The Impact of Giving

A special THANK YOU from Pacific Symphony!

As many orchestras across our nation celebrate a year of live concerts, here at Pacific Symphony, YOU are the celebration.

Whether you attended a concert, special event, volunteered, made a gift, donated tickets or a little bit of each, you made dreams come true.

From the orchestra members on stage to the tens of thousands of children and adults served in the community, you fulfilled dreams through your dedication to Pacific Symphony. Your support is an investment in education, the arts and the people of Orange County. In fact, your dedication has inspired renowned Orange County philanthropist and Pacific Symphony Board Member, Joann Leatherby, to match your next gift.

Between now and June 30, 2022, Joann will double your dream-making power, dollar for dollar, until we reach a cumulative total of $100,000. Your gift today doubles the opportunity for more dreams like the ones you’ve already made possible.

You made dreams come true for Orange County communities of all ages by supporting programs like the Pacific Symphony League, OperaFOCUS, Symphony 100, Heartstrings, arts-X-press, Family Musical Mornings, the Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles (PSYE), Strings for Generations, ClassAct and so much more. Your support of these programs places Pacific Symphony as a national leader in education and community engagement.

Through your support of Pacific Symphony’s OperaFOCUS, you made dreams come true for these talented young singers as they performed next to world-class opera star Kelebogile Besong during the 10th Anniversary performances of Otello.

Your support expanded Santa Ana Strings to include a new mentorship and coaching program for high school students.

Your support helped us serve 206 regional non-profits with 21 partnerships, enriching lives with wellness, education and healing to some of Orange County’s most diverse communities.

Your support covered financial assistance for most arts-X-press middle schoolers from 17 school districts.

Your support created the opportunity for PSYE to perform two world premiere compositions. Accolades like this attracted the famous Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University to invite two PSYE graduating seniors to apply for admission with substantial scholarships attached. Talk about a dream come true!

And, as we look towards our summer Symphony on the Go! and Symphony in the Cities concerts, your support brings Pacific Symphony to you, your family and your friends in your neighborhood and to non-profit partners such as Age-Well Senior Services and Orange County Rescue Mission.

Your dream-making power is a game-changer! Your investment ensures music and dreams will remain woven into the fabric of our Orange County communities for years to come.

Please, fund dreams with us.


Grégory Pierre Cox, CFRE, CSPG

Vice President of Development & External Relations

Remembering Sam Anderson

From Sharecropper to Shareholder to Sharing with Others

Sam Anderson, a successful businessman, generous philanthropist and longtime supporter of Pacific Symphony, passed away in April at the age of 86. Born in the midst of the Great Depression in Smith County, Mississippi, his parents were sharecroppers who eventually purchased a small country store and moved into a modest house with no plumbing. He was six years old before he ever took a bath in a real bathtub. “This difficult beginning, watching my mother and father scrimping to provide, had a profound effect on my lifelong attitude toward finances,” Anderson said. “Throughout my life, I have tended to read restaurant menus from the right side and I have owned just three new automobiles.” 

Anderson’s mother died when he was nine years old. Young Sam lived with family members and friends while his father scraped out a living. As a teenager, he worked numerous jobs for little money, earning his way as a carhop, a grocery store stock boy and a construction worker. His grandparents offered to send him to Mississippi College. Many years later, Anderson said, “they gave a gift that would keep on giving.” 

Originally, Anderson wanted to become a doctor, but he left medical school after two years to pursue a career as a salesman in the pharmaceutical industry. He found he had a unique knack for sales and business, and he built a successful career over four decades while also investing wisely in real estate. Eventually his career led him and his family to relocate to Newport Beach. 

“Even though I later lived the American dream, the demons of the life I left behind often chase me. I still have shallowly repressed memories of my struggles between the ages of nine and 18, a period when I worked hard and was viewed by some in the community as a ragamuffin—a near orphan living a shiftless life. I was uncertain of any life beyond that of my father’s, who worked numerous jobs for minimal pay.”

Excerpt from Sam Anderson’s 2018 memoir, From the Cotton Patch to High Cotton 

Sam Anderson’s first wife, Mary Ann, died soon after the couple celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. He married Susan Smith Jenkins in 2001. The couple’s close-knit, blended family includes their three children and five grandchildren. Over the years, Sam and Susan have been generous supporters of Pacific Symphony. They were the co-chairs of the 2017-18 season opening night celebration. That successful event raised nearly $200,000 for the orchestra’s award-winning artistic and education programs. They have sponsored numerous Symphony performances and have been leading supporters of the orchestra’s Giving Tuesday campaigns, providing generous matching funds that inspired others to give.

Sam and Susan shared a simple desire, as Sam put it, “to save the world.” In addition to their generous support of Pacific Symphony, the couple has given their time and resources to multiple charitable organizations in California, Mississippi and in Africa, where they support a school in Tanzania.

Sam Anderson will be deeply missed and remembered fondly by the Pacific Symphony family.

Pacific Symphony Gala 2022

The Board of Directors of Pacific Symphony  With Event Co-Chairs Joann Leatherby, Pat McAuley and Judy Whitmore Invite You to Walk the Red Carpet at Our 2022 Gala 

JUNE 18, 2022
5:30 P.M. 

Potocki Center for the Arts World Cup Field
27301 La Paz Road, Misson Viejo, CA 92692 

Honoring Valerie and Hans Imhof for Outstanding Philanthropy and Leadership 

Featuring Entertainment by Pacific Symphony Musicians And the Big Band Sounds of JT & Friends 

The Symphony Gala is one of the most exciting and anticipated cultural events in Orange County.  Last year’s Gala raised more than $2 million to support the orchestra’s artistic and award-winning education programs. The Gala is not only a marvelously successful fundraiser, it is a “can’t miss” evening of entertainment, grand cuisine and dancing that the leaders of Orange County prioritize on their social calendars. 

This year’s Gala theme is A Night in Old Hollywood—a theme so vast that anyone can find an aspect for which to be passionate. Our evening will focus on the Hollywood films, trends and celebrities that graced the silver screens before 1950.   

A look back at the 2021 Gala.