Into the '90s.
That's what they called their party that began Sunday night--at the end of the '80s. And they arrived-- into the '90s --with Strauss waltzes and show tunes, fancy food and camaraderie.
In a joint New Year's Eve party, the Pacific Symphony and the Orange County Philharmonic Society invited friends and supporters to a black-tie bash at the Westin South Coast Plaza. More than 430 guests paid $150 each to attend the champagne reception, concert and dinner-dance in the hotel ballroom.
Symphony executive director Louis Spisto said his organization decided to split its annual New Year's party with the Philharmonic Society because "we're both in the business of developing classical music for the community. It just made sense."
It also allowed the groups to boost the ticket price, thin the crowd and offer a classier classical eve.
Arriving at 7 p.m., guests nabbed complimentary champagne and chatted outside the ballroom decorated with boldly colored balloon clusters. " Whoa ," said Spisto, when he got his first peek of the red, green, purple and gold decor. "Not exactly the Symphony Ball, is it?"
Party co-chairwoman Lorraine Lippold worked the check-in desk and greeted friends with New Year's hugs. Privately, she offered her comments on the coming decade.
"Well I'm not one for making resolutions," said Lippold, who sat at dinner with Spisto, symphony guest conductor Toshiyuki Shimada and his wife, Eva. "I just wait and see what happens, and I try to enjoy it--whatever it is."
Not so Susan Beechner, who co-chaired the festivities with Lippold.
"Every year I resolve to go on a diet and exercise daily," said Beechner. She said her annual resolution was particularly apt this year "because my daughter gave me 800 pounds of fudge for Christmas and I am single-handedly working my way through it."
Symphony President Randy Johnson and his date, Carole McMahan, said they wished for no less than "peace throughout the world" in the decade ahead.
"I've been hoping for that for all of my 52 years," said Johnson.
"No matter what happens," he said, with a Californian's addendum, "the tide comes in and the tide goes out."
On the world peace theme--a popular wish among the party-goers--Philharmonic Society chairwoman Nancy Posch said she and her husband, Frank, plan to travel the Danube in the coming year.
"That'll take us through about seven of the countries (in Eastern Europe) that are changing so much now," she said.
Jane Grier, a Philharmonic Society board member and key planner of the Sunday night fest, said the political changes in Eastern Europe made her think of another time "like the Gay '90s that ended the last century."
Also attending were Dean and Shirley Lane-Smith, Richard and Nancy Palicka, Bob and Gloria Stanton, Paul and Barbara Rutkowski and newlyweds Jerry and Petrina Friede.
Party planner Cornelia Mazer shared the night with date Abdo Khoury and friends Mark and Christina Briggs. Eva Schneider, who also co-chaired the event, did not attend.
When ballroom doors opened at 8 p.m., guests found their assigned seats at the dinner tables, which served as concert seats during the 45-minute symphony presentation of music by Strauss, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Lerner and Lowe. Soprano Evelyn De La Rosa joined the symphony and, with conductor Shimada, made the midnight toast to the New Year.
After the concert, dinner of pheasant, roast veal chop, asparagus and angel hair pasta was served, and dancing took the party-goers into the '90s.