The Making of “Maestro”

2019-09-26_Pac Symp_DAG-2514 Ling Zhang, Charlie Zhang
Board member Charlie Zhang and his wife, Ling, unveil Carl’s statue, “Maestro”

Our “Opening Night Celebration” got off to a spectacular start to with a special unveiling ceremony during a cocktail reception in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall Lobby. To mark the Carl St.Clair’s 30th anniversary as music director of Pacific Symphony, board members had commissioned the award-wining sculptor Márton Váró to create a lifesize statue of our beloved conductor. The dramatic reveal surprised and delighted the “Opening Night Celebration” attendees, who applauded after the white silk draping the sculpture, titled “Maestro” was unveiled by Symphony Board Chair Joann Leatherby along with Symphony Board Member Charlie Zhang and Symphony President John Forsyte.

The impressive statue stands approximately six feet tall and is made of Carrara marble cut from the same quarry from which Michelangelo created many of his masterworks. Sculptor Márton Váró, a native of Hungary now residing in Orange County, carved the sculpture in his open-air studio at UC Irvine. Maestro St.Clair visited Váró’s studio to model personally for the statue.

2019-09-26_Pac Symp_DAG-2601 John Forsyte, Diana Martin, Joann Leathery, Carl St.Clair, Ling Zhang, Charlie Zhang
Symphony President John Forsyte, Opening Night Gala Chair Diana Martin, Board Chair Joann Leatherby, Carl St.Clair, and Ling and Charlie Zhang

At the ceremony, John Forsyte commented: “For generations to come, this statue will serve not only as a reminder of Carl St.Clair’s remarkable tenure with Pacific Symphony, but also of his continued inspiration and contributions to the cultural life of Orange County.”

“I want to thank Márton Váró,” said Maestro Carl St.Clair, “for creating a beautiful and fitting tribute. And I appreciate everyone’s efforts in making this happen. It is so heart-warming to see the care and attention that went into this work. I can only say I am truly grateful.”

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After the statue’s residence in the concert hall during the opening weekend of the Symphony’s 2019-20 season, “Maestro” will be installed for permanent display in the lobby of Charlie and Ling Zhang Center for Musical Arts and Education in Irvine, home to our administrative offices.

The statue unveiling in one of the many events taking place this year in celebration of Carl St.Clair’s third decade with us, making him the longest tenured Music Director of any major America orchestra.

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A shot from Opening Night’s finale, Carl Orff’s breathtaking “Carmina Burana,” featuring Pacific Chorale and the Southern California Children’s Chorus


Marton Varo_fave photo“I grew up with classical music and listen to it all the time even while working: my ear protection has radio tuned to KUSC, my favorite station. Getting the commission to carve Carl’s portrait sculpture was a wonderful experience in my life. My concern was to carve in marble through the person’s actual features the sensibilities and spirituality of a great artist. Both Carl and I believe that art is in all its forms as has always been very important in human existence.”

—Márton Váró


Born March 15, 1943 in Szekelyudvarhely, Transylvania, Hungary (now Romania), Márton Váró studied sculpture at Ion Andreescu Institute of Arts in Cluj, Romania from 1960 to 1966. In 1970, he moved to Debrecen, Hungary, where he completed several sculptures for public places and was awarded the Munkacsy Prize in 1984. Receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1988, Váró became affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, studying the relationship between architecture and sculpture. In 1990, he became the Artist-in-Residence for a public art project in the City of Brea, California. Ever since, Váró has been working in an open-air studio at UC Irvine, Calif., carving his sculptures for public places throughout the US and abroad. Váró lives and works in the USA, in California and Florida, spending summers working in Carrara, Italy.

The Making of “Maestro”

2 thoughts on “The Making of “Maestro”

  • October 1, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    The openeing night of this, the 30th year of Carl’s amazing tenure of the Pacific Symphony, was a wonderful event, and the music making was of the highest caliber. I am so honored to have been a part of this evening, and will continue to be a part of this great endeavor which the Pacific Symphony. Thank you for the privilege.

  • October 13, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    30 years ago I was in a jr. college music class and was required to go to a happened to be Carl’s debut. I was mesmerized and fell in love with the symphony. Carl was so elegant and handsome, i was hooked. As a single mom I bought season tickets to the season and introduced my young daughter to it. Very rich memories. I recall reading about the death of his baby as previously year my son died also. This gorgeous man and his talent made me fall in love….thank you Maestro…God bless you.


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