Bergmann takes over for Previn, premiere and all

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

“Jumping in as a replacement is always scary and fun at the same time,” conductor Rune Bergmann said recently, on the phone from Calgary. The lively and amiable Norwegian musician, the new music director of the Calgary Philharmonic, has been asked to step in on short notice to replace André Previn, who withdrew from his concerts with Pacific Symphony on Oct. 19-21 due to injury. Though it was a tight fit in his schedule, Bergmann gladly accepted the offer.

“I was planning to go back to my family (in Oslo) and spend time with them, but since it was Pacific Symphony that called, of course you have to go,” Bergmann said. “Nice people calling.

“I had my first concert with Pacific Symphony in November last year, and we had so much fun.”

Bergmann agreed to not only conduct the concerts, but also to take over Previn’s identical program, which included Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 (with Garrick Ohlsson) as well the West Coast premiere of Previn’s own “Almost an Overture,” which was given its first performance in Rhode Island in July.

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Pacific Symphony: October concerts

Conductor Rune Bergmann

Here’s a quick rundown of Pacific Symphony’s October concerts, 12 in all, with ticket links.

First off, the orchestra will appear in the ongoing series of Harry Potter films presented by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Born and raised in Huntington Beach, conductor Justin Freer makes his debut with Pacific Symphony, leading three live-with-film performances of the John Williams score to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” on Oct. 6-7. Tickets here.

The orchestra launches its chamber music series, Cafe Ludwig, on Oct. 8 with a Beethoven/Schubert program featuring pianist Orli Shaham, cellist Timothy Landauer and violinist Paul Manaster. Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata (written for an obsolete instrument, and now commonly played by the cello) and the great Piano Trio in B-flat sandwich Beethoven’s late Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109. Tickets here.

Sixteen-time Grammy-winning producer David Foster is the guest for the opening of the Pops series Oct. 13-14. He’ll have singers Ruben Studdard (an “American Idol” winner) and Shelea Frazier along to perform selections from his catalog of hits. Tickets here.

Norwegian conductor Rune Bergmann — (pronounced Rue-na Bairg-mahn) — returns Oct. 19-21 to take over a program originally scheduled to be led by André Previn, who cancelled due to injury. Previn’s “Almost an Overture” will have its West Coast premiere, American pianist Garrick Ohlsson solos in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, and Rachmaninoff’s plush Symphony No. 2 winds things up. Tickets here.

The Family Musical Mornings series also gets underway with a Halloween-themed program Oct. 21. Pacific Symphony assist conductor Roger Kalia helms the 13th Annual Despicable Villains’ Choice Awards. Tickets here.

Members of the orchestra perform in a free concert at the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University on Oct. 22. In keeping with the museum’s theme, this wide-ranging program is anchored by the music of California composers — in this case, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison and George Antheil — but also includes music by Purcell, Bartok (three movements of the bristling Fourth Quartet), Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass. Chapman’s ChapCelli Ensemble also appears. Museum entrance is free. Seating for this concert is limited and will be first-come, first-served. Limited standing room in the back. Info here.

Finally, on Oct. 29, Pacific Symphony performs in the Pacific Chorale’s 50th anniversary celebration and season opener. Newly minted artistic director Robert Istad leads an ambitious program that includes the the U.S. premiere of composer-in-residence Tarik O’Regan’s “A Celestial Map of the Sky,” James Hopkins’ “Songs of Eternity” (a 1992 commission) and a concert version of Leonard Bernstein’s ebullient musical theater work, “Mass.” The 20% discount code for Symphony subscribers is “BATON.” Tickets here.

Previn cancels

Rune Bergmann

André Previn, who was scheduled to conduct the Pacific Symphony in three concerts in October, marking his return to Southern California as a performing musician after more than two decades, has cancelled. The 88-year-old musician has withdrawn from the concerts due to injury and doctor’s orders not to travel. No other details were given in the press release.

Luckily, his replacement, Norwegian conductor Rune Bergmann, has agreed to take over Previn’s program in its entirety. It includes the West Coast premiere of one of Previn’s newest works, “Almost an Overture,” which had its premiere this summer at the Newport Contemporary Music Series in Newport, RI; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, K. 271, with Garrick Ohlsson as soloist; and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. The concerts are slated for Oct. 19-21 in Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Bergmann, music director of the Calgary Philharmonic and artistic director and chief conductor of Poland’s Szczecin Philharmonic, made his debut with Pacific Symphony last November.

photo:Kristin Hoebermann

Pacific Symphony 2017-18 classical season: A brief overview

Conductor Carl St.Clair

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

One of the more interesting discussions going on in the world of symphony orchestras these days, well into the second decade of the 21st century, concerns the matter of programming. What, exactly, can an American symphony orchestra do to reach and serve a contemporary audience, not necessarily well versed in classical music, and remain relevant in our entertainment-saturated culture? It’s a question that every orchestra struggles with and that each orchestra will answer differently.

Pacific Symphony’s answer, in its 2017-18 classical subscription season, beginning in September, is a balanced one, offering careful doses of innovation and newness while honoring a responsibility to the canonic standards. Rarely heard masterpieces get an airing. Star soloists arrive and young talent is introduced. A rich and befitting vein of American music runs through the schedule, too. But it’s all of a piece, designed for an Orange County audience right now.

The biggest news of the season, though, is that the orchestra will make its debut in that Mecca of classical music, Carnegie Hall, a huge moment in any orchestra’s life. Conductor Carl St.Clair and the ensemble have been invited to perform there by the composer Philip Glass, who celebrates his 80th birthday year as a resident composer at the venue in 2017-18.

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