The Crowd: Pacific Symphony wows in its opening night

The Pacific Symphony Orchestra opened its 2012-13 season in grand style Sept. 20 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The opening-night concert led by music director Carl St.Clair featured acclaimed pianist André Watts performing selections from Brahms and a roof-raising Piano Concerto No. 2 conducted by St.Clair with the entire Pacific Symphony. It was arguably the finest debut evening that the Pacific Symphony has ever offered the Orange County audience.

Sponsored in large part by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series, the opening night was also hosted by symphony board of directors and gala co-chairs Ruth Ann and John Evans. The black tie evening began with a 5 p.m. reception at the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel followed by an Italian-themed dinner that organizers billed as "Festa di Firenze."

Generous opening-night underwriting came from Jane and Sonny Yada, Mary and Phil Lyons, Catherine and James Emmi, Pat and Bill Podlich, Michelle and David Horowitz, Bill Gillespie, and Barbara and Mark Chapin Johnson, all enjoying a preconcert dinner that began with butternut-squash ravioli followed by an entrée of sole Florentine in lemon-butter vinaigrette.

The presenting sponsor of the symphony's opening night was South Coast Plaza in conjunction with luxury retailer Tourbillon. Donors paid up to $25,000 for opening-night tables sponsored by local social standouts Sally Anderson and Tom Rogers, Susan and Sam Anderson, Betty and S.L. Huang, Jane and Richard Taylor, Carol and Kent Wilken, Janice and Ted Smith, and Deena and Steve Arnold, president of the Pacific Hospitality Group, new owners of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort.

Opening night also honored philanthropists Mike and Ellie Gordon along with extended Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom family members in attendance. Post concert, the party continued on the roof of the Westin South Coast Plaza on the Terrace Pavilion as the crowd enjoyed a dessert bar of Italian gelato and a midnight toast with fine champagne.

About $180,000 net was raised in support of the symphony's artistic and educational programs. To learn more, visit


Diamond education

A bit of celebrity glamour infused a Sept. 28 morning breakfast at Tiffany & Co., South Coast Plaza.

Tiffany's talented group director Michael Botsko, welcomed Meagan Tandy, actress and co-star of the television series "Jane by Design" and Miss California 2007 to join VIP guests for an intimate bridal breakfast in-store. The crowd arrived prior to the regular opening to learn all about Tiffany diamonds.

Tandy entered, tall and gorgeous in a classic coral dress as paparazzi flashed away and waiters in black and white uniforms served morning coffee in crystal Tiffany cups to the guests who had come for an education on clarity, cut, color and carat weight.

Botsko and his diamond team cast a spell over the morning crowd ushered into the Diamond Salon where a spectacular display of Tiffany diamond rings and assorted jewelry — some pieces valued up to $1 million — rested on velvet pads waiting to be tried on by Botsko's breakfast confab.

The breakfast coincided with the company's 175th anniversary, marking the company's founding by Charles Lewis Tiffany and partners in New York City in 1837.

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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