A full plate on an empty stomach

Never mind the food and the fine wine. Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair was having none of it as he celebrated the launch of the orchestra’s 25th-anniversary season at a gala staged next to the site of its future home, the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. “In 38 minutes, I will give the downbeat to one of the most important moments in the life of any symphonic orchestra, the first sounds of a 25th year,” he told music buffs gathered under a tented pavilion in Costa Mesa. “The last place I want to be before a concert is sitting around a dinner table when everybody else can drink wine. I don’t even eat before a concert. But I must say, sharing these moments in this celebratory atmosphere gives me great inspiration for the season to come.”

Seated at tables skirted in silver and topped with pale purple hydrangeas Oct. 8, guests dined on filet of beef and maple-glazed salmon as composer John Williams and members of the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation received accolades for their support. St.Clair credited Williams with introducing him to the Pacific Symphony in the spring of 1989 when he was an assistant conductor to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Williams was conductor of the Boston Pops. “I’ve been an admirer of this orchestra for years,” Williams said. “And I want to congratulate you on nurturing what is sure to become one of our country’s great orchestras.”

-- Ann Conway