The Crowd: 'Tis the season for Chorale support

The glow of the holiday season spills over into the New Year, sending a message of goodwill to citizens of the Newport-Mesa community.

The respected resident choir of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, fondly known as the Pacific Chorale, held a spectacular holiday event Dec. 22 that began with a sold-out concert, "Tis the Season!", on a late Sunday afternoon in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, followed by a dinner celebration for 200 patrons of the Pacific Chorale, who gathered at the Westin South Coast Plaza for a traditional Christmas dinner with its roots in old English tradition.

The event netted more than $100,000 for the chorale, the most important fund-raiser of the year for the organization. Funds will support a variety of initiatives, including a youth summer program known as Choral Camp, adult music classes, a program labeled Intro to the Arts and a new pilot program for the elementary school level which the chorale is calling the Pacific Chorale Academy.

The success of the event belongs to the dedicated co-chairs Vina Williams and Tom Slattery. Supporting the chorale is more than a civic duty for the pair; it is a life-enhancing passion. They were joined by a committee that included Denice Douglas, Jacline Evered, Sharon Fair, Katie Friedel, Valerie Imhof, Jan Landstrom, Randi Larsen, Lori Loftus, Sharon McNalley and Donna Morse. All of the individuals involved consider the chorale to be an important aspect of their lives, and many go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the music reaches as wide an audience in Orange County and beyond as possible.

Major financial support comes from a cross section of community interest. Among the generous are Cheryl and Herb Fischer, Tom and Anne Henley, Hans and Valerie Imhof, Phillip and Mary Lyons, Mart and Margie Hubbard, and Ruth Ann and John Evans, to name only a few. Also supporting the chorale are Warren Coy, Margaret Gates, Wanlyn and Benton Bejach, Janice Johnson, and Jerry and Maralou Harrington.

As the crowd arrived at the Westin following the concert led by Maestro John Alexander, artistic director of the Pacific Chorale, a rousing troupe of about 40 members of the Southern California Children's Chorus greeted them with holiday merriment. A Christmas feast built around a braised goose in rich truffle sauce stuffed with New England sausage, apples and dried cranberries set the tone for the traditional holiday evening. Throughout the dinner service, guest artists from the Pacific Chorale, including Lorraine Welling, Laura Harrison, John St. Marie and Ricky McKillips, entertained the audience with Christmas carols. As the evening concluded, a dessert of individual yule logs drizzled with chocolate ganache capped the party as Alexander and Chorale President and CEO Elizabeth Pearson shared a warm and personal message with their supporters.

Partaking in the holiday joy were Robert and Kimberly Bernatz, John and Marcia Cashion, Paul and Rosalind Britton, Lenora Meister, Rick McNeil, Sharon Morrison, Martha and Peter Wetzel, Christopher Tower, Robert Celio, Julie Bondi, Anne Nutt, and Haydee and Carlos Mollura.

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

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