About pacificsymphony

Leading a renaissance in the appreciation, accessibility and impact of classical music in OC. To learn more, please visit PacificSymphony.org.

Meet the Symphony’s Orchestra Librarian

Image Description: Sheet music and folders for the upcoming Zhang Plays Rach 2 concerts. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on the left, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun in the middle and Stravinsky’s 1945 Firebird Suite on the right.  

While patrons don’t often get to see an orchestra librarian, they are an important part of every orchestra. Pacific Symphony’s librarian is Alison Spaeth.  

An alumna of the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati College, Alison graduated with a Clarinet Performance degree. She first learned about the job after meeting Wendy Skoczen, who is now Chief Librarian for the Met Opera. At the time, Alison was looking around for an alternative to a performance career that would still keep her close to the classical music community. It didn’t take her too long to decide that this was what she wanted to do. She was an Assistant Librarian at the Cincinnati Symphony and Principal Librarian at the Austin Symphony prior to coming to Pacific Symphony.  

The Orchestra Librarian’s space is located in the basement at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Despite the fact that her work is primarily done behind the scenes, Alison still gets to interact with a wide variety of people inside and outside the organization. This list includes artistic staff, music publishers, string principals, conductors, the personnel manager, operations staff and orchestra musicians. Alison is at every rehearsal and concert. Her most visible job during concert duty is placing the conductor’s scores. Her most important job during concert duty is being present in case of a music emergency (a last-minute adjustment from the music director or a part left at home by a musician).  

The photo above features the sheet music and folders the Symphony will be playing in the upcoming Zhang Plays Rach 2 concerts this week. Did you know that the library corrected over a thousand errors for the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite for the parts before they were distributed to our musicians? The task required two librarians!

One of the reasons why it required that many corrections is because the 1919 version has undergone several revisions by expert editors. However, the 1945 version remains under copyright and can only be rented from a single source. If an orchestra wants to perform Stravinsky’s later version of Firebird Suite (which is somewhat reorchestrated and contains two extra movements) they have no option other than to rent the materials knowing that the parts are not entirely performance-ready. The publisher has little motivation to issue a corrected printing since they maintain the sole source for it.  

There’s so much that goes on before, during and after a concert. Sometimes going unseen and unneeded is a sign of great success in her job. If she can get through a rehearsal without a page-turn fix request, a question about a wrong note, or any discussion about the music on the page, then she knows the music was adequately prepared. The less time our musicians spend thinking about the ink on the page, the more time they can dedicate to music-making. 

We hope you’ve gotten the chance to get to know our librarian a bit better. Librarians are truly one of our community’s unsung heroes. How much did you know about the job? Let us know in the comments below! To learn more about what our Orchestra Librarian and Director of Orchestra Personnel staff members do, please click here

Announcing Pacific Symphony’s New Magazine

Pacific Overtures is now a glossy four-color quarterly magazine in addition to being a blog and an e-newsletter. We are pleased to offer this new publication, which will keep you informed of what’s going on with your Symphony, and is inserted in the December program book. You’ll see it again in March and May.

As the largest resident company at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Pacific Symphony has much to share about the behind-the-scenes work and people who make up the Pacific Symphony family. This publication is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our generous donors, to present photo essays of our incredible special events and activities as well as to highlight our award-winning educational programs and community engagement initiatives.

In the first issue, you’ll enjoy a photo essay on our successful Opening Night Celebration that kicked off the 2021-22 season on Sept. 30 with an elegant cocktail reception and sumptuous gourmet dinner al fresco on the Argyros Plaza. There’s a photo essay celebrating the 15th anniversary of our acoustically pristine musical home, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, and much more.

Happy Musical New Year!

In addition, there is a preview of some of the Symphony’s exciting musical undertakings coming up in 2022, like Verdi’s celebrated opera Otello; The Langston Hughes Project in partnership with the Irvine Barclay Theatre during Black History Month; Cathedrals of Sound with Pacific Chorale, featuring the world premiere of a transcendent new work Let There Be Light by Sir James MacMillan; The Mozart Project in partnership with South Coast Repertory; and a marathon of Beethoven’s five piano concertos featuring the illustrious pianist Alexander Romanovsky.

Pacific Overtures is a quick read and you’ll enjoy getting to know your Symphony a little better while you see all that the orchestra does to make Orange County a place to live life vibrantly.

The Advantages of Year-End Giving 

During the holiday season, nearly a third of people choose to make gifts to non-profits like the Symphony, so year-end giving is a big deal for us!

Giving at year-end can certainly be rewarding personally, but there are practical financial advantages, too. As you focus on tax planning, donating to a non-profit can reduce your tax liability. Donations can be subject to certain restrictions, so please check with a tax advisor for specifics.

DONOR-ADVISED FUND (DAF)

It is a sort of personalized, charitable savings account, one with significant tax advantages. Even small investors may contribute cash, stocks, real estate or other assets to an account to invest for tax-free growth so they can recommend grants to non-profits like Pacific Symphony.

GIVE DIRECTLY FROM YOUR IRA

A Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) can be a great way to give without facing the normal tax consequences. If you need to make required minimum distributions, converting these to QCDs can lower your adjusted gross income.

CHARITABLE GIFT OF APPRECIATED STOCK

If held for more than a year, a charitable gift of appreciated stock can be advantageous for you and the Symphony. Instead of selling the shares and then donating the cash proceeds, donate shares directly to avoid paying capital gains. You benefit and the Symphony gets a larger gift!

MAKE A LEGACY GIFT

You may be able to have a significant impact without parting with cash today. Secure both your legacy and a legacy of musical experiences for generations to come.

CARES ACT

Also, remember that provisions of the CARES Act have been extended through Dec. 31 to help you and non-profits like ours. Even single filers who don’t itemize may take deductions for cash contributions up to $300. Joint filers can deduct up to $600!

The CARES Act encourages big-dollar donations, too, by temporarily lifting the typical limit on deductions for those who itemize. In 2021, it’s possible to deduct cash contributions of up to 100% of Adjusted Gross Income.

If you wish to give away your entire year’s income, it’s possible to do so in 2021! There has never been a better time to give, so don’t worry if you don’t have thousands to give! All gifts are important. If none of the above are good options for you, please go online, send a check, pay by credit card or PayPal or wire us… You can even talk to a person!

We are reliant on your support as audience members and donors. If you are in a position to give, please make your gift before Dec. 31. For more information, please call Michael Lawler, Director of Individual Giving, at 714-876-2313 or email him at mlawler@pacificsymphony.org.

Thank you for being a part of Team Pacific Symphony!

2021 Staff Holiday Music Picks

Music is such an important part of every holiday. Everyone has their favorites. In this blog post, we’re going to feature some of our staff member’s picks. Please note that staff members are listed in alphabetical order by last name. 

HEATHER ARIAS DE CORDOBA (Interim Director of Marketing & Loyalty Campaigns

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka! For eight years, I was so fortunate to live and work in Hawai‘i. I was the director of marketing and patron experience for the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, and in my time there, I worked with so many incredible musicians and artists. The holidays are different on-island with warm tropical breezes, family luaus, slippahs instead of stockings and Santa arriving by outrigger canoe. As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of Hawai‘i, but you can’t take Hawai‘i out of the girl – my holiday music pick is Mele Kalikimaka, not the familiar Bing Crosby version, but an island favorite from Grammy-nominated local artist Josh Tatofi. Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! 

SHARON LEE (Executive Assistant)  

I unexpectedly stumbled upon this medieval carol a few years ago while listening to holiday music on the radio. I love it for the ancient feel of the music and the flawlessly sung Latin – my mom would have been in tears of joy to hear it! There are several very good recordings of it, but my personal favorite is by the King’s Singers.  

KATHRYN MUDGWAY (Public Relations & Social Media Associate

My first job right out of high school was at Disneyland Park. I was introduced to John Rutter’s “Candlelight Carol” as a member of the Cast Choir one year, and it has been a favorite ever since. “Candlelight Carol” is a special part of the Candlelight Processional, a holiday tradition at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. While our performance was ultimately rained out, I was still able to be a part of the entire process leading up to it. Outside of the Disney affiliation, “Candlelight Carol” was originally published in 1986 and received its most popular recording featuring the Cambridge Singers. You can find it on The John Rutter Christmas Album.  

Honorable Mention: Because it’s always hard picking a favorite, the entire Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack.  

SAM NORDRUM (Patron Programs Associate)  

As a musician, it’s always a challenge to pick only one song as it’s the immense variety of compositions, arrangements, styles and genres that really light up the season for me and my family. For 2021, however, I have to pick Jennifer Pike’s performance of “The Lark Ascending” in London’s National Portrait Gallery. While not necessarily associated with the holidays, Vaughan Williams’s coloring of the musical line evokes a winter landscape in my mind, with the lark taking flight into a light flurry across a fluffy blanket of snow. The lark’s ascent, for me, symbolizes our upward path towards the warmer, brighter days of Spring from life’s Winters. 

JEAN OELRICH (Director of Communications

Christmas is my favorite holiday, especially here in Southern California. It sure beats celebrating Christmas in my hometown of Chicago aka ‘The Windy City,’ where the weather starts turning really nasty in December. There’s something so festive about holiday lights and ornaments on palm trees and cactuses and outdoor caroling when it’s 70 degrees. Also, Southern California has the best classical music radio station in the country: KUSC 91.5 FM. With so much wonderful holiday music to enjoy, I find it impossible to narrow my choice down to just one piece. So, I have to say my Holiday Music Pick is KUSC’s Holiday Spirit Channel, which is available for listening via the internet on your computer and also via apps for your iPhone or Android phone so the music can accompany you wherever you go. The online commercial-free holiday station features an engaging mix of sacred and secular music. And I keep discovering new holiday music that I’ve never heard before. Tune in, check it out and make your holiday merry! 

Listen: Holiday Spirit Channel

CAMERON REEVES (Operations Coordinator

The Nutcracker is a Christmas classic and a personal favorite of mine as the symphony’s Family Musical Morning’s: Nutcracker for Kids is my favorite performance to be a part of. This scene in particular reminds me of the excitement leading up to the holiday season and all the emotions this time of year brings. I love the clarinet solo and it never fails to make me smile. It reminds me of sneaking around in the middle of the night to see if Santa had arrived while not being seen or heard. 

Is your favorite listed here? What does your playlist look like this year? Let us know in the comments below! Have a great holiday season, everyone.

Pacific Symphony’s Online Store Gift Guide

The holidays are officially here and for those of you who get involved with gift buying, we know how crazy it can be. Is your game plan ready? If you still have to get a gift for a music lover in your life, here are some suggestions from our online store with additional tips. Thank you for choosing to shop with Pacific Symphony this season! You’ve got this.  

THE COUNTDOWN AS OF NOV. 22, 2021: 

  • 4 Days until Black Friday (Nov. 26) 
  • 6 Days until Hanukkah (sundown on Nov. 28)  
  • 7 Days until Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) 
  • 33 Days until Christmas (Dec. 25)  

DISCOUNT CODES:  

  • From 11/25/2021 – 11/30/2021, you’re invited to use code 20THANKS to receive 20% OFF every purchase for one order.  
  • From 12/01/2021 – 12/31/2021, use code GIVEAWAY to receive a FREE Chopin Tote Bag with every purchase over $50 for one order.  

The following portion of our guide will be divided into two sections: for kids and adults.   

BOOK: A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra  

Written by Robert Levine and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton, A Child’s Introduction to Orchestra features 37 selections that help young readers learn about the instruments, music and composers who wrote the pieces. The book also includes downloadable music and poster.  

TOY: Ludwig Musical Bear  

Born in Dec. 1770 in Bonn, Germany, Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the world’s most beloved and admired composers. These adorable musical bears are premium-quality plush toys playing the artists’ most well-known compositions. It includes 40 minutes of high-quality recordings and is washable. 

TIP: If you bundle these two gifts, this would make a great break or even bedtime activity for your young ones.  

HOME: Pacific Symphony Classic Afghan  

Cozy is one of those words that defines the season. This throw is just that. This custom throw is approximately 48″ x 68″ with a generous 2 inches of fringe going all the way around.  

STATIONERY: Musically Themed Note Cards 

Musically themed note cards. Get it? Okay, we’ll see ourselves out. Now that we have that out of the way, there’s something special about a handwritten letter. When you visit the online store, you can pick from eight different themes.  

KITCHEN: Pacific Symphony Mug 

Do you have a Pacific Symphony fan in your life? Are you that fan? Don’t forget to consider this 11-ounce mug. Add a couple of candy canes and a pre-packaged hot chocolate with some marshmallows and you’re good to go. It’s also dishwasher and microwave safe.  

TIP: If you love putting hampers together, pair the throw and mug with someone’s favorite brand of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Additionally, you can also throw in some candy boxes or baked goods as well. You can easily make it the ultimate cozy kit for the biggest Pacific Symphony fan in your life.  

To view the full store, please click this link. Have a great and safe holiday season, everyone!  

Voice of OC Features Guest Conductor Teddy Abrams  

Maestro Teddy Abrams. April 2016. Photo Credit: O’Neil Arnold.  

This weekend, Pacific Symphony will be led by Guest Conductor Teddy Abrams during our Mendelssohn’s Violin Concertos between Nov. 11 – 13, 2021. He was recently featured in an article written by Paul Hodgins from Voice of OC. To see the full piece, please click here.  

Abrams fell in love with music at a young age. Not only was he a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for several seasons and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he has also studied under renowned conductors like Michael Tilson Thomas. His professional journey began when he was 21-years-old, to give you a brief background.  

In addition to conducting, he plays the piano and clarinet and even composes. When he’s not on tour, Maestro Abrams is the Music Director for the Louisville Orchestra and Britt Festival Orchestra in Oregon. Earlier this year, Musical America named him “Conductor of the Year.” We’re excited to welcome him in his debut appearance with us.  

Don’t forget to catch him in action at the concert hall tonight, tomorrow and Saturday! Tickets are still available. To learn more about the show, please click here.  

Thank you for the mention, Voice of OC! To read more of their Arts & Culture section, please click here.  

Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles Make Much-Anticipated Return to Concert Hall 

Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in concert in Nov. 2019. Led by Music Director Roger Kalia. 

We’re excited to welcome Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings (PSSS), Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) and Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO) back to the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall starting Sunday, Nov. 14.  

Young artist development has always been an integral part of what we do. After all, Pacific Symphony got its start at California State University, Fullerton in the late 1970s. Led by Music Directors Irene Kroesen, Dr. Gregory X. Whitmore and Dr. Jacob Sustaita, respectively, each group supports young musicians in unique ways: 

  • PSSS provides string musicians in grades 6 – 9 with quality string training and performance instruction.  
  • PSYWE provides wind and percussion musicians in grades 8 – 12 the opportunity to refine their skills in an innovative, and technically advanced wind symphony environment.  
  • PSYO provides 100+ string, wind and percussion musicians in grades 9 – 12 with intense orchestral training.  

Starting Sunday, they’ll be kicking off the season with three back-to-back concerts. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission. To learn more, please use the links below.  

Don’t miss the opportunity to see these gifted young musicians in action! To learn more about the work they do year-round, please use this link.  

Coming Soon: Giving Tuesday

Image Description: Giving Tuesday event logo.

Since its first year in 2012, Giving Tuesday has become an internationally recognized movement of generosity. This year, it falls on Nov. 30. Here in the United States, that’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend. 

November is a very special time here at Pacific Symphony. Not only are we welcoming the start of our 2021-22 Pops Season underwritten by The Sharon and Tom Malloy Family, we are also observing our annual Community Support Month. No matter how you engage with our community, thank you for your support. Just in case if you haven’t heard it in a while, it truly wouldn’t be the same without you.  

If you join us for an event this season, don’t forget to think about how far we’ve come. From our early days in the late 1970s to now, there is so much to be grateful for. We’ve been through a lot together.  

For those of you who stay connected with us online, don’t forget to stay tuned to our social media pages and email communication for ways on how we’re going to thank you. If you want to join us in the conversation online, we’ll be using #PacificSymphony #GivingTuesday in our posts.  

To learn how you can continue to support the Symphony, please click here. Have a safe holiday season, everyone! Until we meet again.  

Mixer Recap: Pianist Orli Shaham  

The Café Ludwig concert series has been an integral part of our programming since the 2005-06 season. If you haven’t been before, it’s a Sunday matinee filled with chamber music, coffee or tea and scrumptious desserts at the Samueli Theater. This year, we have three shows for you. One of which has recently happened. 

Did you know that pianist Orli Shaham has been hosting and curating the series since the 2008-09 season? In case you missed the virtual conversation she had with Assistant Conductor Dr. Jacob Sustaita last week, we’ve attached the video link for your reference above.  

Talking points during the Mixer include a conversation about Orli’s teaching experience as faculty at The Juilliard Schoolher Mozart project, work as a co-host at From the Top, the Café Ludwig series and more! Here are the links to the three videos that were shown during the Mixer in order of appearance.   

At the first Café Ludwig show last Sunday, Shaham was joined by four Pacific Symphony musicians: Concertmaster Dennis Kim, Assistant Principal Second Violinist Jennise Hwang, Principal Violist Meredith Crawford and Principal Cellist Warren Hagetry. They played a 6-piece set featuring works from composers such as Reena Esmail and Karen Tanaka (who was in the audience) to Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms. The show was recently featured on The Violin Channel’s Facebook and Instagram pages.  

If you would like to see her in-person at the Samueli Theater, our next Café Ludwig concerts are on Feb. 20 and May 8. Better hurry though! Tickets for these shows tend to go fast. Make sure to get them while you still can. Hope we can see you soon!  

Meet Rachel Barton Pine 

Image Description: Conductor Teddy Abrams (left) with Violinist Rachel Barton Pine (right).
Photo Credit: Sally Jubb Photography.

In both art and life, violinist Rachel Barton Pine has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Celebrated as a leading interpreter of great classic and contemporary works, her performances combine her innate gift for emotional communication and her scholarly fascination with historical research. She plays with passion and conviction, thrilling audiences worldwide with her dazzling technique, lustrous tone and infectious joy in music-making.  

She makes her Pacific Symphony debut (Nov. 11-13) performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Teddy Abrams, who was recently named “Conductor of the Year” by Musical America. “Mendelssohn is one of the most enduringly popular violin concertos. We think of the Mendelssohn as one of the ‘easier’ concertos, because it doesn’t demand as much stamina or technical virtuosity as Tchaikovsky or other ‘more difficult’ works,” commented Rachel Barton Pine in her Mendelssohn Master Class article for The Strad. “But for a professional, it is extremely challenging: as with any popular piece, you have to make it feel fresh to an audience that has heard it a million times. Not only that, but you can spend a lifetime trying to capture the character, the sound, the phrases and exactly what you are trying to say in the moment.”  

Rachel explains further in the article, “I first played this concerto when I was nine with a Romantic interpretation, but in my teens I became aware of more specific Classical styles and started to think of Mendelssohn coming from Mozart rather than going towards Bruch. Finally in my twenties, I played it with flowing Classical tempos and free, Romantic rubato, and that’s how I’ve done it ever since.” She also talks about the perfect opening, recalling once spending her hour-long lesson with Almita Vamos on the bow distribution, emphasis and articulation in just the first three B-naturals that open the piece.  
 
The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto was one of 24 violin concertos Rachel covered during her popular 24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside with RBP, an Olympic-like streaming series available on-demand in which she performed the entire solo part of 24 different violin concertos, live and unaccompanied, over 24 weeks. You may watch or share the free, 20-minute public version of the Mendelssohn episode here
 
Rachel has been described by The Washington Post as a “boundary-defying performer” and has been featured on programs including PBS Newshour, NPR’s Tiny Desk, The Today Show, NBC Network News’ “Making a Difference,” and CBS Sunday Morning. Pine began violin studies at age three and made her professional debut at age seven. Today, she performs with major orchestras around the world under the baton of conductors including John Nelson, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Neeme Järvi and Marin Alsop. 
 
This past July, with just 3 1/2 hours notice, Rachel stepped in for Midori at Ravinia, to perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop conducting, when Midori pulled out at the last-minute citing illness.  
 
She was able to pull this off due to her good practice habits and because she had recently completed the concerto in her aforementioned 24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside series. 
 
Rachel began her Herculean #24in24 task during the pandemic because she missed performing these works, which she calls “my life-long companions and best friends.” She had a wonderful time sharing them with audiences in a new way and format. 

Rachel’s unique interpretations continue to distinguish her from her peers. She does a staggering amount of research to prepare any piece and says that this baseline of knowledge frees her up to connect to and communicate the emotional truth of what she is performing. She examines the work within its larger context: studying the composer’s life, the historical and music context of the composition, as well as works by that composer outside of the violin repertoire. She jokes that her bedtime reading is often doctoral dissertations. 
 
“I’m always working to find an effective balance between intellectual validity and instinct — good ideas won’t be effective if you don’t feel them inside, but what you feel needs to be backed up by something more meaningful than ‘I like it that way.’ Basically, every performance needs to be a true collaboration between the performer and the composer, even if the composer has long passed away,” she says. 

You won’t want to miss Rachel Barton Pine’s exciting first appearance with Pacific Symphony. To learn more about Rachel, please visit RachelBartonPine.com. To purchase tickets for her upcoming debut with us, please click here