The vision the Center's founders became reality September 29, 1986, when the Orange County Performing Arts Center opened with a concert in its Segerstrom Hall – one of the nation’s most innovative and technically advanced homes for the performing arts with a gala concert featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. World-renowned soprano Leontyne Price sang the National Anthem. Actor James Whitmore narrrated a performance of Aaron Copland's A Lincoln Portrait and composer William Kraft's Of Ceremonies, Pageants and Ceremonies, which was commissioned for the event, was given its world premiere. Orange County's Center for music, dance, Broadway and arts education had arrived.
Another Step Forward
In 1998, the Segerstrom family deeded another parcel of land to the Center, and just two years later, Henry Segerstrom provided the lead gift $40 million to the Center's $200 million campaign, dedicated to the purpose of constructing a concert hall, a multi-use theater, an education center, public restaurant and community plaza. It was the largest charitable cash gift in the history of Orange County.