2018-2019 Soka concerts on sale, programming set

Single tickets for next season’s Pacific Symphony concerts at the Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo go on sale today. The popular three-concert series was previously available by subscription only.

Programming for the three Sunday afternoon concerts has also been set.

The series opener, on November 18, will be led by the soloists. Principal trumpet Barry Perkins leads Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and concertmaster Dennis Kim leads Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, with principal violist Meredith Crawford sharing the spotlight in that work.

Concert 2, on Feb. 10, is conducted by music director Carl St.Clair and features Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with the young American pianist and recent Avery Fisher Career Grant winner Drew Petersen as soloist.

St.Clair is on the podium as well for the series finale, March 31, and Schubert and Chopin appear again on the agenda, this time with the “Unfinished” Symphony and the Piano Concerto No. 1. Conrad Tao, a local favorite, is the soloist in the latter.

Both pianists are scheduled to add a couple of Chopin Preludes to their programs.

All concerts in the series are held on Sundays at 3 p.m. and are performed without intermission. Single tickets are $56, or $46 for students, seniors and acting military. To purchase tickets call (949) 480-4278 or visit the tickets page at the Soka Performing Arts Center website.

Bernstein at the Skirball

I went to the “Leonard Bernstein at 100” exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon, an entertaining way to beat the excessive heat. The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 2, is organized by the GRAMMY Museum and curated by its founding executive director Robert Santelli, a music historian. I doubt that any exhibit could capture the plentitude and variety of Bernstein’s life, but this one — with genuine artifacts, as well as replicas and facsimiles — does a good job at showing just how central Bernstein once was in American life. Here are a few of the items that were on display. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Entrance to the exhibit.

A photo of a young Bernstein with conductor Serge Koussevitzky, 1940s.

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Miscellany

A testy Riccardo Muti halts the Chicago Symphony when an audience member coughs. …

Miami is the largest city in the country without its own full-time professional orchestra. Now there’s a call for one. …

A music critic takes a crack at naming the 25 greatest American symphonies. …

New statistics show that 95 percent of classical concerts feature male composers only. …

The venerable Dallas Symphony names a new music director, a big name. …

A new book explores the topic of Leonard Bernstein as a grand and impossible father. …

An important Russian conductor — Gennady Rozhdestvensky — has died. …

The Chicago Tribune‘s music critic for 40 years writes his farewell column. …

Pacific Symphony: July concerts

This month we get fully into the summer mode, with four concerts outdoors.

Our July 4 Spectacular this year features Brass Transit, a Chicago tribute band that will perform hits such as “You’re the Inspiration,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “If You Leave Me Now,” and others along with the orchestra. Conductor Richard Kaufman and the musicians add patriotic tunes and a tribute to the armed forces. Fireworks cap the performance. Parking is free. Tickets here

The orchestra also appears at the Pacific Amphitheater at OC Fair and Event Center on July 12 with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Tickets here

Our annual free community parks concerts, Symphony in the Cities, are in Mission Viejo and Irvine on July 28 and July 29, respectively. As always, Carl St.Clair conducts and there are lots of extracurricular activities for everyone. No tickets required.

You can also catch the musicians on PBS this month. PBS SoCal (KOCE) is running rebroadcasts of Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony,” the orchestra’s debut on the long-running “Great Performances” series. Air times are : 7 p.m. July 4; and 1 a.m. July 5 on PBS SoCal 1; 7 and 11 p.m. July 5 and 4, 8 and 11 a.m., and 3 p.m. July 6 on PBS SoCal 2.

Symphony in the Cities program announced

This summer’s Symphony in the Cities concerts, conducted by Carl St.Clair, will be held in Mission Viejo and Irvine on July 28 and July 29, respectively. Programming for these alfresco events has now been announced. The musical fare will include selections from American musicals, patriotic songs and marches, and operatic hits. Soprano Chelsea Chaves and tenor Nick Preston are the guests.

The concert begins with the arrival of the children (who will have been coached by St.Clair) to conduct John Philip Sousa’s “Hands Across the Sea” March, a tradition on these occasions.

A set from American musicals comes next, featuring music by Gershwin (from “Strike Up the Band” and “Girl Crazy”) and Lerner and Loewe (from “My Fair Lady”).

Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” Suite (arranged by Jack Mason) and the Mambo from same transition to an operatic set that includes the Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and famous arias from Puccini (including “Nessun dorma”) and Verdi.

The event winds up with a medley saluting the armed forces, “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” in sing-along performances and, of course, “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Special screening of ‘Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony’ slated for Musco Center

Pacific Symphony announced today a free, public screening of Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony” at 8 p.m. on June 29 at the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University. The screening features the PBS broadcast version of “Ellis Island,” taped at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2017 with conductor Carl St.Clair, Pacific Symphony and a number of guest artists. The nationwide broadcast premiere is later that night, at 10 p.m., as part of the long-running “Great Performances” series. (Check local listings.)

Using texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project and archival Ellis Island images in combination with an original orchestral score, “Ellis Island” traces seven first-hand accounts of immigrants, narrated by guest stars Barry Bostwick, Camryn Manheim, Michael Nouri, Lesley Fera, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Samantha Sloyan and Kira Sternbach. More than 40 percent of the U.S. population can track their ancestry through Ellis Island.

“This screening of the U.S. broadcast premiere of Peter Boyer’s ‘Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony’ on PBS’s ‘Great Performances’ is the culmination of a year marked with brilliant artistic milestones,” said Pacific Symphony president John Forsyte. “In April the orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut to critical acclaim. And the following month the Symphony was warmly received during its first-ever tour of China.

“These significant landmarks, along with the national PBS special, are broadening Pacific Symphony’s audiences while increasing its national and international reputation. We thank Paul Musco and Musco Center for the Arts for providing world-class facilities to Pacific Symphony for this special occasion.”

PBS SoCal (KOCE) has also announced its broadcast schedule for “Ellis Island.” It will air first at 10 p.m. on June 29 on PBS SoCal 1, with repeat broadcasts on the same channel at 4 p.m. June 30; 7 p.m. July 4; and 1 a.m. July 5. PBS SoCal 2 will air “Ellis Island” twice on July 5 (at 7 and 11 p.m.) and four times on July 6 (at 4, 8 and 11 a.m., and 3 p.m.).

The June 29 screening at Musco is produced by Pacific Symphony in association with PBS SoCal. It will include brief interviews with composer Boyer and Nasser Kazeminy, chairman of the Ellis Island Honors Society. Free tickets are available by calling the Pacific Symphony box office at (714) 755-5799. A meet-and-greet with Boyer will be held in the Musco lobby, following the screening.