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Symphony under the stars

13th annual event raises funds for pioneering science at the Salk Institute

Science and symphony, stars and style came together last Saturday night in the magical setting of the Salk Institute’s Theodore Gildred Court.

More than 580 guests turned out for the 13th annual Symphony at the Salk, which featured the San Diego Symphony under the direction of guest conductor Thomas Wilkins and the entertaining and smooth touch of The John Pizzarelli Trio.

The stunning setting, created in the mid-1960s by Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn under the watchful eye of Dr. Jonas Salk, played well on the cool summer evening. The starkness of the concrete walls was softened by the glow of blue lights and stars projected upward from the packed plaza floor.

The guest list included a who’s who of Salk scientists: Walter Eckhart, Jean and Catherine Rivier, Wylie Vale, Joel Noel, Rusty Gage, Inder Verma and Tony Hunter.

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Also there were actress Geena Davis with husband, Dr. Reza Jarrahy, who were guests of “Celestial Patrons” Jean and Steven Hamerslag. Others in attendance were Salk trustee Harvey White and his wife Sheryl, Jahja Ling of the San Diego Symphony and his wife Jessie Chang, and UCSD Chancellor Mary Anne Fox and Jim Whitesell.

Also there were some of those who aspire to lead the next generation in discovering the link between molecular structure and disease. Post-docs and graduate students assisted with tours of the grounds and others were treated to a sneak peek at the event from the balconies above the plaza.

Irwin Jacobs, chairman of the Salk’s board of trustees, saluted the “Supernova” sponsors - Audrey S. Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Fund, Arthur Brody and Phyllis Cohn, Mary Jane and Robert Engman, Jean Hahn Hardy and John I. Hardy. Jacobs and his wife Joan were also Supernova sponsors. Saluting the attendees who made the sold-out event yet another success, Jacobs reminded them of the Institute’s mission which is “ultimately to improve human health.”

Guests dined on an artfully prepared “box dinner” prepared by Jeffrey Strauss, owner of Pamplemousse in Del Mar. It was filled with telecherry pepper crusted filet of beef with horseradish sauce and smoked prawns, parsley and shallot marinated French beans and Israeli cous cous.

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As a parting gift, partygoers received note cards designed by the event’s honorary chairwoman, Francoise Gilot-Salk, wife of the late Dr. Salk whose artwork adorned the invitations and programs, as well.