Candlelight Kick-Off Party Marks Return to Segerstrom Center This Winter

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Candlelight Concert 2015-ambience by Kimberly April

Dining by candlelight was the only option for a group of local arts lovers in 1974 when they held a dinner and concert inside a vacant Kresge five-and-dime store in Costa Mesa to raise money to build a major performing arts center in Orange County.

The room was re-envisioned into an elegant ballroom with the use of candles and stylish décor.

That was the first of many fundraisers that would be held over the next decade until the Orange County Performing Arts Center – now known as the Segerstrom Center for the Arts – was built in 1986.

The Candlelight Concert has turned into an annual gala featuring entertainment by celebrated artists and a sumptuous dinner with tables arranged on the stage of Segerstrom Hall.

2019 Candlelight Concert at Segerstrom Center. Courtesy of Segerstrom Center

Last year, Covid extinguished the Candlelight Concert, but it is returning on Nov. 30 bigger and better than ever.

Segerstrom Center held a Candlelight Kick-Off Party on Aug. 27 in the nearby Noguchi sculpture garden, California Scenario.

Elizabeth Segerstrom and Casey Reitz / photo by Lauren Hillary

Honorary Chair of this year’s Candlelight Concert, Elizabeth Segerstrom, with Candlelight Co-Chairs Carol Perry and Britt Meyer, welcomed guests into the garden on a perfect summer’s evening and announced lead sponsorships by Tiffany & Co. and LVMH.

Guests enjoyed cocktails by UME Plum Liqueur, catering from Mastro’s, live performances by Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project and Brenna Whitaker and her Little Big Band.

Segerstrom Center President Casey Reitz took the podium and told the crowd of supporters how meaningful it was to see everyone, including may new faces. He reminded everyone that the proceeds from the Candlelight Concert helps support the Center’s artistic and education programs, and stated that he predicts “a remarkable reversal and we will be stronger than ever coming out of this pandemic.”

Reitz introduced Board Chair Jane Yada, who remarked that the California Scenario event site was a hidden treasure in our backyard, and is considered to be the masterpiece of Noguchi’s career. She also noted that members of Orange County’s artistic organizations and community were represented at the event.

Candlelight Kick-Off Party in Noguchi sculpture garden / photo by Lauren Hillary

Reitz then recognized the Segerstrom Center board of directors, and what he dubbed the “dream team” of Elizabeth Segerstrom, Carol Perry and Britt Meyer, who have “paved the way for this historic fundraiser, and this kickoff celebration. Without their support this event would not be possible. Elizabeth has brought us together in this iconic space, with a commitment to raise the bar and bring new life to this time-honored tradition.”

Reitz also said that co-chair Britt Meyer has “a guiding vision for this year, done with integrity and generosity and a commitment to excellence. You have said many times ‘I like success,’ and I am with you on that.”

Carol Perry gives a toast while Casey Reitz looks on / photo by Lauren Hillary

He also noted that co-chair Carol Perry has been “pounding the pavement and spending hours on the phone fundraising and negotiating historic sponsorships.”

Perry led the crowd in a toast, saying “this is to all of you who support us, who buy tickets, who love the arts and support the Center. Cheers

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The Kick-Off Party featured live performances by Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project
Dancer in Noguchi sculpture garden / photo by Lauren Hillary
Event décor in Noguchi sculpture garden / photo by Lauren Hillary
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