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SCENE & HEARD

Orange County Philharmonic Society celebrates Chinese culture

An organizer of Ancient Paths, Modern Voices says the festival at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa 'will open up a whole new world to the non-Chinese community.'

October 18, 2009|Ellen Olivier

Will China dominate the cultural world in the 21st century? That's the prediction of Dean Corey, executive director of the Orange County Philharmonic Society, which is presenting Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

"The Olympics in China really woke us all up," Corey said. "The Chinese are a long way from being imitators; they are creators. This festival will make people aware of what will be happening in the future. This will open up a whole new world to the non-Chinese community."

The festival, produced in partnership with New York's Carnegie Hall, includes the Philharmonic's concert series of leading Chinese musicians, plus events in other venues: museum exhibitions, a film premiere, a play reading and a pingpong tournament. Pamela Baxter, president of Christian Dior, and Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom kicked off the festival Tuesday by unveiling a photography exhibition at South Coast Plaza and hosting a dinner for festival sponsors at the restaurant Marche Moderne.

Commissioned by Dior, the photographs of Quentin Shih premiered last year at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Tuesday, Shih showed his work for the first time in the U.S. to guests including Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom, Andrea and David Grant, Betty and S.L. Huang, Ashani and Mickey Dhillon, and Robert Ma and his wife, Adeline Yen Ma, author of "Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter."

Supporting the Los Angeles Ballet

"When I first met Colleen Neary in L.A., I thought to myself, 'I've seen you before,' " said Andrea Jaffe, and she was right. As a child, Jaffe had seen Neary dance with the New York City Ballet. "She was my favorite Sugar Plum Fairy."

Today Neary and her husband, Thordal Christensen, serve as artistic directors of the Los Angeles Ballet, which is now gearing up for its fourth season as L.A.'s resident dance company.

Supporting a ballet company is no easy task, but the enthusiasm was high at last week's gala at Stephanie Murray's Bel-Air home.

"The Los Angeles Ballet is on the runway ready to take off," said ballet supporter Linda Duttenhaver. "Now it is well on its way."

People came from the worlds of entertainment, finance, healthcare and other industries. "We deliberately invited people from many areas," said Melissa Oman, a co-host along with her husband Chad, Andrea and Toby Jaffe, and Murray. "We all call L.A. our home, and when the arts are alive and well in L.A., everyone benefits."

Following cocktails, guests enjoyed dinner in the garden and a performance of "The Evangelist," originally created for Neary and Christensen, and selections from the great choreographer George Balanchine.

Guests also included Lori and Michael Milken, Bari and Fred Bernstein, Robin Broidy, Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer, Dr. Richard Merkin, Stephanie and Bruce Vinokour, Rachel and Alejandro Ortiz, Shannon and Michael Rotenberg, Dan McDermott, Ashley McDermott, Lauren King, Karim Amiryani, Florence Sloan and Marcia Hobbs.

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ellen.olivier@society-news.com

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