Pacific Symphony Presents: “The Music Man” In Concert!

“Please observe him if you will.
He’s Professor Harold Hill,
And he’s here to organize a River City boys band!”

MusicMan logo on whiteProfessor Harold Hill, the all-American conniver at the heart of Meredith Willson’s signature work The Music Man, is the most celebrated example of a cherished archetype: the charming huckster. Ever since he hit Broadway in the 1950s, his irresistible mixture of guile, charm and ingenuity has made him the model for ramblin’ rogues in generations of novels, plays and movies. As we see in the musical’s key opening scene, which evokes the rhythmic motion of a train through a proto-rap routine, cadres of corporate-backed product salesmen once rode the rails and the roads to hawk anything from vacuum cleaners to encyclopedias. There were thousands of them, precursors of Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman, getting by on a shoeshine and a smile. For them it was a tough life made all the tougher by shady characters like Hill, who would often skip town after collecting a down payment. If you’re trying to cadge an honest living and a shady character like Hill gets there before you, it’s like the man says: you’ve got trouble, my friend. And yet, with his lightning-fast patter and crafty evasions, it’s hard not to like him.


Jeremy Stolle as “Professor Harold Hill”

The Music Man is generally described as an affectionate evocation of a more innocent time in America. But this is, at best, half true; more accurately, Willson cast a sharp, appreciative eye on an America with growing pains. The action takes place early in the 20th century, with the Civil War still a living memory. Transcontinental rail and telegraph services were new. Everything was changing, unsettled, raw—especially in the territories that had recently achieved statehood, as Meredith Willson’s home state of Iowa had in 1846. In a time and place like that, people yearning for domestic stability were prime targets for a man like Harold Hill.

Willson’s fondness for the people of The Music Man was real, and he even modeled the estimable Marian on his wife, whom he both admired and adored. But he also understood his characters’ shortcomings, which are astutely rendered in the book and music. He depicts bedrock Iowans as comically provincial; they’re narrow-minded, grouchy, skeptical of new ideas and suspicious of strangers. Engrossed in their intolerant gossip, the nosy ladies of River City become a bunch of pecking hens. The Midwestern salesmen who complain about the scurrilous Hill are so unimaginative that they unthinkingly chant the same lines over and over. Even the local barbershop quartet betokens lack of imagination. Does any other musical genre so clearly say “don’t go outside the lines”?


Elena Shaddow as “Marian Paroo”

As for Hill himself, we may love the guy, but Willson forces us to think twice about him. He’s so practiced a liar that his dissembling seems as natural as breathing, though more energetic. Willson warns us with Professor Hill’s false credentials: “Gary Indiana Conservatory of Music, class of ‘05.” As if! The 1967 movie The Flim-Flam Man tips its cap to Hill with the character Mordecai C. Jones, M.B.S, C.S., D.D.—“master of back-stabbing, cork-screwing and dirty dealing.”

Do these guys ever spare a thought for those they’ve hurt? Sometimes not. Consider the case of Harry Lime, the fictional black marketeer that Orson Welles portrayed in the 1949 cinema noir thriller The Third Man, written by Graham Greene. Harry could be Harold’s evil twin: a suave, witty, good-looking liar and master of the narrow escape. But in ravaged post-World War II Vienna, Harry’s antics aren’t so endearing. They include selling fake penicillin to treat wounded children, and he is content to let his best friends think he’s dead—which he soon is.  ©Dylan Patrick Photography Inc.

Jacob Keith Watson as “Marcellus Washburn”

But once Harold Hill sets his sights on the appealing yet formidable Marian Paroo, he’s different. Though Harold, like Harry, has put a vulnerable child at risk—Marion’s 10-year-old brother, Winthrop—she falls for him against her better judgment. But if his transformation starts with a single person, it’s someone far less likely: his former partner in crime, worldly-wise Marcellus Washburn. Very much a fish out of water in River City, Marcellus astonishes Harold by saying he likes the folks there. What’s more, likes sharing their way of life. In the course of The Music Man, we do too.

Ultimately, the power of art and the willingness to dream save River City, and River City saves Harold Hill. Each has something the other needs: Harold needs a reason to choose decency, and a way to be decent. River City, a town of steady habits and tight-wound neighbors, needs to get a glimpse of art and of wider possibility. Once they’ve seen Professor Hill’s glorious marching band, nothing can ever be the same. What about actually learning to make music? That can come later.

You’ll have a chance to witness this lovable huckster and the townspeople of River City onstage at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at 8 p.m. on May 31 & June 1, rounding out Pacific Symphony’s 18-19 Pops series. Jeremy Stolle performs the lead “Professor” Harold Hill, while Elena Shaddow portrays the leading woman Marian Paroo in this semi-staged production of Meredith Willson’s charming The Music Man, backed by Pacific Symphony’s orchestra. Tickets here. 

Carl St.Clair interviews André Previn

André_Previn.jpgIn light of André Previn’s recent passing, we’d like to share an interview between him and Carl St.Clair in front of an American Composers Festival audience from 2015. The two discuss his pieces “Owls” and “Honey and Rue,” the latter a song-cycle performed that night by soprano Elizabeth Caballero.

St.Clair asks the late Previn about the the story behind “Owls,” the difference between conducting one’s own works, and hearing them performed as an audience member. Previn finishes the interview by complementing Pacific Symphony, saying, “That’s a wonderful orchestra. You should be extremely proud of them.”

Previn’s comments are deeply meaningful to us. Please enjoy this brilliant composer’s interview with our Music Director.


André Previn (1929-2019)

André Previn was a celebrated German-American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor. His career started by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Previn was involved in the music for over 50 films over his entire career. He won four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings (and one more for his Lifetime Achievement). He was also the music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Oslo Philharmonic, as well as the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In jazz, Previn was a pianist-interpreter and arranger of songs from the Great American Songbook, was piano-accompanist to singers of jazz standards, and was trio pianist.

“Dreaming In Color” at the Hilbert Museum!

Hilbert Museum-03-17-19-social-media

Pacific Symphony Principal second violinist Bridget Dolkas leads a string quartet in an immersive program inspired by dreams. As part of INTERPLAY, a collaboration with Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts, in collaboration with Anna Leahy and the Chapman MFA in Creative Writing Department, the performance brings together live readings of student poetry and curated texts to explore the concept of “universal dreams” through music and words. California wine and cheese reception to follow the performance. Grab your FREE tickets on Chapman’s website here!

Bridget Dolkas (violin), Agnes Gottschewski (violin), Joshua Newburger (viola),            John Acosta (cello)

Zoe Wilber, Reagan Shrum, Grace Papish, Elizabeth Gimple, Mariam Said (poet), Sam Risak (poet), Sierra Ellison (poet)

Terry Riley: Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector
Arvo Pärt: Summa
Erik Satie: Gnossienne No. 1
Zoltán Kodály: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 2 (Selections)
Claude Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, Op.10 (Selections)

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Seating is limited and will be first-come, first-served with limited standing room for latecomers.
FREE PARKING is available in the Chapman University West Campus Structure at 230 N. Cypress St. or in the Palm Lot at 538 W. Palm Avenue in Orange.


Enjoy a Founder’s Fizz at the Leslie Odom, Jr. Show

Leslie_Odom20338_2You might not have noticed that this season, Pacific Symphony has featured signature cocktails at classical and pops programs. Opening weekend, concertgoers toasted the Symphony’s 40th season with the “Ruby Anniversary Sparkler,” a bubbly libation of champagne, St. Germaine and Chambord.  For Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, they enjoyed “Lenny’s Manhattan,” which was technically a “Rob Roy” since it featured Bernstein’s favorite scotch, Ballentine’s. For the recent Kenny G show, the cocktail of choice was “Sax on the Beach,” a delightful cocktail of vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and orange juice.

Leslie Odom–”Hamilton’s” Aaron Burr–makes his Pacific Symphony debut this month (March 15 & 16). As you’ll recall, “Hamilton” is the hit Broadway musical that tells the story of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton with a musical score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway–musical genres in which Leslie Odom excels as a performer. For his Symphony debut Odom will recap numerous hits from “Hamilton” along with Broadway and classic American pop songs.

The signature cocktail for the must-see Leslie Odom shows will be the famous Founder’s Fizz, the official “Hamilton” cocktail. It’s a twist on a classic gin fizz composed of such simple ingredients as gin, lime juice, sugar and seltzer. You might want to try making it yourself with the recipe below and then compare your results with what Patina’s master mixologists whip up at the Leslie Odom concert! Tickets here.



Hamilton’s Founder’s Fizz
Serves: 1

Combine 1.5 oz. gin, 1 oz. simple syrup, a splash of lime juice and ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into highball glass filled with ice and fill with seltzer.



Everything you need to know about the Iranian New Year in Orange County

DSC_8533.jpgThe famous poet Rumi wrote, “Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” And certainly no season stirs the soul more than spring. March 21 marks the first day of spring, but for millions of people around the world it’s also the start of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. Nowruz, which means “new day” in Persian, has been celebrated for more than 3,000 years. And last year, Google celebrated this holiday of rebirth and renewal with a special doodle that depicted spring flowers and nature.

_DSC2261.jpgThis year, Pacific Symphony in collaboration with the Farhang Foundation presents an intriguing concert featuring prominent Iranian composers and performers with Music Director Carl St.Clair leading the orchestra and soloists on March 24 at 7 p.m. The program will feature works of Khachaturian, Dvorák as well as traditional Iranian music. Guest artists include the internationally acclaimed Persian conductor and composer Shardad Rohani, popular singer and crossover artist Homayoun Shajarian, along with instrumentalists Sohrab Pournazeri and Tahmoures Pournazeri, key members of the popular Iranian group the Shamss Ensemble.

Oskouian, Anoosheh 2Anoosheh Oskouian, who serves as a trustee of the Farhang Foundation and as a board member of Pacific Symphony, commented, “I am so pleased that the Farhang Foundation will partner with Pacific Symphony to celebrate Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring and rebirth of nature.” She continued, “It has been my dream to bring this special Nowruz concert onstage to connect East and West musically.”

Carl St.Clair said, “Pacific Symphony values its position as a cultural resource and leader and we embrace Orange County’s rich and diverse communities through contextual programming. This is a way to connect on a more personal level and also reflects my own wish to enrich lives through the beauty and power of music.”



DVOŘÁK: Carnival Overture
ROHANI: Dance of Spring
   Persian Garden for Violin and Orchestra
   Beauty of Love
   Medley in Isfahan Scale

~ Intermission ~

Traditional Persian music by Homayoun Shajarian, Tahmoures Pournazeri and Sohrab Pournazeri

Article written by Jeanne Quill, reprinted with permission by KUDOS Newport Beach Magazine (March 2019 issue).

Pianist Orli Shaham Premieres David Robertson’s “A Goldberg Conjecture”

On Sunday, Feb. 24, pianist and host of Pacific Symphony’s Café Ludwig, Orli Shaham performs the world premiere of David Robertson’s “A Goldberg Conjecture.” This new version of Bach’s Goldberg Variations re-imagines this famous solo harpsichord work for piano and string quartet.

Orli and RobertsonThe pianist Orli Shaham, curator and host of the popular chamber music series in Costa Mesa, said she was looking for a different kind of entry point into this seminal work by J.S. Bach. “It’s such an incredible piece,” she said. “Every pianist wants to perform it. And, pretty much every pianist has performed it.”

Shaham felt that the combination of piano and string quartet was one of maximum versatility, and so she turned to David Robertson to create this new adaptation for her and selected members of the string section of Pacific Symphony. Why him? While Mr. Robertson is internationally known as a conductor, he has long had an interest in writing music – even before he triple-majored in composition, conducting and French horn at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Over the past few years, he has created a number of transcriptions for the interactive concert series for children, Orli Shaham’s “Bach Yard” (formerly “Baby Got Bach”).robertson-a0bcb19435a29019c2ce788c58c991b4f031874c-s1100-c15

“A Goldberg Conjecture” is beyond a mere transcription of Bach’s music, says Robertson. “It is actually a hybrid form. There are places where I allow Bach to be just him, and then there are moments where I really get in there and mess things up. It’s an enlargement of elements that I feel are fascinating within the piece.” Robertson’s title is a play on words of the “Goldbach Conjecture,” an 18th century mathematical treatise.Orli red dress by Christian Steiner.jpg

Orli Shaham is delighted with the way David Robertson takes advantage of the modern keyboard and its reach in this music. “He’s taken into account how different sounds and timbres affect each other. In some cases, he’s put variations on top of one another to be played simultaneously. He has created a fascinating sound world employing various string techniques in combination with the piano.”

The premiere on February 24 includes just half of the variations from Bach’s original music. Robertson is still working on his ‘conjecture’ of the entire Goldberg Variations, so Café Ludwig audiences have something to look forward to.

Performance Details
Sunday, February 24 at 3:00 p.m.
Pacific Symphony’s Cafe Ludwig
Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Orli Shaham, piano and host
Dennis Kim, violin
Bridget Dolkas, violin
Meredith Crawford, viola
Timothy Landauer, cello

PERLE: Classic Suite, Op. 3
BACH/MOZART: Fugues transcribed for String Quartet from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, K. 405
BACH-LISZT: Prelude and Fugue in A minor, originally for organ, BWV 543
J.S. BACH /D.E. ROBERTSON: “A Goldberg Conjecture” (World Premiere)

There are only a few tickets left for this concert – call our Box Office at (714) 755-5799 to reserve yours! For more information on this concert, please visit our website.

Pacific Symphony 2019-20 Season Announcement

Carl St.Clair, music director of Pacific Symphony and John Forsyte, the Symphony’s president, announce programming for the orchestra’s 2019-20 season. Pacific Symphony will celebrate Carl St.Clair’s 30th year as music director of the orchestra and pays homage to Beethoven to honor the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth. This landmark season commences on Thursday, Sept. 26 with Maestro St.Clair conducting the combined forces of Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale in a program featuring two great blockbusters: Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy,” a forerunner to his mighty Ninth Symphony along with Carl Orff’s popular masterpiece “Carmina Burana,” the most frequently performed choral work of the 21st century.

Comprising 18 programs, the 2019-20 classical season features the Maestro’s preferred composers, works and performing artists that he has enjoyed over the past three decades. He has carefully selected artists, repertoire and new works by contemporary composers he’s worked with in the past. The season also reflects the orchestra’s diverse repertoire—from core symphonic works to world premieres to full-length operas.

Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte commented: “We are fortunate to have had Carl St.Clair guiding and building Pacific Symphony for 30 years. He is the longest-tenured music director of America’s leading orchestras and only the second music director in Pacific Symphony’s 40-year history. The people of Orange County have enjoyed the benefit of this brilliant musician’s singular vision for the orchestra. For three decades, in which we have experienced Pacific Symphony’s tremendous growth, he has creatively shaped the musical taste of Orange County audiences and has expanded their listening horizons.”

“My musical experiences with the incredible musicians of Pacific Symphony has been an incredible gift,” acknowledged Carl St.Clair. “It has been my pleasure to work with these brilliant artists over the past 30 years, and I have selected for the 2019-20 season particularly meaningful repertoire that showcases their virtuosity and humanity as well as our shared musical history.”

St.Clair continued, “I see my 30th season as music director with Pacific Symphony as a time to reflect and also celebrate. I am pleased that long-time friends and recently discovered collaborators will be sharing the stage with me during this special season: for instance the French Canadian pianist Alain Lefèvre and Benjamin Pasternack, who has played more with Pacific Symphony than any other pianist, as well as new friends such as Alexander Romanovsky, the brilliant young Ukrainian pianist, who will be joining us for an immersive weekend where together we’ll traverse all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos. I’m also gratified to include world premieres written especially for this season at my request. Elliot Goldenthal, who composed “A Vietnam Oratorio” for my first recording with Pacific Symphony, agreed to write a new work especially for this season. My dear friend and USC colleague Frank Ticheli will also be writing a new work to be premiered with us this season. And, of course, my 30th season wouldn’t be complete without including special works by composer John Williams, who was so instrumental in encouraging me to come to Pacific Symphony in the first place.”

Pacific Symphony guest soloists during the 2019-20 season include pianist Benjamin Pasternack playing Beethoven’s “Choral” Fantasy and on the same program soprano Celena Shafer, tenor Christopher Pfund and baritone Hugh Russell are the soloists for both the Beethoven and Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (Sept. 26-28); Pacific Symphony’s concertmaster Dennis Kim performing Ravel’s virtuosic “Tzigane” (Oct. 17-19) and Beethoven’s Romances Nos. 1 and 2 (March 20, 2020); Vadym Kholodenko performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (Dec. 5-7); Alain Lefèvre playing Ravel’s Concerto in G Major (Feb. 6-8); Augustin Hadelich performing Paganini’s First Violin Concerto (Feb. 27-29, 2020); and Alexander Romanovsky performing all five Beethoven Piano Concertos (March 19-21, 2020).

Soloists making their Pacific Symphony debuts are pianist Aaron Diehl, performing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement (Nov. 14-16), Clara-Jumi Kang, an award-winning young pianist in demand throughout Europe, performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Jan. 16-18, 2020); and Metropolitan Opera star Carl Tanner as Otello (April 23, 25 and 28, 2020).



All concerts at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Programs, artists, dates and prices subject to change.




Sept. 26-28, 2019 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Celena Shafer, soprano

Christopher Pfund, tenor

Hugh Russell, baritone

Benjamin Pasternack, piano

Pacific Chorale — Robert Istad, artistic director

Beethoven: “Egmont” Overture

Beethoven: “Choral” Fantasy

Orff: “Carmina Burana”



Oct. 17-19, 2019 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Dennis Kim, violin

Williams: “Tributes! For Seiji”

Ravel: “Tzigane”

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”



Nov. 14-16, 2019 • 8 p.m.

Mei-Ann Chen, conductor

Aaron Diehl, piano

Chadwick: “Jubilee” from Symphonic Sketches

Price: “Dances in the Canebrakes”

Price: Piano Concerto in One Movement

Gershwin: “Rhapsody in Blue”

Gershwin: “An American in Paris”



Dec. 5-7, 2019 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Vadym Kholodenko, piano

Goldenthal: Adagio for Carl’s 30th (World premiere)

Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7



Jan. 16-18, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Christian Arming, conductor

Clara-Jumi Kang, violin

Beethoven: Violin Concerto

Dvořák: Symphony No. 8



Feb. 6-8, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alain Lefèvre, piano

Ravel: “Tombeau de Couperin”

Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major

Berlioz: “Symphonie Fantastique”



Feb. 27-29, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Michael Francis, conductor

Augustin Hadelich, violin

Rouse:”Prospero’s Rooms”

Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1

Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3


Beethoven Immersion Weekend


Mar. 19-21, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alexander Romanovsky, piano

Dennis Kim, violin


Beethoven: Overture to “Coriolan”

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1

Beethoven: Overture to “Prometheus”

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4


Beethoven: Romance No. 1 in G Major

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2

Beethoven: Romance No. 2 in F Major

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3


Beethoven: Symphony No. 8

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”



April 23, 25, 28, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Kelebogile Besong, soprano

Carl Tanner, tenor

Greer Grimsley, bass-baritone

Pacific Chorale — Robert Istad, artistic director

Verdi: “Otello”



May 7-9, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Jose Luis Gomez, conductor

Joyce Yang, piano

Carreño: “Margariteña”

Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Schumann: Symphony No. 4 (1851 version)



May 28-30, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Conrad Tao, piano

Ticheli: New work to be announced (World premiere)

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor

Brahms: Symphony No. 4



June 11-13, 2020 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale — Robert Istad, artistic director

Mahler: Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand”