Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, who's leaving the Southern California symphony at the end of this season, said goodbye in style to Orange County on Sunday with a farewell performance and private dinner party hosted by über arts patrons Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom and Swiss watchmaker Montres Breguet.
Salonen, who was recently appointed principal conductor of London's Philharmonia Orchestra, looked to Austria for his swan song, choosing a final program of works by Mozart and Bruckner. After the matinee performance (the final concert in the inaugural season of the Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom Select Series presented by the Philharmonic Society), 100 guests of the Segerstroms and performance sponsor Breguet adjourned to a white tent next to the Cesar Pelli-designed Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. There, Elizabeth Segerstrom and event producer Ben Bourgeois had orchestrated a three-course supper including callotte de boeuf grille and hazelnut mousse cake prepared by Patina Group maestro Joachim Splichal. Fifty-five waiters rehearsed for 90 minutes before the meal to serve each course simultaneously.
Guests sat at two long tables divided into 14 segments named after gemstones to help them find their place cards. The palette was a simple cobalt and white, with white orchids tucked into blue square and rectangular glass vases atop tablecloths and seat covers of white Ultrasuede. The chargers' silver rims encircled a graphic of a watch mechanism in honor of Breguet.
Breguet, a historic Swiss watchmaker resurrected by the Swatch Group, sponsored the event in anticipation of the opening of a store at South Coast Plaza, also developed by Segerstrom. Breguet displayed two of its new jewelry and watch collections—Le Temple de L'Amour de Marie Antoinette and Le Pavillion de la Preine—in glass cases prominently placed inside the tent.
The event—which felt very much like a private dinner party despite its location adjacent to a public concert hall—may have been planned with the drama and precision of a fine watch, but no one expected the weekend's unseasonably warm temperatures. As the concert was winding down, organizers removed some of the tent top to encourage breeze circulation. “It was lucky there were so many encores, because they might not have gotten it off in time,” said event publicist Caroline Graham of C4 Consulting.