The Crowd: Pacific Symphony gala goes Parisian

Could there be any more romantic setting than Paris at the dawn of the 20th century?

The Pacific Symphony relived the artistic glamour of Paris 1899 at the conclusion of the Belle Epoque. Symphony organizers named their 2012 gala "La Fête du Siecle," which translates into English as "The Party of the Century."

The Hyatt Regency Irvine was the setting for the recent gala that attracted more than 350 patrons and raised an impressive $1.3 million net. Funds will be earmarked to support Pacific Symphony artistic and educational programs in Orange County.

Chaired by the glamorous trio of Pat Poss, Hope Miller and Vivian McCluney, the extravagant evening of French-inspired cuisine originated as a result of the Pacific Symphony's concert last April featuring Puccini's "La Bohème."

One of Orange County's most philanthropic and artistic citizens, John Tu, provided his concert orchestra known as California Dreamin'. It was fully underwritten for a second year and helped get the Hyatt ballroom patrons dancing the night away.

If that were not enough, Tu pledged to increase the amount of money raised during the auction and ended up donating an additional $100,000 to the Pacific Symphony's Fund-a-Need program.

Party planners transformed the massive Hyatt ballroom into a French cabaret, draping the walls with a rich, dark-red fabric and adorning the tables with extravagant red rose centerpieces. The hotel's executive chef, Greg Grohowski, served a first course of vichyssoise followed by an entrée of roasted filet and coquilles St. Jacques. Soon the cabaret dancers in the spirit of the famous Moulin Rouge and Folies-Bergère took to the stage with their high kicks and high energy.

Pacific Symphony talent including guest soprano Valentina Fleer, pianist David Clemenson and musician Melody Swen also delighted the crowd with their talents.

Local symphony supporters in the crowd, many of whom came to the party dressed in period Parisian costume, included underwriters John and Ruth Ann Evans, Darrellyn Melilli, president of the Symphony 100 Guild, and her husband David, Tom Rogers and Sally Anderson, underwriters David and Michelle Horowitz, Walkie and Janet Ray, Mark and Jill Bolton, Stephanie Nielsen and Mark Nielsen, Ellie and Mike Gordon, Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte and his wife, Michele, and much-admired Musical Director Carl St.Clair front and center with wife, Susan.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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