Dan Brown’s “Wild Symphony” Introduces Kids to Symphonic Music  

VIDEO: Dan Brown and team members in a recording session for “Wild Symphony” with Zagreb Festival Orchestra.

International best-selling author Dan Brown released his first children’s book, “Wild Symphony,” last fall. The story follows Maestro Mouse as he recruits his musical friends to play in his orchestra. In true Dan Brown fashion, there is also an anagram on each page. Don’t forget to look out for the hidden letters that come together to spell out an instrument as you flip through. 

Primarily known for his novels “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Lost Symbol,” Dan Brown’s interest in music began as a kid. His parents were trained musicians and they didn’t have a TV so he started playing the piano. His interest in and passion for the art form grew from there. Music was his sanctuary and he still plays today.  

“Wild Symphony” features 21-tracks composed by Brown and performed by Zagreb Festival Orchestra based in Croatia. In addition to the book, there’s a free app that lets readers scan over the page to play the right song for the right character. You can also listen to the music separately. The book is illustrated by Susan Batori.  

Have you read “Wild Symphony” before? What did you think? What does music mean to you? Let us know in the comments below! You can learn more about the project here.  

Season Ahead: Sunday Matinees

Image Description: Photos of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (top left), Gustav Mahler (top right), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (bottom left) and Ludwig van Beethoven (bottom right).  

Weekends are a big part of our schedule here at Pacific Symphony. We know how important they are to you too. If you’re looking for new Sunday activities, we have 4 Sunday Matinee concerts this season for your consideration:  

  • Oct. 3: Tchaikovsky’s Fifth  
  • Jan. 9: Mahler’s Symphony No. 4  
  • May 22: Mozart’s Requiem  
  • Jun. 12: Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto  

Join us for an intimate and lively behind-the-scenes exploration of the classics! Concerts are 90 minutes long and include insightful comments from Maestro St.Clair. Doors open at 2 p.m. and the concert starts at 3. There will be no intermission for each show.  

To learn more about the series and get tickets, please click here.  

Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall 

 Pacific Symphony’s first rehearsal ahead of the inaugural concert in 2006. Photo by Jim Medvitz.  

Pacific Symphony has been fortunate enough to play in concert halls around the world, but there’s one special place we get to call home. For the past 15 years, we’ve been able to welcome millions of you to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. From our first concert on this day 15 years ago to our comeback with Pink Martini earlier this month, what a journey it has been.  

Recently, L.A. Times readers voted to include the concert hall as a popular regional pick in the 2021 Best of the Southland list for “Places to See a Concert”.  In addition to the concert hall, two of our SummerFest partner venues, The Pacific Amphitheatre and FivePoint Amphitheatre, were also awarded popular regional votes.  

Segerstrom Center for the Arts was awarded “Best Place to See a Play” in Orange County. It’s currently in the “Best of the Best” voting phase now. The voting period will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 10.    

Do you have a favorite memory at the concert hall? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear your story. We can’t wait to welcome you all back for the 2021-22 season soon.  

Arts & Culture Events To Enjoy In Orange County This Fall

Image Description: Pacific Symphony led by Maestro Carl St.Clair on the performance platform at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA.

Orange County’s arts and culture scene provides a lot to look forward to this fall and Voice of OC has a great run down of everything going on. There truly is something for everyone, and we hope you get a chance experience the best our community has to offer. You can take a look at the piece written by Richard Chang, Kristina Garcia, Timothy Mangan, Eric Marchcese, Anne Marie Panoringan and Kaitlin Wright here

Mentioned in the article is our classical season opener, “Emanuel Ax Plays Mozart,” from Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. The show starts at 8 p.m. each night and tickets are still available. To learn more about the event, please click here. 

What events are you looking forward to going to this season? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for the shout out, Voice of OC!  

Celebrate Opening Night, Sept. 30

Can you feel the excitement and anticipation building? The fall concert season is about to begin. Pacific Symphony has planned an exceptional opening concert you won’t want to miss. Music Director Carl St.Clair leads the orchestra in a program featuring the internationally renowned pianist Emanuel Ax, who is known for his “thoughtful, lyrical, lustrous pianism” (The Washington Post). He will perform Mozart’s charming Piano Concerto No. 17. Maestro St.Clair concludes the concert with Tchaikovsky’s moving Fifth Symphony. For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

For an enhanced experience, reserve an Opening Night Celebration Table or Ticket for “A Notable Gathering.” Be part of this one-of-a-kind Orange County special event, featuring a pre-concert cocktail reception and sumptuous dinner on the plaza, an inspiring concert, intermission reception and festive after-party. All proceeds for this fundraising event benefit go towards Pacific Symphony’s artistic, community and education programs. All guests are asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result within 72 hours the event. For more information, please contact Pacific Symphony Special Events (714) 876-2364 or Events@PacificSymphony.org

Get ready for opening night by tuning in to Symphony Mixer on Weds., Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. to experience Emanual Ax in conversation with Jacob Sustaita, Pacific Symphony’s assistant conductor. Watch the Symphony’s Facebook page for more details.

Happy Classical Music Month!

“Classical music is a celebration of artistic excellence. Great art endures through the ages, and in the United States we have embraced that great music and incorporated it into the American experience.” –former President Bill Clinton

In Aug. 1994, former President Bill Clinton declared September Classical Music Month in the U.S. Since then, fans around the country have been trying to find different ways to celebrate it each year.  

Whether you’ve just started listening to classical music or are a seasoned pro, know that it’s never too late to get started or to deepen your knowledge of the art form.  

Here are some fun suggestions:  

  • Pick a composer you’ve never listened to and put together an introductory playlist. You can even keep track of what you think about it on a blog or social media. 
  • If you’re a musician, create a video series of some of your favorite compositions and classical artists.  
  • Don’t forget to thank your favorite music educators!  
  • Look for volunteer opportunities to support your local arts organizations. 
  • Attend a Pacific Symphony concert! 😉  
  • If you’re looking for a way to end the summer season, our Tchaikovsky Spectacular will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11th at the Pacific Amphitheatre.  

How would you celebrate Classical Music Month? How has music impacted your life? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear your story. Thank you for your continued support during this unprecedented time.  

A Halloween Playlist

By ERICA SHARP

1. Scythian Suite Op. 20 III. Night by Sergei Prokofiev:

2. Piano Sonata No. 14 (Moonlight Sonata) III. Presto agitato by Ludwig van Beethoven:

3. Die Feldermaus Overture by Johann Strauss II:

4. Der Vampyr Overture by Heinrich Marschner:

5. Masquerade Suite: Waltz by Aram Khachaturian:

6. Swan Lake Op. 20 by Pytor IIyich Tchaikovsky:

7. Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns:

8. Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor (Funeral March)  by Frédéric Chopin:

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A note on classical music terms and usage

“Rumors about the impending exit have swirled for months, reaching a crescendo in recent days.” – Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2013.

Awhile back I commented on music critic Scott Cantrell’s non-use of the word “crescendo,” his contention being that the word is too technical for a general circulation newspaper. I disagreed, asserting that it’s a perfectly good word, found in Webster’s no less, and an easy concept to understand.

Along comes Kingsley Amis. In his “The King’s English: A Guide to Modern Usage,” he has this typically curmudgeonly thing to say on the word “crescendo”:

“Once a musical term meaning ‘(passage played) with increasing volume’ and a derived figurative term meaning ‘progress towards a climax.’ For many years now taken to be a fancy synonym for ‘climax’ as in ‘the gunfire reached a crescendo’ or ‘the chorus of vilification rose to a crescendo’ and rendered useable only by the unwary or vulgar. Outside of a strictly musical context, that is.”

Yes. The important distinction to remember is that a crescendo is not a particular point in a musical composition, but a process therein, i.e. a process of getting louder. The musical marking for it is quite simple and illustrative, consisting of an elongated “lesser than” sign (as used in mathematics) placed directly under the passage for which the composer wants a gradual (or fairly sudden, but never instantaneous) increase in volume. A crescendo sign varies in length, depending upon the length of the crescendo desired.

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Interviewing the talent

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

The stories behind the stories: I won’t assert that they are more interesting than the stories themselves, but they’re not without interest. I’ve learned a lot about classical musicians, both individually and as a group, interviewing them through the years. Composers, to my mind, are the best interviewees. They’re smart, they work alone and they seem to enjoy the opportunity to talk about their craft. Singers tend to live up to their reputation for shallowness and flightiness, I’m not sure why.

You never know what you’re going to get, phoning up or sitting down with a classical musician for the first time. It can be nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what to expect when I phoned the great pianist, intellect, essayist and poet Alfred Brendel. He was one of the all-time best scowlers on stage, glaring at coughers, barely breaking a smile in response to thunderous applause. I was intimidated. It turned out he was an absolute delight, funny, easy to laugh, spilling his tea (and laughing at that), willing and interested to talk and reflect about everything, even his inner self. “Well, I don’t think I’m really driven,” he said. “I’m not a fanatic, I dread fanatics. Fanaticism is something that frightens me. So I have given myself the appearance, or the idea, that I do what I do out of my own free will.” And then he laughed.

Pianist Ivo Pogorelich didn’t laugh at all. He was difficult. I sat down with him for a radio interview once and he didn’t like the microphone the engineer gave him. It fit on his head; he apparently didn’t want to muss his hair. Pogorelich told us that unless he got another microphone, one that sat on the table, he was going to walk, quite the diva. We found a table microphone for him and I proceeded with the interview, delicately.

Oh, I’m sure, dear reader, you want to know what they’re all like. Cecilia Bartoli? Adorable. Riccardo Muti? Exceedingly charming, humble, a gentleman. Philip Glass? Friendly, bright, a real talker, the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind having a beer with. Pierre Boulez? Gracious, and so intelligent in response to my questions I felt brilliant for asking them. Daniel Barenboim? Gritty, philosophical, committed.

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