A VIP gathering of philanthropists, cultural dignitaries, filmmakers, performing artists, and leaders of global fashion brands came to Carnegie Hall for a Champagne dinner reception celebrating a man most of them knew and all admired: Henry Segerstrom, philanthropist and visionary developer of California’s South Coast Plaza. Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry J. Lundgren offered welcoming remarks on behalf of Elizabeth Segerstrom, the glamorous and gracious hostess of the event honoring the life of her husband, who passed away in 2015. Lundgren also introduced world-renowned opera singer Renee Fleming. The soprano sang a Puccini aria followed by a beautiful and emotionally affecting “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which Fleming knew to be Segerstrom’s favorite from her long friendship with the family.
The evening began with the New York premiere of a PBS film about Segerstrom’s life screened at the Directors Guild of America Theater, introduced by its producer Maria Hall-Brown. The documentary tells the story of how Segerstrom and his family developed their Orange County lima bean fields and dairy farm into South Coast Plaza, the luxury shopping center in Orange County celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017.
The film “Henry T. Segerstrom: Imagining the Future,” which premieres on New York’s public television stations on Friday, March 31 at 10:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN and Sunday, April 2 at 10 p.m.on WLIW21, includes recent recollections and archival footage of many of world-renowned men and women who knew Segerstrom as a business partner, patron of the arts and architecture, luxury retail innovator, and friend. They include Cesar Pelli, Isamu Noguchi, Misty Copeland, Bruce Nordstrom, Valery Gergiev, Frank Gehry, Michael Gold, Rudolf Nureyev, and Peter Walker, and many others.
The retail and fashion leaders in the audience have some of their brands’ most profitable stores among the 250 boutiques at the destination retail center, which Lundgren called “the best in the country” and enjoys annual revenue of more than $1.8 billion. The NYC arts world admires the Segerstroms for their support of cultural institutions like Carnegie Hall and American Ballet Theater, as well as the world-renowned performing arts center that bears the Segerstrom name. Henry Segerstrom served on the board of Carnegie Hall, as well as many other New York-based corporate and cultural boards. He was awarded the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence 2010.
Henry Segerstrom and the Segerstrom family donated gifts of land and significant funding first to South Coast Repertory Theater, the first arts organization based on what would evolve to become Segerstrom Center for the Arts. SCR won which later won the Tony Award for best repertory theater and commissioned and premiered plays that later played on Broadway, including “Three Days of Rain,” “Vietgone,” “The Beard of Avon” and Pulitzer Prize winner “Wit.”
The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall debuted in 2006 by presenting Wagner’s Ring Cycle in its entirety. TheMariinsky Theater production included the Kirov Opera, Orchestra and Ballet in residence in Orange County, and featured Placido Domingo singing Siegmund in “Die Walkuere.”
And in March 2017, Segerstrom Hall featured the world premiere of ABT’s “Whipped Cream.” The new ballet choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky that features stunning set and costume design by pop-surrealist visionary Mark Ryden will have it’s New York debuts May 20 as part of ABT’s 2017 Spring Gala on Monday, May 22. Elizabeth Segerstrom, who is often in New York at the Central Park apartment she shared with her husband Henry, is a chair of the event, as she was for ABT’s 75th anniversary gala in 2015.
To learn more visit henrysegerstrom.com.