Pacific Symphony: November concerts

Anton Bruckner

Here’s your roundup of Pacific Symphony concerts in November, on the quick, mobile-friendly, with links to single tickets. There are 11 concerts in all during the month.

It starts with a tribute to the great Ella Fitzgerald on the pops series. Guest conductor Larry Blank leads the orchestra and vocalists Aisha de Haas, Harolyn Blackwell and Capathia Jenkins in an evening of music made memorable by The First Lady of Song. The concerts are Nov. 3-4. Tickets here.

On Nov. 6, community musicians ages 22 and up gather in Samueli Theater for the chamber music edition of OC Can You Play With Us. Pacific Symphony musicians conduct five ensembles. Flutist Cindy Ellis, clarinetist Joshua Ranz, cellist Ian McKinnell, percussionist Rob Slack and conductor Roger Kalia direct homogeneously-instrumented ensembles of amateur musicians in this free concert. Tickets required; tickets here.

In one of the big concerts of the year, Carl St.Clair will lead the orchestra in its first-ever performances of Anton Bruckner’s giant Symphony No. 8 (Nov. 9-11). As prelude, organist Christoph Bull plays music by Bach and Bruckner and the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey sing Gregorian chant. The performance, dubbed “Cathedrals of Sound,” will include a design element by the Prokop brothers of Dusseldorf that will evoke St. Florian Cathedral in Linz, where Bruckner served as organist and is interred. Tickets here.

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble gives its first concert of the year Nov. 12. Gregory X. Whitmore conducts a program that includes by band classics by Wagner, Grainger, Gordon Jacob and others, as well as a rare performance of John Philip Sousa’s early “President Garfield’s Inauguration March.” Tickets are free but required. Tickets here.

In the first of three concerts this season at the beautiful Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo (Nov. 12), St.Clair and the orchestra offer Mozart’s final two concertos, the Piano Concerto No. 27 (with Benjamin Pasternack as soloist), and the Clarinet Concerto (with new principal clarinetist Joseph Morris as soloist). Also on the program, the Papagena/Papageno duet from “The Magic Flute,” with Yllary Cajahuaringa and Mark Peng. Tickets here.

Roger Kalia and Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra perform a program of Berlioz, Austin Wintory and Stravinsky (“The Firebird”) on Nov. 12 (tickets here); and Irene Kroesen and Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings get their season underway with music by J.C. and J.S. Bach, Prokofiev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Brian Balmages on Nov. 19 (tickets here).

The month winds up (and the next begins) with the Symphony debut of Estonian guest conductor Anu Tali. Her program (Nov.30 and Dec. 1-2) bookends a pair of Czech masterpieces — Smetana’s “The Moldau” and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 — with Gershwin’s snazzy Concerto in F as centerpiece. The noted Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang is soloist. Tickets here.

–TIMOTHY MANGAN

Classical cover: Borodin’s ‘Polovtsian Dances’

The 1953 musical “Kismet” used the melodies of Russian composer Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), adapted and given different words by Robert Wright and George Forrest. One of the tunes, from the “Polovtsian Dances,” became a popular song called “Stranger in Paradise.” First, listen to it in its original form, as “The Gliding Dance of the Maidens” section of the “Polovtsian Dances” from the opera “Prince Igor.” (I have it cued up to the proper spot; there’s an intro, then the famous melody.)

Here now is Tony Bennett singing the popular song in 1954.

Pacific Symphony tubist releases new recording

Longtime Pacific Symphony tubist Jim Self has released a new recording. Like several others of Self’s recordings, this one is jazz. It’s called “Floating in Winter,” and it features both originals and standards. With John Chiding on guitars, Self plays tuba and an instrument of his own invention called a Fluba, which is like a giant flugelhorn. Here’s what it looks like (with Self playing).

Here he is talking about the new recording:

And you can sample the album below:

The making of a Bruckner 8

Coming up Nov. 9-11, Carl St.Clair will lead Pacific Symphony in its first ever performances of Anton Bruckner’s colossal Symphony No. 8. The performances will include a design element, which Carl talks about above, on a recent visit to the creators’ studio in Dusseldorf. I’ll sit down for an interview on all things Bruckner with Carl next week, and share it in this space.

Playlist: Great moments in Bruckner (scherzos) from YouTube

Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony give the orchestra’s first performances of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 on Nov. 9-11. To help you prepare, we’ve selected four wonderful examples of Bruckner’s music (all of them scherzos) from YouTube.

Audio: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9

One of the earlier of Mozart’s masterpieces, the Piano Concerto No. 9, K. 271, completed when he was 21. Here’s an exceptional performance from the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Neville Marriner, with Alfred Brendel at the piano.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays it with Pacific Symphony and Rune Bergmann
tonight through Saturday.

Audio: Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 7

I won’t categorize this as a “neglected symphony,” but it doesn’t turn up on concert programs that often, especially when you consider how good it is. The piece is in a single movement; it’s the last symphony Sibelius wrote (in 1924), though he lived until 1957. Colin Davis conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in this live recording.

Bergmann takes over for Previn, premiere and all

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

“Jumping in as a replacement is always scary and fun at the same time,” conductor Rune Bergmann said recently, on the phone from Calgary. The lively and amiable Norwegian musician, the new music director of the Calgary Philharmonic, has been asked to step in on short notice to replace André Previn, who withdrew from his concerts with Pacific Symphony on Oct. 19-21 due to injury. Though it was a tight fit in his schedule, Bergmann gladly accepted the offer.

“I was planning to go back to my family (in Oslo) and spend time with them, but since it was Pacific Symphony that called, of course you have to go,” Bergmann said. “Nice people calling.

“I had my first concert with Pacific Symphony in November last year, and we had so much fun.”

Bergmann agreed to not only conduct the concerts, but also to take over Previn’s identical program, which included Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 (with Garrick Ohlsson) as well the West Coast premiere of Previn’s own “Almost an Overture,” which was given its first performance in Rhode Island in July.

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Video: Overture to ‘Die Fledermaus’

Pacific Symphony opens its Pops season tonight and tomorrow with a program headlined by David Foster. But conductor Albert-George Schram and the orchestra begin the program with the Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Jr., which for my money is one of the best things he ever wrote. Here, the piece is hit out of the ball park by the great Carlos Kleiber (watch him) and the Bavarian State Orchestra. You’re welcome.

Calr St.Clair and Pacific Symphony perform Overture to “Die Fledermaus” on demand.