Announcing the 2021-22 Café Ludwig Series

Hosted and Curated by “First-Rate Mozartean” Orli Shaham

Pacific Symphony’s 2021-22 Café Ludwig season is here, featuring three unique chamber music performances: “From Past to Present,” “Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet” and “Debussy and Ravel.” Hosted by longtime artistic partner and curator of the series Orli Shaham, the Café Ludwig series presents Pacific Symphony’s principal musicians in an intimate chamber music setting in the Samueli Theater for relaxing matinee concerts of delightful music-making. Shaham thoughtfully assembles the concerts’ repertoire with strong thematic structures, explaining to the audience how each piece relates to the next, and the historical and artistic context from which these pieces arose. Composers from all over the world are featured, from Debussy to Ives, and Dohnányi to Montgomery. There’s even a world premiere by one of Israel’s most promising young composers, Avner Dorman, to look forward to!

All concerts take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. at Samueli Theater. Doors open at 2 p.m. While there is no pre-concert talk, Orli Shaham will introduce the music from the stage, while the audience enjoys coffee, tea and pastries. Season ticket packages are on sale now; single tickets start at $72, and will be available starting Sunday, August 29, 2021. For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or go to www.PacificSymphony.org.

COVID-19 safety protocols continue to evolve at a rapid pace and audience safety is our priority. In partnership with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, we will be using current CDC recommendations from the State of California to create our reopening policies and procedures. For the most up-to-date safety information, please go to PacificSymphony.org/Safety.


2021-22 CAFÉ LUDWIG SERIES
Programs, artists and dates subject to change.

FROM PAST TO PRESENT
Sunday • Oct. 24, 2021 • 3 p.m.
Samueli Theater

Orli Shaham, piano and host
Dennis Kim, violin
Warren Hagerty, cello
Additional musicians to be announced

Enjoy a return to the intimate Samueli Theater with chamber music from recognizable composers and some of today’s brilliant minds. Barber and Brahms treat you to heart wrenching melodies of the Romantic era, Ives brings a modernism ahead of his time and the music of Tanaka, Montgomery and Cuong showcase the best contemporary music of the present.

Ives: Largo for Clarinet, Violin and Piano
Karen Tanaka: “Water Dance” for Piano
Barber: Adagio from String Quartet
Jessie Montgomery: “Strum”
Viet Cuong: “Wax and Wire”
Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 2

SCHUBERT’S “TROUT” QUINTET
Sunday • Feb. 20, 2022 • 3 p.m.
Samueli Theater

Orli Shaham, piano and host
Dennis Kim, violin
Warren Hagerty, cello
Barry Perkins, trumpet
Additional musicians to be announced

Inspired by the poetry of Nathaniel Bellows, Snider’s “The Currents” puts Shaham’s complete skills as a formidable pianist on display; it’s expressive, poetic and lyrical, telling a story of both innocence and coping with an unpredictable world. Next, experience a world premiere from Israeli composer Avner Dorman who draws on cultural and historical influences in his music. And finally, Schubert’s atypical chamber instrumentation for his “Trout” quintet; a work featuring beloved melodies from his song “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”).

Sarah Kirkland Snider: “The Currents” for Piano
Avner Dorman: TBA World Premiere* for Trumpet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass and Piano
Schubert: Piano Quintet in A major, “Trout”

*Avner Dorman’s piece was commissioned by Pacific Symphony and is sponsored by
Dot & Rick Nelson.

DEBUSSY AND RAVEL
Sunday • May 8, 2022 • 3 p.m.
Samueli Theater

Orli Shaham, piano and host
Dennis Kim, violin
Warren Hagerty, cello
Additional musicians to be announced

French Impressionism bookends this delightful afternoon: Debussy opens the program with the dreamy sounds that made him famous featuring the sounds of flute, viola and harp; concluding is Ravel’s colorful and climatic piano trio. Music by the Hungarian composer, Ernst von Dohnányi treats you to shifting chromatic tonality while Czech composer, Bohuslav Martinů, explores virtuosity between flute and viola.

Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp
Dohnányi: Serenade for String Trio
Martinů: Three Madrigals for Flute and Viola
Ravel: Piano Trio

Touring the OC with Symphony on the Go!

From San Clemente to Stanton, Pacific Symphony’s new mobile concert stage, Symphony on the Go, is touring Orange County this summer. To celebrate the countywide tour, the Symphony along with ArtsOC invited students grades 6-12 to submit poster art that celebrates the role of music in their lives and neighborhoods. From an extensive field of submissions, we’re pleased to announce the winner of the poster contest is Korina Bao. An eighth-grader at Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate in the Saddleback Unified School District, Korina created her artwork in acrylic paints on canvas.

Korina Bao’s winning poster design!

The winning poster will be on display at all the upcoming Symphony on the Go concerts, beginning on July 29 at Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center. We hope to see you at one of Symphony on the Go concerts this summer!

July 29 @ 7 p.m.
Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center*,
2740 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92606

* Mobile Stage will be set in the parking lot adjacent to Alton Parkway, between Kickin’ Crab and Shinhan Bank. The address provided as the location for this event is that of Kickin’ Crab.

July 30 @ 7 p.m.
St. Kilian Church, 26872 Estanciero Dr, Mission Viejo, CA 92691

July 31 @ 7 p.m.
City of Anaheim Twila Reid Park,
3100 W Orange Ave, Anaheim, CA 92804

August 11 @ 7 p.m.
City of Dana Point Sea Canyon Park,
33093 Santiago Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629

August 26 @ 7 p.m.
City of Anaheim Juarez Park,
841 S Sunkist St, Anaheim, CA 92806

August 28 @ 8 p.m.
City of Yorba Linda Yorba Linda Cultural Arts Center,
4802 Lakeview Avenue, Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Sept. 17 @ 7 p.m.
City of La Palma Central Park,
7821 Walker Street, La Palma, CA 90623

Sept. 24 @ 7 p.m.
The City of Stanton Stanton Central Park,
10660 Western Avenue, Stanton, CA 90680

Pacific Symphony is tremendously grateful to Jerry and Terri Kohl, who not only conceived of this creative way for Pacific Symphony to bring music to all corners of Orange County, but also donated the funds to make Symphony on the Go! possible.

Presenting Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story” in Concert—Live with Orchestra August 21!

First Concert Back At Pacific Amphitheatre Since 2019

Live music is back in Orange County! Pacific Symphony returns to Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa for the West Coast premiere of Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story” in Concert—Live with Orchestra (Aug. 21 at 8 p.m.). Two rival toys—a lanky, likable cowboy named Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the fearless space ranger—vie for a place in the heart of their owner, Andy. The toys plot against each other, but when they’re separated from their human, they find a way to work together as friends to be reunited with Andy again. Considered by many to be one of the best animated films ever made, “Toy Story” received three Academy Award nominations, including one for “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman. Pacific Symphony musicians will perform Newman’s memorable, touching score live-to-screen at the outdoor Orange County venue, led by guest conductor Sarah Hicks.

Single tickets for “Toy Story in Concert” are on sale now through Ticketmaster, starting at just $25. To buy tickets, please visit Ticketmaster. Summerfest 2021 season sponsors include PBS SoCal, K-Earth 101, KPCC 89.3 FM and Classical KUSC 91.5. Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa is the official hotel of Pacific Symphony. “Toy Story in Concert” is co-presented with the OC Fair & Event Center. Presentation licensed by Disney Concerts. © All rights reserved.

COVID-19 safety protocols continue to evolve at a rapid pace and audience safety is our priority. In partnership with the OC Fair & Event team, we will be using current CDC recommendations to create our reopening policies and procedures. For the most up-to-date safety information, please go to PacificSymphony.org/Safety.

About Sarah Hicks

Sarah Hicks’s versatile and vibrant musicianship has secured her place as an in-demand conductor across an array of genres, and as an educator, arranger, producer, writer and speaker committed to creating connections through music. Her career has seen collaborations with diverse artists, from Hilary Hahn and Dmitiri Hvorostovsky to Rufus Wainwright, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson; during the summer of 2011 she toured with Sting as conductor of his Symphonicities Tour. Her passion for cross-genre partnerships led to a 2019 album with rap artist Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra, with whom she holds a titled position.

A specialist in film music and the film in concert genre, she is thrilled to create concert experiences which combine sight and sound, and that welcome new audiences to the orchestral genre. She has premiered “Pixar in Concert” and Disney-Pixar’s “Coco”; her live concert recordings can be seen on Disney+ and heard on broadcast for ABC. Her concerts with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra of film music, “The Morricone Duel” was released as an album in 2018, has been broadcast around the world and has garnered over 60 million view on YouTube.

Announcing 21-22 Family Musical Mornings Series, Presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank

Featuring Five Engaging Kid-Friendly Concerts

As live music returns to Orange County, Pacific Symphony is pleased to announce the 2021-22 season of Farmers & Merchant Bank’s Family Musical Mornings concert series, led by newly-appointed Assistant Conductor Dr. Jacob Sustaita. This season features five exciting new concerts, each with unique themes and exploration of musical repertoire: “Music from the Movies and More!,” “Nutcracker for Kids!,” “Cinderella—Opera for Kids,” “Superheroes!” and “Cirque for Kids!” Check out the full season here.

Farmers & Merchants Bank’s Family Musical Mornings are 45-minute kid-friendly concerts that engage and entertain young audiences, setting them on the path to a lifelong love of music. The audience will be guided through the secret inner workings of the orchestra with a captivating, multimedia format as Pacific Symphony is joined by singers, actors and dancers.

Season tickets for Farmers & Merchants Bank’s Family Musical Mornings are on sale now. Subscriptions for the five-concert series range from $60-$192. Single ticket sales begin Sunday, August 29. Concerts take place at 10 a.m. and again at 11:30 a.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Pacific Symphony at (714) 755-5799, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Presenting Sponsor for the series is Farmers & Merchants Bank.

COVID-19 safety protocols continue to evolve at a rapid pace and audience safety is our priority. In partnership with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, we will be using current CDC recommendations as well as Cultural Celebrations guidelines from the State of California to create our reopening policies and procedures. For the most up-to-date safety information, please go to PacificSymphony.org/Safety.


FARMERS & MERCHANTS BANK’S FAMILY MUSICAL MORNINGS SERIES

Programs, artists and dates subject to change.

MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES AND MORE!
Saturday • Oct. 16, 2021 • 10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Jacob Sustaita, conductor
Pacific Symphony

Welcome back to the concert hall—for the first time in forever—with Pacific Symphony and the magical music of Disney! Be our guest and enjoy your favorites from Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and Star Wars. Come dressed as your favorite Disney or Star Wars character and be ready to celebrate a return to live music with the Symphony!

NUTCRACKER FOR KIDS!
Saturday • Dec. 4, 2021 • 10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Jacob Sustaita, conductor
Festival Ballet Theatre – Salwa Rizkalla, artistic director
Pacific Symphony

Visions of sugarplums and beautiful ballerinas will dance in your head after seeing Tchaikovsky’s delightful Christmas ballet, performed in a condensed version created just for kids. This annual favorite finishes with a jolly visit from Santa Claus himself!

CINDERELLA—OPERA FOR KIDS!
Saturday • Jan. 29, 2022 • 10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Jacob Sustaita, conductor
Pacific Symphony
Singers TBA

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!

SUPERHEROES!
Saturday • Feb. 19, 2022 • 10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Jacob Sustaita, conductor
Pacific Symphony

You won’t want to miss the continuing adventures of Captain Symphony! The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra joins Pacific Symphony for this side-by-side concert featuring music from “The Incredibles,” “Superman” and heroic classical favorites such as Rossini’s dashing “William Tell Overture.” Come dressed as your favorite superhero!

CIRQUE FOR KIDS!
Saturday • April 23, 2022 • 10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Jacob Sustaita, conductor
Cirque de la Symphonie
Pacific Symphony

Symphony + Circus = a spectacular show, created especially for kids! Experience a jaw-dropping fusion of fliers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers and strongmen who perform their cirque acts while Pacific Symphony provides a soundtrack of classical masterpieces and contemporary favorites.

“Celebrate Summer”: AXP@Home Presents Final Alumni Workshop

AXP@Home closes out its online spring workshop series with a celebration of students and their artistic achievements during the pandemic

AXP@Home’s latest online spring workshop, “Celebrate Summer, Celebrate YOU!,” which took place last month, encouraged students to reflect on their collective accomplishment of overcoming adversity through the arts and looking toward the future with optimism.

After counselors led our students through fun summer-themed charades in breakout rooms, students practiced their storytelling skills through monologues—expressing the positive things they learned about themselves during this difficult period, as well as showing us the new passions they discovered and crafted while at home for much of the year.

Arts-X-press vocal music instructor Wendy Tobiska encouraged our group to hone in on their imaginative storytelling in the spirit of an acting audition: “As actors, we tell stories. When going to an audition—a celebration of yourself—a casting director may ask you to tell them a story; maybe a story about summer, or the time that you spent during the pandemic.”

Through their stories, students exchanged experiences, showcased their improvisational talents by creating unique characters, and inspired each other to comfortably voice their individuality. “Celebrating ourselves is important,” Wendy told students. “We all went through this big thing together, so what can we share with somebody else that we can take into the new normal?”

As we gradually return to face-to-face interactions in many areas of our lives, it remains important for young individuals to connect with one another through these spheres of artistic expression. Although many of these remote experiences have come to a close in exchange for their original, in-person counterparts, we must also reflect on the lessons learned and sacrifices made to ensure that artists of all ages could continue to flourish, and do our best to keep these values in our lives enduringly.

As this workshop concludes our AXP@Home workshop series, we want to thank our AXP staff, counselors, students and families for embarking on this new journey together and allowing us to expand arts-X-press into this amazing year-round virtual experience!

We hope to see all of you this July as we return to our traditional in-person summer camp for even more AXP magic!

Reminder: AXP@Home participants have priority registration for Pacific Symphony’s in-person arts-X-press summer program. Student applications are being accepted on a rolling basis—visit our website to register at: http://www.PacificSymphony.org/artsXpress Please stay tuned to @artsXpress on Instagram and Facebook for weekly content recaps and news updates!

July Concerts with Pacific Symphony

The popular PacificSymphony+ streaming concerts promise more engaging programming continuing in July. But in addition, the orchestra will begin appearing live with the first SummerFest program of the season (July 4 Spectacular: The Elton John Tribute) and Symphony on the Go concerts featuring our new mobile concert stage experience.

July 1: Ancient Airs and Dances (Thursdays @ 7)

July 4: The Elton John Tribute (SummerFest)

July 8: Haydn Symphony No. 88 (Thursdays @ 7)

July 10: Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony (Family Musical Moment)

July 14: Symphony on the Go at Pines Park, Capistrano Beach

July 15: Beethoven’s First Symphony (Thursdays @ 7)

July 17: Symphony on the Go at Crown Valley Park, Laguna Niguel

July 25: Symphony on the Go at Irvine Hebrew Day School

To review all PacificSymphony+ concerts, click here.

Pacific Symphony’s Most Successful Gala Benefit Ever, “Fandango! An Evening In Early California”

Left: Charlie and Ling Zhang | Center: Photo of “Fandango!” concert stage by Doug Gifford | Right: Richard Kaufman and Carl St.Clair

Pacific Symphony presented “Fandango: An Evening in Early California” on Saturday, June 12 at Oso Viejo Park in Mission Viejo. One of the premier philanthropic events in the Southland, the Symphony’s Gala Benefit honored Richard Kaufman’s 30 seasons as principal pops conductor and celebrated Ling and Charlie Zhang for their unprecedented support and leadership of Pacific Symphony. The festive evening featured a reception set in a picturesque village square, gourmet dinner of cuisine associated with the ranchos of early California and a lively auction of luxury items and experiences. Pacific Symphony—performing live for the first time in 15 months—presented an entertaining program of classic and popular favorites under the direction of Music Director Carl St.Clair and Richard Kaufman. This was the first time that both conductors shared the podium for a historic evening. The event finished to the sounds of the Jump Start dance band with late-night dancing under the stars. The sold-out event, attended by 356 guests, raised a record $2,009,325 (net) to benefit Pacific Symphony’s education and community engagement programs and artistic programming.

Gala Benefit Co-Chairs Joann Leatherby and Leona Aronoff-Sadacca commented: “What makes a perfect evening? A beautiful park, a setting reminiscent of Old California, food offerings inspired by the indigenous people and the ranchers, beautiful music provided by the Pacific Symphony and people anxious to be together. This year’s Pacific Symphony’s Annual Gala, Fandango!”

Gala-goers arriving at Oso Viejo Park found themselves transported back in time to the days of Zorro and the California ranchos as they entered a colorful village square flanked by market booths, complete with an old Spanish mission, haciendas and a ranch corral, all artfully draped with bougainvillea and roses in pink, crimson and coral. Costumed as caballeros, señoritas and señoras, they enjoyed pre-dinner entertainment that included the nation’s premier Mexican folk dance company, Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles accompanied by Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar. Vaqueros (Mexican cowboys) twirling their lassos thrilled the crowd with daring rodeo rope tricks. Pedro and Sweet Pea, two docile shaggy burros garlanded with multi-colored flowers, stood by patiently to participate in on-demand photo ops.

Left: Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles | Center: Greg Bates dressed as Don Diego de la Vega (“El Zorro”) and Gala Co-Chair Joann Leatherby pose with Sweet Pea | Right: Jacque Tahuka-Nunez greets Gala Co-Chair Leona Aronoff-Sadacca

Co-chairs Joann Leatherby and Leona Aronoff-Sadacca welcomed guests to dinner. “This evening is incredibly special as it is not only the first Pacific Symphony live performance in 15 months, but also the first time the Symphony has performed at a Gala,” said Aronoff-Sadacca. “Tonight we have the distinct pleasure to honor Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman’s 30th anniversary with our Pacific Symphony Pops—not to mention his 17th season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—what a terrific achievement! And we are so grateful to celebrate and honor our dear friends, Charlie and Ling Zhang, who have continued to transform and enrich Pacific Symphony with astounding philanthropy and leadership.”

Joann Leatherby added, “I want to take a moment to thank the amazing leadership of the City of Mission Viejo for their generosity in hosting us this evening at this beautiful park, which provides a romantic backdrop for our ‘Fandango.’ Pacific Symphony has performed in this park for tens of thousands of people over the years, and we love performing for this city. Our good friends here in the city have provided the park, security and facilities at no cost.”

To honor the people who lived in Southern California long before the first fandango, Leona Aronoff-Sadacca introduced Jacque Tahuka-Nunez, a tribal member of the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation. Tahuka-Nunez burned sage and chanted to bless the evening as part of the land acknowledgement ceremony with the audience at rapt attention.

Pacific Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte thanked the many donors who had provided generous support during the difficult past year, singling out John and Mary Tu for providing a million-dollar challenge grant. He commented, “It is nothing short of remarkable to consider the achievements of the musicians, staff and board of the orchestra. Over 200 video productions were seen in 50 countries a far as South Korea, Singapore, India and Australia as well as all of our cities here in Orange County.” He went on to recount the extraordinary efforts of the Symphony’s production and education teams for generating so much digital activity that created continuity of service for the many people who craved connection and enrichment during the pandemic.

Board chairman John Evans took the podium to introduce the first honorees of the evening, Ling and Charlie Zhang. He said, “Winston Churchill wrote: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ In Ling and Charlie Zhang, we observe the ultimate example of building a beautiful life through purpose-driven work. Not only do Charlie and Ling give so generously of their wealth, they set a high bar for hard work and accomplishments, challenging artists, board and staff of Pacific Symphony to push through barriers to better serve our community through inspiring music.” He introduced a tribute video honoring the Zhangs.

Forsyte welcomed Ling and Charlie Zhang to the stage and presented them with flowers and a photo album with a personal message from Carl St.Clair. The Zhangs acknowledged the audience’s applause and expressed their gratitude.

Pacific Symphony performs on the outdoor stage for the Gala audience

For its first Gala performance, Pacific Symphony played a program that featured music one might associate with the Spanish and Latin American heritage of Southern California: Marquez’ Danzon No. 2, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with guitarist Mak Grgic, James Horner’s “Mask of Zorro,” Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” with Jessica Pearlman as soloist and “Malambo” from Ginastera’s “Estancia.” Carl St.Clair and Richard Kaufman traded podium duties throughout the program, finishing with Kaufman conducting “Fandango” by classic film composer Dmitri Tiomkin. Carl St.Clair introduced a video celebrating Richard Kaufman’s 30-year tenure as Pacific Symphony’s principal pops conductor and presented him with monogrammed briefcase.

To complete this “Evening in Early California,” guests fandangoed the night away to the dance band sounds of Jump Start.

Pink Martini Returns To Pacific Symphony’s Pops Series

Last Year’s Postponed Concert Rescheduled for Sept. 3 and 4

Last year’s postponed Pink Martini concert has been rescheduled for Sept. 3 and 4 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The incredible musical stylings of cross-genre sensation Pink Martini will once again join Pacific Symphony musicians onstage for the fourth time since 2010 as Andy Einhorn conducts! Pink Martini is part big band, part classical ensemble, part salsa troupe and all fun! The energetic and enthusiastic “little orchestra” finds its musical inspiration from cultures around the world, easily jumping from genres like pop, jazz and classical to establish its own unique blend of music. Formed in Portland, Ore., the 12-member ensemble has been a popular favorite in many countries for more than a decade with its revitalization of vintage Big Band sound, in combination with 1940s jazz, cross-cultural rhythms and much more!

“Pink martini is a rollicking around-the-world musical adventure… if the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we’d be that band.”

– Thomas Lauderdale, bandleader/pianist

Featuring a dozen musicians with songs in 25 languages, Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and North America. Pink Martini made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1998 under the direction of Norman Leyden. Since then, the band has gone on to play with more than 70 orchestras around the world, including multiple engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Boston Pops, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the San Francisco Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House, and the BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall in London.

This exciting act in Pacific Symphony’s Pops series takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $52. For more information, click here.

Enjoy Pink Martini below:

A Fun Fourth Of July With Fireworks And Live Rock

Elton John Tribute featuring Craig A. Meyer aka “Almost Elton John” with Pacific Symphony at Irvine’s Fivepoint Amphitheatre, July 4 at 8 p.m.

As the nation celebrates its independence, live music returns to the great outdoors when Pacific Symphony kicks off the OC summer concert season at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine. The Fourth of July Spectacular features an Elton John Tribute starring multi-award-winning, multi-talented singer/actor/pianist Craig A. Meyer as “Almost Elton John.” You’ll hear “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Rocket Man,” “Your Song,” and so many more iconic hits. Plus enjoy patriotic favorites, a salute to the U.S. armed forces and brilliant fireworks finale! For more information, go to PacificSymphony.org. Or to buy tickets visit Ticketmaster.

In a world filled with musical homages, there are tribute artists, cover bands and impersonators, but Craig A. Meyer’s “Almost Elton John” show is unlike anything else. “Really, I’m an illusionist,” says Meyer, who for the last 13 years has used smoke, mirrors, sequins and platform heels to convince audiences that he’s the next closest thing to the British pop superstar. “I lovingly call Almost Elton my ‘superhero’ alter ego,” he adds. “I step in a phone booth and walk out wearing a cape. I’m still Craig, but I’m also this other entity. It’s fun to step into somebody else’s heels for a while, if you will.” Barry Manilow said Meyer is “one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. He can do ANYTHING!.”

Meyer and his backing group, the Rocket Band will perform to the lush orchestral sounds of Pacific Symphony under the baton of Richard Kaufman, Hollywood’s quintessential “maestro of the movies.” Kaufman said, “As families and friends reunite and the country opens up this Fourth of July, we look forward to bringing you an exciting program that will make you feel glad to be alive again. There’s something for everyone. And it will be the perfect way to celebrate our country’s 245th birthday!”

Pacific Symphony SummerFest season sponsors include PBS SoCal, K-Earth 101, KPCC 89.3 FM and Classical KUSC 91.5. Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa is the official hotel of Pacific Symphony. The July 4th Spectacular is generously supported by Live Nation.

FivePoint Amphitheatre is located at 14800 Chinon in Irvine. For venue information, click here.

A Virtual Verdi: Voice of OC Highlights “La Traviata”

From the article:

[Stage Director Bob] Neu and St.Clair started batting around some staging ideas, and possible solutions soon presented themselves. “The more we talked through it and the more we thought about it, the more we realized that the ‘less is more’ concept could work,” Neu said. “There’s very little that the chorus sings that’s absolutely necessary to tell the story. They’re mostly adding atmosphere and commenting on things.”

Other aspects of “La Traviata” make it suitable for stripped-down adaptation, Neu surmised.

“It has one central story. There’s no subplot, there’s no, you know, gypsies throwing babies into fires or anything like that – just three characters who are essential to telling the stories. So when those things all kind of became clear for us, we really became convinced it could work.”

Thanks to Paul Hodgins for the excellent coverage in Voice of OC!

We hope you enjoy this clip of the incredible soprano, Cecilia Violetta Lopez, in her starring role as “Violetta” in “La Traviata,” performing the heart-breaking “Addio, del passato.”

Our virtual production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” debuts Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m. PDT. You can buy tickets here.