25th Annual Eric Marienthal & Friends Concert in Newport Beach on July 14 Raises Funds for High Hopes

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Lee Ritenour and Eric Marienthal at the benefit concert in 2023 concert. Photo by Jim Collins.

A musical milestone comes to Newport Beach this month to raise funds for a nonprofit organization that is changing lives.

The 25th anniversary Eric Marienthal & Friends Concert at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach on Sunday, July 14 is a fundraising benefit for High Hopes Brain Injury Program, a local nonprofit organization celebrating its 50th anniversary that works with people who have suffered traumatic head injuries.

Every year, Marienthal – a longtime Newport Beach resident and a Grammy-nominated sax player – brings together talented smooth jazz musicians for an unforgettable evening of music.

There’s also a pre-concert VIP dinner which includes reserved seating for the concert, a dessert bar, a no-host bar, and silent and live auctions.

The proceeds from the concert help economically disadvantaged individuals to receive much-needed rehabilitation services.

With the help of many guest artists who have donated their time to perform, these concerts to date have raised well over $2 million for High Hopes.

This year, Marienthal has invited jazz pianist David Benoit, who has charted more than 25 albums since 1980, and Grammy Award-winning singer Patti Austin. Marienthal has played and recorded with Benoit and Austin many times, so the concert will be special for them as well as the audience.

Eric Marienthal and Mary Desmond at the benefit concert in 2023. Photo by Jim Collins

Marienthal first learned of High Hopes through swimming.

Mark Desmond, the visionary behind the High Hopes program’s development and High Hopes director/instructor, coached swimming for many years in Newport Beach. In addition to training lifeguards and water polo players, Desmond coached Eric’s children, and eventually Marienthal himself. When Marienthal learned about High Hopes, he visited the High Hopes facility to see what the organization was all about.

“It sounds dramatic to say it changed my life, but in fact it did change my life,” recalled Marienthal. “I went and saw what Mark and his staff were doing, and the people they were helping with every possible head related injury. I heard their stories. It was an emotional experience. I realized this could happen to anyone—my wife or a friend. At that point it became more personal.”

Marienthal decided to host a benefit concert for High Hopes. That first concert was held at the Costa Mesa Community Center, and based on that initial success, Marienthal held another one the following year but was able to move to the concert’s current location, that Hyatt Regency’s beautiful outdoor amphitheater.

Eric Marienthal performs at the Hyatt Regency amphitheater at the charity concert in 2023. Photo by Jim Collins

Every year Marienthal has been able to coax his noted musician friends and special guests to perform at the concert, although it doesn’t take much coaxing when they learn of the organization that the concert benefits.

“We currently help 60 people a day,” said Desmond. “Concert proceeds help offset the costs of the program. Without the community’s help we could not serve as many people. We only have one person that pays the full fee, the others pay what they can afford, so the difference is what has to be raised every month. The concert allows us to offset the bad months where we do not make it. It’s the lifeblood of our program.”

“High Hopes is always here to help people from around the country,” added Desmond. We take those that the rest of the world gives up on. We are here for them, and because of this concert, this provides that High Hopes will be here for generations to come.”

Tickets for the concert and sponsorships are still available. Tickets are $175 for VIPs and $75 for General Admission and are available at www.HighHopes.ws or by calling (949) 733-0044. The VIP Party starts at 3:45 p.m., with the general admission starting at 5 p.m. The music will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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