the Armonia Singers led by Eugene Choi, who sang the Neapolitan song “Non ti scordar di me” (“Don’t forget me”) and Puccini’s famous “Nessun dorma” from Turandot, selections that were both popular with The Three Tenors.
Symphony President & CEO John Forsyte took to the podium to comment, “It’s really magical to see a full room of great friends and illustrious leaders here for the opening of the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series. There is electricity in the air. It is with tremendous excitement and anticipation that we embark on Pacific Symphony’s 45th anniversary and the opening weekend concerts of the Classical Series. As we look back on our rewarding journey, it is equally important that we continue to move forward, exploring new horizons. In light of this spirit of adventure, our theme for the 2023-24 season is aptly named, ‘A Season of Discovery.’”
“Tonight, we celebrate the power of continuity,” Forsyte continued “In Pacific Symphony’s 45 year-history, there have been only two music directors and three current musicians in the orchestra played the first concert 45 years ago, and many joined shortly after the orchestra’s founding.
Forsyte invited Carl St.Clair to join him on stage, saying: “With a 34 year-tenure, he joins the ranks of such renowned conductors and music directors as Eugene Ormandy of the Philadelphia Orchestra and a handful of others who shaped the trajectory of an orchestral institution for more than a generation. Carl’s impact on shaping musical life in Orange County cannot be overestimated. He has envisioned a world-class orchestra dedicated to community engagement, education, and service. Carl, thank you for your vision and leadership for building a great orchestra of and for the community.”
Music Director Carl St.Clair took the podium and spoke of his excitement for the beginning of a new season, “We’re opening Pacific Symphony’s 45th anniversary season with one of the greatest tone poems of all times: Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, ‘A Hero’s Life.’ When I think about it, the life of Pacific Symphony is truly heroic. The Symphony’s meteoric rise in 45 years is really unprecedented in the pantheon of American orchestras, and we can all be very proud of that.”
The Opening Night gala-goers moved into the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for the kick-off of Pacific Symphony’s 2023-24 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series. The concert began at 8 p.m. The program opened with Mozart’s Symphony No. 32, followed by the Pacific Symphony premiere of Vital Sines by composer-in-residence Viet Cuong featuring the GRAMMY® Award-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird. After intermission, audiences enjoyed the final piece on the program, “A Hero’s Life” (Ein Heldenleben) by Richard Strauss.
For the post-concert reception, the Samueli Theater was transformed into a sophisticated and swanky jazz lounge featuring live music performed by Jake Brown Jazz Band with a guest appearance by guitarist Tommy Benson. Meanwhile guests had the opportunity to mingle with Symphony musicians and enjoy a lavish spread of tasty bites and desserts.
Additional Events to Celebrate during 2023-24 “Season of Discovery” include:
- Lunar New Year Marking the Year of the Dragon (Feb. 10, 2024)
- Nowruz, Iranian New Year (March 23, 2024)
- “May the Fourth” Star Wars Gala Benefit Evening (May 4, 2024)