Meet new 1st violinist Joanna Lee!

Lee-Joanna_663x515.jpgContinuing our series of posts introducing you, or our online audience, to our new musicians, we’re excited to introduce you all to our new 1st violinist, Joanna Lee! She’ll be performing during our upcoming Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” concert, Oct. 17-19. (Grab your seats before they’re gone!)

Violinist Joanna Lee has performed throughout Korea, Japan, China, Europe and the United States in significant venues such as the KKL in Luzern, the JT Art Hall in Tokyo and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. She was a soloist with the Suwon Symphony and has been invited to prestigious festivals such as the Verbier Festival, La Jolla Music Society, Kuhmo Festival and the Mozarteum Summer Academy. A prizewinner from a number of competitions, Lee holds first prizes from the Padova International Competition, Korea Times Competition, Utah Chamber Music Competition and the Beverly Hills Consortium. She was a recipient of multiple scholarships such as the Colburn Foundation Scholarship and the Fritz-Gerber Scholarship.

As a chamber and orchestral musician, Lee is active in the greater Los Angeles area and abroad. She was awarded the first prize in the International Music Competition Grand Prize Virtuoso in London and fourth prize at the Schoenfeld International String Competition this past summer in Harbin, China. She is a founding member of the piano quartet Los Angeles Ensemble, which performs primarily in the Los Angeles area, and also coordinated the Korea-Japan Chamber Music Tour, which took place in three cities in Korea and Japan. In addition to her recent position as principal second violinist of the Redland Symphony, she is a member of Pacific Symphony. Also a devoted educator, Lee was Visiting Lecturer at Scripps College and is currently on the faculty at the Colburn Community School of Music of Performing Arts.

Born into a musical family, Lee began playing the violin at the age of six. She attended the University of Music in Basel, Switzerland and the University of Vienna, where she completed her studies with distinction under the guidance of Adelina Oprean and Dora Schwarzberg. During this time, she also received close musical guidance from Mikyung Lee and Ikhwan Bae. She holds a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (Phi Kappa Lambda), where she studied under the tutelage of Margaret Batjer on a full scholarship. Her areas of concentration were sacred music, jazz and baroque violin.

Meet Our New Principal Cello, Warren Hagerty!


Warren Hagerty: Cello, Principal, Catherine and James Emmi Chair

With 5 new musicians joining us for our 2nd Classical concert, Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique,” we’d like to highlight the new faces you’ll notice on stage with Carl St.Clair!

As of 2019, Warren Hagerty is the new principal cellist of Pacific Symphony. An avid chamber musician, he was the founding cellist of the Verona Quartet. As a member of the quartet, he was awarded top prizes in international chamber music competitions on four continents, including the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and Concert Artists Guild’s Victor Elmaleh Competition. The Verona Quartet was featured as “New Artist of the Month” in Musical America in May 2016. He has performed at many of the world’s most renowned venues, such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Sydney Opera House. Warren holds degrees from The Juilliard School and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music; his primary mentors have included members of the Juilliard String Quartet, Pacifica Quartet, Eric Kim and Sharon Robinson.


He has collaborated with many great musicians including Renée Fleming, David Shifrin, Cho-Liang Lin and Orion Weiss. He has appeared at numerous festivals such as the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Indiana University String Academy, Chelsea Music Festival, McGill International String Quartet Academy and the New York String Orchestra Seminar, where he was principal cellist in 2010. A strong proponent of new music, Warren was involved in commissioning and premiering composer Michael Gilbertson’s first string quartet, which was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in music. He has also premiered works by Richard Danielpour and Sebastian Currier. Among Warren’s many teaching engagements have been Teaching Assistant positions at The Juilliard School and Indiana University, as well as faculty roles at Indiana University String Academy and Oberlin String Quartet Intensive and Festival, and Teaching Artist positions with Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and Caesura Youth Orchestra. Warren is the Director of Junior Chamber Music Los Angeles.

Make sure to check out the Verona Quartet’s performance of Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major below!


Verdi’s Otello … in 3 minutes

Love, betrayal and jealousy – all trademarks of great tragic opera, condensed here for you. Get to know Verdi’s “Otello” in just minutes with this informative radio segment from WQXR, New York’s classical music station!

Don’t miss our production of this epic take on Shakespeare’s tale, featuring Carl Tanner, Kelebogile Besong and Greer Grimsley, who last performed with us a stirring excerpt from “Die Walküre” as Wotan during Opening Night of 2017. Check out the video below!

Verdi’s “Otello,” with returning stage director Robert Neu and our longtime artistic partner Pacific Chorale, takes place April 23, 25 and 28 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall – get your tickets here!

Let’s Compare Classical Music Streaming Services

“When the power is shut off, music won’t be.”

Social Media Apps And Computer Keyboards

Mark Swed, longtime staple of the classical music criticism community, writes on the changing of the musical guard when the advent of the mp3 file swept the Internet. Little to no thought was given to composers, composition titles and their movements. Liner notes, too, something important for the musical experience during the days of vinyl records, mostly went away, with the brief exception of the failed iTunes digital album booklet.

Music streaming services were built around pop music – to “promote grazing,” as Swed puts it. Not a surprise, but a difficult barrier for entry in regards to the plethora of classical music available, and the artists that produce it.

Check out the article (conveniently linked here) to read Swed’s take on the U.S.’s Apple Music and Primephonic, France’s Qobuz and Berlin’s Idagio. At the end, an interesting detail about the sustainability of streaming services, in regards to their surprising environmental impact. Read on!

Celebrating the Fall Harvest with a Sophisticated Wine & Beer Festival at the Hotel Irvine!


Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration in Munich, Bavaria for King Ludwig I and Princess Therese in 1810. The festivities were so popular that the city decided to hold a similar celebration the following year, and thus a new tradition was born. Pacific Symphony reimagines a new approach to this iconic celebration of Bavarian culture. While ales, lagers, and the like are an important part of this festival, wine is also an integral element of Bavarian culture and the Oktoberfest experience.

Pacific Symphony presents the first elevated Oktoberfest Orange County has ever seen. Guests will be transported to a lush outdoor Biergarten on the Hotel Irvine grounds for tasting stations of top wineries and premier breweries from California to Germany and beyond. There will be silent and live auction items providing chances to bid on exotic travel experiences, wonderful culinary adventures, luxury goods, and, of course, rare and exceptional wines. Executive Chef Michael Beck will serve a delicious German dinner with a gourmet flair. The event will be co-chaired by longtime Symphony supporters, Mike Kerr and Brian Pollack.

Pacific Symphony’s Oktoberfest takes place Saturday, Oct. 12, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Hotel Irvine. Seating for this popular event is limited and starts at $375 per person. Tables are available at the Stein level ($10,000), which provides an upgraded experience featuring paired wine from a single winery, a winery representative to explain wine pairings, enhanced dinner menu, specialty glasses and other amenities to elevate the evening. Tables are also available at the Goblet level ($7,500) and Flute level ($5,000), both with upgraded paired wine. All proceeds of Pacific Symphony’s Oktoberfest support the nationally recognized artistic, music education and community engagement programs of Pacific Symphony. Reserve your table or tickets today at (714) 876-2375 or For more information, visit

Whether you prefer wine over beer or just want to branch out, Pacific Symphony’s Oktoberfest will have something for everyone. Cheers! Or as the Germans say, Prost!

The Making of “Maestro”

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Board member Charlie Zhang and his wife, Ling, unveil Carl’s statue, “Maestro”

Our “Opening Night Celebration” got off to a spectacular start to with a special unveiling ceremony during a cocktail reception in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall Lobby. To mark the Carl St.Clair’s 30th anniversary as music director of Pacific Symphony, board members had commissioned the award-wining sculptor Márton Váró to create a lifesize statue of our beloved conductor. The dramatic reveal surprised and delighted the “Opening Night Celebration” attendees, who applauded after the white silk draping the sculpture, titled “Maestro” was unveiled by Symphony Board Chair Joann Leatherby along with Symphony Board Member Charlie Zhang and Symphony President John Forsyte.

The impressive statue stands approximately six feet tall and is made of Carrara marble cut from the same quarry from which Michelangelo created many of his masterworks. Sculptor Márton Váró, a native of Hungary now residing in Orange County, carved the sculpture in his open-air studio at UC Irvine. Maestro St.Clair visited Váró’s studio to model personally for the statue.

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Symphony President John Forsyte, Opening Night Gala Chair Diana Martin, Board Chair Joann Leatherby, Carl St.Clair, and Ling and Charlie Zhang

At the ceremony, John Forsyte commented: “For generations to come, this statue will serve not only as a reminder of Carl St.Clair’s remarkable tenure with Pacific Symphony, but also of his continued inspiration and contributions to the cultural life of Orange County.”

“I want to thank Márton Váró,” said Maestro Carl St.Clair, “for creating a beautiful and fitting tribute. And I appreciate everyone’s efforts in making this happen. It is so heart-warming to see the care and attention that went into this work. I can only say I am truly grateful.”

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After the statue’s residence in the concert hall during the opening weekend of the Symphony’s 2019-20 season, “Maestro” will be installed for permanent display in the lobby of Charlie and Ling Zhang Center for Musical Arts and Education in Irvine, home to our administrative offices.

The statue unveiling in one of the many events taking place this year in celebration of Carl St.Clair’s third decade with us, making him the longest tenured Music Director of any major America orchestra.

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A shot from Opening Night’s finale, Carl Orff’s breathtaking “Carmina Burana,” featuring Pacific Chorale and the Southern California Children’s Chorus


Marton Varo_fave photo“I grew up with classical music and listen to it all the time even while working: my ear protection has radio tuned to KUSC, my favorite station. Getting the commission to carve Carl’s portrait sculpture was a wonderful experience in my life. My concern was to carve in marble through the person’s actual features the sensibilities and spirituality of a great artist. Both Carl and I believe that art is in all its forms as has always been very important in human existence.”

—Márton Váró


Born March 15, 1943 in Szekelyudvarhely, Transylvania, Hungary (now Romania), Márton Váró studied sculpture at Ion Andreescu Institute of Arts in Cluj, Romania from 1960 to 1966. In 1970, he moved to Debrecen, Hungary, where he completed several sculptures for public places and was awarded the Munkacsy Prize in 1984. Receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1988, Váró became affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, studying the relationship between architecture and sculpture. In 1990, he became the Artist-in-Residence for a public art project in the City of Brea, California. Ever since, Váró has been working in an open-air studio at UC Irvine, Calif., carving his sculptures for public places throughout the US and abroad. Váró lives and works in the USA, in California and Florida, spending summers working in Carrara, Italy.