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Musco Center Opening

Paul Musco and Placido Domingo

Mezzo-soprano Milena Kitic blew kisses across the footlights. Placido Domingo sang his signature “Granada” standing before the majestic grand curtain bearing his name. And, waving his baton from the orchestra pit, maestro John DeMain piped, “Champagne, everyone?”

The iconic moments just kept coming at the black-tie gala opening of the Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University. “Our new center is beyond my expectations,” said William D. Hall, founding dean and artistic director, as he joined the hundreds of gala-goers attending the inaugural performance featuring Domingo, Kitic, dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt (who studied voice with Hall at Chapman in 1978) and a multitude of university alums. “Not only is it an orchestra hall, but a singers’ hall. We are so thrilled!” Hall said. “We started this 21 years ago and I told (Chapman president) Jim (Doti): ‘If you help me, I’ll help you. Let’s get something going for our students. That’s what this is all about.”

Resplendently dressed attendees oohed and aahed as they swept across the sprawling Bette and Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza into the state-of-the-art, 1,044-seat Julianne Argyros Concert Hall for a flawlessly executed performance emceed by the Muscos’ grandson, actor Alex David. “We are so excited to have you here! Please join us outside for a Champagne toast and the grand illumination of our hall,” David announced as the nearly two-hour performance came to a close. “The seeds that have been planted here tonight at the Musco are ready to grow into great things.”

A NIGHT OF NOSTALGIA: With seagulls swooping over sun-dappled waters as a backdrop, patrons of the Hutchins Consort gathered upstairs at the famed Balboa Pavilion for a nostalgic “Rendezvous at the Ballroom.”

Playing eight acoustically matched violins designed and created by Carleen Hutchins, musicians performed hits from the big-band era accompanied by crooner Bruce Cook. A lively rendition of the mambo spurred guests onto the dance floor, where they formed a conga line and snaked happily among dinner tables.

Why big-band tunes on violins? “When we found out this wonderful space was going to be available, we wanted to pay homage to the great music that happened here,” said Panama-hat bedecked Joe McNalley, founder of the Consort in 1999. “The highlight for us is that this is the first time we’ve built a program around a historic structure.” Decorative touches at the bay-front bash included centerpieces of vintage bathing beauty dolls and keepsake containers stuffed with saltwater taffy.


Philharmonic Society to Stage a Tented Affair

Celebrating the final concert in the inaugural Henry T. Segerstrom Legacy Series, the Philharmonic Society will stage its annual gala benefit on the future site of the Orange County Museum of Art at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Arts philanthropist Elizabeth Segerstrom is serving as honorary chairperson.
A party in three parts sponsored by South Coast Plaza, the May 14 black-tie festivities will begin with a tented “lavish gourmet dinner and performance by pianist Rueibin Chen,” say Philharmonic insiders. The feast will be followed with a concert by internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his artistic partner of more than 30 years, pianist Kathryn Stott. They will be performing works by Bach, Sibelius, Debussy, Schubert, Shostakovich and more in the nearby Reneé and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Following the performance, gala-goers will return to the tent for dessert and the opportunity to mingle with Ma and Stott.

Proceeds from the $1,000 per person soiree ($2,500 to be a sponsor with preferred seating) benefit the Philharmonic Society’s youth education programs. For tickets call Jean Hsu at 949.553.2422, ext. 232, or email jean@philharmonicsociety.org.

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