Pasadena Symphony Raises $400,000 from Annual Moonlight Sonata Gala at Centennial Square

Vivian Godoy Rodriguez, Sandra Plowman, Starrett Berry, Ryan Southwick, Danielle Niderost, Lora Unger (CEO of Pasadena Symphony & Pops)Erin Taylor & Donald TaylorTerry Tornek, Mayor of Pasadena, and Maria TornekShelly Strong, Greg Holcomb, Alec Call, Bryan Johns, Todd NickeyKenton Nelson and Tessa NelsonAnnalylia Madison & Steve MadisonFreddi Hill, Ken Hill, Deborah Lewis, Jonathan RiosBrian Beatt, Maya Solberg, Donna Pierson, Paul RusnakRenate Cowhen, Robert RisleyZhen-gang wang, Sydney Wang, David Lockington, Music Director of the Symphony)Diane and Herb RankinPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight SonataPasadena Symphony 2019 Moonlight Sonata

By STAFF REPORT | Photography by TORI MOCA

5:32 pm | October 2, 2019


The Pasadena Symphony and Pops conducted its annual Moonlight Sonata Gala on Saturday night, drew more than 400 attendees and raised $400,000 towards the orchestra’s artistic and educational programs.

The Moonlight Sonata Gala last Saturday was set against the backdrop of Centennial Square, casting the towering iconic dome of Pasadena City Hall in white and colored lights.

“The evening was such a joy for all involved and I’m so humbled to witness the great philanthropy our community raised for the orchestra,” said Lora Unger, chief executive officer for the Pasadena Symphony and Pops.

The Pasadena Symphony begins its 92nd Classics Season at the Ambassador Auditorium on October 19th, and last Saturday’s gala gave people a chance to kick off the season in grand style.

“City Hall was transformed into a lush garden setting of magical white roses and orchids by Jacob Maarse and the Parkway Grill delivered an exceptionally unique and delicious dinner,” Unger said. “All the guests wore their finest and danced under the gorgeous dome of our beautiful City Hall. ”

Moonlight Sonata Gala a Gorgeous Event

The evening’s festivities kicked off with an elegant courtyard reception followed by a luxurious dinner and plein air program under the sky at Centennial Square. It concluded with dancing into the night.

The centerpiece of the event was the awards ceremony that honored Clara Maarse and Jacob Maarse Floral Design, and City of Hope.

Maarse was recognized as a Philanthropist Luminary for her long charitable history with the Pasadena Symphony Association and the greater Pasadena community. In addressing the gathering, Maarse invoked the memory of her late husband Jacob, with whom she has brightened the lives of Pasadena residents through the good works of their floral design company, Jacob Maarse Floral Design, for nearly half a century.

The gala also honored City of Hope as Community Luminary for its commitment to the research and treatment of life-threatening diseases as well as its generous charitable contributions to the arts, which have encouraged the Pasadena Symphony and Pops to flourish.

There were stellar musical performances by various musicians led by Music Director David Lockington and Resident Pops Conductor Larry Blank. Lockington hosted the evening’s program. Performances by students from the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra were also highlighted throughout the evening.

The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra is a central focus of the Symphony. It includes more than 600 students who are taught weekly through eight after-school ensembles and classroom instruction at various PUSD elementary and middle schools.

Partygoers danced the night away to Tony Galla and the Usual Suspects, a six-piece band that performed songs inspired by Frank Sinatra and the Great American Songbook.

The Symphony’s Classical season opens with what may be considered the best “first symphony’ ever written, Brahms Symphony No. 1 on October 19. Tessa Lark is the featured performer, who will delight audiences with Bruch’s virtuosic Violin Concerto. Other noted upcoming events include Beethoven “Emperor” Piano Concerto performed by Alessio Bax on November 16 and Vivaldi Four Seasons on January 25.

Go to the Pasadena Symphony and POPS website for more information here: https://pasadenasymphony-pops.org/