Out Of Town: South Coast Plaza’s 50th Anniversary with Helen Mirren, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Frank Gehry

Placido Domingo, Helen Mirren, Frederic Golchan, Elizabeth Segerstrom

As part of its ongoing 50th Anniversary celebrations and continuing support for the arts, South Coast Plaza presented an evening of Art, Excellence + Friendship on October 30, 2017. 160 guests, including Helen Mirren, Ralph Fiennes,  Michael Govan,    Christopher Forbes, Terry Lundgren, Kevin McKenzie, Bill Viola, Frank Gehry and Plácido Domingo, joined philanthropists, dignitaries, artists, cultural leaders and business executives at an extraordinary concert by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under maestro Valery Grgiev, followed by an intimate gala dinner. Part of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s vibrant classical music program, the concert was the latest in the Elizabeth & Henry Segerstrom Select Series, sponsored by Elizabeth Segerstrom, co-managing partner at South Coast Plaza.

Elizabeth Segerstrom and her family honored the memory of her late husband, the developer Henry Segerstrom and the 50th anniversary of his South Coast Plaza with three days of celebrations in Orange County California, culminating in a convert by the Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Valerie Gergiev.

On Sunday Elizabeth Segerstrom hosted a high tea for the weekend’s guest of honor H.R.H. Princess Michael of Kent.  The doors of her residence we’re opened to give a view of the beautiful bay and sailboats.  Filled with art works by Picasso, Helen Frankenthaler, Matisse and Calder (among others) her home was commissioned by Henry Segerstrom from the great Mexican architect Luis Barragán.  After tea, a select group of guests were taken to an ocean side house and dinner with Valerie Gergiev and a few key members of his Orchestra.  They had payed earlier in San Francisco and weather delayed their arrival till nearly 11:00. Their party continued till past the wee hours.

Monday morning included a tour for out of town guests of South Coast Plaza, the most successful high-end retail destination in America.  Henry had built this on what had once been his family’s lima bean fields and created a masterpiece of community and commerce.  Martine and Prosper Assouline hosted a breakfast for out of town guests at the new Assouline store. The tour highlighted not only the fantastic retail environment (over 250 boutiques and 30 restaurants) as well the significant art collection amassed there by Henry Segerstrom including the largest Noguchi installation.  Mary McFadden, visiting from New York mentioned that the sculptor,” had been my boyfriend for three years” and had never visited this Noguchi garden.

That evening a standing room only audience at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts awaited the Mariinsky Orchestra.  In the first box sat Elizabeth Segerstrom flanked by Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford, Placido Domingo, Lynn Wyatt, HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and the London born (now Los Angeles based) philanthropist Lyn Rothman.  On the opposite side of the stage in a box hosted by Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom with Ruth Ann Moriarty sat Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gehry, Kip Forbes, ABT’s Kevin McKenzie (the Segerstrom Center is his company’s winter home).  The audience also included Kip Forbes, LACMA’s Michael Govan, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Lundgren, Malissa Shriver, HSH Prince Veriand Windisch-Graetz and his son the dashing HSH Prince Charles Windisch-Graetz, and artist Bill Vola.  Fashion industry representatives abounded including LVHM chairman and CEO Anish Melwani, Richemont North American CEO and president Daniel Mawicke, and Stella McCartney America president Ida Simonsen.

The concert was thrilling, the large Mariinsky Orchestra played selections from Richard Strauss’s Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben, plus Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3For 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.  .  No one who as there will ever forget this nor the words of Maestro Gergiev who spoke at length of his close friend Henry Segerstrom recalling how he flew in from a concert to be with him in the final hours of his life.

At a private diner following the concert 8,000 cascading white Phalaenopsis orchids decorated the room.  Lynn Wyatt greeted Maestro Gergiev saying, “the convert was a thrilling.  It was worth every mile I flew to get here. I would have walked every mile to hear that.  It was just that beautiful.”  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. Ralph Fiennes spoke before a diner “Perhaps of all arts, music is the one that can sidestep language.” said Fiennes, “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.”  He praised “Segerstrom’s commitment to Art, Excellence, and Friendship and the loving wife, Elizabeth Segerstrom, who keeps it going forward”

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.

Tuesday, the day following the concert, was Maestro Gergiev’s first day off in six months and was entertained along with Princess Michael on Frank Gehry’s yacht, Foggy, before being rushed on a black Frauscher Mirage speedboat which had been used in in the James Bond movie Spectre to a dinner at Nobu hosted by Elizabeth Segerstrom.

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