Segerstrom Center’s Annual Candlelight Concert Raises $5.3 Million for Artistic, Education and Community Initiatives

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Casey Reitz, Molly Jolly, Jane Fujishige Yada, Sam Tang. Photo by Liebenberg Photography

The 49th Annual Candlelight Concert—the signature fundraiser for Segerstrom Center for the Arts—brought together patrons, art enthusiasts, and philanthropists on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.

Five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and humanitarian Michael Bublé illuminated Segerstrom Hall stage as headliner for an intimate performance, after which patrons ascended stairs to the Center’s stage for a lavish dinner.

The event raised $5.3 million for The Center’s artistic, education and community initiatives.

The evening began with an elegant cocktail lounge, complete with glamorous Candlelight Concert displays and beautiful holiday trees flocked with snow.

Guests were escorted up to the Orchestra Terrace where they entered a cocktail reception with tray-passed hors d’oeuvres, a champagne bar, and a caviar display.

Following the cocktail reception, guests moved into the auditorium of Segerstrom Hall. They were welcomed by Segerstrom Center for the Arts President Casey Reitz, who told the audience that “The Center is experiencing the greatest momentum in our history with record-breaking audiences, fundraising and outreach. We welcomed over 200,000 new patrons to Segerstrom Center just last season alone.”

Sherry Phelan, Mary Carrington, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Barbara Hiller Johnson. Photo by Lauren Hilary

He then introduced the chairwomen of the Segerstrom Board of Directors, Jane Yada, who thanked the board of directors, saying “We have one of the strongest boards in the performing arts world.” She then thanked Candlelight Concert platinum sponsors Sandy Segerstrom Daniels and Elizabeth Segerstrom for helping to make “this Candlelight Concert one of the most successful in our history.”

Yada then introduced the Candlelight Concert co-chairs, Molly Jolly and Sam Tang, who thanked supporters for their help in raising $5.3 million. Tang noted that Bublé conducted a Master Class the evening before Candlelight with six students from local title one schools—the first time in Candlelight history that a guest artist held a master class. Many of their classmates and teachers attended the master class. A short video was shown of the students participating in the master class.

Michael Bublé performs at the Candlelight Concert. Photo by Tiffany Rose

Then it was time for Michael Bublé. The consummate entertainer performed for nearly an hour with his 12-piece band.

When he was into his second song, Bublé pretented to start the song several times, then stopped as if angry about something. Then he told the audience he was upset because when he was told he would conduct a master class, he thought it would be elementary school kids, but instead it was high school students. According to Bublé, they sang better than him! Then he invited the students on stage for what appeared to be an impromptu song with him. No wonder he was jealous—they were all good.

Michael Bublé performs at the Candlelight Concert. Photo by Tiffany Rose

Bublé’s sparkling and fun personality kept the audience engaged. At one point, he joked about his celebrity status, stating “I’m world famous and this is the smallest concert I have ever done.” He kept threatening to sing a Christmas song, which he finally did: a fun version of “Blue Christmas” sung Elvis-style.

After the performances came the “big reveal.” The curtains were raised to reveal the polished supper club on the Segerstrom stage.

Dinner décor on Segerstrom Stage. Photo by Ben Liebenberg

Large floral wallpaper and glamorous hanging displays of hand-painted gold magnolia leaves created textured panel walls around the room. Rich indigo blue grounded the space. Silver pendant lights hanging from the ceiling created the intimate atmosphere of a supper club. Designer Tom Bercu incorporated a mixture of silver and gold mixed metals and a fuchsia accent to bring the sophistication and charm of an elegant lounge club with a mid-century modern touch.

Guests were seated at their dinner tables where their four-course dinner began. Chef Alfonso Ramirez led Patina Restaurant Group’s culinary team in an homage to Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse, one of the jewels in Patina’s crown, with a cream of cauliflower soup served with Nick + Stef’s signature popovers to start, a decadent Maine lobster and market greens salad with a crème fraiche dressing as the second course, and an elegant duet of filet mignon and Spanish cod served with wild mushrooms and an herb emulsion for the entrée.

The desserts of the evening offered another touch of mid-century charm, with key lime pie on graham sablé, with vanilla Chantilly and verbena gelée alternating with chocolate namelaka raspberry cake.

Table from Above- Etienne Lartigau

After dessert, the dancing began with the energizing VIVA Band whose vintage takes on modern hits got guests out of their seats and onto the dance floor.

For guests who were more inclined to mingle and relax, the Coffee and Conversation lounge made its debut in the Plaza Level Lobby. Here, guests were able to enjoy a cappuccino with biscotti or espresso martinis with an onsite barista.

As guests exited the event, they were greeted at the Aston Martin Valet lounge, with late-night bites from The Burnt Truck, tray-passing cheeseburger or buffalo chicken sliders on Hawaiian rolls, and French fries with garlic aioli.

Parting gifts came from the presenting sponsor of the night, Lugano Diamonds.

In preparation to celebrate a remarkable milestone, the date for the next year’s 50th Annual Candlelight Concert was announced: Friday, Dec. 6, 2024.

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