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The Crowd: Glittering gala benefiting Segerstrom Center for the Arts features Bocelli concert

Andrea Bocelli and his 9-year-old daughter Virginia Bocelli perform "Hallelujah" together at Candlelight Concert 2021.
(Courtesy of Todd Rosenberg)

The grand holiday gala on the Orange Coast known as the Candlelight Concert returned following a 2020 pandemic pause. In its 47th year of raising the bar on community involvement in exemplary performing arts programming and raising crucial funds in support of such high-minded purpose, Candlelight Concert unfolded in superb style at Segerstrom Center for the Arts headlined by the incomparable Andrea Bocelli.

Candlelight Concert 2021 on the main stage of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
(Courtesy of Todd Rosenberg)

The evening under “Segerstrom Stars” in the main hall of the center on Nov. 30 was co-chaired by the dynamic Britt Meyer and Carol Perry. The stunning golden girl Elizabeth Segerstrom, dressed to impress in a glittering gown, served as honorary chair of the gala. She welcomed generous citizens including Barbara and Alex Bowie, Marta and Raj Bhathal, Sally and Randy Crockett, Dee and Larry Higby, Tracy and Roger Kirwan, Susan and Tim Strader, Idit and Moti Ferder, and Betty and S.L. Huang.

Major underwriting for the annual event was provided by extended family of the late center founder Henry Segerstrom represented by his widow Elizabeth and the Segerstrom family matriarch Ruth Ann Moriarty. Sandy Segerstrom Daniels was front and center representing CJ Segerstrom and Sons and the Segerstrom Family Foundation.

From left, Britt Meyer, co-chair, Elizabeth Segerstrom, honorary chair, and Carol Perry, co-chair.
The 47th Candlelight Concert at Segerstrom Center for the Arts produced by Britt Meyer, co-chair, Elizabeth Segerstrom, honorary chair, and Carol Perry, co-chair.
(Courtesy of Lauren Hillary)

Beyond the pioneer family, super star benefactors were Orange County’s most charitable family led by Julianne and George Argyros. Fellow super stars were Newport’s Gloria Brandes, event co-chair Britt Meyer and her husband Bob Meyer along with their business, Meyer Foods.

In an homage to Bocelli, designers created a romantic Italian theme featuring an elaborate Romanesque structure fronting ad partially encircling the massive stage and front section of Segerstrom Hall. Thirty-foot tall walls of arched French windows on faux walls of hand painted stone and flowering vines set the tone. Massive Maria Theresa inspired crystal chandeliers hung from the rafters with a center chandelier adorned with draping florals.

Larry Higby, Dee Higby, Dr. S. L. Huang and Betty Huang at the Candlelight Concert for Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Arts patrons and donors Larry Higby, Dee Higby, Dr. S. L. Huang and Betty Huang at Candlelight Concert benefiting Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
(Courtesy of Lauren Hillary)

A lavish cocktail reception welcomed the crush followed by the Bocelli concert. His program included 12 performance pieces that ran the full range of his storied career from “La Traviata’s” Brindisi to “Amazing Grace” to “Can’t Help Falling In Love” — opera, soul and pop.

Dinner and dancing followed the Bocelli concert, which included soprano Maria Aleida and a wonderful surprise cameo welcoming on stage as Bocelli’s 9-year-old daughter Virginia joining her talented dad in a rendition of the emotional ballad “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Bocelli dedicated the evening high point to Elizabeth Segerstrom. Rousing ovations followed.

Andrea Bocelli playing the flute entertains the Segerstrom Center for the Arts Candlelight Concert crowd.
(Courtesy of Todd Rosenberg)

The crowd raved over the menu created by Chef Ross Pangilinan of the Mix Mix Group. The Italian feast began with antipasto of tuna crudo, beef carpaccio truffle vinaigrette and pickled beets topped with goat cheese and aged balsamic. A course of ricotta agnolotti preceded the entree of beef tenderloin with trumpet mushrooms smothered with Bordelaise agrodoice.

Pangilinan was joined for the dessert course by Chef Tony Esnault of the Michelin star “Knife Pleat” at South Coast Plaza. Il Dolce created a sensation with its nod to the holidays. Guests sampled an exquisite Cadeau de Noël, vanilla mousse with raspberry confit over gingerbread topped with almond crunch.

Mingling O.C. VIPs included Center President Casey Reitz, Chair of the Center Board Jane Fujishiga Yada, Center Vice Chair John Ginger; committee members comprising a large contingent of arts patronesses including Michelle Rohe, Suki McCardle, Barbara Johnson, Jackie Glass, Carole Haes Landon, Wendy Hales, Molly Jolly, Nancy Muth, Carol Wilken and Ann Conway.

Wishing Daily Pilot readers Christmas blessings and próspero año y felicidad. And most of all, good health for everyone.

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