Classical Music Inspired by 9/11

When tragedy strikes, we often turn to each other and lean into things that are meaningful—that give us emotional strength, depth, and significance. It’s on this somber day that we honor the 3,000 lives lost in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and we honor the courage of the brave individuals who put themselves in harm’s way to save people they never knew.

Music has magical, healing powers and from this horrendous tragedy came some incredible music written in tribute. Below are three inspirational pieces written by composers who were in NY when the attacks happened—and as Victor Hugo so astutely said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words.”  

Spared
Howard Goodall, composer

“On 11th September 2001, I was in New York filming for my series Howard Goodall’s Great Dates, walking down 5th Avenue to meet the crew at an arranged rendezvous in Battery Park. I had come parallel to Washington Square when, with my disbelieving eyes (and those of the millions who witnessed it on TV news reports) I watched the catastrophe of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center at firsthand. I stood in the street as the second tower collapsed in front of me and as the tidal wave of dust rushed towards and through me. I tried (and failed) to contact my family in London (Manhattan’s phone masts had come down with the twin towers) to tell them I was safe and alive. It was a further agonizing three hours before calls to the UK were possible. We were cut off from the world in central Manhattan, the island sealed by the FBI and all flights grounded, unable to return home for nearly a week, woken nightly and noisily evacuated onto the street in a series of (understandably) jittery false bomb alarms. That day changed all of our lives, and I knew one day I would want to compose something to come to terms with my feelings about being witness to its catastrophic events.” Howard Goodall, in an interview with Classic FM


A Hymn for the Lost and the Living
Eric Ewazen, composer

“On September 11, 2001, I was teaching my music theory class at the Juilliard School when we were notified of the catastrophe that was occurring several miles south of us in Manhattan. Gathering around a radio in the school’s library, we heard the events unfold in shock and disbelief. Afterwards, walking up Broadway on the sun-filled day, the street was full of silent people, all quickly heading to their homes. During the next several days, our great city became a landscape of empty streets and impromptu, heartbreaking memorials mourning our lost citizens, friends and family. But then on Friday, a few days later, the city seemed to have been transformed. On this evening, walking up Broadway, I saw multitudes of people holding candles, singing songs, and gathering in front of those memorials, paying tribute to the lost, becoming a community of citizens of this city, of this country and of this world, leaning on each other for strength and support. A Hymn for the Lost and the Living portrays those painful days following September 11th, days of supreme sadness. It is intended to be a memorial for those lost souls, gone from this life, but who are forever treasured in our memories.” Eric Ewazen

A Hymn for the Lost and the Living was commissioned by and is dedicated to the US Air Force Heritage of America Band, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, Major Larry H. Lang, Director.


The Sad Park, composed for the Kronos Quartet

Michael Gordon, composer

[excerpts from NPR: Sept. 11 In Children’s Voices: Michael Gordon’s ‘The Sad Park’]

Michael Gordon, one of the co-founders of the new music collective Bang on a Can, [wrote] a September 11 piece, The Sad Park. He found inspiration amid an unlikely group of commentators—the 3- and 4-year-olds who attended a Lower Manhattan preschool with his son after September 11.

“The children would be sitting around doing what they normally do, and then all of a sudden one of them would burst out something about 9/11, and the others would start talking,” Gordon says. “They were in there building things. I remember I would walk in and they would have rebuilt the twin towers.”

When Gordon learned his son’s teacher had been taping the children’s comments, he was fascinated. Gordon made a digital copy of one of the cassettes, and proceeded to let it sit on his desk for several years. He says, “I used to look at it, and I was like, ‘What am I going to do with this?'” Gradually, Gordon found that the short, song-like phrases of the preschoolers packed immense power and emotion. And that’s when music started to take shape in his head—he would manipulate the children’s voices and incorporate them into a piece for the Kronos Quartet.

Gordon also found inspiration in what happened to him and his family that sunny September 11 morning. After walking his daughter to kindergarten at P.S. 234, two blocks north of the World Trade Center, he was startled by a jet. He recalls, “I was just hanging out in the courtyard of the school with the other parents, and basically looked up and saw this very low-flying plane. And then, boom. Someone yells out, ‘The plane just hit the tower.’ I walked into my daughter’s class, told the teacher and picked up my daughter, and we left and walked north up Greenwich Street to our house.”

Gordon says that as the composer, he needed to just disappear when it came to composing The Sad Park. He wanted to let the emotion of the children’s voices have room to breathe. He also didn’t want the music to embody any big, universal statement.

“It’s not political,” Gordon says. “This actually happened to me and my family and my child, and this in a sense was just trying to grab on to a tiny bit of that moment and leave it as a document.”

Celebrating Classical Music Month with Exciting Page Turners

As part of our ongoing celebration of Classical Music Month in September, we’ve pulled together a list of books that commemorate the great composers of the past through to the celebrated contemporary composers of today. Then we’ve sprinkled in some page turners that highlight the incredible artistry that defines classical music. Whether you enjoy reading about Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff or John Williams, or you’re looking to share your love of classical music with young learners and listeners, below are our favorites for music lovers of all ages. If you purchase your books or kindle online, you can support the Symphony every time you make a purchase through AmazonSmile.

Know Before You Go!

Below are books from or about composers whose work Pacific Symphony will perform during its 2022-23 season.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

When Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky died of cholera in 1893, he was without a doubt Russia’s most celebrated composer. Drawing extensively on Tchaikovsky’s uncensored letters and diaries, this richly documented biography explores the composer’s life and works, as well as the larger and richly robust artistic culture of nineteenth-century Russian society, which would propel Tchaikovsky into the international spotlight.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Tchaikovsky’s music? Join us at the concerts below.

Tchaikovsky Spectacular on September 4, 2022
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto on October 20-22, 2022
Nutcracker for Kids! on December 3, 2022
Tchaikovsky & Strauss on February 23-25, 2023
Tchaikovsky’s Fourth on February 26, 2023
Tales from Italy on April 30, 2023


Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph

This magnificent biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get to the living, breathing human being who composed some of the world’s most iconic music. Jan Swafford (Brahms and Mozart) mines sources never before used in English-language biographies to reanimate the revolutionary ferment of Enlightenment-era Bonn, where Beethoven grew up and imbibed the ideas that would shape all of his future work. Swafford then tracks Beethoven to Vienna, capital of European music, where he built his career in the face of critical incomprehension, crippling ill health, romantic rejection, and “fate’s hammer,” his ever-encroaching deafness. More than a decade in the making, this will be the standard Beethoven biography for years to come. 

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Beethoven’s music? Join us at the concerts below.

Beethoven & Boléro on September 22-24, 2022
Bach & Beethoven with George Li on October 9, 2022
Respighi & Beethoven with Shunta Morimoto on January 22, 2023
Mozart & Beethoven with Drew Petersen on April 23, 2023


Johannes Brahms: A Biography

Proclaimed the new messiah of Romanticism by Robert Schumann when he was only 20, Johannes Brahms dedicated himself to a long and extraordinarily productive career. Making unprecedented use of the remaining archival material, Jan Swafford offers richly expanded perspectives on Brahms’s youth, his difficult romantic life–particularly his longstanding relationship with Clara Schumann–and his professional rivalry with Lizst and Wagner. Judicious, compassionate, and full of insight into Brahms’s human complexity as well as his music, Johannes Brahms is an indispensable biography.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Brahms’ music?

Join us for Brahms Symphony No. 4 on October 23, 2022


Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman

This absorbing and award-winning biography tells the story of the tragedies and triumphs of Clara Wieck Schumann (1819–1896). At once artist, composer, editor, teacher, wife, and mother of eight children, she was an important force in the musical world of her time. To show how Schumann surmounted the obstacles facing female artists in the nineteenth century, Nancy B. Reich has drawn on previously unexplored primary sources: unpublished diaries, letters, and family papers, as well as concert programs. Highlighting aspects of Clara Schumann’s personality and character that have been neglected by earlier biographers, this candid and eminently readable account adds appreciably to our understanding of a fascinating artist and woman.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Clara Schumann’s music?

Join us for Clara Schumann’s Legacy on November 6, 2022


Gustav Holst: The Man and his Music

Gustav Holst’s “Planets” suite has become established as one of the classics of twentieth-century orchestral music. Biographer Michael Short’s access to Holst’s letters and diaries, as well as his close work with Holst’s daughter Imogen, have resulted in the most detailed book on the composer’s life and music yet. This book includes an analysis of Holst’s musical style and a substantial reference section.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Holst’s music?

Join us for The Planets on November 17-19, 2022


Rachmaninoff and His World

This volume represents one of the first serious explorations of Rachmaninoff’s successful career as a composer, pianist, and conductor, first in late Imperial Russia, and then after emigration in both the United States and interwar Europe. Shedding light on some unfamiliar works, especially his three operas and his many songs, the book also includes a substantial number of new documents illustrating Rachmaninoff’s celebrity status in America.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Rachmaninoff’s music

Join us for Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances on December 1-4, 2022


Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece

In the late summer of 1741, George Friderick Handel composed an oratorio set to words from the King James Bible, rich in tuneful arias and magnificent choruses. Jonathan Keates recounts the history and afterlife of Messiah, one of the best-loved works in the classical repertoire. He relates the composition’s first performances and its relationship with spirituality in the age of the Enlightenment and examines how Messiah, after Handel’s death, became an essential component of our musical canon. An authoritative and affectionate celebration of the high point of the Georgian golden age of music, Messiah is essential reading for lovers of classical music.

CONCERT: Handel’s Glorious Messiah on December 4, 2022


Gustav Mahler

A best-seller when first published in Germany in 2003, Jens Malte Fischer’s Gustav Mahler has been lauded by scholars as a landmark work. Fischer explores Mahler’s early life, his relationship to literature, his achievements as a conductor in Vienna and New York, his unhappy marriage, and his work with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic in his later years. He also illustrates why Mahler is a prime example of artistic idealism worn down by Austrian anti-Semitism and American commercialism. Gustav Mahler is the best-sourced and most balanced biography available about the composer, a nuanced and intriguing portrait of his dramatic life set against the backdrop of early 20th century America and fin de siècle Europe.

CONCERT: Mahler 9 on January 12-14, 2022


Ottorino Respighi: His Life and Times

This is the first English language biography of Ottorino Respighi, the most performed Italian composer of the twentieth century. Best known for his so-called Roman trilogy, (Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals), this book documents the story of his rise to fame and offers a fascinating insight into the active lifestyle of an internationally renowned musician, who made an important contribution to the revival of interest in early music.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Respighi’s music

Join us for Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 1 on January 22, 2023


Sergey Prokofiev Diaries

1907–1914: Prodigious Youth
1915-1923: Behind the Mask
1924-1933: Prodigal Son

An inexhaustibly rich portrait of a vibrant artistic culture on the edge of war and revolution, Prokofiev’s Diaries are both a dramatic illumination of a great composer’s creativity and an indispensable contribution to our understanding of musical modernism. They constitute an essential and entertaining reference for all lovers of Prokofiev’s music.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Prokofiev’s music? Join us at the concerts below.

Prokofiev: Suite from Romeo and Juliet on February 2-4 & 5, 2023


Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

A masterful blend of biography and musical analysis. Readers will discover many new facets of the familiar but misunderstood composer and gain new perspectives on one of the most formidable musical geniuses of all time.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Mendelssohn’s music?

Join us for Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 “Scottish” on March 16-18, 2023


Mozart: The Reign of Love

From the acclaimed composer and biographer Jan Swafford (Brahms and Beethoven) comes the definitive biography of one of the most lauded musical geniuses in history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

At the earliest ages it was apparent that Wolfgang Mozart’s singular imagination was at work in every direction. He hated to be bored and hated to be idle, and through his life he responded to these threats with a repertoire of antidotes mental and physical. Whether in his rabidly obscene mode or not, Mozart was always hilarious. He went at every piece of his life, and perhaps most notably his social life, with tremendous gusto. His circle of friends and patrons was wide, encompassing anyone who appealed to his boundless appetites for music and all things pleasurable and fun.

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Mozart’s music? Join us at the concerts below.

Tao Plays Mozart on March 16-18, 2023
Symphony No. 34 on April 23, 2023


George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait (Music in American Life)

“More thorough biographies than Walter Rimler’s slender volume exist … but for those of us interested less in the technical details of Gershwin’s music and its performance than in the comet called George Gershwin that blazed briefly across American skies, Mr. Rimler is the astronomer of choice.” The Wall Street Journal

CONCERT: Want to enjoy Gershwin’s music? Join us at the concerts below.

Join us for The Roaring ‘20s on May 11-13, 2023
Rhapsody in Blue on May 14, 2023


Just for Fun!

Below are books about composers and Classical Music ranging from old-world favorites to music trivia to classics from the Silver Screen.

Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words

Opening for the first time the door of his creative laboratory, Morricone offers an exhaustive and rich account of his life, from his early years of study to genre-defining collaborations with the most important Italian and international directors, including Leone, Bertolucci, Pasolini, Argento, Tornatore, Malick, Carpenter, Stone, Nichols, De Palma, Beatty, Levinson, Almodóvar, Polanski, and Tarantino. In the process, Morricone unveils the curious relationship that links music and images in cinema, as well as the creative urgency at the foundation of his experimentations with “absolute music”. Throughout these conversations with De Rosa, Morricone dispenses invaluable insights not only on composing but also on the broader process of adaptation and what it means to be human. As he reminds us, “Coming into contact with memories doesn’t only entail the melancholy of something that slips away with time, but also looking forward, understanding who I am now. And who knows what else may still happen.”


Debussy: A Painter in Sound 

One of the most revered composers of the twentieth century, Claude Debussy (1862–1918) achieved the unheard of: he reinvented the language of music without alienating the majority of music lovers. Debussy drove French music into entirely new regions of beauty and excitement at a time when old traditions threatened to stifle it. Yet despite his profound influence on French culture, Debussy’s own life was complicated and often troubled by struggles over money, women, and ill health. Here, Stephen Walsh, acclaimed author of Stravinsky, chronicles both the composer himself and the unique moment in European history that bore him. Walsh’s engagingly original approach is to enrich a lively biography with analyses of Debussy’s music: from his first daring breaks with the rules as a Conservatoire student to his achievements as the greatest French composer of his time.


Absolutely on Music: Conversations 

In Absolutely on Music, internationally Haruki Murakami sits down with his friend Seiji Ozawa, the revered former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for a series of conversations on their shared passion: music. Over the course of two years, Murakami and Ozawa discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from Bartók to Mahler, and from pop-up orchestras to opera. They listen to and dissect recordings of some of their favorite performances, and Murakami questions Ozawa about his career conducting orchestras around the world.

Culminating in Murakami’s ten-day visit to the banks of Lake Geneva to observe Ozawa’s retreat for young musicians, the book is interspersed with ruminations on record collecting, jazz clubs, orchestra halls, film scores, and much more. A deep reflection on the essential nature of both music and writing, Absolutely on Music is an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros.


The Joy of Music by Leonard Bernstein 

This classic work is perhaps Bernstein’s finest collection of conversations on the meaning and wonder of music. This book is a must for all music fans who wish to experience music more fully and deeply through one of the most inspired, and inspiring, music intellects of our time. Employing the creative device of “Imaginary Conversations” in the first section of his book, Bernstein illuminates the importance of the symphony in America, the greatness of Beethoven, and the art of composing. The book also includes a photo section and a third section with the transcripts from his televised Omnibus music series, including “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony ” “The World of Jazz ” “Introduction to Modern Music ” and “What Makes Opera Grand.”


The Film Music of John Williams

From the triumphant “Main Title” in Star Wars to the ominous bass line of Jaws, John Williams has penned some of the most unforgettable film scores—while netting more than fifty Academy Award nominations. This updated and revised edition of Emilio Audissino’s groundbreaking volume takes stock of Williams’s creative process and achievements in music composition, including the most recent sequels in the film franchises that made him famous. Audissino discusses Williams’s unique approach to writing by examining his neoclassical style in context, demonstrating how he revived and revised classical Hollywood music. This volume details Williams’s lasting impact on the industry and cements his legacy as one of the most important composers in movie history. A must for fans and film-music lovers alike.


Scoring the Screen: The Secret Language of Film Music

Today, musical composition for films is more popular than ever. In professional and academic spheres, media music study and practice are growing; undergraduate and postgraduate programs in media scoring are offered by dozens of major colleges and universities. And increasingly, pop and contemporary classical composers are expanding their reach into cinema and other forms of screen entertainment. Through extensive and unprecedented analyses of the original concert scores, this book is the first to offer both aspiring composers and music educators a view from the inside of the actual process of scoring-to-picture.


Younger Learners

Below are books for school-aged children, designed to explore the worlds and music of classical music composers.

Bravo! Brava! A Night at the Opera: Behind the Scenes with Composers, Cast and Crew

This book teaches elementary school children what opera is by asking “Who writes the words?”, “Who makes an opera happen? “Who is backstage?” These questions and more are answered with easy-to-understand explanations and illustrations. Ages 8-11


Mozart: 59 Fascinating Facts For Kids

Author Andrew Gibbs gives you a comprehensive list of facts about Mozart, explaining the important accomplishments and events in his life. Reading a complete biography can be daunting for a youngster, but Gibbs presents Mozart’s life in 59 easy-to-understand segments. Ages 9-12


Fifty Famous Composers for Kids of All Ages

This book explores the stories of twenty-five male composers and twenty-five female composers and how they came to be famous. Perfect for music teachers and music lovers, this book was written to help both young and adult readers enjoy classical music. Ages 10+


Share with Young Learners

Below are books designed for sharing your love of music with little music learners.

I Love Classical Music (My First Sound Book)

This wonderful book has a button on every spread, which triggers one of six captivating sounds that introduces a memorable piece from some of the most beloved compositions of western classical music. An incredibly simple but utterly fascinating interactive book with sounds bound to enchant young readers and ignite an early love of classical music! Includes pieces from Mozart, Vivaldi, Strauss, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and Paganini! Ages 1-2


Allegro: A Musical Journey Through 11 Musical Masterpieces

Meet Allegro, an ordinary boy who can’t stand practicing the piano. Those black dots on the page drive him crazy―until the music itself whisks him away on a breathtaking journey. With the press of a button hear Grieg’s Morning Mood, Dvořák’s New World Symphony, Debussy’s Claire de Lune, and seven more! Ages 1-3


The Story Orchestra Series

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in One Day
Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty
Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake
Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals
Mozart’s Magic Flute
Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King

This series brings classical music to life for children through gorgeously illustrated retellings of classic ballet, opera, and program music stories paired with 10-second sound clips of orchestras playing from their musical scores. With The Story Orchestra keyboard sound books, children can play the famous melodies themselves with the sound of a real grand piano. Ages 2-5


Wild Symphony

Children and adults can enjoy this timeless picture book as a traditional read-along, or can choose to listen to original musical compositions as they read–one for each animal–with a free interactive smartphone app, which uses augmented reality to play the appropriate song for each page when a phone’s camera is held over it. Ages 3-6


The Nutcracker: A Young Reader’s Edition of the Holiday Classic

To sweeten the anticipation, prolong the joy, or just to establish a lovely tradition—settle in with this charming retelling of a young girl’s dreamy visit to the Land of the Sugarplum Fairy. The story is enhanced with magnificent color illustrations created especially for this edition by the late award-winning artist Don Daily. Ages 4-8

CONCERT: Join us for Nutcracker for Kids!


Mozart Finds a Melody

Based on a true story about the famous composer and his beloved pet starling, this enchanting tale celebrates inspiration in any form it takes. Ages 5-9

A Reason To Celebrate

Pianist Orli Shaham performing with Pacific Symphony during our Mozart & Don Quixote concert in the 2016-17 season. Photo by Drew Kelley.

Did you know that September is both Classical Music Month and National Piano Month? Now you have two powerful reasons to celebrate! Both month-long holidays were proclaimed in the early 1990s. National Piano Month was first named in 1991 by the National Piano Foundation. It’s an opportunity to honor pianists, piano makers, and piano music enthusiasts everywhere. In 1994, President Bill Clinton declared every September as Classical Music Month. It is an eloquently written proclamation and worth reading in its entirety.

Proclamation 6716—Classical Music Month, 1994

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

In the symphony halls of our great cities across America, in the community centers of our small towns, on radio and in recordings, a note is played that began centuries ago and resounds to this day. At the heart of classical music is continuity and tradition. What was heard in a Vienna opera house was heard again in a colonial theater in Charleston, South Carolina, was echoed at the inauguration of President Lincoln, was repeated in turn-of-the-century Chicago, and is played again today by a range of musicians from the most skilled of virtuosos to the youngest student struggling with the complexities of the violin.

Classical music is a celebration of artistic excellence. Great art endures through the ages, and in the United States we have embraced that great music and incorporated it into the American experience. Our best art reflects our Nation’s spirit—that mixture of discipline and improvisation, the combination of strong individual voices working together at the same time, the bravado, the inventiveness, the dynamism of the American character. Classical music plays in harmony with that energy and spirit to become reinvigorated and reinvented with each new orchestra or chamber group, with every performance that rings out new and fresh.

This month we exalt the many talented composers, conductors, and musicians who bring classical music to our ears. These artists carry on a great tradition of musical achievement, and we are proud of their outstanding accomplishments. Whether in new American works or in the masterpieces of the great composers of old, music is a unifying force in our world, bringing people together across vast cultural and geographical divisions. Classical music speaks both to the mind and to the heart, giving us something to think about as well as to experience.

The Congress, by House Joint Resolution 239, has designated September 1994 as “Classical Music Month,” and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.

To mark both National Classical Music Month and National Piano Month, we’re offering you the opportunity to enjoy opening weekend’s Beethoven & Boléro concert at 50% off. When you order tickets online for Sept. 22, 23, or 24, just use promo code “Celebrate,” and the 50% discount will be applied to your order.

Watch the Pacific Overtures blog and our social media channels all month for ideas on ways to make the most of these two month-long celebrations!

A Message from Carl St.Clair

Music Director Carl St.Clair. Photo by Marco Borgreve.

Welcome to what will surely be another exciting Pacific Symphony season at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, a true acoustic gem we are proud to call our home. Once again, we are deeply indebted to the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family for their extraordinary support of the Classical series. Through their tremendous philanthropic commitment, the orchestra has been able to perform the greatest masterworks, engage leading artists, and commission new American works. They are the first family of classical music in Orange County, and the musicians, Board, and I are truly grateful to them.

For our special pre-season concert, we welcome back our dear friend Lang Lang. He is a brilliant artist, and he performs Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 2 on an all-French program that features music of Satie and Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition. For this concert we will be projecting on the large screen above the orchestra stunning new visuals for Mussorgsky’s virtuoso showpiece in a unique collaboration with our gifted colleagues at Orange County Museum of Art.

With the 2022-23 season, 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.

Complementing our incredibly exciting season, we’ve created many new and exhilarating musical encounters for you to experience. 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. The international surprises continue all season long, including guitarist Miloš 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.

Carl St.Clair
Music Director

SUMMER’S GRAND FINALE: TCHAIKOVSKY SPECTACULAR ON SEPT. 4

Pacific Symphony’s SummerFest 2022, presented by City of Hope Orange County, comes to a dazzling finish—complete with fireworks—when Music Director Carl St.Clair leads the orchestra in the Tchaikovsky Spectacular on Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. at FivePoint Amphitheatre (located in the heart of Orange County) in Irvine. This attractive venue offers ticket buyers an opportunity to sit at tables directly in front of the stage, along with grandstand seating for a panoramic view. Prior to concerts, gourmet food trucks with a diverse array of offerings are available for picnicking. 

“An evening under the stars at FivePoint Amphitheatre and a program of music by Dvorák and Tchaikovsky is the perfect combination for a special evening. And it’s a fitting close to this summer’s season,” says Carl St.Clair. “When thinking of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful, unforgettable melodies, the dramatic excitement of his driving allegros—this magnificent music reflects Tchaikovsky’s genius and reminds us all of its importance and relevance in our lives. It’s as powerful today as it was the moment it was first heard.”

Tickets for Tchaikovsky Spectacular start at $39. Concessions are diverse and bountiful, including food trucks selling Mediterranean, Korean, and Mexican food, and a wide variety of wine, beer, and cocktails are available for purchase. Gates open at 6 p.m. for picnicking. 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., or go online to PacificSymphony.org.

The SummerFest 2022 Season is generously presented by City of Hope Orange County. Additional sponsors include PBS SoCal, K-Earth 101, KPCC 89.3 FM, and Classical California KUSC 91.5. Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa is the official hotel of Pacific Symphony.

The concert opens with Dvorák’s New World Symphony, a work inspired by the pioneering and innovative spirit of America. After intermission, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto opens majestically with thunderous chords in the orchestra followed by the piano soloist’s musical entrance. This work happens to be the very concerto the 23-year-old American pianist Van Cliburn played to win the First International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 at the height of the Cold War.

June 10, 2017. Daniel Hsu from the United States performs with conductor Leonard Slatkin and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on Saturday in the Final Round of The Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Carolyn Cruz)

Daniel Hsu, the 2017 Van Cliburn International Competition Bronze Medalist makes his Pacific Symphony debut at this concert. Characterized by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a “poet…[with] an expressive edge to his playing that charms, questions, and coaxes,” Hsu is increasingly recognized for his easy virtuosity and bold musicianship. The concert concludes with Tchaikovsky’s stirring 1812 Overture, complete with brilliant fireworks.

Orli Shaham’s New Release

Pianist Orli Shaham

Just in time for #NationalPianoMonth! Artistic Director of Pacific Symphony’s chamber series, Cafe Ludwig, and one of Opening Night’s soloists, concert pianist Orli Shaham has released two new recordings that are a part of her multi-year endeavor of recording all of Mozart’s piano sonatas.

In this two CD set, Orli Shaham performs the ever-popular Sonata K.331, including the Rondo Alla Turca; one of the most technically demanding piano works by Mozart—the Sonata in D Major, K.576; and the Sonata in A minor, K.310, a work with enormous emotional depth. Orli Shaham commented, “These sonatas give so many insights into Mozart’s mind, his personality, and his soul, and reveal fresh ideas about the music and its meaning with every hearing.” The complete list of sonatas on Volumes 2 and 3 is below.

Improvisation is a big part of Orli Shaham’s approach to this music. For months leading up to the recording sessions, she worked on sections that she felt Mozart left open to improvisation, experimenting with all kinds of ideas. The result is a great sense of spontaneity in each of the sonatas she recorded. “The act of improvisation allows you to feel some sense of what Mozart would have felt. He was a real flesh-and-bone human being, for all his genius, just like us,” she said. Critics call Shaham “an intelligent and sensitive guide” for this music. Look for her new releases on Amazon, Spotify, and at your local record store.

ORLI SHAHAM, PIANO

Mozart Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 and 3
K.282 ● K.283 ● K.310 ● K.331 ● K. 332 K.545 ● K.576

Volume 2
-Piano Sonata in A Minor, No. 9, K. 310
-Piano Sonata in F Major, No. 12, K. 332
-Piano Sonata in D Major, No. 18, K. 576

Volume 3
-Piano Sonata in C Major, “für Anfänger”, No. 16, K. 545
-Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, No. 4, K. 282
-Piano Sonata in G Major, No. 5, K. 283
-Piano Sonata in A Major, “Alla turca”, No. 11, K. 331


Star Wars Recap

Thank you to the 9,000 audience members who joined us for our Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert live-to-film event on Saturday, Aug. 20. Thank you to all our costuming groups and cosplayers for coming as well. Were you able to meet any of them? The Force was definitely with us. We hope you had a great time. Here’s a brief recap of what happened.

Don’t forget to join us on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, CA for our SummerFest finale. To learn more about our upcoming Tchaikovsky Spectacular concert, please click here: https://bit.ly/pstchaikovskyspectacular.

City of Irvine Honors Pacific Symphony with Official Proclamation

Left to Right: Councilmember Tammy Kim, Pacific Symphony Board Chair John Evans, Pacific Symphony Executive Vice Chair Arthur Ong, Pacific Symphony Board Member Carol Choi, Irvine City Mayor Farrah N. Khan, Pacific Symphony President & CEO John Forsyte, Vice Mayor and Councilmember Anthony Kuo, and Councilmember Larry Agran. Photo by Doug Gifford.

At the Aug. 9 Irvine City Council meeting, Mayor Farrah N. Khan and members of the Irvine City Council made a formal proclamation honoring Pacific Symphony for its 35 years of service to the City of Irvine. The Symphony’s service began with the orchestra’s first concert at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre during the summer of 1987. The summer concerts have continued since and are currently at Irvine’s FivePoint Amphitheatre.

The Mayor listed the creative contributions Pacific Symphony has made to the quality of life in the City of Irvine over the past 35 years. Those efforts included:

  • Offering free Symphony in the Cities concerts at Irvine city parks as well as providing the Symphony on the Go! community concert series in Irvine; and
  • Engaging middle and high school student musicians from the City of Irvine through the Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles program and arts-X-press summer arts camp at Concordia University; and
  • Establishing a partnership with Irvine Chinese School/South Coast Chinese Cultural Center, which together have presented eight years of Lantern Festivals, reaching tens of thousands of community members, and by offering multigenerational learning through parent-student orchestra called Strings for Generations; and
  • Providing thousands of free tickets and bus transportation through its Heartstrings community service program, including Irvine-based agencies Alzheimer’s Association OC, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA), and Working Wardrobes; plus free tickets for Orange County veterans, military personnel, and first responders; and
  • Providing musical concerts and enlightening experiences presented at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, including the Langston Hughes Project in Feb. 2022; and
  • Relocating the Symphony’s administrative center to Irvine and serving as a cultural ambassador, representing the City of Irvine over the years at Carnegie Hall in New York, and on tours across Europe and China.

After enumerating the Symphony’s many initiatives benefiting the City of Irvine, Mayor Khan proclaimed June 28, 2022 as “Pacific Symphony Day” in celebration of 35 years of service to the City of Irvine, and to encourage all to recognize the contributions of Pacific Symphony in improving and enriching the community.

After the presentation, President and CEO of Pacific Symphony John Forsyte recognized the City Council and staff, as well as the Board of Directors of Pacific Symphony for their encouragement and support. In a typical year, the Symphony invests more than $250,000 in activities and initiatives that engage Irvine residents.  

On Sunday, August 14 at Mike Ward Park, Pacific Symphony and Music Director Carl St.Clair will present a free, family-friendly Symphony in the Cities concert with educational activities commencing at 5:30 p.m. and the concert at 7:00 p.m. The concert is generously supported by the City of Irvine.

We’ve Gone Digital!

Pacific Symphony teamed with Performances Magazine to bring all summer concert program books online and easily accessible through your mobile device.

This convenient new way to view the concert information brings you front row and center for such incredible performances as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert and Tchaikovsky Spectacular at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, as well as our free Symphony in the Cities concerts in Orange, Irvine, and Mission Viejo.

Each digital program book underlines essential information such as parking, venue policies, concert start times and locations, highlights guest artists, notes about each performance, links to purchase tickets to upcoming shows, and other important information from Pacific Symphony.

To view the program book at each concert, simply text PS to 55741 for a unique link.

When you register on Pacific Symphony’s digital hub between August 1 and October 15, you are automatically entered to win a pair of season tickets to the 2022-23 Pacific Symphony Pops Season, which kicks off November 4 & 5 with John Williams: A 90th Birthday Celebration at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

SUMMER CONCERTS WITH DIGITAL PROGRAM BOOKS

SummerFest 2022 presented by City of Hope Orange Country
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert – August 20
Tchaikovsky Spectacular – September 4

Symphony in the Cities
Aitken Arts Plaza at Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University – August 7
Oso Viejo Community Park, Mission Viejo – August 13 
Mike Ward Community Park, Irvine – August 14

Symphony on the Go! is a mobile community concert experience bringing free outdoor chamber music to Orange County. Sponsored by Bank of America.

Age Well Senior Services
Friday, August 26, 2022, at 6:30 p.m.
Florence Sylvester Senior Center
23721 Moulton Pkwy, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

This concert is sponsored by Bank of America

The City of Dana Point
Saturday, August 27, 2022, at 7 p.m.
Dana Crest Park
24461 Josiah Dr., Dana Point, CA 92629

This concert is sponsored by Bank of America.

The Community of Ladera Ranch
Sunday, August 28, 2022, at 10:30 a.m.
Oso Grande Elementary School
30251 Sienna Pkwy, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694

The City of Yorba Linda
Saturday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Yorba Linda Cultural Arts Center – Parking Lot
4802 Lakeview Avenue, Yorba Linda, CA 92886

The City of San Juan Capistrano
Saturday, October 8, 2022, at 6 p.m.
Los Rios Park
31790 Los Rios Street, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

St. Thomas More Catholic Church
Thursday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m.
St. Thomas More Catholic Church
51 Marketplace, Irvine, CA 92602

The City of Laguna Hills
Saturday, October 15, 2022, at 4 p.m.
Laguna Hills Sports Complex
25555 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK IN CONCERT

Hear Composer John Williams’ Complete Score Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Performed Live to Picture by Pacific Symphony on August 20

SummerFest 2022 presented by City of Hope Continues at FivePoint Amphitheatre

Pacific Symphony will present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert featuring a screening of the complete film with Oscar®-winning composer John Williams’ musical score performed live to the film. The Aug. 20 concert will be led by acclaimed conductor, Richard Kaufman.

Since the release of the first Star Wars movie over 40 years ago, the Star Wars saga has had a seismic impact on both cinema and culture, inspiring audiences around the world with its mythic storytelling, captivating characters, groundbreaking special effects, and iconic musical scores composed by Williams.

Fans will experience the scope and grandeur of this beloved film in a live symphonic concert experience, when Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert debuts on Aug. 20 at FivePoint Amphitheatre. Pacific Symphony expresses its gratitude to Ronna and Bill Shipman’s generous sponsorship of this program. The presenting sponsor of SummerFest 2022 is City of Hope Orange County and the media sponsors include PBS SoCal, K-EARTH 101, 89.3 KPCC, and Classical California KUSC. For tickets, visit PacificSymphony.org or call Pacific Symphony’s box office at (714) 755-5799.

Legendary composer Williams is well known for scoring all eight of the Star Wars saga films to date, beginning with 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope for which he earned an Academy Award® for Best Original Score. His scores for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were each nominated for Best Original Score.

Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Emmy Awards and 23 Grammy Awards. With 51 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the Academy’s most nominated living person and the second most-nominated individual in history, after Walt Disney. In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams’ score to 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope as the greatest American film score of all time. The soundtrack to A New Hope also was preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry, for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame in 2000, and he received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004, the National Medal of Arts in 2009, and the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2016. Williams has composed the scores for eight of the top 20 highest-grossing films at the U.S. box office (adjusted for inflation).

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is produced under license by Disney Concerts in association with 20th Century Fox and Warner/Chappell Music.

STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM.