Making Star Wars History

Pacific Symphony on the Celebration Stage at Star Wars Celebration 2022. Photo by Walt Disney Studios.
Pacific Symphony on the Celebration Stage at Star Wars Celebration 2022. Photo by Walt Disney Studios.

Pacific Symphony became a part of Star Wars history when they participated in the Lucasfilm’s Studio Showcase panel at Star Wars Celebration, Thursday, May 26 in Anaheim, California. Under the baton of five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams, the orchestra performed the live premiere of the new theme from the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series.  

Pacific Chorale opened the Obi-Wan Kenobi segment performing “Duel of the Fates” (from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) culminating in stars Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Darth Vader) walking out on stage to greet the crowd. The original limited series marks a special return for McGregor and Christensen to the Star Wars franchise after their last performance together in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005). You can watch a more in depth interview the co-stars had with Star Wars Celebration host Anthony Carboni here.

Pacific Symphony looks on as Maestro John Williams takes a bow. Photo by Star Wars Celebration.

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy then came on stage to set the scene for a historic musical moment. “So, when we began working on Obi-Wan Kenobi, we were struck by the fact that he didn’t have a theme. How could that be? It is with profound gratitude and excitement I am pleased to announce that you will all now become a part of Star Wars history as the new Obi-Wan theme is played live for the first time ever,” Kennedy said. Maestro Williams received a standing ovation as he came out to conduct Pacific Symphony, with whom many of the musicians have worked with him on projects before.

After the orchestra played the Obi-Wan Theme, John Williams transitioned to Indiana Jones. “I know that this is a Star Wars Celebration but here’s a little piece that’s not Star Wars. But you might know it,” Williams said. The orchestra also performed “Raiders March” from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and “The Imperial March” from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Star Harrison Ford and filmmakers James Mangold, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall of the upcoming fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise took the stage to unveil an early photo from the film, and to wish composer John Williams a happy 90th birthday. As on all four previous Indiana Jones films, Williams is composing the score for the new film, which opens on June 30, 2023.

It all came to a close when fans started singing happy birthday to him as he left. Congratulations to everyone involved! It was an honor to be a part of that moment with all of you. To read through some of the highlights from the Lucasfilm’s Studio Showcase panel, please click here.

If you’re a John Williams fan, be sure to consider Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert in August and John Williams: A 90th Birthday Celebration in November.

All SummerFest 2022 concerts will take place at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, CA and 2022-23 Pops Season concerts will take place at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA.   

What’s Happening Next Month: June 2022

The 2021-22 Season officially comes to a close this month. Thank you for joining us this season. We have loved sharing live experiences with you again. All performances will take place at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA this month. Here’s what’s going on. Until we meet again.

BLOCKBUSTER BROADWAY! • June 3-4 at 8 p.m. PDT

This was vocalist Chelle Denton’s video submission for Scott Coulter’s Give My Regards… A Competition Like No Other in 2020. Denton won the competition in 2021. You can read more about it here.

It’s a show-tune song and dance extravaganza! Celebrate The Phantom of the OperaLes Misérables, The Lion King, Waitress, West Side Story, Wicked, Carol King’s Beautiful and more in one thrilling, crowd-pleasing performance. The only thing better than spending an evening at a hit Broadway show is spending an evening with ALL of them. Jessica Hendy, Chelle Denton, Joshua Israel, Scott Coulter and John Boswell will join us in the second half.

Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman.

To learn more about the show, please click here.

CINDERELLA – OPERA FOR KIDS! • June 4, 2022 at 10 & 11:30 a.m. PDT

This enchanting rags-to-riches fairy-tale opera adapts Rossini’s sparkling work especially for young audiences. From start to finish, you’ll be swept away by show-stopping vocal fireworks, toe-tapping tunes, high-spirited comedy and colorful costumes — all leading up to a happily-ever-after grand finale!

Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Assistant Conductor Dr. Jacob Sustaita. This concert was rescheduled from Jan. 29 to June 4.

Join us before the 10 a.m. concert (starting at 9 a.m.) or after the 11:30 concert (starting at 12:15 p.m.) for fun activities in the concert hall lobbies, related to the theme of the opera and exploring the Cinderella story from around the world.

To learn more about the show, please click here.

BEETHOVEN’S PIANO CONCERTOS • June 9-11, 2022 at 8 p.m. PDT

Before concert cancellations began all across the arts world, Alexander Romanovsky was set to play the first of four incredible Beethoven-only programs in March 2020. Here he is performing the Cadenza of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. This very special all-Beethoven weekend will finally take place this month.

An all-Beethoven weekend – in celebration of the iconic composer’s 251th birthday – featuring all five piano concertos with the lavishly talented Alexander Romanovsky. A weekend two years in the making.

Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. PDT. The preview talk with Dr. Jacob Sustaita starts at 7 p.m. PDT. You can also listen to the podcast by Classical California KUSC’s Alan Chapman here.

To learn more about the show, please click here.

BEETHOVEN’S EMPEROR CONCERTO • June 12, 2022 at 3 p.m. PDT

Pianist Alexander Romanovsky. Photo by Daniil Rabovsky.

Pianist Alexander Romanovsky returns to the stage with one of Beethoven’s most beloved works—his Fifth Piano Concerto, “Emperor.” From sheer beauty to dazzling grandeur, the “Emperor” requires extreme virtuosity from its soloist, making it an ideal centerpiece in the hands of the talented Romanovsky.

Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair. There will be no preview talk for this matinee performance. The concert will be performed without intermission.

To learn more about show, please click here.

MOZART & MAHLER • June 23-25, 2022 at 8 p.m. PDT

Awe is the only adjective to describe twin piano phenoms, Christina Naughton and Michelle Naughton; watch as they take Mozart’s rarely performed Concerto for Two Pianos to the stage. On the second half, Mahler’s popular Symphony No. 4 evokes memories of youthful innocence and rustic German countryside. We’re also excited to welcome the return of Soprano Cecilia Violetta López in the second half during Mahler’s Symphony No. 4.

Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. PDT.
The preview talk with Dr. Jacob Sustaita starts at 7 p.m. PDT. You can also listen to the podcast by Classical California KUSC’s Alan Chapman here. This program was originally scheduled for Jan. 6-8, 2022.

To learn more about the show, please click here.

MAHLER’S SYMPHONY NO. 4 • June 26, 2022 at 3 p.m. PDT

Composer Gustav Mahler.

Inspired by a Bavarian folk poem and a song he wrote, Gustav Mahler’s fourth symphony is an exploration of the idea of heaven from the perspective of a child. Come experience the sunniest of all his symphonies.

Chelsea Chaves (soprano) and Dr. Cheryl Lin Fielding (piano) will be performing songs by Gustav Mahler from 2:30-2:50 p.m. His love of vocal music led him to incorporate it into some of his greatest works, including his Symphony No. 4.

Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair. Doors open at 2 p.m. PDT. There is no preview talk for this concert. The concert will be performed without intermission. This program was originally scheduled for Jan. 9.

To learn more about the show, please click here.

What show(s) are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments below! Have a great summer, everyone.

The Impact of Giving

A special THANK YOU from Pacific Symphony!

As many orchestras across our nation celebrate a year of live concerts, here at Pacific Symphony, YOU are the celebration.

Whether you attended a concert, special event, volunteered, made a gift, donated tickets or a little bit of each, you made dreams come true.

From the orchestra members on stage to the tens of thousands of children and adults served in the community, you fulfilled dreams through your dedication to Pacific Symphony. Your support is an investment in education, the arts and the people of Orange County. In fact, your dedication has inspired renowned Orange County philanthropist and Pacific Symphony Board Member, Joann Leatherby, to match your next gift.

Between now and June 30, 2022, Joann will double your dream-making power, dollar for dollar, until we reach a cumulative total of $100,000. Your gift today doubles the opportunity for more dreams like the ones you’ve already made possible.

You made dreams come true for Orange County communities of all ages by supporting programs like the Pacific Symphony League, OperaFOCUS, Symphony 100, Heartstrings, arts-X-press, Family Musical Mornings, the Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles (PSYE), Strings for Generations, ClassAct and so much more. Your support of these programs places Pacific Symphony as a national leader in education and community engagement.

Through your support of Pacific Symphony’s OperaFOCUS, you made dreams come true for these talented young singers as they performed next to world-class opera star Kelebogile Besong during the 10th Anniversary performances of Otello.

Your support expanded Santa Ana Strings to include a new mentorship and coaching program for high school students.

Your support helped us serve 206 regional non-profits with 21 partnerships, enriching lives with wellness, education and healing to some of Orange County’s most diverse communities.

Your support covered financial assistance for most arts-X-press middle schoolers from 17 school districts.

Your support created the opportunity for PSYE to perform two world premiere compositions. Accolades like this attracted the famous Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University to invite two PSYE graduating seniors to apply for admission with substantial scholarships attached. Talk about a dream come true!

And, as we look towards our summer Symphony on the Go! and Symphony in the Cities concerts, your support brings Pacific Symphony to you, your family and your friends in your neighborhood and to non-profit partners such as Age-Well Senior Services and Orange County Rescue Mission.

Your dream-making power is a game-changer! Your investment ensures music and dreams will remain woven into the fabric of our Orange County communities for years to come.

Please, fund dreams with us.


Grégory Pierre Cox, CFRE, CSPG

Vice President of Development & External Relations

Reflections: Verdi’s Otello

“Pacific Symphony Mounts a Surefire Production of Verdi’s Otello” — Voice of OC

For the 10th anniversary of Pacific Symphony’s opera initiative, Carl St.Clair conducted the orchestra, Pacific Chorale and a stellar cast of singers in Verdi’s greatest dramatic masterpiece, Otello. The audience cheered and critics raved.


“It’s luxury casting to have a full symphony orchestra play this music and St.Clair and the Pacific musicians sounded ready for it…Positioned in the loft above the orchestra, the recently Grammy-winning Pacific Chorale gave a fit and trim account of the extensive parts for chorus…Tenor Carl Tanner reprised the title role that he sang at the Metropolitan Opera in a commanding performance…Baritone Stephen Powell clearly enjoyed singing Iago, not with a villainous twirling of mustaches or overplaying, but by savoring the words and phrases as if they were evil chocolate morsels…Making her debut in the role, soprano Kelebogile Besong provided a fragile and vulnerable account of the doomed Desdemona. Her tones shimmered, her phrases filigreed.” 

Classical Voice

A Powerhouse Otello…American tenor Carl Tanner gave the finest singing of the evening as the tragic moor Otello…Like the great Otellos of the past—Ramon Vinay, Jon Vickers, Placido Domingo—Tanner successfully portrayed Otello as a great warrior and a romantic hero who tragically falls victim to blind jealousy…The Pacific Chorale sang and acted magnificently in the Act 1 storm chorus and the campfire drinking chorus, as well as the Act 3 assembly scene.”  

Click here for more information on Pacific Symphony’s opera initiative, Opera FOCUS.

Opera FOCUS Dinner
1) Gary Good welcoming opera-lovers to the OperaFocus Dinner. 2) Concertmaster Dennis Kim plays “Meditation” from Thais by Massenet in honor of Paul Musco and Carlos Mollura. 3) Ellie and Mike Gordon. 4) Music Director Carl St.Clair and Dennis Kim. 5) Assistant Conductor Jacob Sustaita, Stage Director Robert Neu and Volunteer Sonia Levitin. 6) Drs. Hana and Francisco Ayala, Ruth Ann and John Evans, chairman of the board. 7) Tawny Nguyen, Robert Neu and Mark Nielsen

Opera Performance
1) The opera begins with a fierce storm, but Otello steers his boat safely into the harbor of Cyprus. 2) Celebration over the arrival of Otello. 3) Otello (Carl Tanner) greets his wife Desdemona (Kelebogile Besong). 4) Sadistic Iago (Stephen Powell) plants a seed of jealousy in Otello’s mind. 5) Emilia (Margaret Lattimore) counsels Desdemona. 6) Iago rejoices and proclaims his belief in a cruel God. 7) Desdemona prays. 8) Otello confronts Desdemona, while she proclaims her innocence. 9) Final bows

Photo Credits: Doug Gifford

Remembering Sam Anderson

From Sharecropper to Shareholder to Sharing with Others

Sam Anderson, a successful businessman, generous philanthropist and longtime supporter of Pacific Symphony, passed away in April at the age of 86. Born in the midst of the Great Depression in Smith County, Mississippi, his parents were sharecroppers who eventually purchased a small country store and moved into a modest house with no plumbing. He was six years old before he ever took a bath in a real bathtub. “This difficult beginning, watching my mother and father scrimping to provide, had a profound effect on my lifelong attitude toward finances,” Anderson said. “Throughout my life, I have tended to read restaurant menus from the right side and I have owned just three new automobiles.” 

Anderson’s mother died when he was nine years old. Young Sam lived with family members and friends while his father scraped out a living. As a teenager, he worked numerous jobs for little money, earning his way as a carhop, a grocery store stock boy and a construction worker. His grandparents offered to send him to Mississippi College. Many years later, Anderson said, “they gave a gift that would keep on giving.” 

Originally, Anderson wanted to become a doctor, but he left medical school after two years to pursue a career as a salesman in the pharmaceutical industry. He found he had a unique knack for sales and business, and he built a successful career over four decades while also investing wisely in real estate. Eventually his career led him and his family to relocate to Newport Beach. 

“Even though I later lived the American dream, the demons of the life I left behind often chase me. I still have shallowly repressed memories of my struggles between the ages of nine and 18, a period when I worked hard and was viewed by some in the community as a ragamuffin—a near orphan living a shiftless life. I was uncertain of any life beyond that of my father’s, who worked numerous jobs for minimal pay.”

Excerpt from Sam Anderson’s 2018 memoir, From the Cotton Patch to High Cotton 

Sam Anderson’s first wife, Mary Ann, died soon after the couple celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. He married Susan Smith Jenkins in 2001. The couple’s close-knit, blended family includes their three children and five grandchildren. Over the years, Sam and Susan have been generous supporters of Pacific Symphony. They were the co-chairs of the 2017-18 season opening night celebration. That successful event raised nearly $200,000 for the orchestra’s award-winning artistic and education programs. They have sponsored numerous Symphony performances and have been leading supporters of the orchestra’s Giving Tuesday campaigns, providing generous matching funds that inspired others to give.

Sam and Susan shared a simple desire, as Sam put it, “to save the world.” In addition to their generous support of Pacific Symphony, the couple has given their time and resources to multiple charitable organizations in California, Mississippi and in Africa, where they support a school in Tanzania.

Sam Anderson will be deeply missed and remembered fondly by the Pacific Symphony family.

Pacific Symphony Gala 2022

The Board of Directors of Pacific Symphony  With Event Co-Chairs Joann Leatherby, Pat McAuley and Judy Whitmore Invite You to Walk the Red Carpet at Our 2022 Gala 

JUNE 18, 2022
5:30 P.M. 

Potocki Center for the Arts World Cup Field
27301 La Paz Road, Misson Viejo, CA 92692 

Honoring Valerie and Hans Imhof for Outstanding Philanthropy and Leadership 

Featuring Entertainment by Pacific Symphony Musicians And the Big Band Sounds of JT & Friends 

The Symphony Gala is one of the most exciting and anticipated cultural events in Orange County.  Last year’s Gala raised more than $2 million to support the orchestra’s artistic and award-winning education programs. The Gala is not only a marvelously successful fundraiser, it is a “can’t miss” evening of entertainment, grand cuisine and dancing that the leaders of Orange County prioritize on their social calendars. 

This year’s Gala theme is A Night in Old Hollywood—a theme so vast that anyone can find an aspect for which to be passionate. Our evening will focus on the Hollywood films, trends and celebrities that graced the silver screens before 1950.   

A look back at the 2021 Gala.

Just Added To Pacific Symphony’s 2022-23 Pops Season: The Righteous Brothers

Photo Credit: The Righteous Brothers. Bucky Heard (L) and Bill Medley (R).

Pacific Symphony just added a special Valentine’s Day show with blue-eyed soul pioneers, The Righteous Brothers (Feb. 10-11, 2023), to the 2022-23 Pops Season led by Principal Pops Conductor Laureate Richard Kaufman and underwritten by the Sharon and Tom Malloy Family.  

The Righteous Brothers enjoyed a string of top-ten hits, including the most played song in radio history, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, originally from Orange County, topped the charts for four decades. After Hatfield’s death in 2003, Bill Medley continued to perform to sold-out crowds around the world, but fans and friends pleaded with him to keep The Righteous Brothers alive. Medley said, “No one could ever take Bobby’s place, but when I caught Bucky Heard’s show it all came together—I found the right guy to help me recreate the magic.”

The Righteous Brothers concert experience features their biggest hits—“Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Soul & Inspiration,” “Unchained Melody,” “Rock and Roll Heaven,” Medley’s Grammy-winning Dirty Dancing theme “The Time of My Life” and much more, all backed by the lush Hollywood sound of Pacific Symphony. The Bill Medley/Bucky Heard pairing came as something of a happy accident. Medley said it just seemed right: “I’d been friends with Bucky for years, but when I caught his show he just killed me! The next day it hit me. That’s the guy, someone I could sing hard with, laugh hard with, love and respect—on and off stage. He fits The Righteous Brothers live performance show perfectly. And, we’ve even recorded some new material together.”

The addition of The Righteous Brothers to Pacific Symphony’s Pops Season completes this series of seven singular sensations, which also present the Season Special Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert (Oct. 28-29). The 2022-23 Pops Season officially begins Nov. 4-5 with a tribute to legendary film composer Maestro John Williams in honor of his 90th birthday. Five other blockbuster shows in the Pops series include renowned artists across jazz, pop, disco, Broadway and rock: The Manhattan Transfer, Kristin Chenoweth, Gloria Gaynor, The Music of The Rolling Stones and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The finale of the 2022-23 Pops Season will close June 9-10, 2023, with Hamilton: An American Musical alumna and Girls5eva star Renée Elise Goldsberry.

All concerts begin at 8 p.m. and take place at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA. Subscriptions for the seven-concert series are now available and start at $245. Single ticket sales begin in August and start at $35. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact our Patron Services team at (714) 755-5799, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit us online at

To learn more about the 2022-23 Pops Series and subscribe, please click here.

Programs, artists, prices and dates are subject to change.