A Grand Opening to Remember
On April 2, 1978 in Fullerton’s 1300-seat Plummer Auditorium, an intrepid fledgling Pacific Symphony essayed its inaugural concert. Just 45 short years later, the orchestra has navigated a heroic odyssey including international tours to Europe and China…composer commissions…world premieres…a PBS Special…a sold-out performance in Carnegie Hall…all to critical acclaim. The New York Times hailed the orchestra as “excellent, a major ensemble” and Frankfurt’s Allgemeine Zeitung exclaimed “a top-flight ensemble…exceeded all expectations.”
Music Director Carl St.Clair commented, “We’re opening Pacific Symphony’s 45th anniversary season with one of the greatest tone poems of all times: Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, ‘A Hero’s Life.’ When I think about it, the life of Pacific Symphony is truly heroic. The Symphony’s meteoric rise in 45 years is really unprecedented in the pantheon of American orchestras, and we can all be very proud of that.”
John Forsyte, President and CEO said, “It is with tremendous excitement and anticipation that we embark on Pacific Symphony’s 45th anniversary and the opening weekend concerts of the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series. As we look back on our rewarding journey, it is equally important that we continue to move forward, exploring new horizons. In light of this spirit of adventure, our theme for the 2023-24 season is aptly named, ‘A Season of Discovery.’”
Concert-goers will be greeted with a red-carpet welcome beginning at 6:30 p.m. and ushered into an immersive, interactive lobby experience. The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Hall lobby will be transformed with mood lighting in rich autumnal hues and video screens streaming black-and-white documentary footage that displays Pacific Symphony musicians sharing stories about the musical heroes who inspired them.
Social media selfie-stations provide an opportunity for the opening night crowd to join the conversation and cite their musical heroes, while amplifying that on social media channels. Throughout the lobby space, high-top tables will be decorated with colorful fall flower arrangements and framed photos of Pacific Symphony musicians with their musical heroes will provide a welcoming space to linger, chat, and sip the evening’s signature cocktail “The Hero’s Elixir” or its mocktail counterpart, “The Noble Chalice:” the better to toast heroes everywhere, past and present, real or fictional.
KUSC’s popular host Alan Chapman will offer a pre-concert talk in the hall starting at 7 p.m. in the orchestra level. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and all works reflect the theme of heroism in music. A 22-year-old Mozart completed Symphony No. 32 upon returning triumphantly to Vienna from an extended trip to Paris. The second work on the program is by Pacific Symphony’s Composer-in-Residence Viet Cuong’s and was originally conceived as a concerto for the progressive ensemble Eighth Blackbird and the U.S. Navy Band. Vital Sines now receives its world premiere as scored for full orchestra. The work is dedicated to the composer’s father. It is a richly emotional work that expresses homage with forceful energy and beauty. As was the case with Wolfgang and Leopold Mozart, Viet Cuong matured as a musician whose chief influence was his father. But, as the Symphony’s program note annotator Michael Clive points out “their respective relationships were mirror opposites of each other: where Leopold Mozart was himself an accomplished composer who sought to manipulate and exploit his son’s development, Viet Cuong’s father was interested not so much in music as in supporting his son’s independent creative spirit and his autonomy in life.” After intermission, Carl St.Clair leads Pacific Symphony in Richard Strauss’s expansive tone poem Ein Heldenleben. St.Clair commented, “ ‘A Hero’s Life’ is really a semi-autobiographical sketch of Richard Strauss’s life. We completed last season with his Tod und Verklärung (‘Death and Transfiguration’). And now we’re beginning this season with the composer’s depiction of the course of his life.”
There is still time to secure tables and seats for the Opening Night Gala to be held on Thursday, Sept. 21 and chaired by board member Joann Leatherby. The Opening Night Celebration begins with a festive cocktail reception at 5 p.m. in the Samueli Theatre that not only provides libations and hors d’oeuvres, but also the opportunity to reunite with other Symphony lovers after a summer away from the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Guests then partake of a gourmet dinner with performances by Pacific Symphony musicians. Afterwards, Gala-goers are welcomed to the concert hall to experience the first performance of the Classical season. At intermission, all Opening Night Gala participants are welcomed to the Box Circle Club—a premier club for the Symphony’s top members—where guests wil be treated with exquisite small plates and libations. Post-concert, Gala-goers return to the Samueli Theatre, which will be transformed into a chic cocktail lounge, for light fare, dessert, and conversations with musicians, guest artists, and Maestro Carl St.Clair. To participate in this elevated experience, contact the special events department at (714) 876-2380 or email events@PacificSymphony.org.
The Symphony’s opening concerts takes place Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 21-23, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Season ticket packages are still available starting at $300 while single tickets start at $25. A preview talk with Alan Chapman begins at 7 p.m. Season tickets packages start at $90 and single tickets start at $25. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org. Pacific Symphony’s Classical Series is made possible by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation, with additional support from PBS SoCal and Classical California KUSC.