64th Annual Grammy Awards: Congratulations To All The Nominees!

This photo collage features Composer Clarice Assad, Artistic Director Robert Istad with Pacific Chorale and Sandbox Percussion.

Music’s biggest night is this Sunday, April 3. Live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be hosted by The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. This will be Noah’s second ceremony as host. We’re thrilled that so many past and upcoming Pacific Symphony guest artists and Southern California neighbors are nominated in several categories.

Congratulations to all the nominees! We’re rooting for you!

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • One Night In Miami…
    Leslie Odom, Jr. (& Various Artists)
    Nicholai Baxter, compilation producer; Randall Poster, music supervisor

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Speak Now [From One Night In Miami…]
    Sam Ashworth & Leslie Odom, Jr., songwriters (Leslie Odom, Jr.)

BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, CLASSICAL

  • Archetypes
    Jonathan Lackey, Bill Maylone & Dan Nichols, engineers; Bill Maylone, mastering engineer (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion)
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears
    Richard King, engineer (Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax)
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony Of A Thousand’
    Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, engineers; Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, mastering engineers (Gustavo Dudamel, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Luke McEndarfer, Robert Istad, Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus, Pacific Chorale & Los Angeles Philharmonic)

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, CLASSICAL

Steven Epstein

  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears (Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax) (A)
  • Songs Of Comfort And Hope (Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott) (A)

David Frost

  • Glass: Akhnaten (Karen Kamensek, J’Nai Bridges, Dísella Lárusdóttir, Zachary James, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) (A)

Elaine Martone

  • Archetypes (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion) (A)

BEST OPERA RECORDING

  • Glass: Akhnaten
    Karen Kamensek, conductor; J’Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Zachary James & Dísella Lárusdóttir; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)

BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE

  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony Of A Thousand’
    Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Grant Gershon, Robert Istad, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz & Luke McEndarfer, chorus masters (Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson & Tamara Wilson; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus & Pacific Chorale)

BEST CHAMBER MUSIC/SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

  • Akiho: Seven Pillars
    Sandbox Percussion
  • Archetypes
    Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears
    Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax

BEST CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL COMPOSITION

  • Akiho: Seven Pillars
    Andy Akiho, composer (Sandbox Percussion)
  • Assad, Clarice & Sérgio, Connors, Dillon, Martin & Skidmore: Archetypes
    Clarice Assad, Sérgio Assad, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin & David Skidmore, composers (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion)
  • Shaw: Narrow Sea
    Caroline Shaw, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish & Sō Percussion)

To review the complete list of nominees across all genres, please click here. To learn everything you need know about Sunday’s big night, please click here.

What’s Happening This Month: April 2022

April is upon us and that means we’ll be in Verdi mode for the next couple of weeks until April 12. Even though Otello wasn’t Verdi’s last work, people in his life still tried to find ways to encourage him to come out of retirement to work on this fate tempting project. All it took was Boito’s compelling first draft and a mutual love of Shakespeare prevailed.

Later in the month, the magic of cirque comes to the concert hall with Cirque de la Symphonie, April 22-23. There will also be two performances of Cirque for Kids on Saturday, April 23. We’re honored to be a part of the North American Premiere of Danny Elfman’s Percussion Concerto featuring British percussionist Colin Currie at Soka Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 24. The month closes off with Yang Plays Rachmaninoff Apr. 28-30 and Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings wraps up their 2021-22 season with It’s All About Strings! on Saturday, Apr. 30.

Thank you for joining us! Here’s your monthly update.

Verdi’s Otello • April 7, 9 & 12 at 8 p.m. PDT

Love, betrayal and jealousy – all trademarks of great tragic opera – Otello embraces these themes to the fullest. Written decades after going into retirement, Verdi’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s tale takes you on a journey through a passionate romance destroyed by one of opera’s most loathsome villains. This will be a semi-staged opera in four acts, sung in Italian with English supertitles. There will also be an intermission after Act II.

Our cast includes tenor Carl Tanner as Otello, soprano Kelebogile Besong as Desdemona and baritone Stephen Powell as Iago. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair.

To learn more, please click here.

Cirque de la Symphonie • April 22-23 at 8 p.m. PDT

Beauty, thrills and majesty! This popular troupe returns with a show featuring 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. They’ll be performing to selections from Chicago, Flight to Neverland, Swan Lake and more! Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Dr. Jacob Sustaita.

To learn more, please click here.

Cirque for Kids • April 23 at 10 and 11:30 a.m. PDT

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. This fun and fascinating 45-minute concert designed especially for children 5-11. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Dr. Jacob Sustaita.

To learn more, please click here.

This video was produced by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sundays at Soka: Percussion Concerto by Danny Elfman • April 24 at 3 p.m. PDT

Danny Elfman brings to Aliso Viejo the North American Premiere of a brand new percussion concerto, co-commissioned by Soka Performing Arts Center at Soka University and the London Philharmonic, performed by Colin Currie – as one critic put it, ‘surely the world’s finest and most daring percussionist’. Additional pieces include Golijov’s Last Round and Wineglass’ Alone Together. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair.

The Percussion Concerto is co-commissioned by Soka University and the London Philharmonic.

To learn more, please click here.

Yang Plays Rachmaninoff • April 28-30 at 8 p.m. PDT

Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 is a work that leads you from gorgeous melodies to unforgettable themes, all without pause. Earlier in the evening, piano phenom Joyce Yang dazzles with Rachmaninoff’s tour-de-force of the keyboard, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. April is also a big month. Not only are we acknowledging Rachmaninoff’s birthday on April 1, Yang’s birthday is also on April 11. Pacific Symphony will be under the baton of guest conductor Maestro José Luis Gomez.

To learn more, please click here.

PSSS: It’s All About Strings! • April 30 at 1 p.m. PDT

Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings wraps up their 2021-22 season with a program of rousing and engaging works from many eras. From the ethereal beauty of Gerald Finzi to the brilliance and drama of Tchaikovsky, this program is sure to provide new and exciting musical vistas for all to enjoy! Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission. Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings will be under the baton of Maestra Irene Kroesen.

To learn more, please click here.

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

Opera and Shakespeare

The problem with Shakespeare is that the music is already in the words…

Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare.

Opera in America was revolutionized in the 1980s, when opera companies started projecting translations of the text over the stage. Now, instead of having to study a woefully inadequate synopsis before the performance, audiences know exactly what is being sung. That’s the upside; the downside is that audiences now know exactly what is being sung. Because the fact is that many operas succeed in spite of their librettos, not because of them, and many a popular opera is actually a musical silk purse made out of a veritable sow’s ear of a libretto.

            Still, composers have an obvious advantage if they start with a really good text, and it would seem logical to turn to the best playwrights. You might think that would make Shakespeare a fertile source, but the reality has not worked out that way. The problem with Shakespeare is that the music is already in the words, and there is virtually nothing a composer could add to make it more effective. It would be, to misquote the Bard himself, like gilding the lily. This is why operas based upon or inspired by Shakespeare plays virtually never use his actual text.

            Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901) had his first crack at a Shakespeare story with the tenth of his twenty-eight operas, Macbeth (1847), in the melodramatic, blood-and-thunder style typical of Verdi’s early works. When he reviewed the score in 1865, he found “certain numbers that are weak or lacking in character, which is worse still”—a testament to the composer’s evolution during the half-century that he dominated Italian opera.

            Verdi’s musical development first culminated in what almost became his final opera, Aida, in 1871, and his definitive setting of the Requiem Mass that premiered in 1874. He then settled into a comfortable retirement, but some 13 years later he would return in blazing triumph to the opera stage with another Shakespearean inspiration, Otello.

            Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868), who ruled the world of Italian opera during the decades before Verdi snatched his crown, had composed an Otello in 1816. Although it bears only a fleeting resemblance to Shakespeare, it remained popular almost until Verdi’s version swept it into oblivion in 1887. By that time the sunny brightness of Rossini’s music had yielded to the brooding darkness of late Romanticism, a style far more appropriate to the tale of Othello and Desdemona’s tragic love.

            Verdi’s unparalleled gift for melody and mastery of orchestral colors ensured that his Otello would take its place near the top of the operatic heap. Certainly his score doesn’t lack for spectacular music gestures, from the explosive lightning bolt that starts the opera, to the lusty choral crowd scenes, the pageantry of the 16th-century Venetian court, and ultimately the brutal murder with which it concludes.

            Yet for all of its technicolor brilliance, Verdi’s drama is actually amazingly intimate; the true action transpires inside the protagonist’s head, where Iago plants the doubt and jealousy that eventually drive him to murder his beloved wife over an act of infidelity she never committed. Part of Verdi’s genius was the way he was able to expose and shine a light on the machinations of a deteriorating mind. So great were Verdi’s dramatic skills that he could make an imaginary event as vividly palpable as an actual one; you barely need the Supertitles to witness the process. It is this psychological complexity, coupled with the nearly impossible vocal demands Verdi makes upon the singer, that have made the title role the Everest of tenor parts.

            Of course Verdi didn’t do this all by himself. The fine text he set was brilliantly crafted by Arrigo Boito, who, as an aspiring opera composer himself, understood a composer’s needs. His only completed opera, Mefistofele, premiered unsuccessfully in 1868, but he earned more fame in 1876 as the librettist for Ponchielli’s masterpiece, La Gioconda. It was the prospect of collaborating with Boito on Otello suggested by the publisher Ricordi that finally lured Verdi out of retirement.

            Verdi’s only opera after Otello was another hugely successful Shakespeare-inspired collaboration with Boito, Falstaff, one of only two comedies Verdi ever composed. But for this listener, at least, Otello is the most brilliant jewel in the crown of the composer whose genius was so spectacularly detonated by the searing drama of Shakespeare’s tragedy. George Bernard Shaw quipped, “The truth is that instead of Otello being an Italian opera written in the style of Shakespeare, Othello is a play written by Shakespeare in the style of Italian opera.” If that’s true, the Bard of Avon must have had Verdi in mind.

John Schauer is a freelance writer who worked at San Francisco Opera for 13 years and spins his own bizarre operatic fantasies in his novel Chaste Goddess.

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.

Café Ludwig’s Artistic Director Orli Shaham Joins Juilliard’s Piano Faculty

Host, Curator and Pianist Orli Shaham at the Samueli Theatre during a Café Ludwig concert.

The Juilliard School just announced that Orli Shaham is joining the prestigious school’s piano faculty in the 2022-23 academic year. Shaham is an alumna of the school (Pre-College ’93; and the cross-registration program with Columbia University ’97), and for the past two years has taught at Juilliard as an interim faculty member. Pianists Soyeon Kate Lee and Shai Wosner also join the faculty.

Orli Shaham says, “I am honored and humbled to join the stellar faculty at The Juilliard School. In my years as interim faculty, I’ve seen firsthand how brilliant and inspiring these students are, and I’m thrilled to continue to dig into it all with them! Congratulations, too, to my fellow new faculty members, pianists Shai Wosner and Soyeon Kate Lee, I can’t wait to work alongside you and the rest of the Juilliard faculty and staff.”

In a statement, department chair Veda Kaplinsky says that Shaham, Lee and Wosner each “embody the ideals that are so fundamental to our mission: a passion for teaching, a keen intellect and superb artistry. We look forward to having them join our exceptional faculty and to working alongside them.” Dean David Serkin Ludwig adds that they also each “possess the rare combination of great artistry and outstanding teaching ability that defines the Juilliard faculty.”

Orli Shaham, who was born in Israel and grew up in New York, is the artistic director of both Pacific Symphony’s chamber series Café Ludwig in Costa Mesa, California, and the interactive children’s concert series Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard, which she founded in 2010. Also a regular guest host on National Public Radio’s From the Top, she’s chair of the board of trustees at Kaufman Music Center in New York City.

This season, Shaham is releasing the second and third volumes of the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas. Her Mozart recording project also includes volume 1 of the Piano Sonatas and her album of Piano Concertos with St. Louis Symphony, all of which are part of her discography of a dozen titles on Canary Classics. After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University, where she participated in the Barnard-Columbia-Juilliard exchange, she pursued graduate studies in historical musicology at Columbia. She is a winner of the Gilmore Young Artist Award and the Avery Fisher Career Grant.

A Musical Tribute to Ukraine

Pacific Symphony stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. A change has been made to this

“This will be our reply to violence—to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” ~Leonard Bernstein

Pacific Symphony stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

When audiences arrive at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for this week’s concert Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony with Edo de Waart conducting (March 10-12), they will be greeted by blue and yellow signs with bright sunflowers in the lobby letting them know about a program change: In support of all who are suffering, the orchestra will begin this weekend’s performances with the contemplative spiritual anthem “Prayer for Ukraine.” This peaceful musical tribute will provide a moment for audiences to send heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the people who are caught in the conflict in Ukraine. The violin concerto being performed on the program by James Ehnes was written in 1935 by Sergei Prokofiev, who was born and raised in Ukraine.

If you are interested in helping the people of Ukraine with a donation, the U.S. Department of State is highlighting a gofundme campaign for a Ukrainian Humantarian Fund as one centralized fundraising effort, which includes links to individual, verified nonprofit humanitarian organizations.

Pacific Symphony agrees that music has the power to unite us all in peace. The orchestra embodies the sentiment of Leonard Bernstein, who famously said: “This will be our reply to violence—to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

You can view the full piece here:

Upcoming Sundays at Soka Events and a Danny Elfman Premiere

There are three more Sundays at Soka with Pacific Symphony events of the 2021-22 season left. From Beethoven & Mozart later this month to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in May, you won’t want to miss these very special moments. Located on the beautiful hilltop campus of Soka University in Aliso Viejo, Soka Performing Arts Center is the proud home of the Pacific Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

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. 34 and Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491.

To learn more, please click here.

Sundays at Soka: Percussion Concerto by Danny Elfman • April 24, 2022 at 3 p.m.

Danny Elfman brings to Aliso Viejo the United States premiere of a brand new percussion concerto, co-commissioned by Soka Performing Arts Center at Soka University and the London Philharmonic, performed by Colin Currie – as one critic put it, “surely the world’s finest and most daring percussionist.” The concerto will be performed with Pacific Symphony, under the baton of Music Director Carl St.Clair.

To learn more, please click here.

Sundays at Soka: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto • May 1, 2022 at 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 for String Orchestra and and Beethoven’s only concerto for one of the most popular instruments of his day: the violin.

To learn more, please click here.

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

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!

The Otello Project: Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Pacific Symphony’s Opera Initiative

Our performances of Verdi’s Otello will feature Carl Tanner as Otello, Kelebogile Besong as Desdemona and Stephen Powell as Iago.

In three entertaining and enlightening Zoom webinars, Pacific Symphony Assistant Conductor, Dr. Jacob Sustaita, previews and introduces the upcoming performances of Verdi’s operatic masterpiece, Otello. Each online session will explore the opera’s depiction of jealousy and rage by examining the work’s psychological, musical and dramatic forces.

Don’t miss this opportunity to peek behind the scenes at how Pacific Symphony brings the dramatic pathos of this opera to the stage of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Shakespeare Reinterpreted: Verdi’s Otello • March 23 at 5 p.m.

Soprano Kelebogile Besong and Stage Director Bob Neu join Session #1 to discuss the innocence and determination of Desdemona, with a focus on her Act IV farewell and prayer before her death.

Iago’s CREDO: Naivety and the Complexity of an Evil-Genius • March 30 at 5 p.m.

Baritone Stephen Powell and Stage Director Bob Neu discuss Iago’s theatrical polarity, declamatory musical style, and dramatic characterization.

Otello’s Collapse: A Handkerchief, A Victim and A Murder • April 6 at 5 p.m.

Tenor Carl Tanner shares his experiences of preparing and performing this enormous role. Tanner and Sus­taita explore Otello’s challenges and complexities.

**Subject to change.**

HOW TO WATCH: Ticket holders will receive an email with a Zoom link 24 hours before each session. A recording of each session will be made available several days later for renewed viewing for up to one month.

COST: This three-session, online course costs $35 per household.

HOW TO PURCHASE: Please call the box office at (714) 755-5799 or purchase online using the hyperlinks above.

What’s your favorite part of Verdi’s Otello? Let us know in the comments below!