Meet the Symphony’s Orchestra Librarian

Image Description: Sheet music and folders for the upcoming Zhang Plays Rach 2 concerts. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on the left, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun in the middle and Stravinsky’s 1945 Firebird Suite on the right.  

While patrons don’t often get to see an orchestra librarian, they are an important part of every orchestra. Pacific Symphony’s librarian is Alison Spaeth.  

An alumna of the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati College, Alison graduated with a Clarinet Performance degree. She first learned about the job after meeting Wendy Skoczen, who is now Chief Librarian for the Met Opera. At the time, Alison was looking around for an alternative to a performance career that would still keep her close to the classical music community. It didn’t take her too long to decide that this was what she wanted to do. She was an Assistant Librarian at the Cincinnati Symphony and Principal Librarian at the Austin Symphony prior to coming to Pacific Symphony.  

The Orchestra Librarian’s space is located in the basement at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Despite the fact that her work is primarily done behind the scenes, Alison still gets to interact with a wide variety of people inside and outside the organization. This list includes artistic staff, music publishers, string principals, conductors, the personnel manager, operations staff and orchestra musicians. Alison is at every rehearsal and concert. Her most visible job during concert duty is placing the conductor’s scores. Her most important job during concert duty is being present in case of a music emergency (a last-minute adjustment from the music director or a part left at home by a musician).  

The photo above features the sheet music and folders the Symphony will be playing in the upcoming Zhang Plays Rach 2 concerts this week. Did you know that the library corrected over a thousand errors for the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite for the parts before they were distributed to our musicians? The task required two librarians!

One of the reasons why it required that many corrections is because the 1919 version has undergone several revisions by expert editors. However, the 1945 version remains under copyright and can only be rented from a single source. If an orchestra wants to perform Stravinsky’s later version of Firebird Suite (which is somewhat reorchestrated and contains two extra movements) they have no option other than to rent the materials knowing that the parts are not entirely performance-ready. The publisher has little motivation to issue a corrected printing since they maintain the sole source for it.  

There’s so much that goes on before, during and after a concert. Sometimes going unseen and unneeded is a sign of great success in her job. If she can get through a rehearsal without a page-turn fix request, a question about a wrong note, or any discussion about the music on the page, then she knows the music was adequately prepared. The less time our musicians spend thinking about the ink on the page, the more time they can dedicate to music-making. 

We hope you’ve gotten the chance to get to know our librarian a bit better. Librarians are truly one of our community’s unsung heroes. How much did you know about the job? Let us know in the comments below! To learn more about what our Orchestra Librarian and Director of Orchestra Personnel staff members do, please click here

Pacific Symphony’s Online Store Gift Guide

The holidays are officially here and for those of you who get involved with gift buying, we know how crazy it can be. Is your game plan ready? If you still have to get a gift for a music lover in your life, here are some suggestions from our online store with additional tips. Thank you for choosing to shop with Pacific Symphony this season! You’ve got this.  


  • 4 Days until Black Friday (Nov. 26) 
  • 6 Days until Hanukkah (sundown on Nov. 28)  
  • 7 Days until Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) 
  • 33 Days until Christmas (Dec. 25)  


  • From 11/25/2021 – 11/30/2021, you’re invited to use code 20THANKS to receive 20% OFF every purchase for one order.  
  • From 12/01/2021 – 12/31/2021, use code GIVEAWAY to receive a FREE Chopin Tote Bag with every purchase over $50 for one order.  

The following portion of our guide will be divided into two sections: for kids and adults.   

BOOK: A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra  

Written by Robert Levine and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton, A Child’s Introduction to Orchestra features 37 selections that help young readers learn about the instruments, music and composers who wrote the pieces. The book also includes downloadable music and poster.  

TOY: Ludwig Musical Bear  

Born in Dec. 1770 in Bonn, Germany, Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the world’s most beloved and admired composers. These adorable musical bears are premium-quality plush toys playing the artists’ most well-known compositions. It includes 40 minutes of high-quality recordings and is washable. 

TIP: If you bundle these two gifts, this would make a great break or even bedtime activity for your young ones.  

HOME: Pacific Symphony Classic Afghan  

Cozy is one of those words that defines the season. This throw is just that. This custom throw is approximately 48″ x 68″ with a generous 2 inches of fringe going all the way around.  

STATIONERY: Musically Themed Note Cards 

Musically themed note cards. Get it? Okay, we’ll see ourselves out. Now that we have that out of the way, there’s something special about a handwritten letter. When you visit the online store, you can pick from eight different themes.  

KITCHEN: Pacific Symphony Mug 

Do you have a Pacific Symphony fan in your life? Are you that fan? Don’t forget to consider this 11-ounce mug. Add a couple of candy canes and a pre-packaged hot chocolate with some marshmallows and you’re good to go. It’s also dishwasher and microwave safe.  

TIP: If you love putting hampers together, pair the throw and mug with someone’s favorite brand of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Additionally, you can also throw in some candy boxes or baked goods as well. You can easily make it the ultimate cozy kit for the biggest Pacific Symphony fan in your life.  

To view the full store, please click this link. Have a great and safe holiday season, everyone!  

Composer Frank Ticheli’s “All the World’s a Stage” Receives World Premiere Oct. 14 – 16  

Composer Frank Ticheli at the piano.

Specially commissioned for Carl St.Clair’s 30th anniversary career milestone as Pacific Symphony’s Music Director, Frank Ticheli’s All the World’s a Stage will receive its world premiere next week.  

A gift for orchestra and audience, this unique piece will encourage everyone in the concert hall to participate. From making air sounds to playing whirlies and even singing, the tasks will add an interactive element to the evening. Something like this hasn’t been done at the concert hall before.  

For those of you who may be wary, don’t worry, Carl St.Clair will teach you everything you need to know beforehand. You’ll only be joining the Symphony at the beginning and end of the piece. No prior music training required. Carl St.Clair will cue you when it’s time for you to join the orchestra.  

Formerly Pacific Symphony’s Composer-in-Residence from 1991–1998, Ticheli has a decades-long friendship with our community and also teaches composition at USC’s Thornton School of Music. Named after one of Shakespeare’s famous lines from the play As You Like It, Ticheli’s 10-minute piece is sure to be a memorable experience for all of us.  

We don’t want to give too much away, but if you would like to get a sneak peek and hear from the composer, don’t forget to catch this conversation with our Assistant Conductor Jacob Sustaita and Frank Ticheli below. We can’t wait to see everyone in action soon.  

A virtual conversation with Assistant Conductor Jacob Sustaita and Composer Frank Ticheli.

To learn more about our Beethoven’s “Eroica” concerts, please click here.  

Arts & Culture Events To Enjoy In Orange County This Fall

Image Description: Pacific Symphony led by Maestro Carl St.Clair on the performance platform at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA.

Orange County’s arts and culture scene provides a lot to look forward to this fall and Voice of OC has a great run down of everything going on. There truly is something for everyone, and we hope you get a chance experience the best our community has to offer. You can take a look at the piece written by Richard Chang, Kristina Garcia, Timothy Mangan, Eric Marchcese, Anne Marie Panoringan and Kaitlin Wright here

Mentioned in the article is our classical season opener, “Emanuel Ax Plays Mozart,” from Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. The show starts at 8 p.m. each night and tickets are still available. To learn more about the event, please click here. 

What events are you looking forward to going to this season? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for the shout out, Voice of OC!  

Celebrate Opening Night, Sept. 30

Can you feel the excitement and anticipation building? The fall concert season is about to begin. Pacific Symphony has planned an exceptional opening concert you won’t want to miss. Music Director Carl St.Clair leads the orchestra in a program featuring the internationally renowned pianist Emanuel Ax, who is known for his “thoughtful, lyrical, lustrous pianism” (The Washington Post). He will perform Mozart’s charming Piano Concerto No. 17. Maestro St.Clair concludes the concert with Tchaikovsky’s moving Fifth Symphony. For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

For an enhanced experience, reserve an Opening Night Celebration Table or Ticket for “A Notable Gathering.” Be part of this one-of-a-kind Orange County special event, featuring a pre-concert cocktail reception and sumptuous dinner on the plaza, an inspiring concert, intermission reception and festive after-party. All proceeds for this fundraising event benefit go towards Pacific Symphony’s artistic, community and education programs. All guests are asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result within 72 hours the event. For more information, please contact Pacific Symphony Special Events (714) 876-2364 or

Get ready for opening night by tuning in to Symphony Mixer on Weds., Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. to experience Emanual Ax in conversation with Jacob Sustaita, Pacific Symphony’s assistant conductor. Watch the Symphony’s Facebook page for more details.

Happy Classical Music Month!

“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.” –former President Bill Clinton

In Aug. 1994, former President Bill Clinton declared September Classical Music Month in the U.S. Since then, fans around the country have been trying to find different ways to celebrate it each year.  

Whether you’ve just started listening to classical music or are a seasoned pro, know that it’s never too late to get started or to deepen your knowledge of the art form.  

Here are some fun suggestions:  

  • Pick a composer you’ve never listened to and put together an introductory playlist. You can even keep track of what you think about it on a blog or social media. 
  • If you’re a musician, create a video series of some of your favorite compositions and classical artists.  
  • Don’t forget to thank your favorite music educators!  
  • Look for volunteer opportunities to support your local arts organizations. 
  • Attend a Pacific Symphony concert! 😉  
  • If you’re looking for a way to end the summer season, our Tchaikovsky Spectacular will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11th at the Pacific Amphitheatre.  

How would you celebrate Classical Music Month? How has music impacted your life? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear your story. Thank you for your continued support during this unprecedented time.  

5 Tips on How to Listen to Classical Music


It has come to my attention that some people – friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, folks met at parties – don’t know how to listen to classical music. They are interested in getting into it (some of them), and they would like to try, but they don’t seem to have the slightest idea about where to begin. Maybe their intention to listen to classical music is along the lines of eating more broccoli (i.e. they’ll never do it), but the intention is there. They are usually a little intimidated by the prospect.

I’d like to help. And so, with no small trepidation, I offer the following hints. Call them common sense. Those who already know how to listen to classical music are dismissed.

1. Quiet

The first thing you have to know about listening to classical music, and probably the single most important, is that it demands your full attention, like reading a book or watching a movie. People aren’t used to listening to music this way anymore; our lives are busy, fractured and portable. We listen in the car, at the gym, on a walk, at work (while doing something else), as we wash the dishes or talk to someone. That is, we don’t really listen; we use music as soundtrack, or as background to multitasking, or as motivational beat to exercise.

But classical music, to be understood and appreciated, must be foreground. (Some people even find it irritating as background.) It is a narrative in notes. You must follow it, to hear what happens; you must participate in the experience. The best way to listen to it, therefore, is live (when you are more or less forced to), or in a quiet room, alone or with someone who knows not to talk. Turning out the lights doesn’t hurt. Your brain will do most of the rest, whether you know a lot about classical music or nothing at all.

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