San Diego Symphony Gala – Over the Top, Opulent, Opus!

The San Diego Symphony Gala Opus 2009 hit all the right notes October 3 as black tie dressed guests gathered for a unique evening at the Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall in Sorrento Valley.

That would be Joan and Irwin Jacobs who have been ‘musically instrumental’ in saving and rejuvenating the San Diego Symphony to its world class prominence today.

Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Fashionable guests mingled on the terrace for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Among the mix were Gala Chairs Joyce and Ted Strauss, and Honorary Chairs Sheila Potiker and Pauline Foster.

Chair for the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture Colette Carson Royston had this to say. “A beautiful evening… Joyce and Ted Strauss did not miss a detail and their graciousness radiated throughout the evening. Qualcomm Hall showcased the San Diego Symphony and an especially enjoyable performance by the Takács Quartet, and a most spectacular looking crowd! We are so fortunate in San Diego to have a symphony of this caliber!”

Many agreed.  “The Symphony and Joyce & Ted Strauss put on a delightful evening of a delicious dinner by the Hyatt, and the San Diego Symphony performed top notch in the beautiful and acoustically magical Qualcomm Hall” said Valerie Cooper.  “Besides the wonderful orchestrating from Jahja Ling what made the night extra special was the participation of so many attendees to fund the school bus program for students to attend the Symphony.  At the last count $105,000 was raised with a matching gift from Bridgepoint Education ($210,000). San Diegans came through in making this a reality for school children!!”

Judith Harris, Chair of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, had these insightful comments. “The San Diego Symphony knows how to throw a beautiful party, yet like the New Children's Museum, they have mastered the secret of reminding the guests how fortunate they are to be able to experience the beauty of culture while contributing the means for hundreds of others to enjoy the same experience. The moving video on their education program was "instrumental" to their message of access for all.”

Guests enjoyed a stellar symphony concert by Jahja Ling conducting and on piano, with a special performance by the Takács Quartet.

The performance sparkled as did a number of guests. Iris Strauss wore a sequin dress by Reem Acra, Valerie Cooper wore Donna Karan with a sparkling and early birthday present from Harry, Sheryl White shimmered in a silk number by Haider Ackerman, Jeanne Jones wore a flowing Zandra Rhodes, Sarah Marsh-Rebelo wore a majestic full length Reem Acra with train, Lael Kovtun wore Badgley Mischka, and Karen Cohn wore black sequin strapless by Oscar de la Renta.

FYI, Harvey White wore Armani and Jay Kovtun did some expert solo modeling. Proud of it too!

Auction items included bus donations to bring school children to the Young People’s Concerts at Copley Symphony Hall, a Van Cleef & Arpels workshop tour in New York City plus a brilliant diamond brooch, and a trip to New York plus lunch or dinner with Marvin Hamlisch.

That's the Marvelous Marvin Hamlisch.

Iris Strauss later had this remark. “The symphony gala was really wonderful. The festive and fashionable crowd, the delicious dinner by the Hyatt with lobster, and the beautiful program. Especially the final selection by the orchestra, Dances of the Galant, was just absolutely beautiful. We all enjoyed the evening and wish the symphony a very successful season.”

Successful and fun fundraiser it was. “Opulent is the first word that comes to mind in describing the truly elegant evening’ said Jeanne Jones.  “Everything was over the top-- stylish decor, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, lobster entree, and a superb concert followed by dancing under the stars.  If that wasn't enough there was a create your own ice cream sundae station!!”

“I have to say it was one of the most fun parties of the year! I really think everyone had a great time. Kudos to Joyce and Ted!!! Also very cool the way the belly bars matched the invitation! Nice attention to detail!” remarked Sheryl White.

Karen Cohn agreed and added this. “The gala party had a great energy that could be contributed to Joyce and Ted's hard work and attention to detail. Everyone had a wonderful time.”

Indeed they did. More patrons there included Barbara Bloom, Julia Brown, David C. Copley who had just come back from Milan and the prestigious amFar fundraiser, Audrey Geisel, Joyce and Craig Grosvenor, Rachel Grosvenor, Gale and Jim Krause, Adele and Mike Lapadula and Dr. William and Evelyn Olson Lamden.

More generous guests attending included Hermeen Scharaga, Pearl Cutler and Raymond Mason, Barbara and Roger Maurais, Monica and Robert Oder, Carol Putnam, Patty and Murray Rome, Isabelle and Mel Wasserman, June and James Swartz, Phyliss and Dave Snyder, and Linda and Robby Savitch.


To learn more about the San Diego Symphony its concerts schedule, its special events, and its programs, please visit

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Valerie Cooper with Sheryl White and Jeanne Jones

Table Decorations for the Cocktail Reception

Jeanne Jones ** Jane Rice

Pat Brown displaying the Van Cleef and Arpels Brooch ** Vic Salazar and Megan Pogue

Hyatt La Jolla Catering offering delicious appetizers to Gale and Jim Krause

Burl Stiff with Jeanne Jones and Lael Kovtun ** Bill and Lori Walton

Barbara Bloom with Michael Grossman ** Victoria Hamilton and Paul Hobson

Valerie Cooper ** Conrad Prebys with Valerie and Harry Cooper

Jay and Lael Kovtun with Nasrin and Darush Mani

Olivia and Peter Farrell of ResMed with UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox

Irwin Jacobs ** Jesse Knight Jr. and Joye Blount

The Party Scene

Valerie Cooper ** Sheila Potiker

A Dinner Table Setting

Debra Turner and Conrad Prebys

Hermeen Scharaga ** Sarah Marsh-Rebelo

Jane Rice with Sheryl White ** Harvey and Sheryl White

Valerie Cooper with Sheryl White and Jeanne Jones

John Rebelo and Sarah Marsh-Rebelo

Valerie Cooper with Ruth Leonardi and Debra Turner ** Jay Kovtun 'striking a pose'

Valerie and Harry Cooper

Table Decor

Conrad Prebys with Valerie and Harry Cooper

Olivia and Peter Farrell with Marye Anne Fox

Irwin Jacobs

Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Jeanne Jones and Don Breitenberg ** Iris and Matthew Strauss

Jeanne Jones and Don Breitenberg

Charles Walther-Meade with his mother Yolanda Walther-Meade

Gale and Jim Krause

Lael and Jay Kovtun ** Lael Kovtun

Sarah Marsh-Rebelo ** Burl Stiff with Lael Kovtun

Debra Turner and Conrad Prebys

Bill and Lori Walton

Barbara Bloom and Michael Grossman



reported by Margo Schwab


The Buzz


Yummy Romance at Tapenade with the San Diego Opera


The San Diego Opera is pleased to announce the return of “Taste of Opera,”at some of San Diego’s hottest restaurants.   

Coming up....


Tapenade, La Jolla
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 6:30 PM, 7612 Fay Avenue, La Jolla.
Join Dr. Nicolas Reveles as he talks about romantic French operas and Romeo and Juliet. 
$40 per person for 1 glass wine, prix fixe menu, tip & tax.
visit Taste of Opera for details.


Upcoming Events


October 16th - The Rainforest Alliance will host its gala. It promises to be 'wild' fun!


October 17th - Sundt Memorial Fundraiser.


October 17th - The Rancho Coastal Humane Society will host its Animal House fundraiser. For details please visit


October 22nd - The Walden Family Services will host their 6th Annual wine D'Vine event. Please visit for more details.


October 24th - A Reason To Survive or ARTS will be hosting a fun fundraiser. Please visit for details.


October 28th - Tapenade, La Jolla at 6:30 PM
7612 Fay Avenue, La Jolla. Join Dr. Nicolas Reveles as he talks about romantic French operas and Romeo and Juliet. 
$40 per person for 1 glass wine, prix fixe menu, tip & tax.
visit Taste of Opera for details.


November 7th - The Golden Hangers / FCC benefit for Make-A-Wish and San Diego Variety Children's Network.


November 13th - Scripps Mercy Hospital will host its 2nd Annual 'Dressed to the Nth Degree' evening featuring San Diego's 10 best dressed women and 10 best dressed men as chosen by Leonard Simpson. Michael Neil will be the Honorary Chair. For details and tickets please visit:


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"BEST GOWNS..Sarah Marsh-Rebelo & Lael Kovtun...BEAUTIFULLY ELEGANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - Ralph Castro

Great photos.  Bill Walton is SOOO Tall! - Katherine Schwab

Thank you for all the lovely photos!! - Valerie Cooper

Everyone looked gorgeous as usual. - Muffy Walker

Thanks very much. We appreciate all your coverage--so many beautiful photos! - Stephen Kougias

You both do a fabulous job! I am always so impressed! - Pierrette Featherby


Party Archives




* Margo Schwab, more formally known as Margaret E. Schwab, has produced, written, interviewed and photographed for various media organizations since 1989. Schwab attended Holton Arms School, La Jolla Country Day School and La Jolla High School. Schwab has a B.A. from Scripps College, spent a business internship with S.A.I.C., Science Applications International Corporation, and earned a Masters of Business degree, M.B.A., from the University of San Diego. Schwab additionally took college courses from Harvard University, and Syracuse University. Schwab volunteers for numerous charity organizations. She also continues to support animal organizations and the prevention of people and animal abuse. Schwab is the editor of The Social Diary.

Margo Schwab and Scott Johnston of the Social Diary are pleased to announce partnerships with the San Diego Humane Society, San Diego News Network and now, San Diego Home & Garden Magazine.



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