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.  

September 11: A Remembrance

The final SummerFest concert falls on Sept. 11, this year the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In addition to presenting the traditional Tchaikovsky Spectacular program, the concert will open with musical homage to the bravery of so many Americans.

The Star-Spangled Banner, John Williams’ Liberty Fanfare, The Road Home by Stephen Paulus, Amazing Grace played on bagpipes and God Bless America will be followed by a moment of silence to remember the fallen. Pacific Symphony’s President John Forsyte provided the following note about the concert:

The first half of the Sept. 11 concert commemorates the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with works by American composers and a presentation by Brian Fennessy, Fire Chief of the Orange County Fire Authority. We honor and will never forget the 3,000 lives lost that terrible day. We honor the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way to save people they never knew. We come together in gratitude for the strength that has fortified us across these 20 years and attempt to honor the legacy of those who were lost. 

We applaud the bravery of the region’s first responders, particularly as they grapple with the losses due to our fire season here and so many other challenges created by the pandemic.

We also salute the bravery of our women and men in uniform who, in the last few weeks, undertook the largest airlift in history under extremely dangerous conditions. We also offer condolences to the families of the service women and men and Afghan citizens who were lost during this valiant effort.

With the music of the Sept. 11 concert, we hope that you find joy, solace and a reminder of the power of gathering as a community to honor freedom, community and creativity.

John Forsyte

President, Pacific Symphony

For more information or to buy tickets for the Sept. 11 concert yet, go here.

Symphony in the Cities Returns to Orange County: Mission Viejo, Irvine and Orange

Pack a picnic, grab a lawn chair or blanket and gather the family for an evening of free music and outdoor summer fun! Now a long-standing summer tradition, Symphony in the Cities (SITC) brings thousands of people together for great music and entertainment in local parks each year. With a potpourri of popular classics, pop tunes and patriotic tunes, this year’s concert is led by Music Director Carl St.Clair and the audience is invited to participate in a sing-along of patriotic favorites.

And—back by popular demand—kids have the chance to learn how to conduct with Maestro St.Clair and later help lead the orchestra in Sousa’s “Hands Across the Sea” during the concert.

2021 Symphony in the Cities Dates and Locations

Mission Viejo • Saturday • August 14, 2021
“Prelude in the Park” begins at 4 p.m.
Pacific Symphony concert starts at 7 p.m.
Oso Viejo Community Park on the Village Green and
Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center
24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA

Irvine • Sunday • Aug. 15, 2021
Pacific Symphony concert starts at 7 p.m.
Mike Ward Community Park Woodbridge
20 Lake Road, Irvine, CA

Orange • Sunday • Aug. 22, 2021
Pacific Symphony concert starts at 7 p.m.
Aitken Arts Plaza at Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University
One University Drive, Orange, CA

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Rich Capparela, host
Fiona Shea, violin
John Buffett, baritone
Pacific Symphony

Giochina Rossini: Finale from Overture to William Tell
Georges Bizet: Farandole from L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2
Max Bruch: Concerto No. 1 in G Minor for Violin & Orchestra III. Allegro energico
Arturo Márquez: Danzón No. 2
Ennio Morricone / Arr. Robert Longfield: Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission
Alberto Ginastera: Danza Finale from Estancia, Op.8a
John Philip Sousa: Hands Across the Sea March
Aaron Copland: Selections from Old American Songs
Various / Arr. Bob Lowden: Armed Forces Salute
Samuel Ward / Arr. Greg Prechel: “America the Beautiful”
Irving Berlina / Arr. Bruce Healey: “God Bless America”
John Philip Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever

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.

Programs, artists and dates subject to change.

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

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.

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: “Nutcracker for Kids!,” “Cinderella—Opera for Kids,” “Superheroes!,” “Cirque for Kids!” and “Music from the Movies and More!” 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.


Programs, artists and dates subject to change.

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!

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!

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!

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.

Saturday • May 21, 2022 • 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!

“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.