“Perhaps of all arts, music is the one that can sidestep language,” said Ralph Fiennes, before a crowd of 160 dinner guests at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on Oct. 30. “Music reaches straight to the soul, putting borders and political and national differences out of focus. Music, I believe, is the great healer. It’s the great unifier.”
It’s the sentiment behind “Arts, Excellence + Friendship,” the Concert and Gala presented by the Segerstrom Family and South Coast Plaza with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County to celebrate South Coast Plaza’s 50th anniversary.
A luxe black, white and gold color scheme accented with all-white cascading Phalaenopsis orchids greeted guests arriving at Segerstrom Center for the Arts and continued indoors at the gala dinner.
Movers, shakers, royals and stars all lent eclectic glamour to the evening: Ralph, of course, Dame Helen Mirren with director Taylor Hackford, Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Hugo Veriand Windisch-Graetz, Prince Charles Windisch-Graetz, Frank Gehry, Plácido Domingo, Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan, LVHM chairman and CEO Anish Melwani, Richemont North American CEO and president Daniel Mawicke, Stella McCartney America president President Ida Simonsen, Macy’s executive chairman Terry Lundgren, Forbes vice chairman Christopher Forbes, Assouline founders Prosper and Martine Assouline (publishers of the upcoming book, “South Coast Plaza”), Elizabeth Segerstrom, Ruth Ann Moriarty and Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom.
Maestro Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra performed Richard Strauss’ Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3. The audience gave the
performances a standing ovation, which was followed by a heartfelt speech by Valery, who spoke about his years of friendship with Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom. The concert was part of the Elizabeth & Henry Segerstrom Select Series, a natural fit considering that the maestro conducted the “Ring” cycle in 2006 for the opening of the concert hall.
For the encore, the orchestra played the final movement of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky, which accompanied a magnificent montage that paid tribute to Henry Segerstrom’s artistic vision and South Coast Plaza.
Post-performance, Cartier pages ushered guests to the Box Terrace level where flutes of Cartier Cuvee Brut stood at a ready. Six trumpeters heralded the beginning of dinner, the menu of which was inspired by California’s autumnal bounty: beets, sweet potatoes, figs and mushrooms. A Golden Egg, served as part of the dessert trio, paid tribute to South Coast Plaza’s golden anniversary. After Ralph’s moving speech acknowledging esteemed guests and extolling the arts, pianist Denis Matsuev performed an improvisation on Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train, followed by Pacific Chorale’s renditions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Let the River Run, composed by Carly Simon.