The Crowd: Philharmonic Society helps a musical county

The philharmonic season in Orange County continued in a grand fashion in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa earlier this month with the debut of maestro Gustavo Dudamel in his tenure as the Los Angeles Philharmonic's music director.

This week the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, led by Dean Corey in partnership with philanthropists Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom and the Segerstrom Select Concert Series, announced the exclusive West Coast recital of opera superstar Renée Fleming.

The world-renowned soprano will appear in the concert hall for one night and one performance April 5. The beautiful Fleming has never performed in Orange County and is jetting in, making room in her sold-out concert schedule as a special gift to her friend Henry Segerstrom in honor of his 88th birthday, which also falls on the same day.

At a luncheon event Monday at the outstanding Marché Moderne bistro on the penthouse level of South Coast Plaza, Henry Segerstrom joined his wife, Elizabeth, attired in a chic Louis Vuitton couture dark violet-blue trench dress, in announcing the special Fleming concert performance.

"We wanted Renée Fleming to come to California and perform in the concert hall," Elizabeth Segerstrom said. "Her schedule is booked, as you can imagine. She wanted to come for Henry and she looked at her calendar telling us she had one night open — April 5. Can you believe it is Henry's birthday? Of course we were thrilled with the coincidence. This is going to be a very special night for Henry and for Orange County."

The honor of Fleming's performance aside, the evening will be a gift to Orange County citizens in part because Corey and staff at the Philharmonic Society have created a large block of $25 tickets available to the music-loving public.

"We want all of Orange County to share in this very special evening," Corey said. "The $25 seats are the heart and soul of the classical concert world. It is not just the major donors and $500 tickets that matter. It all counts."

Fleming is set to perform selections from her classical repertoire, including Dvořák, Verdi, Puccini and Strauss. She also plans to include music from contemporary popular hits such as the hypnotic "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen.

For reservations, call the Philharmonic Society box office at (949) 553-2422 or go to You may also call the center box office at (714) 556-2787.

Fleming's impressive upcoming appearance of follows the incredible — and it was incredible — Philharmonic Society debut of Dudamel. The March 5 afternoon performance in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall featured selections by Anton Webern, Toru Takemitsu and a spellbinding performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7. The standing ovations went on for an eternity.

Newport society hostess Marsha Anderson, wife of Darrel Anderson, chaired the event which followed the concert. It was a swank private dinner for donors in the magnificent lobby of the concert hall that's crowned by the ultra-modern artwork functioning as a chandelier, which was a gift to the hall from Ruth Ann Moriarty, sister of Henry Segerstrom. Deborah Borda and Elizabeth Segerstrom served as honorary event chairs working with Anderson.

Major sponsors including Elaine Weinberg, Madaline and Stephan Gordon, Ann and Robert Ronus, Marta and Raj Bhathal, Michelle Rohé, Linda and Alan Beimfohr, and Zee Allred, supported the evening by contributing funds to the Philharmonic Society. Also front and center for the Philharmonic Society were Nadine and Robert Hall, Linda and Bob Yellin, Warren Coy, Deborah and Larry Bridges, Elizabeth An and Gordon Clune, and Armine and Vahe Meghrouni.

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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