Pacific Symphony: June concerts

This month we wind up the season with classical concerts and pops concerts. Here’s a quick guide to all of our events in June, with links to tickets.

Anne Akiko Meyers

A pair of young musicians who are already established in international careers visit the orchestra May 31-June 2. British conductor Ben Gernon, born in 1989, principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, makes his Pacific Symphony debut with a program that includes Prokofiev’s “Russian Overture” and Stravinsky’s vibrant ballet “Petrushka.” In between, Israel pianist Boris Giltburg, born in 1984, winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2013, takes on Rachmaninoff’s ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 2. Tickets here

Pops conductor Richard Kaufman is on hand for the series finale (June 8-9), when Stayin’ Alive, a Bee Gees tribute band, arrives to re-create the hits of the kings of falsetto. On the first half of the program, Kaufman leads light classics by Johann Strauss Jr., Otto Nicolai, John Williams and others. Tickets here

Richard Strauss’ rambunctious tone poem “Ein Heldenleben” is featured in concerts June 14-16. With its extended violin solos, the work serves to introduce local audiences to the orchestra’s new concertmaster, Dennis Kim. Star violinist Anne Akiko Meyers also appears in a trio of short solo works, Ravel’s “Tzigane,” Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” and Bernstein’s “Somewhere.” Carl St.Clair conducts, opening the program with Glinka’s Overture to “Ruslan and Ludmilla.” Tickets here

A slightly truncated version of this concert (Lauridsen, Ravel, Strauss) is offered as a matinee on June 17. Tickets here

Also this month, at the Balboa Bay Resort, Pacific Symphony presents the 11th annual Pacific Coast Wine Festival, featuring  a wine auction and wine-paired dinner, and wine tasting of exceptional wines from the premier wine producing regions of the world. Tickets here

Miscellany

Tim Page reviews — or ponders — the largest boxed set of CDs ever produced (all conducted by Herbert von Karajan)….

Soprano Nina Stemme is awarded the Birgit Nilsson Prize and lots of money….

Anne Akiko Meyers, who visits Pacific Symphony in June, talks about playing the world’s most expensive violin….

Acclaimed composer Charles Wuorinen gives a really cranky interview to The New York Times….

Police were called in Ohio after a man playing bassoon was thought to have a gun….

A celebrated American film director will make his debut directing opera at La Scala next season….

A new classical music talent show may be on television soon and Plácido Domingo might be a judge….

That time Igor Stravinsky was in a watch ad

I happened upon this photo the other day — the composer Igor Stravinsky with a cat.

My son and I were curious about the watch — Stravinsky was always a dapper dresser — and we came upon this (click on photo to enlarge, see lower left):

See also: That time Philip Glass was in a whisky ad

Musicians on tour

Joseph Foley, practicing in Chongqing airport.

It was great to catch up with the musicians of Pacific Symphony on the China tour, many of whom I hadn’t spoken to since the European tour in 2006 (which I covered for a newspaper), some of whom I was meeting for the first time. Here are a few of my interactions.

Waldemar de Almeida, cello: “Wally” has been in the orchestra for more than 30 years and has lots of stories and a thick accent (he was born in Brazil). Anyway, one of the most amazing things I found out about Wally is that he was a member of the venerable Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva in 1964-65 and played under the baton of  legendary conductor Ernest Ansermet there. He even made some recordings with them, which I vowed to listen to when I got home.

Eric Byers, guest principal cellist: I recognized Eric for a couple of days before I could place him. Then I realized he was the cellist in the Calder Quartet, a group I had heard perform many times. I fell in stride with Eric at a train station or airport one day and we chatted about the tour. He was impressed with the logistics and magnitude of the thing. The Calder Quartet, he explained, was a for profit organization, so all its traveling is done as cheaply as possible, including the hotels. The group might have a gig at Wigmore Hall in London, but all it has to pay for everything is the not-so-huge performance fee, so the group makes do with budget travel and lodgings. Eric was enjoying and admiring the comparatively all-arranged, luxury travel of an orchestra on tour.

Josephine Moerschel, viola: This was Josephine’s first extended trip away from her two daughters, ages 2 and 4. Turns out she is married to the violist in the Calder Quartet, and dad had his hands full in her absence, sending her S.O.S.s even as we spoke. By the end of the trip, Josephine was saying she’d be bringing home her husband a bottle of duty-free scotch to help with his recovery.

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