Charity Spotlight: Pacific Symphony Announces Major Gifts at Newport Coast Reception

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(Left to right) Yasuko Siegel holding her dog BooBoo, Seth Siegel, and Arlene Miller, President & CEO of Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County. Photo by John Wolfsohn

Seth and Yasuko Siegel of Newport Beach hosted a private dinner reception on February 10 for 100 local community leaders in the Newport Coast home of Yael and Eyal Aronoff to recognize the Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County for their lead gift of $100,000 in support of the Symphony’s “Defiant Requiem” Concert on April 16, 2019.

The impressive guest list encompassed friends from the Jewish and Symphony communities to welcome in the New Year and celebrate the expanding and close relationship of mutual support between the Pacific Symphony and the Jewish community of Orange County.

“Yasuko and I not only wanted to celebrate the New Year with friends, but also wanted to thank those who could attend for their contribution and support of the growing relationship between the Symphony and the Jewish community,” said Seth Siegel.

Catered by T.H.E. Caterers, guests munched on all organic appetizers of stuffed mushrooms, tuna poke, caprese skewers, and smoked salmon belly canapés.  All organic dinner entrees included grass-fed beef filet, painstakingly marinated for weeks in a special Japanese marinade, natural Scottish salmon, and eggplant mini steak stacks.

(left to right) Joann Leatherby, Charlie Zhang, Jo Ellen Chatham. Photo by John Wolfsohn

“Pacific Symphony has a long history of engagement with the Jewish community,” stated John Forsyte, President of Pacific Symphony. “In the early 2000s, the Symphony performed concerts called Three Jewish Tenors, a benefit for the Jewish Federation featuring great cantorial talents from around the country.  Subsequently, we brought our elementary school program to Tarbut v’Torah, and Carl St. Clair, the musicians, and myself have spoken or performed for the Bureau of Jewish Education of Orange County and at synagogues throughout Orange County.”

(left to right) Scott Seigel, Yael Aronoff and Eyal Aronoff. Photo by John Wolfsohn

On April 16, Pacific Symphony will present a performance of “Defiant Requiem,” comprised of the complete Verdi Requiem Mass. While the concert presents a beloved and moving choral work by a great vocal master, the goal of the program is to bring prominent attention to a fascinating historical moment during the Holocaust, and to shine a light on the current needs of Orange County’s Holocaust survivors, who are still with us. 

“Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” is a concert-drama that was conceived, created and premiered by conductor, educator, and artistic innovator Murry Sidlin. “Defiant Requiem” is a dramatic presentation of the magnificent Requiem Mass by Giuseppe Verdi, and also pays tribute to the visionary leadership and courage of imprisoned Czech conductor Rafael Schachter, and fellow prisoners at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (“Terezin”) during World War II. The work combines Verdi’s glorious music with historical footage, testimonials, and video of survivors of the original chorus. 

(left to right) Gideon Bernstein, Jeanne Bernstein, John Forsyte, Yael Aronoff, and Eyal Aronoff. Photo by John Wolfsohn

“Defiant Requiem” is both a profound artistic event, and a deeply moving story that is relevant to understanding the circumstances under which genocide occurs, how it can be prevented, and sorting lessons learned from the horror.

“I am so pleased to announce this evening that Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County has given the lead gift and will be the Presenting Sponsor for ‘Defiant Requiem,’” stated John Forsyte, President of Pacific Symphony. 

In addition to this lead gift, other generous support has been received to date from Yasuko & Seth Siegel, Blossom Siegel, Charlie & Ling Zhang, Scott & Leslie Seigel, Heritage Pointe, Nancy & Irving Chase, Terry & Toni McDonald, Ken & Odette Freed, Linda Berkowitz, Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, Marilyn Harran, Babette Bay, Joe & Ingrid Gallin, and Myrna Chatow.

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