A Virtual Verdi: Voice of OC Highlights “La Traviata”

From the article:

[Stage Director Bob] Neu and St.Clair started batting around some staging ideas, and possible solutions soon presented themselves. “The more we talked through it and the more we thought about it, the more we realized that the ‘less is more’ concept could work,” Neu said. “There’s very little that the chorus sings that’s absolutely necessary to tell the story. They’re mostly adding atmosphere and commenting on things.”

Other aspects of “La Traviata” make it suitable for stripped-down adaptation, Neu surmised.

“It has one central story. There’s no subplot, there’s no, you know, gypsies throwing babies into fires or anything like that – just three characters who are essential to telling the stories. So when those things all kind of became clear for us, we really became convinced it could work.”

Thanks to Paul Hodgins for the excellent coverage in Voice of OC!

We hope you enjoy this clip of the incredible soprano, Cecilia Violetta Lopez, in her starring role as “Violetta” in “La Traviata,” performing the heart-breaking “Addio, del passato.”

Our virtual production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” debuts Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m. PDT. You can buy tickets here.

Celebrating Female Composers

AXP@Home’s latest online spring workshop—Raise Your Voice—recently took place, allowing students to explore how music can strengthen social bonds and inspire collective progress.

Arts-X-Press vocal music instructor Stephanie Coghlan led our group through interactive vocal music collaboration with a recital of Ashford & Simpson’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” This classic Motown hit reflected the group discussion of celebrating relationships, overcoming obstacles of self-doubt and empowering ourselves to accomplish goals through making the most of our passions. 

Pacific Symphony Violist Cheryl Gates also joined our workshop to play a number of riveting musical pieces from distinguished female composers throughout history: Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, and Rebecca Clarke. 

“In that time period, women composers were not as accepted as [their male counterparts],” Ms. Gates told our students. “These three female composers were dynamic in their time and really fought to get their voices heard.” She discussed how finding your passion can also help lift your voice in all areas of life, much like the hardships that these composers overcame with their determination that is reflected in their music. “As you’re listening, think about the emotions the music evokes in you!”

Though online media can help us stay connected to our friends, families and the passions that we share, constantly maintaining an online image can sometimes be overwhelming. We are seemingly forced to engage in constant judgment—both of each other and ourselves.  Additionally, comparing our images to that of others can sometimes lead to feelings of uncertainty within ourselves. 

With inspiration from Selena Gomez’s “Who Says,” students also completed a prompt designed to inspire self-empowerment. To overcome moments of self-doubt, it can be especially helpful to harness positive thinking into self-affirmations that serve to build confidence and maximize our passions. 

“We all have negative thoughts that go through our heads—these tapes that we play in our heads about not measuring up to what we should do or that we’re not good enough,” Instructor Stephanie expressed to AXP@Home students. “We want to give you something positive to replace those tapes with and change the narrative for yourself.” 

The next event in the AXP@Home Spring Workshop series—“Celebrate Summer, Celebrate YOU!”—will focus on theatre arts ahead of the summer season and will take place on Wednesday, June. 16th, 2021. 

Click here to register! 

Reminder: AXP@Home participants will have priority registration for our in-person arts-X-press summer program! More details on our website at www.PacificSymphony.org/artsXpress

Please stay tuned to @artsXpress on Instagram and Facebook for weekly content recaps and news updates! 

Special Event “La Traviata” Highlights June Streaming Programs

Cecilia Violetta López as “Violetta” in Pacific Symphony’s production of Verdi’s “La Traviata”

The popular PacificSymphony+ streaming concerts promise more engaging programming continuing in June. The big highlight this month will be Verdi’s “La Traviata,” especially adapted to be performed semi-staged. There will be two Pops Friday concerts that offer a virtual night at the movies, with favorite soundtracks under the baton of Richard Kaufman. Café Ludwig will present two programs: the first offers a world premiere and the second streams LIVE from the Samueli Theater. Family programming will take place on two Saturday mornings. And Thursdays @ 7 throughout June feature your Pacific Symphony in great classical repertoire. All programs are offered for a month after their premiere date, and, with the exception of special event “La Traviata,” they are free of charge.

June 3: Vivaldi’s Spring (Thursdays @ 7)

June 5: “La Traviata” (Special Opera Event)

June 10: Songs of the Auvergne (Thursdays @ 7)

June 11: A Virtual Night at the Movies, Part 1 (Pops Fridays)

June 12: The Curious Case of the Vanishing Violin (Family Musical Mornings)

June 13: Parallel Isolations (Café Ludwig)

June 17: Starburst (Thursdays @ 7)

June 20: Café Ludwig LIVE from the Samueli Theater

June 24: Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 (Thursdays @ 7)

June 25: A Virtual Night at the Movies, Part 2 (Pops Fridays)

June 26: Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony (Family Musical Moment)

To review all PacificSymphony+ concerts, click here.

Kicking Off SummerFest ’21 with July 4th at FivePoint Amphitheatre

Live music returns to Orange County, and Pacific Symphony is thrilled to kick off the festivities! The July 4th Spectacular begins the summer at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine. Featuring the music of Elton John, this is Pacific Symphony’s first time performing at Orange County’s newest outdoor venue and it promises to be a historic event.

Next up, the orchestra returns to Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. You won’t want to miss the West Coast premiere of “Toy Story” in Concert—Live with Orchestra (Aug. 21). 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.

And finally, no summer would be complete without the traditional Tchaikovsky Spectacular (Sept. 11), complete with cannons and fireworks! Critically acclaimed pianist and the International Tchaikovsky Competition Silver Medalist George Li also joins Pacific Symphony to perform Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.”

Tickets for SummerFest ‘21 are on sale now! Subscriptions for the three-concert series range from $63-$150. Single tickets sales begin Friday, May 28, starting at just $25. All concerts take place at 8 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Pacific Symphony Patron Services at (714) 755-5799, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

COVID-19 safety protocols continue to evolve at a rapid pace and audience safety is our priority. In partnership with Live Nation and the OC Fair & Event teams, 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.

Sunday • July 4, 2021 • 8 p.m.
Fivepoint Amphitheatre | Irvine

Richard Kaufman conductor
Starring Craig A. Meyer
Featuring the Rocket Band

“Your Song.” “Rocket Man.” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The hit singles of mega pop star Elton John are endless. Starring Craig A. Meyer as “Almost Elton John,” this spectacular musical journey celebrates the decades of chart-topping hits of Sir Elton John. Plus enjoy patriotic favorites, our traditional salute to the U.S. armed forces and a brilliant fireworks finale!

West Coast Premiere • Live-to-Film Event
Saturday • Aug. 21, 2021 • 8 p.m.
Pacific Amphitheatre | OC Fair & Event Center

Sarah Hicks, conductor

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. PRESENTATION LICENSED BY DISNEY CONCERTS. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Saturday • Sept. 11, 2021 • 8 p.m.
Pacific Amphitheatre | OC Fair & Event Center

Carl St.Clair, conductor
George Li, piano

No SummerFest is complete without Pacific Symphony performing Tchaikovsky’s thrilling “1812” Overture, complete with live cannons and brilliant fireworks. Critically acclaimed pianist and the International Tchaikovsky Competition Silver Medalist George Li also joins Pacific Symphony to perform Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.”

Don’t Miss Free Streaming Concert “Alone Together: In Memory of George Floyd”

On May 25, Pacific Symphony will stream a free concert in tribute to George Floyd, marking the one-year anniversary of his tragic death. The Symphony, in partnership with the Fresno Philharmonic, Monterey Symphony and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, commissioned the Emmy Award-winning composer John Christopher Wineglass to write “Alone Together,” a piece that addresses social issues and systemic racial disparities. Music Director Carl St.Clair will interview the composer and will conduct Pacific Symphony in the world premiere online on May 25 at 7 p.m., the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic death. The program will be available for free streaming on the orchestra’s YouTube and Facebook channels from May 25 through June 23.

“Alone Together” runs approximately nine minutes and features strings and percussion. You’ll have another opportunity to hear the work on May 27, paired with Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” as part of Pacific Symphony’s “Thursdays @ 7” online concert series.

In preparation for the first hearing of this remarkable work, you may want to read the composer’s note from the musical score.

John Christopher Wineglass
“Alone Together”

Duration: 9 minutes
Scored for percussion, harp and strings

I. Strange Pandemic Times
II. A Ray of Hope

From the composer’s journal entry:

November 20th, 2020 8:08 pm

As I sequestered “alone” quite literally to finish writing this work in walking to a market store near my sponsored beach-front quarters, I was verbally accosted by two laughing males who thought it would be funny with a bullhorn on top of their sporty Audi SUV to go around this pristine neighborhood and spew out the expletive ‘N-word’ in of ALL places where I normally do a lot of writing—Shell Beach, CA—a beautiful central coastline between LA and San Francisco. Truly… what world are we living in? Let me rephrase that: what world are some of us living in and others (millions in fact) choose to turn a blind eye?

As I dwelled heavily into this work this particular week, there were parts of America that I recognized and parts that I knew were always there BUT certainly didn’t recognize… apparently, they don’t hide behind ghostly bed sheets anymore in this extremely politically divided time and in the midst of a global pandemic. Was I still in the times of my just recently deceased parents last year of the 60s and the riots during MLK or was this 2020? Have we NOT as a nation grown… at all? It was dreamlike for me—an unbelievable seeping dystopian euphoria in a way. Were we going backwards to private and now George Floyd-esque public lynchings of the past. Indeed “Strange Pandemic Times”….my working title of the first movement. And this is just personally what was happening to me in composing this work—outside of my own disposition here was a world constantly shifting particularly here in America with an unbalanced demagogue at the helm with every day MAJOR unstable shifts in the temperature of this country. This present-day world of 2020 is reflected in this new composition by the constant shifts in tonal centers or atonality if you will—without tonality…without centeredness…swelling major-minor chords in the strings without any sense of stability or normalness. Give me normal please. There would be glimmers of hope—times of possible brilliance—yet brought back to a current dismal reality. A longing for common ground but finding no footing…no continuity. Abrupt silences…alone…many intubated. No foundation…lost in a midst of unbelief of what I was witnessing with my very own eyes in this land of ‘equality.’ The universe repeatedly brings this up…again…and again before our very own eyes—until we learn.

But…I still believe in and have hope…”A Ray of Hope” (working title for the second movement)…a hope deferred at the moment but a hope nonetheless. A hope that in this struggle together—we will come out TOGETHER somehow and in some way—stronger, more wise and vigilant. 

Announcing “Symphony On The Go!,” A Mobile Community Concert Experience

Symphony Expresses Gratitude to Philanthropists Jerry And Terri Kohl,
Who Generously Donated New Musical Stage On Wheels

Coming soon to a city near you: Symphony on the Go! is a mobile community concert experience that will tour throughout Orange County. This brightly-wrapped traveling stage on wheels will be hard to miss, with colorful images of Pacific Symphony musicians and Music Director Carl St.Clair.

Symphony on the Go! provides a comfortable and safe performing stage for the Symphony’s musicians, who look forward to performing in front of live audiences again. At a time when people have been starved for live music, the Symphony is taking the music on the road to reach music lovers and families throughout Orange County.

Music Director Carl St.Clair commented, “The musicians and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have received the unique gift of this wonderful mobile stage from Jerry and Terri Kohl. Our commitment is to inspire, engage and serve all with no barriers to participation. We look forward to performing concerts for communities throughout Orange County so we can share the gift of music and Pacific Symphony with all.”

“We are tremendously grateful to Jerry and Terri Kohl,” said Symphony President & CEO John Forsyte. “They 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.”

Symphony on the Go! will launch its countywide touring in June and will continue throughout the summer. The upcoming free outdoor concerts will take place in parking lots to farmers’ markets to public parks.

Behind-the-scenes during the construction of the mobile music truck

Exact locations, dates and times will be announced on PacificSymphony.org in the coming weeks.

To commemorate the countywide tour of Symphony on the Go!, the Symphony along with ArtsOC is inviting students grades 6-12 to submit poster art that celebrates the role of music in their lives and neighborhoods. For more information or to enter the contest, go to ArtsOC.SlideRoom.com

Arts-X-Press Returns for In-Person Summer Sessions

Pacific Symphony’s summer arts immersion program is back in-person this summer! We invite young artists and creative thinkers to join us for a week of arts exploration, creative expression, friendships, and summer fun! Designed for students going into 7th and 8th grade, arts-X-press has modified its program this summer to operate under COVID safety protocols. Campers from across Orange County will come together at Concordia University Irvine where they will immerse themselves in process-based arts workshops, express themselves creatively, collaborate with peers and take in performances tailored for our arts-X-press community. Students will live and eat meals on campus, see performances in Concordia’s outdoor amphitheater and have access to top-of-the line arts spaces.

“I am excited to announce that, thanks to our strong partnership with Concordia University Irvine, we are planning to hold arts-X-press, our summer arts immersion program for middle school students, in-person this summer. As we reconfigure the program to be in-line with COVID safety protocols, we are also looking forward to the magic of being back together with our arts-X-press community.”

Alison Levinson, Pacific Symphony’s director of arts engagement

Last year, due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, the highly successful arts-X-press rebranded to AXP@Home, a collection of virtual artistic experiences meaningfully curated for middle-school students. Since last summer, the arts-X-press team has continued to build its community of artists by virtually convening alumni and students through monthly workshops, each focused on a different arts-X-press value. Session 1 takes place July 11-16; Session 2 takes place July 18-23. Applications are due May 25, and can be found on our website here.

Founded by Music Director Carl St.Clair in remembrance of his and wife Susan’s son, Cole Carsan St.Clair, the innovative and multidisciplinary arts-X-press program allows students to test the boundaries of their creativity in an overnight summer camp, where no artistic risk is too intimidating to explore. Reflective of how many artistic disciplines influenced his own creative development (not just music), Maestro St.Clair’s philosophy is the driving force behind the program. Aligned with his vision for encouraging love of the arts, arts-X-press is designed for students to gain a lifelong connection to the arts and to foster respect for each student’s individuality, interests and diverse heritage. You can find more information on Pacific Symphony’s arts-X-press program on our website at https://www.pacificsymphony.org/artsXpress.

Pacific Symphony’s Live Pops Concerts Return This Fall, Opening on Nov. 5 with Celebrated “Hitman” David Foster

Lineup includes David Foster, Midtown Men, Katherine Jenkins, Boz Scaggs,
Cirque de la Symphonie, “A Tribute to ABBA” and “Blockbuster Broadway!”

Pacific Symphony has announced its highly anticipated 2021-22 Pops series underwritten by the Sharon J. and Thomas E. Malloy Family, featuring seven not-to-be-missed concerts that include romance, Broadway, nostalgia, festive holiday cheer and classic rock—all enhanced by the “Hollywood” sound of the orchestra.

Join us for a thrilling return to the concert hall with our opening weekend featuring 16-time Grammy Award winner David Foster, known for popular hits such as “You’re the Inspiration,” “The Prayer,” “The Glory of Love” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” (Nov. 5-6). Celebrate the holidays with the Midtown Men as they deck the hall with festive cheer, timeless tunes, top-shelf choreography and incredible vocals (Dec. 17-18). You can enjoy a romantic evening with Britain’s exciting crossover pop star, Katherine Jenkins (Feb. 11-12, 2022). Singer, songwriter and legendary guitarist, Boz Scaggs will recap his favorite hits (March 18-19, 2022). Thrill to the beauty and majesty with the performers from Cirque de la Symphonie. (April 22-23, 2022). You won’t want to miss a special tribute to ABBA where songs like “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia” and “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” will have you dancing in the aisle (May 13-14, 2022). The grand finale to the Pops series will be “Blockbuster Broadway” featuring hits from “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” “The Phantom of the Opera” (June 3-4, 2022).

All concerts begin at 8 p.m. and take place in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Secure your tickets now—these shows are sure to sell out! Available for purchase at this time are seven-concert Pops subscriptions and a Pops Choose Your Own four-concert package. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 16. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit http://www.PacificSymphony.org/Pops.

AXP@Home Spring Workshop Focuses on “Blooming in Your Community”

Recently, the arts-X-press team found a way to carry on their tradition of summer fun by introducing AXP@Home, the remote format of Pacific Symphony’s immersive arts summer camp. With the success of last summer’s virtual camp, AXP@Home has since been expanded through alumni workshops that focus on a different art form each month. 

AXP@Home’s latest online spring workshop—Blooming in Your Community—took place last Wednesday and provided students with a space to express themselves through poetry and collaborative discussion. 

AXP@Home workshops strive to empower students to find their voice through the intersection of different art forms and creative risk-taking.  Last week’s workshop focused specifically on creative writing, which can allow students to develop their imaginations, broaden perspectives and improve problem-solving abilities. 

Instructor Michal Yadlin and the AXP counselor team led our group through fun and reflective exercises to get the conversation flowing. After showcasing various personal items chosen to represent their own character, students created “I Am” poems, which allowed them to find their voice through descriptive writing based on what they feel, perceive and identify with. 

From symbolic and abstract ideas to more tangible concepts, many students expressed their identities, passions, and future aspirations through the stanzas: 

“I am a reader and a collector” 

“I see my childhood all around me” 

“I want health all around”

“I understand that [the pandemic] cannot just magically disappear” 

“I dream that someday I can be a great mom like my mom.” 

“I try to be a good brother”

“I hope to change the world” 

Instructor Michal then guided students through drawing their own flowers, with each petal containing written ideas of how we can make a difference in the many aspects of our lives. She encouraged students to take on leadership roles, explore their own attributes and learn from others to benefit the people around us:

“Think about how you can take [these ideas] from the figurative to the practical. When we are the spark of change in our own communities, families and friend groups, one little act can cause change across everything.” 

Oftentimes, young people may feel that they have little or no say in the things that transpire within our communities; however, these discussions help prove that setting forth these thoughts and ideas alone can be a great step towards developing real change. Empowering future leaders to act on their strongest passions for the sake of helping others can be remarkably impactful for sparking true change in all of our lives. 

The next event in the AXP@Home Spring Workshop series—“Raise Your Voice”—will focus on music and will take place on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021. In this workshop we will explore the intersections between vocal and instrumental music and how female composers have paved the way for one another throughout history. 

Click here to register! 

Reminder: AXP@Home participants will have priority registration for our in-person arts-X-press summer program! More details on our website at www.PacificSymphony.org/artsXpress

Please stay tuned to @artsXpress on Instagram and Facebook for weekly content recaps and news updates! 

Happy (Belated) 15th Birthday, Spotify!

Long gone are the days of handing your friends cassette mixtapes or downloading the trendiest songs off of Limewire to use as your ringtone. Now, it is all about the endless libraries of Spotify, ranging from Tchaikovsky’s astonishing piano concertos, to Taylor Swift’s newest releases and even DIY podcasts.

Since its founding on April 23, 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden, Spotify has become a giant of the music industry and changed the way people consume, share, categorize and create music. The streaming company now has over 356 million users, 158 million Spotify Premium subscribers and over 70 million tracks for listeners to access. At the end of each year, users eagerly await for the results of their own, personalized “Spotify Wrapped,” a beloved feature that displays a user’s top artists, genres and podcasts, and even where they statistically rank among an artist’s top listeners.

Classical Essentials Playlist

With the power of algorithms and endless music, Spotify has the ability to suggest a diverse array of artists and genres even for classical music lovers—including the enchanting nocturnes of Chopin to the nostalgic pastorals of Vaughan Williams and the staple preludes of Bach. Spotify offers a mode of listening that is easily “playlist-oriented,” especially since users can conveniently add songs to a custom, creatively-titled playlist at the click of a button. Although the music service offers pre-made daily mixes or “mood” playlists, it also provides carefully crafted “Classical Essentials” playlists alongside user-curated classical selections made for studying, relaxing, exercising and more. Classical music lovers can easily search for their favorite interpretations and performances of orchestral pieces while still being exposed to lesser-known works of contemporary classical music.

As the popularity of on-demand media and streaming services continues to rise, one can only imagine how the world of classical music will adapt next.

Read more on Spotify’s innovations over the past 15 years here. To follow Pacific Symphony on Spotify, click here.