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Philharmonic Society gala features Yo-Yo Ma

John and Regina Mangum

Perpetuating what she calls her late husband’s “singular vision of bringing the best in international programming to Orange County,” Elizabeth Segerstrom served as honorary chairwoman of the Philharmonic Society’s gala benefit featuring a sold-out performance by superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The presentation marked the season finale of the society’s inaugural Henry T. Segerstrom Legacy Series.

Before executing interpretations of works by Bach, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Franck and more on a stage set with towering bouquets of long-stem scarlet roses, Ma spoke of his respect for the founding chairman of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts: “What struck me about Henry Segerstrom was the value he placed on presenting the world’s best” in every endeavor, said Ma, who appeared with his longtime musical partner, pianist Kathryn Stott.

After a two-hour performance, Ma joined gala-goers for dessert in a nearby tent where they’d enjoyed a pre-concert supper in a cocoon of shirred ice-blue chiffon accented with white orchids (an Elizabeth Segerstrom signature) and cone-shaped crystal chandeliers. “Wouldn’t Henry be proud?” whispered Elizabeth Segerstrom, who wore a tuxedo-inspired black silk taffeta ball gown by Carolina Herrera.

Days earlier, Elizabeth Segerstrom had joined Ma and other musical celebrities, who included Renée Fleming and Michael Feinstein, in New York for the 125th anniversary celebration of Carnegie Hall, which had bestowed its Medal of Excellence upon longstanding board member Henry T. Segerstrom in 2010. “Receiving the medal was a momentous occasion for him – not only as an honor, but as a symbol of his efforts to link world-class programming of international institutions with institutions in Southern California,” she said. “It is my aim to foster this partnership and encourage even more. At the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, we will continue to align ourselves with the best institutions and programming the world has to offer.”

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