A Virtual Nowruz Celebration

Pacific Symphony is once again partnering with the Farhang Foundation for a third annual celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. This year the concert will be online and available for free beginning on Sat., April 3 at 7 p.m. A traditional festival that marks the beginning of spring, Nowruz is a time to celebrate the “rebirth of nature” and to wash away the past. 

The program will be hosted by the award-winning standup comedian and actress, Melissa Shoshahi. Some program highlights include classical guitarist Lily Afshar and soprano Sara Hamidi. Two masters of Persian classical music—conductor, pianist and composer Shardad Rohani and Sohrab Pournazeri—who appeared with Pacific Symphony last in the 2019 Nowruz celebration will also be featured. Sohrab Pournazeri will be offering us a tanbour improvisation direct from Tehran. In addition, Music Director Carl St.Clair will lead Pacific Symphony in Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture.”

This performance will be available for FREE streaming on Pacific Symphony’s YouTube channel and Facebook page from the premiere on April 3, through May 2.

Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte and Music Director Carl St.Clair cordially invite you to the virtual Nowruz concert.

For more information, visit our website here!

Pacific Symphony’s Online Store Celebrates Spring with a Sale

Spring is in the air! To mark the new season, Pacific Symphony’s online store is holding a sale for the entire month of April. You can receive a 15% discount off everything in the store by using the code “HappySpring” when you check out.

You may want to stock up on music note face masks, Symphony coffee mugs, baseball hats, totes and music boxes, to name just a few items available. You’ll want to check out all the fun gift ideas for family and friends of all ages – just click here!

Pacific Symphony League, the volunteer group that supports the shop at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, is pleased that Pacific Symphony staff created an online version of the store, especially during this unprecedented time. The League was founded in 1990 and its dynamic members serve as avid ambassadors throughout the community, existing to provide financial and volunteer support, specifically for its education/community engagement programs. All Symphony store purchases benefit Pacific Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement Programs. Your support matters!

Meet Pacific Symphony’s New Assistant Conductor: Dr. Jacob Sustaita

Imagine moving cross-country to assume a new conducting position in the middle of a global pandemic! That was the experience of Jake Sustaita (pronounced soos-TIE-tah) moving from Texas to Southern California last October to begin his tenure as Pacific Symphony’s Assistant Conductor and Music Director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra.

In Sustaita’s recent conversation with Principal Flute Ben Smolen for his first Symphony Mixer appearance, he talks about all that and more. He discusses growing up in San Antonio and how he got interested in conducting when he was just a sixth grader. For a while he pursued both viola and conducting, before focusing entirely on conducting. He describes how he developed musically and capitalized on a number of fortunate opportunities that helped him evolve as a conductor.

Each conducting experience developed in him a thirst for more. Yet in the face of great obstacles, Sustaita would say, “Nothing scares me, bring it on.” He admits, “Being a musician is like living in a world of no, but you only need one yes.” He advises the gifted musicians of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, “If you work hard, pathways will open up. Never give up. Never stop dreaming. You never know what life has in store for you.”

Sustaita is looking forward to what life has in store for him in his work with the Symphony and Youth Orchestra. He currently lives in Anaheim and is excited to get to know more about Orange County’s Latin community. In anticipation, Sustaita, whose surname is of Basque origin, is brushing up on his Spanish language skills.

We’re all looking forward to getting to know Jake Sustaita better and to hearing him conduct some inspiring concerts in the near future!

Find out more about Jacob Sustaita’s background and experience here.

Watch his Symphony Mixer here:

Pacific Symphony Stands with the Asian American Community

Pacific Symphony is outraged and deeply saddened by the recent acts of violence against Asian Americans, throughout the pandemic and beyond. Anti-Asian violence, discrimination and xenophobia haunt American history and culture dating back centuries. In recent months, anti-Asian hate crimes has increased dramatically throughout the US and to a very great degree in California (Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino).

The Pacific Symphony family especially mourns the victims of the horrific murders in Atlanta. It has never been clearer that the intersection of race and gender makes Asian American women at particularly high risk of anti-Asian violence and other hate incidents. This nation’s history of discrimination and violence against both women and people of color places a disproportionate burden on women of color, and we extend extra loving arms around our Asian American sisters processing the trauma of the events of the last week, year and lifetime.

We stand in solidarity with all Asian Americans. We deeply value our Asian American community members, throughout Orange County’s community and beyond, and they are much appreciated in the Pacific Symphony family of musicians, students, staff, board members, patrons and volunteers. We especially treasure our partnerships with Irvine Chinese School/ South Coast Chinese Cultural Center and the Asian American Senior Citizens Services Center and uplift their wonderful contributions to the Asian American community in Orange County, as well as our artistic work and community engagement.

Pacific Symphony recognizes the work we must do to be a more equitable, inclusive and diverse organization. Our organization is still learning what it means to be in solidarity with our colleagues and community members of color, and we pledge to prioritize our existing work in this arena moving forward.

We condemn discrimination and violence against the AAPI community. While racism, sexism and discrimination may have a centuries-long hold on our society, we can begin taking steps toward the diminishing of these forces on our own organization. In the coming weeks and months, we will strive to show up for our AAPI community members through actively working to make our organization a safe place for all.

To all our Asian American colleagues, community members and friends: we see your pain, and we pledge not to increase it through indifference and inaction.

#StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate #StopAsianViolence

Classical Toons

We recently stumbled upon a brilliant Twitter thread examining all the interesting ways some favorites of the classical music repertoire have been used in vintage cartoons – let us know if you recognized these famous pieces!

Check out the full thread on Twitter!