Pacific Overtures. December, 2017.
Estonian conductor Anu Tali, recently picked by The Washington Post as one of the top “Female conductors to watch,” makes her debut with the orchestra in a program of Czech and American music (Nov. 30; Dec. 1-2). Smetana’s cherished tone poem “The Moldau” opens the proceedings, and Dvorák’s powerful and undervalued Symphony No. 7 caps them. In between, Gershwin’s Concerto in F gets a ride with noted Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang in the solo seat. Tickets here
Then the holiday programming gets underway. First, there’s “Nutcracker for Kids!” on Dec. 2, a condensed version of the classic ballet featuring Festival Ballet Theatre, Pacific Symphony, conductor Roger Kalia and a visit from Santa Claus. Tickets here
The annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” (Dec. 3) is this year led by a very special guest, conductor John Alexander, recently retired from Pacific Chorale after 45 years as its artistic director. He leads the Symphony, Chorale and soloists in a complete performance. Tickets here
Pacific Symphony will be in the pit at Segerstrom Hall for 13 performances of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with American Ballet Theatre between Dec. 7 and Dec. 17. That’s a lot of sugar plums. Tickets here
The “Holiday Organ Spectacular” rumbles in Dec. 19. Todd Wilson, head of the Organ Department at The Cleveland Institute of Music, takes charge of the mammoth Gillespie Concert Organ and Symphony musicians Ben Smolen (flute), Elliott Moreau (bassoon and saxophone), Barry Perkins (trumpet), Mindy Ball (harp), Robert Slack (percussion) and Timothy Landauer (cello) make guest appearances. Tickets here
Finally, the multi-talented Seth MacFarlane arrives (Dec. 22-23) to sing holiday tunes and selections from the American Songbook, all in the cool style of the Rat Pack. Actor Gavin McLeod is also on hand for “The Night Before Christmas.” Richard Kaufman conducts. Tickets here
Anu Tali is on the line from her home in Sarasota, FL, where she is music director of the orchestra (though not for much longer), and we ask her about being named recently as one of the world’s top “Female Conductors to Watch” by The Washington Post.
“There are two ways of answering your question — if female conductors should be named separately, or if I’m happy to be nominated,” the Estonian conductor, 45, says in elegant accent. “An answer: I’m happy to be nominated. Because I’m just grateful when people notice my work. And I think I am done and over with complaining every time your name comes in one or the other row,” i.e. male or female.
There’s no use fighting it, anyway, with women conductors on the rise internationally, and therefore much in the news. It’s just that Tali, who makes her debut conducting the Pacific Symphony next week, doesn’t see the world in terms of gender, she explains.
“For me, there are interesting male and female artists and people, if you please. For me it is one big stock of artists, not separated.”
The conductor recently announced her departure at the end of next season from the Sarasota Orchestra, where she has served as music director since 2013, saying she wanted to focus on her international career and guest conducting. She’s open to another music directorship, too, but isn’t in a hurry.
“I don’t like planning my life ahead so that I can’t breathe anymore. For me, it’s very important to keep options open because I still have two years here. So it’s quite a long time to do your job properly and I’m not going to go al niente diminuendo (diminish to nothing) you know. We want to gradually grow and It’s very important for me to leave Sarasota Orchestra to the next hands in a very good position to raise from there.”
Public relations and social media manager Alexey Bonca offers a video roundup of Pacific Symphony concerts in November.