The Crowd: Concert featuring Ma, Stott raises $750K-plus for Philharmonic Society

Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello as musical partner Kathryn Stott plays the piano.
International star Yo-Yo Ma with musical partner Kathryn Stott headline a sold-out concert at Segerstrom Center for the Arts benefiting the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.
(Drew Kelley)

The music soared into the rafters at Segerstrom Hall last month as the Philharmonic Society presented international star Yo-Yo Ma along with his trusted, talented friend and musical partner Kathryn Stott in concert.

The spectacular evening was the frontispiece of the Donna L. Kendall Classical Series sponsored jointly by the Donna L. Kendall Foundation and the Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom Foundation Select Series.

Donna Kendall joined Elizabeth Segerstrom and Jane Fujishige Yada co-chairing the night of culture in Costa Mesa. More than $750,000 was raised to benefit artistic education and community programs under the Philharmonic Society’s direction.

The sold-out audience included a roster of Orange County and Los Angeles glitterati, among them Charlie and Ling Zhang, Douglas and Dierdre Smith, Gary Capata and Anne Yap, Gail and Robert Sebring, Lawrence and Dee Higby, David and Michelle Horowitz, Debra Gunn Downing with daughter Molly Downing, Doug and Lynn Freeman, Dr. Giulilio Ongaro and Cheryl Ongaro, and Dr. Tiffany Ana Lopez, all front and center.

An excited crowd gathered for cocktails in a magical garden created in the grand foyer of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Sampling Elizabeth Segerstrom’s signature touch, a caviar bar beckoned major donors Marta and Raj Bhathal, Karen and Donald Evarts, France and Richard Campbell, Diane and Chimo Arnold, Kathy and Noel Hamilton, Jay Colwell and Michael Kohler, Sharon McNalley, Hung Fan and Michael Feldman, Betty and S.L. Huang, and Susan and Henry Samueli.

Elizabeth Segerstrom, Jan Fujishige Yada and Donna L. Kendall
Philharmonic Society gala chairs Elizabeth Segerstrom, Jan Fujishige Yada and Donna L. Kendall raised $750,000 for arts education in Orange County.
(Nicholas Koon)

Philharmonic Society president and artistic director Tommy Phillips joined board chair and CEO John Flemming welcoming the attentive guests, noting that the April 4 event was unfolding on what would have been the eve of the late Henry Segerstrom’s 100th birthday.

“We recognize his significance and massive contributions to the arts here in Orange County,” Phillips said of the late Segerstrom. “Henry was more than just a philanthropist: He was an entrepreneur, a cultural leader, and an avid patron and supporter of the arts. It is because of his vision and legacy that the Philharmonic Society, the Pacific Symphony, the Pacific Chorale, and the Center itself collectively exist today as presenters and conduits to the arts, and to the every-growing cultural identity of Orange County.”

A grand pre-concert dinner followed, created and catered by Patina Restaurant Group. The decidedly Asian-inspired menu in an homage to Yo-Yo Ma began with the service of a trio of delicacies; Miso Salmon Wrap, Yuzo Oyster and Crispy Rice topped with exotic ingredients under a fried egg. Patina’s entree featured a paired duet of filet and black cod.

Fine wines flowed as guests toasted the significance of the Yo-Yo Ma concert in Orange County, and the good fortune of the community at large. Relishing the creative repast before them were donors of mention Catherine Greer Carlson and Mark Carlson, James Brophy and Doug Kirk, Gloria and Katherine Brandes, Ron Harris and Ellen Pickler Harris, Jack and Shanaz Langson, Tara and David Troob, and Cartier’s Caroline Jones.

With the final toasts of Carmel Valley Sauvignon, then a taste of Yazo Blueberry Tart and Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse, the dinner concluded. It was time for one of the significant concerts of the year. The arts crowd left the concert hall in formation, sauntered across Argyros Plaza and into Segerstrom Hall to witness Ma and Stott deliver a performance of music from a recently released recording titled “Songs of Comfort and Hope.” The program featured works by Piazzolla, Caroline Shaw, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, and others.

At the concert’s finale there was an encore of sorts. For a “fourth act,” guests were invited back across the Argyros Plaza to the Concert Hall, which had been transformed yet again. Time for the after-party in a late-evening club setting. In the crowd checking out the Veuve Clicquot champagne flutes made of cotton candy, were Segerstrom Center President Casey Reitz and wife Naomi, Pacific Symphony President John Forsythe and his wife, Michele. From the Irvine Barclay Theatre were Jerry Mandel and the lovely Whitney. Natalie and Benjamin Cadwallader arrived from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Malissa Feruzzi Shriver from Turnaround Arts: California.

To learn more about the Philharmonic Society visit