From Symphony President John Forsyte’s Desk @Home

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I miss you all and am still mourning the loss of our Beethoven Piano Concerto marathon. So, I want to share a little piano music that has been engaging me (not Beethoven) and hope you find it rewarding.

There are strong opinions about the art of pianist Vladimir Horowitz, because his interpretations are so distinctive and differ from a school of pianists who believe strongly in adherence to the score. Recognized as the last of the great Romantic pianists of pre-revolutionary Russia, his concerts were cult events, particularly since he took several impermanent retirements. His comeback tours sold-out in hours.

Whatever the view of Horowitz, it is hard to argue his supremely poetic instincts, incredible color range, supernatural technique, and ability to build tension. So many of today’s virtuosos were inspired by the standards of Horowitz. I want to share a few of my favorite performances and hope you enjoy them.

This is a touching video of several of the greatest pianists (Argerich, Trifonov) of our time commenting on his art form. Check-out the audience in Moscow listening to his performance of Schumann:


Horowitz’s transcription of “Carmen Variations” is a tour de force:


This 1940 live performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at Carnegie Hall, with the NY Phil, is a masterpiece. Check-out the cadenza around nine minutes into this audio file. I hope you listen to the whole thing though! Even with poor audio fidelity, you’ll get the idea.


Rachmaninov G-Minor Prelude:


I hope this brings some reminder of the beauty that surrounds us.



John Forsyte

John Forsyte
Pacific Symphony’s President and CEO



Pacific Symphony: At-Home-Together Online

Even though, as a public health precaution, Pacific Symphony has temporary suspended live concerts in Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Pacific Symphony will stay in touch with our audience online, offering up culture and entertainment.

Music Director Carl St.Clair will be recording a series of “Carl@Home” videos, sharing favorite YouTube videos, recordings and more.

Carmina clip

Our “Quarantine Clips” will offer highlights from Pacific Symphony concerts and recordings on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Stay tuned to our social media channels for more online info from your Pacific Symphony. We’ll see you in Cyber-Space!

In the meantime, here is a listing of streaming music and culture for your online enjoyment …


berlin-philharmonie-1350490396Streaming Music, Opera and Theater

The Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall: The Berlin Philharmonic is offering free access for 30 days to their famous Digital Concert Hall. Just redeem the voucher code BERLINPHIL by March 31 to enjoy a rich library of great video streamed concert in high definition and with excellent sound. Each season, around 40 concerts are broadcasted live and they can also be viewed at a later date in the concert archive. The archive already contains hundreds of recordings with all the greatest artists of classical music. And there are also fascinating interviews, documentaries and bonus films.

Broadway and Beyond: Playbill magazine provides a list of online offerings about the Great White Way for those craving some lighter moments.

Boris Giltburg plays Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: To celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year, previous Pacific Symphony guest artist Boris Giltburg will be learning and filming all 32 of the great composer’s piano sonatas over the course of 2020. Throughout the year, he’ll be writing about his experience. You can follow the entire project on his website linked above.

London’s Wigmore Hall wonderful video library of Wigmore Hall’s past live streamed events is now is free of charge!

The Metropolitan Opera: Currently, the Met is streaming opera performances with some of the world’s greatest opera stars from its archive every night for free. You can link to the performance from the front page of their website, linked above.

NPR Virtual Concerts: NPR Music has compiled a list of live audio and video streams from around the world, categorized by date and genre, with links out to streaming platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Some require registration, but most are free.

Social Media House Concerts: The Russian-German pianist Igor Levit is hosting daily “house concerts” from Berlin, via his Twitter profile, linked above.

#SongsOfComfort with Yo-Yo Ma: The incomparable Yo-Yo Ma is presenting an online series called #SongsOfComfort. As he says, “In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort.” He includes such pieces as the Sarabande from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 and Dvorak’s “Going Home.”

Vienna State Opera Vienna State Opera is now free streaming its archives that hold one brilliant opera treasure after another.


moog-minimoog-model-d-korg-Kaossilatoand-app-freeFor the Music Enthusiast
Prefer to make your own music? For the first time, you can download free Moog and Korg synth apps to your smart phone or tablet! Let’s make some music.


TheLouvre101__HERO_iStock-1137775285Museum Virtual Tours

For the visual art lovers in our audience, we’re including a list of some of the best art galleries in the world that you can visit virtually. From Paris to New York to Amsterdam, you can see priceless works of art from the world’s most famous artists.

Louvre Museum, Paris

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam 

Uffizi Gallery, Florence Italy

People Magazine also offers a listing of 12 famous museums that offer virtual tours.


A Playlist of Cancelled Concerts

Wind Ensemble

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble

We are heartbroken that we have cancelled or postponed our events in March due to the coronavirus outbreak. Read our official statement on Facebook here and visit our website to get the most up-to-date concert information

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Hafez and Shahram Nazeri

Along with our musicians and our wonderful patrons, our deepest sympathies are with the artists: Pink Martini, who brings so much energy to every show; our students with the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) who have been practicing countless hours; Alexander Romanovsky, who flew out weeks early to rehearse the 10 different Beethoven pieces he was going to play; and our Nowruz headliners, Shahram Nazeri and Hafez Nazeri, who bring all the support of the Persian community to unite the world through music. And to all our fans, thank you for your support and understanding.

We have put together a playlists for both the classical concerts, including our PSYWE concert, and links to Pink Martini, Shahram Nazeri and Hafez Nazeri’s Spotify profiles as well.



We hope you enjoy the music that we wanted to present to you in our beloved Concert Hall in the safety and comfort of your own home – happy listening!

Celebrating Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas

Boris Giltburg is not only a world-class pianist – he was also a guest artist in our 17-18 season, performing Rachmaninoff’s incredibly demanding Piano Concerto No. 2.

Recently, we discussed his exciting birthday present to Beethoven: performing and recording all of the great composer’s 32 piano sonatas. You can find more information for this project on his website. Below, check out the first 4 that he’s released so far!

Another Successful Lantern Festival!

This past Saturday, Feb. 22, we held another incredible Lantern Festival at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall – with over 3,000 attendees, this day-long celebration of the end of the Lunar New Year consisted of music, dance, arts-and-crafts and, of course, delicious food. Check out some highlights below!

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March At-A-Glance

March 2020 starts off strong, with two great events on the first day!

OrganSuperstar-Higgs-663x513Build your understanding of classical music with an informative talk about to understanding compositions by composer and KUSC radio host, Alan Chapman. You can also check out a performance by organist David Higgs who is considered to be a superstar behind the keys. Higgs is one of the few organists consistently selected to christen organs all around the world. As for Alan Chapman’s talk, few classical radio hosts can speak with such clarity and insight about classical music. He will focus on what composers are doing through their work, how they are doing it and why. His talk is guaranteed to open up the world of classical music, allowing you to experience music like never before. Both events begin at 3 p.m.

China VFSetA_v2printPink Martini returns to the hall on March 13-14 at 8 p.m. to perform their exciting set that delighted us all last year. Pink Martini’s 23 person band crosses multiple genres—including classical, salsa, jazz, pop and more—to create an energetic and enthusiastic concert that is truly a genre-bending experience. Seeing them perform has been described as a journey around the world—one moment you are at a samba parade on sands of Rio De Janero, the next you are in a Ventian Hall in Paris. Founding band member Thomas Lauderdale calls it “an urban music travelogue.”

On March 16 at 7 p.m., Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) will perform their first concert of 2020. This special showcase concert features a unique collaboration with other talented young musicians from around the region, as well as the world premiere of composer Steven Mahpar’s work, “Simurgh,” written in celebration of Nowruz. The exciting thing about this concert is all the pieces being played are by contemporary composers, each with their unique vision of how the Classical genre is evolving.

Alexander Romanovsky 8With this year marking Beethoven’s 250 birthday, we are going all out! From March 19-21 we have a unique concert series called Beethoven’s Piano Concertos featuring a different selection of Beethoven’s work, every night. Playing the piano concertos we have the incredible pianist Alexander Romanovsky headlining each concert. The talent Romanovsky brings is almost unparalleled, evidenced when he was awarded the title of Honorary Academician by Accademica Filarmonica di Bologna, at age 15—the youngest since Rossini and Mozart. In addition to the piano concertos, we will perform different selections each day from Beethoven’s romance collection and overtures, as well as Symphony No. 8 on the last day.

If you can’t make it to all of them, Sunday, March 22 is a great day to attend (at 3 p.m.) because Romanovsky replays the most mesmerizing pieces played from the weekend: Piano Concerto No. 4 and Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor.”

Following that weekend on Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m., Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra is back in concert. They are juxtaposing two pieces, Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5” and Chris Rogerson’s “Luminosity.” The two pieces not only contrast the differences in classical composition between Russia and America, but also across time; “Symphony No. 5” was composed in 1937, while “Luminosity” was composed in 2010.


Chireh 3Finally, on March 28, at 8 p.m., we welcomes legendary singer Shahram Nazeri and his son, composer Hafez Nazeri, for a celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. Nowruz is a traditional festival that marks the beginning of spring, and celebrates the “rebirth of nature” and the washing away of the past. Join us for a concert that unites cultures through the power of music!


Celebrating the Arrival of Spring with Nowruz!

2019-03-24_PS_DAG-3093The vernal equinox is a time of celebration everywhere, but perhaps no one takes the arrival of spring more seriously than Persians. They have celebrated the festival of Nowruz, the Iranian new year, for thousands of years. Today, Nowruz, translated as “new day,” is observed by over 75 million people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. It’s a holiday honoring rebirth and renewal filled with family, friends, feasting, music, poetry, and hope for a bright new year to follow.


Conductor, composer and pianist Shardad Rohani, conducted by Carl St.Clair in 2019

This year, Pacific Symphony in collaboration with the Farhang Foundation presents an intriguing concert featuring traditional Persian music and prominent Iranian performers with Music Director Carl St.Clair leading the orchestra on March 28 at 8 p.m. The concert opens with Glinka’s Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla,” a Persian March by Johann Strauss, Jr., and selections by the contemporary Iranian composer Shardad Rohani, who also appears as piano soloist and conductor. The program’s featured artists will be the popular Iranian vocalists Shahram Nazeri and his son, Hafez Nazeri. Described as “Iran’s Pavarotti” by The Christian Science Monitor, Shahram Nazeri and his son have toured North America performing record-breaking sold-out concerts to rave reviews, holding a record for the most highly attended Persian classical music concert outside of Iran. Doors open at 7 p.m. and before the concert, the lobby will be the scene for audience members to enjoy traditional Iranian dances, along with a festive Haft-sîn table abundant with symbols of spring and renewal on display


Anoosheh and Alan Oskouian

Anoosheh Oskouian (CEO of Ship & Shore Environmental, Inc.), who serves as a trustee of the Farhang Foundation and as a board member of Pacific Symphony, commented, “This is the third time—and the second consecutive year—that Pacific Symphony is partnering with the Farhang Foundation to celebrate Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring and rebirth of nature.” She continued, “Before the evening concert, the lobby of Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall comes alive with the colorful dancing and folk music of Iran The spirit of the season will sweep people away when they see the large-scale Haft-sîn table, which symbolizes a traditional Iranian tablescape celebrating the spring equinox.. And we all look forward to the evening concert presenting the legendary singer Shahram Nazeri and his son, composer Hafez Nazeri take the stage, transporting us to another time and place.”

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 this also reflects my own wish to enrich lives through the beauty and power of music.”


Learn more about our Nowruz concert, and grab your tickets, on our website here!

Written by Jeanne Quill. This article has been reprinted with permission by KUDOS Newport Beach.