Just Added To Pacific Symphony’s 2022-23 Pops Season: The Righteous Brothers

Photo Credit: The Righteous Brothers. Bucky Heard (L) and Bill Medley (R).

Pacific Symphony just added a special Valentine’s Day show with blue-eyed soul pioneers, The Righteous Brothers (Feb. 10-11, 2023), to the 2022-23 Pops Season led by Principal Pops Conductor Laureate Richard Kaufman and underwritten by the Sharon and Tom Malloy Family.  

The Righteous Brothers enjoyed a string of top-ten hits, including the most played song in radio history, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, originally from Orange County, topped the charts for four decades. After Hatfield’s death in 2003, Bill Medley continued to perform to sold-out crowds around the world, but fans and friends pleaded with him to keep The Righteous Brothers alive. Medley said, “No one could ever take Bobby’s place, but when I caught Bucky Heard’s show it all came together—I found the right guy to help me recreate the magic.”

The Righteous Brothers concert experience features their biggest hits—“Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Soul & Inspiration,” “Unchained Melody,” “Rock and Roll Heaven,” Medley’s Grammy-winning Dirty Dancing theme “The Time of My Life” and much more, all backed by the lush Hollywood sound of Pacific Symphony. The Bill Medley/Bucky Heard pairing came as something of a happy accident. Medley said it just seemed right: “I’d been friends with Bucky for years, but when I caught his show he just killed me! The next day it hit me. That’s the guy, someone I could sing hard with, laugh hard with, love and respect—on and off stage. He fits The Righteous Brothers live performance show perfectly. And, we’ve even recorded some new material together.”

The addition of The Righteous Brothers to Pacific Symphony’s Pops Season completes this series of seven singular sensations, which also present the Season Special Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert (Oct. 28-29). The 2022-23 Pops Season officially begins Nov. 4-5 with a tribute to legendary film composer Maestro John Williams in honor of his 90th birthday. Five other blockbuster shows in the Pops series include renowned artists across jazz, pop, disco, Broadway and rock: The Manhattan Transfer, Kristin Chenoweth, Gloria Gaynor, The Music of The Rolling Stones and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The finale of the 2022-23 Pops Season will close June 9-10, 2023, with Hamilton: An American Musical alumna and Girls5eva star Renée Elise Goldsberry.

All concerts begin at 8 p.m. and take place at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA. Subscriptions for the seven-concert series are now available and start at $245. Single ticket sales begin in August and start at $35. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact our Patron Services team at (714) 755-5799, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit us online at PacificSymphony.org.

To learn more about the 2022-23 Pops Series and subscribe, please click here.

Programs, artists, prices and dates are subject to change.

What’s Happening Next Month: May 2022

May is right around the corner and that means we’re getting closer to the end of the 2021-22 season. What a journey it has been. Thank you for joining us through it all. From Paul Jacob’s solo organ recital (May 1) to Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble’s final concert of the 2021-22 season (May 23), here’s your lineup for May 2022.

PACIFIC SYMPHONY PERFORMS TICHELI AND BEETHOVEN WITH JENNIFER FRAUTSCHI | May 1, 2022 • 3 p.m.

Two-time GRAMMY nominee and Avery Fisher career grant recipient Jennifer Frautschi has garnered worldwide acclaim as a deeply expressive and musically adventurous violinist with impeccable technique and a wide-ranging repertoire. The program includes Frank Ticheli’s moving Rest, and Beethoven’s only concerto for one of the most popular instruments of his day: the violin.

This performance will take place at Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair.

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

ORGAN RECITAL: PAUL JACOBS | May 1, 2022 • 7 p.m.

Pacific Symphony favorite and Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs makes his return at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for a solo recital The program will feature works by John Weaver, J.S. Bach, Cesar Franck, Dudley Buck and Alexandre Guilmant. Enjoy image magnification on our big screens during the concert for a closer look at the organist! There is no Preview Talk for this performance. Doors open at 6 p.m.

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

RAVEL’S PIANO TRIO | May 8, 2022 • 3 p.m.

French Impressionism caps off this delightful afternoon with Ravel’s colorful and climatic piano trio. Before that, music by the Hungarian composer, Ernst von Dohnányi treats you to shifting chromatic tonality while Czech composer, Bohuslav Martinů, explores the virtuosity of the woodwinds. Join host and curator Orli Shaham for the final concert of the 2021-22 Café Ludwig chamber music series. Just in time for Mother’s Day. The event will also feature Concertmaster Dennis Kim, Principal Violist Meredith Crawford, Principal Cellist Warren Hagerty and Principal Flutist Benjamin Smolen. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers and mother figures out there! This concert will take place at the Samueli Theatre.

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

THE MUSIC OF ABBA | May 13-14, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Photo Credit: Arrival from Sweden

The world’s top ABBA tribute Arrival from Sweden joins Pacific Symphony in the second half to perform some of the most iconic songs ever written: “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” “Waterloo,” “S.O.S.,” “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and so many more will have you dancing in the aisles and singing along. With hundreds of performances over the past two decades, The Music of ABBA has audiences all in agreement: This is the closest to ABBA you’ll ever get! Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Laureate Richard Kaufman.

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

PSYO: CELEBRATIONS IN SOUND | May 16, 2022 • 7 p.m.

Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra wraps up its 2021-22 season with a special program featuring performances by the two winners of PSYO’s annual concerto auditions in concertos by Shostakovich and Bruch, a much anticipated and truly thrilling event! The concert is capped by Respighi’s colorful depiction of the Pines of Rome. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission. They will be under the baton of Music Director Dr. Jacob Sustaita.

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

MOZART & SALIERI | May 19-21, 2022 • 8 p.m.

David Ivers as Antonio Salieri in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of Amadeus. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2015.)

The incredible story of genius musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told in flashback by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri—now confined to an insane asylum. Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play and Oscar-winning movie Amadeus by Peter Shaffer, Mozart & Salieri includes a complete performance of Mozart’s Requiem—featuring the Grammy Award-winning Pacific ChoraleDon Giovanni Overture and other selections. South Coast Repertory Artistic Director David Ivers stars as Salieri. You can listen to the preview talk recorded by Classical California KUSC host Alan Chapman here. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair.

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

MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES! | May 21, 2022 • 10 & 11:30 a.m.

Experience the magical music of Disney! Be our guest and enjoy your favorites from Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Star Wars. Come dressed as your favorite Disney or Star Wars character! This is a fun and fascinating 45-minute concert designed especially for children 5-11. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of assistant conductor, Dr. Jacob Sustaita.

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

MOZART’S REQUIEM | May 22, 2022 • 3 p.m.

Maestro Carl St.Clair and David Ivers, actor and artistic director at South Coast Repertory, explore Mozart’s “Requiem” — one of the most enigmatic pieces ever composed, mainly due to the myths and controversies surrounding it. Mozart’s “Requiem,” which was left unfinished at the time of the composer’s death, now enjoys an elevated status as one of the most magnificent achievements in sacred music. Featuring the Grammy Award-winning Pacific Chorale. Doors open at 2 p.m. There is no preview talk for this performance.

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

PSYWE: FOR THE PEOPLE | May 23, 2022 • 7 p.m.

Wrapping up their 2021-22 season, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble presents a program of soaring beauty and quirky wit, including the world premiere of Steven Mahpar’s Simurgh, and Giovanni Santos’ I Dream Awake. They will be under the baton of Music Director Dr. Gregory X. Whitmore. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission.

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

What show are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments!


 

Coming Soon: Mozart & Salieri

Photo by Karl Hugh. Utah Shakespeare Festival 2015.

Pacific Symphony audiences will enjoy Mozart & Salieri, a creative collaboration between South Coast Repertory (SCR), Pacific Chorale and the Symphony, May 19-21, 2022.

Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play and Oscar-winning movie Amadeus by Peter Shaffer, Mozart & Salieri includes a complete performance of Mozart’s Requiem, Don Giovanni Overture and other selections. The incredible story of genius musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is told in flashback by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri—now confined to an insane asylum. SCR Artistic Director David Ivers stars as Salieri. James Sullivan, who conducted Ivers when he appeared as Salieri in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of Amadeus, is directing this production as well. He wrote a director’s note sharing his thoughts about the program.

Director’s Note

“Mozart is the expression of eternal truth.” The renowned conductor Josef Krips said this, in an interview recorded in 1964. “Beethoven maybe reaches heaven, but Mozart comes from there…. What he wrote was written for Eternity.”

The Antonio Salieri of Peter Shaffer’s great play Amadeus could hardly disagree. What else could explain this astounding talent? But when Wolfgang Mozart blazed comet-like across the firmament of the 18th-century European sky and landed with ground-shaking force in Salieri’s Vienna, Antonio perhaps could only seethe with envy—and plot an upstart rival’s demise. Mozart’s offense was essentially nothing less than his own breathtaking brilliance. Salieri can see himself as nothing more than a middling mediocrity. Envy becomes treachery. Such is the story of Amadeus that is excerpted in this performance with the mighty presence of the Pacific Symphony as led by Carl St. Clair utterly enveloping David Ivers’ Antonio Salieri with the sublime music that is “of heaven.”

But is the story true? We can never know. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in deep poverty and was buried – no one knows just where—in a pauper’s grave. Mozart—divinely inspired Mozart— failed to gain in Vienna the patronage he so desperately sought. Salieri, competent but unremarkable Salieri, prospered there; the same Salieri who held several influential music posts at the Viennese Court, the same Salieri who certainly could have lifted young Mozart into a position of employment, if not prominence. That we know. But whispers, gossip, and then legend had it that Salieri literally poisoned Mozart—the scandalously sensational tale getting its boost from an 1830 drama by Alexander Pushkin—and furthered by Mozart and Salieri, an 1890s Rimsky-Korsakov opera based on the Pushkin tragedy of treachery. And then, of course, came Peter Shaffer’s international dramatic sensation, later the Oscar-winning film, Amadeus. But whatever happened, if any of this perfidy did, seems almost inconsequential to what is popularly believed. According to whisper, gossip, and legend Antonio Salieri stands in the villainous company of the Borgias, of Richard III, of Lady Macbeth.

There is one stirring thought to contemplate, a poignance that could surely have been the case for Salieri; and that, the agony of encountering the very brilliance he so desperately prayed to have in himself. Salieri’s own skills were in fact considerable. He must have easily heard and understood that Mozart was a miracle beyond explanation, a genius not of this earthly realm but of heaven itself. Amadeus. The sublime beauty of the music may have broken his heart.

It is an extraordinary privilege and pleasure to work on this project, especially with my longtime friend, David Ivers of South Coast Rep, and a new friend, Carl St. Clair of Pacific Symphony. And, of course, and especially this magnificent orchestra. To watch and to hear as these heavenly threads of sound surround and suffuse Salieri’s mind, heart and soul is a rare experience and true delight. With full orchestral force, it is—as Josef Krips had said—Eternal Truth told in the dramatic and heard in transcendence. 

—J.R. Sullivan

For more information about Mozart & Salieri or to buy tickets, please click here.

REVIEW: Pacific Symphony Mounts a Surefire Production of Verdi’s ‘Otello’

This photo features tenor Carl Tanner as Otello (left) and soprano Kelebogile Besong in her role debut as Desdemona (right). Photo by Doug Gifford. April 2022.

This review was originally written by Timothy Mangan, a contributing writer for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC.

It was time once again for the Pacific Symphony’s annual opera performance, Thursday night in Segerstrom Concert Hall. This was the 10th anniversary of the orchestra’s opera initiative, undertaken (in part) to fill a need for grand opera in Orange County after the closing of Opera Pacific. Thursday’s effort (scheduled for repeat Saturday and Tuesday) was ambitiously devoted to Verdi’s penultimate opera, “Otello.”

As with past productions, this one was semi-staged. The orchestra is placed onstage and the action and singing unwind mostly in front of it, with minimal sets, but in costume. Conductor Carl St.Clair, in keeping with the plan, always chooses operas that have an integral role for the orchestra, not just accompaniment.   

The company of Verdi’s “Otello.” Baritone Stephen Powell as iago (top left), tenor Eric Barry as Lodovico (top right) and tenor Norman Shankle as Cassio (stage). Photo by Doug Gifford. April 2022.

In his director’s note, Robert Neu (who worked with the orchestra previously in “The Magic Flute” and “La Traviata”) indicated he took a less-is-more approach with “Otello.” “There are times that a director needs to get out of the way and completely trust the material,” he wrote. Wise man.

Based closely on Shakespeare’s “Othello,” Verdi’s opera seemed to take on new relevance here, though not necessarily because of the production. “Othello” is a story about the destructive power of jealousy (you will remember), but here there was another layer of meaning in it. The ensign Iago instills jealousy in Otello for his faithful wife Desdemona with the use of fake news, even going so far as to stage fraudulent scenes in front of Otello. Iago’s fake news eventually leads to where fake news often does: violence and murder.

Not that Neu or anyone brought this out, or should have. It was just there for the viewer’s taking, as such things often are in old masterpieces.

As promised, Neu kept his apparent contributions to a minimum, moving the singers efficiently around the stage among simple wooden block forms. The costumes by Katie Wilson quietly put us in the mood of the Renaissance era.

This helped put the emphasis squarely on the music itself. It’s luxury casting to have a full symphony orchestra play this music and St.Clair and the Pacific musicians sounded ready for it. The opening storm scene revealed the group in fine form, rich and luxuriant in the strings, warm and clear in the woodwinds, the brass in easy balance. The orchestra performed without the usual risers and it sounds better on this stage, both more blended and lucid.

Positioned in the loft above the orchestra, the recently Grammy-winning Pacific Chorale gave a fit and trim account of the extensive parts for chorus. St.Clair led a steady and considered reading of the score, keeping the large forces easily together (the opening storm scene made its usual impression) and not forcing expressive issues. An occasional lack of Italianate style mattered little.

Tenor Carl Tanner, veteran of Opera Pacific and of this role at the Metropolitan Opera under Gustavo Dudamel, gave a commanding portrayal of the title character. Its strenuous vocal demands, high, low, loud, soft and lots of it, were met with relentless verve and power. His tone remained firm and focussed, despite fortissimo demands. It was a confident performance, through and through.

This photo features Southern California Children’s Chorus (left) with soprano Kelebogile Besong as Desdemona (back center) and mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore as Emilia (right). Photo by Doug Gifford. April 2022.

Baritone Stephen Powell clearly enjoyed singing Iago, not with a villainous twirling of mustaches or overplaying, but by savoring the words and phrases as if they were evil chocolate morsels. And he stood toe to toe with Tanner in their duets.

Making her debut in the role, soprano Kelebogile Besong provided a fragile and vulnerable account of the doomed Desdemona. Her tones shimmered, her phrases filigreed. An occasional unevenness in color and a tendency not to start notes squarely on pitch should disappear when she settles into the part.

Ironically, Otello was played by a white singer (Tanner) and Desdemona, a white woman in the Shakespeare play, was played by a Black singer (Besong). This is not that unusual in opera these days.

Margaret Lattimore (Emilia), Norman Shankle (Cassio), and Eric Barry (Roderigo) were proficient in their smaller, crucial roles. The Southern California Children’s Chorus made a crisp contribution.

Finally, a couple of purely personal observations. The average operagoing Italian of the 19th century must have loved protracted death scenes, such as in “Otello.” They no longer play so well, especially on a weeknight after a long day at work. Some judicious cutting (sacrilege!) would help many of them.

The Pacific Symphony is to be commended for presenting an opera a year in semi-staged productions this last decade. But now that it is clear that Opera Pacific will never come back, or that any other company comparable in size will be established, it is time for the orchestra to consider performing fully-staged opera, in the original Segerstrom Hall, once a year. Difficult? Yes. Unfeasible? No. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Tenor Carl Tanner Tackles Otello

Photo Credit: Ken Howard | The Metropolitan Opera

From trucker and bounty hunter to world-class tenor, Carl Tanner’s backstory reads like a movie script. In fact, there were even plans for Michael Keaton to direct and Stan Chervin (Moneyball) to write the script for a biopic at one point. Tanner has had an interesting past and an even more exciting present. As a singer, he’s always been a natural. After a neighbor heard him singing the shower, Tanner decided to try out for high school choir. He went on to Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1985 without any aspirations to sing professionally. After college, he got his commercial driver’s license and became a trucker. A friend got Tanner into bounty-hunting for a while where he made 172 arrests in 190 pursuits.

Fate intervened when he was driving his big rig in Washington, D.C. singing along to opera on the radio. A woman in a convertible pulled up alongside him and asked if what she heard was him or the radio. “Because if it’s you,” she said, “you’re missing your calling.” His boss had been telling him the same thing, so he decided to go to New York to try his luck. He took voice lessons and got a telemarketing job to pay for them.

During that time, he wandered into a restaurant where he had heard opera music playing. The proprietor asked Tanner if he could sing. When he did, the force of destiny struck again. Two customers in the restaurant were top administrators at Santa Fe Opera. They offered him a summer apprenticeship in Santa Fe in 1992, and the trucker-turned-tenor was on his way.

Tanner has established an international performance career and appears regularly at the world’s most prestigious opera houses including Teatro alla Scala, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opéra National de Paris, Washington National Opera, the New National Theatre of Tokyo, Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Real de Madrid and Liceu de Barcelona, among others.

Tanner first performed Otello at the Metropolitan Opera in 2018 to rave reviews. And now Orange County audiences will have a chance to hear him in Pacific Symphony’s semi-staged production of Verdi’s greatest masterpiece (April 7, 9 & 12).

Verdi and Three Degrees of Separation

This photo features Tenor Carl Tanner as Otello. Photo Credit: Ken Howard | The Metropolitan Opera.

It’s hard to imagine that Verdi’s Otello might almost have never existed. The opera came about after a depressed Verdi was coaxed out of retirement by celebrity singers, genius librettists, socialites and even Verdi’s own wife. They hunted for tempting subject matter, planned “chance” encounters and even tried to make Verdi believe that the salvation of theater lay in his hands. All plots failed.

What finally did the trick was a night of wining, dining and sneaking Shakespeare—whom Verdi worshiped—into the conversation. The characters of one particular tragedy…Othello with the Moor’s jealous anguish and Iago’s malevolent schemes… proved too tempting for Verdi to resist.

The audience at the 1887 premiere at Teatro alla Scala in Milan had demanded 20 curtain calls. What they didn’t know yet was that the one who would carry on the magic of that performance to future generations was a cellist in the orchestra pit—the now legendary Arturo Toscanini.

The phenomenal career of this conductor began in a serendipitous way. A few months before the Otello premiere, Toscanini had been the principal cellist of an opera company whose South American tour erupted into chaos.

The company was set to perform Verdi’s Aida in Rio de Janeiro, but the local conductor had such a poor grasp of the score that the singers and musicians threatened to strike. The conductor resigned just hours before the performance, and both men who tried to replace him that night were chased off the podium by the audience. In desperation, someone remembered that Toscanini—a kid so young he had needed parental permission to join the tour—knew Verdi’s score by heart. Although he had no experience conducting, a 19-year-old Toscanini picked up the baton and became an overnight sensation.

Toscanini’s understanding of Verdi’s music was unmatched—an opinion held not just by audiences. The composer was notorious for grumbling at conductors for misinterpreting his scores. Toscanini was one of the few Verdi had praised.

Fast forward to the apocalyptic madness of World War II when Toscanini’s Swiss-born assistant Walter Ducloux pauses his career to become the personal interpreter for General Patton. Throughout campaigns that claimed countless lives, Ducloux did far more than just survive. He won five battle stars and a Bronze Star from the US Army and was awarded the Bronze Medal from the Italian government for his productions of Verdi operas.

Ducloux became a professor and music director at the University of Texas in Austin. When he advertised for an assistant, another bit of serendipity fell into place. You might even call it the force of destiny.

That’s because the person Ducloux hired wasn’t originally interested in becoming a conductor. He was a trumpet student looking for an apprenticeship that would pay for his studies so he applied to the only one he could find. But Ducloux needed only five minutes to recognize something special in the student, and so Carl St.Clair got the job.

St.Clair emerged from his years of study with Ducloux as a polished conductor. His final task before receiving his Master’s degree was to conduct Otello.

The final twist of destiny came into play when St.Clair and Pacific Symphony brought back opera to Orange County. In 2008, Opera Pacific fell victim to a wave of opera company closures that was sweeping the nation. But members of the opera-loving community rallied alongside St.Clair and worked tirelessly to fill that void with unique concert stagings of opera with Pacific Symphony.

The Symphony’s performances of Otello in April will mark the 10-year anniversary of opera’s return to Orange County. Good tickets are still available. You can find them here. And as you experience Verdi’s operatic masterpiece, keep in mind that Carl St.Clair conducts the work as someone who is only three degrees of separation from the great composer himself.

Guest blogger Sonia Levitin is a freelance writer and opera enthusiast based in Orange County.

What’s Happening This Month: March 2022

March has arrived and with it, the return of spring. Just in time for the season of new beginnings, we have also officially announced our 2022-23 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Season. For those of you going to some of our events this month, you may see our subscription tables in the orchestra lobby at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

From our Beethoven & Boléro concerts in September to our Cathedrals of Sound grand finale concerts in June, we’re looking forward to entering a new era of discovery and exploring new musical experiences with you soon. Don’t forget to come by and say hi!

Here’s what’s happening at Pacific Symphony this month.

PSYO: Dancing in the Dark • March 7, 2022 at 7 p.m.

Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra explores the brilliant and romantic influences of early and late twentieth century musical masterworks, with a mix of lush and dramatic themes. The program includes three pieces: John Adam’s The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 and Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite, Op. 59. They will be under the baton of Dr. Jacob Sustaita. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission.

To learn more, please click here.

Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony • March 10-12, 2022 at 8 p.m.

Hailed by The London Times as a “violinist in a class of his own,” James Ehnes joins legendary conductor Edo de Waart with Prokofiev’s Spanish-inspired second violin concerto; a work that perfectly blends drama with technical virtuosity. On the second half, revel in the majestic power of the William J. Gillespie Concert organ in Saint-Saëns’ most popular symphony featuring a melody that was later adapted for film and the 1977 hit song “If I Had Words.”

To learn more, please click here.

PSYWE: People, Places & Things • March 13, 2022 at 3 p.m.

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble welcomes special guests artists Dr. Dustin Barr, Dr. James Tapia and tenor Yngwie Slassh Zamarippa in a program that features an exciting array of 20th and 21st century works by John Mackey, Alex Shapiro, Percy Grainger, David Biedendender and David Maslanka. They are led by Music Director Dr. Gregory X. Whitmore. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission.

To learn more, please click here.

Boz Scaggs • March 18-19, 2022 at 8 p.m.

In an acclaimed career spanning nearly five decades, singer-songwriter and guitarist Boz Scaggs has explored the realms of soft rock, blues, R&B and jazz to produce instantly recognizable hits such as “Lowdown,” “Lido Shuffle” and “Look What You’ve Done to Me.” Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of guest conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez.

To learn more, please click here.

Sundays at Soka: Beethoven & Mozart • March 20, 2022 at 3 p.m.

A native of Los Angeles, Norman Krieger is one of the most acclaimed pianists of his generation and is highly regarded as an artist of depth, sensitIvity and virtuosic flair. Krieger joins the Pacific Symphony Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Carl St.Clair in a program that includes Beethoven’s Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491.

**This performance will take place at Soka Performing Arts Center.**

To learn more, please click here.

Nowruz: Iranian New Year • March 26, 2022 at 8 p.m.

Celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, with the Farhang Foundation and Pacific Symphony! A traditional festival that marks the beginning of spring, Nowruz is a time to celebrate the “rebirth of nature” and wash away the past. Joining the Symphony for this festive celebration are vocalist Alireza Ghorbani, guest conductor Shardad Rohani, vocalist Mojgan Shajarian and guitarist Lily Afshar. Pre-concert festivities include traditional musicians and dancers and a grand Haft Sîn display.

To learn more, please click here.

What events are you looking forward? Let us know in the comments below!

Introducing Pacific Symphony Youth Concert Band

“I couldn’t be more delighted to welcome Angela into our Pacific Symphony ‘family’ as the newest member of our conducting ‘team.’ Having known Angela for over three decades, it has been wonderful observing her impressive career development. Her many accomplishments have distinguished her as one of the leading conductors and educators with middle school and high school aged musicians. There is no one more perfect than Angela to lead this new and exciting initiative in the Symphony’s Youth Ensembles Program.” –Music Director Carl St.Clair

Pacific Symphony Youth Concert Band Music Director Angela Woo.

In this their inaugural year, Pacific Symphony Youth Concert Band (PSYCB) is our newest addition to the PSYE family of ensembles. Founded in 2022 through the generous sponsorship and advocacy of Hans and Valerie Imhof and John and Elizabeth Stahr, PSYCB is led by award-winning music educator Angela Woo (pictured right), and benefits from the artistic guidance of Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair.   

Representing middle schools throughout the SoCal region, PSYCB provides an experience that nurtures the confidence, poise and musical sensitivity of young musicians through the study and performance of outstanding concert band literature. PSYCB serves instrumentalists in grades 6 through 9 and is one of four Youth Ensemble programs offered by Pacific Symphony.  

Each season, students enjoy an interaction with Maestro Carl St.Clair, as well as interactions with guest artists and professional musicians of Pacific Symphony. Students also engage in an annual weekend retreat and are offered free and discounted tickets to Pacific Symphony performances throughout the concert season. 

PSYCB presents a two-concert series each season at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Rehearsals for PSYCB take place on Sundays from 5-7 p.m. at the University of California, Irvine. The ensemble season begins in August and ends in May of each year. Members are selected through annual auditions which take place in May. The deadline for audition submissions is May 6, 2022.

An alumna of the University of California, Los Angeles, Ms. Woo holds the degrees Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Piano Performance, Master of Education, and Master of Fine Arts in Conducting. She also holds the Master of Arts in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge. Prior to her appointment to John Adams Middle School in 1995, Ms. Woo was Director of Music at Corona del Mar High School in Orange County, California where she led the band, orchestra, choral, and jazz ensembles. She also served as conductor of the Santa Monica College Wind Ensemble during the 1995-96 season.

Ms. Woo is a staunch advocate for music education at all levels. She has been recognized and honored as the 2005 Santa Monica-Malibu District Teacher of the Year by the Santa Monica Rotary Club. In 2012, the John Philip Sousa National Foundation awarded Ms. Woo the Legion of Honor Laureate, honoring band directors with outstanding music programs. In 2019, the Education Through Music – Los Angeles Foundation presented Ms. Woo with its Shining Star Award which recognizes excellence in music education. Most recently in 2020, the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association honored Ms. Woo with its Gold Award in recognition of her long-time service to music education.

To learn more about our Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles, please click here.  

The 2022-23 Classical Season is Announced!

Pacific Symphony’s 2022-23 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Season reflects the orchestra’s diverse repertoire—from core symphonic works to a full-length opera—and a penchant for re-interpreting the classics for the 21st century, through lighting, visuals and multimedia elements.

Photo Credit: Gregor Hohenberg.

You won’t want to miss the pre-season special: Lang Lang Returns. Heralded by The New York Times as “the hottest artist on the classical music planet,” Lang Lang plays sold-out concerts all over the world. He has performed for numerous international dignitaries, including the Pope, four U.S. presidents and monarchs from many nations. And now this world-celebrated piano superstar returns to perform for you!

Celebrating over half a century of bringing music to Southern California, Pacific Chorale is internationally recognized for exceptional artistic expression. Under the direction of Robert Istad, the Chorale presents a substantial performance season of its own at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County in addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony. During the 2022-23 season, Pacific Chorale will collaborate with Pacific Symphony on four programs: The Planets, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Cathedrals of Sound and Handel’s Glorious Messiah.

Photo Credit: Aaron Jay Young.

In commenting on the upcoming season, Music Director Carl St.Clair said, “Pacific Symphony is entering a new era of discovery, exploring new musical experiences to share with our audiences. We look forward to introducing you to exciting new voices and music from around the world. Opening night will present a work by Viet Cuong, our new composer-in-residence. I could also call him an artist-in-residence because he will be contributing to our musical lives in so many ways. And, as a Vietnamese American, he will help us to engage in new cultural conversations with Orange County’s Vietnamese community, the largest in the world outside of Vietnam itself.

Composer Gabriela Ortiz.

“We are pleased to share with you the music of women composers from around the world: Mexico’s Gabriela Ortiz, the United Kingdom’s Anna Clyne and Brazil’s Clarice Assad,” added St.Clair. “The international surprises continue all season long, including guitarist Milos from Montenegro who will perform the work that could be considered Spain’s greatest export, Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez. We’ll have an exciting piece from the Polish film composer Wojciech Kilar and even music from 1920s France. I think of this season as a multicultural mosaic of music, and I know you will enjoy it.”

Read all the details in the 2022-23 Season Announcement press release.

Watch the trailer video:

Happy Birthday, Maestro John Williams!

Maestro John Williams with Music Director Carl St.Clair.

In the 1980s, Carl St.Clair was an assistant conductor to Music Director Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra while John Williams was conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. St.Clair wasn’t even aware of the Orange County-based orchestra until Williams came back from a guest conducting trip in Spring 1989, told him that the orchestra was looking for a music director, encouraged his colleague to apply and put in a good word for him with management. St.Clair flew out to Southern California in Jan. 1990 and the rest, as they say, is history.  

2022 is a milestone year. Not only are we celebrating Maestro Williams’ 90th birthday, but it also marks the 70th anniversary of the first film score he ever worked on after he was reassigned to the 596th Air Force Band at Pepperell in Newfoundland, Canada. The short film was called “You Are Welcome.” You can learn more about that story here. Since then, he has become one of the world’s most beloved composers and artistic leaders.  

Even though it has been a while since Maestro Williams has been on the podium at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, his impact is still felt today. His work continues to be an important part of our programming. Whether that’s in the concert hall, at one of our summer venues or as part of one of our education and community engagement programs. He was previously the Class Act Composer of the Year for a couple of seasons.

Did you know that several Pacific Symphony musicians have been a part of several of Williams’ original soundtrack recordings as well? You can hear Principal Tuba Jim Self on The Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Home Alone and Principal Trumpet Barry Perkins and Principal Flute Benjamin Smolen on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for example. Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman also met Williams for the first time while working on Jaws as a violinist 

Later this month, we’re excited to invite you and your family to our next Family Musical Mornings concerts, Feb. 19. This superhero-themed performance is a fun and fascinating 45-minute concert designed especially for children 5-11. Williams’ Liberty Fanfare and March from Superman are featured in the program. Pacific Symphony will also be joined by Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in this very special side-by-side performance. They will be led by Assistant Conductor Dr. Jacob Sustaita.  

Kids can come dressed as their favorite superhero. To learn more about the show and get tickets, please click here. To learn more about our commitment to the safety of our audiences, please click here. 

We know it’s hard, but if you had to choose, what’s your favorite John Williams’ piece? Let us know in the comments below! Happy birthday, Maestro!