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 2022-23 Classical Season is Announced!

Pacific Symphony’s 2022-23 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Season reflects the orchestra’s diverse repertoire—from core symphonic works to a full-length opera—and a penchant for re-interpreting the classics for the 21st century, through lighting, visuals and multimedia elements.

Photo Credit: Gregor Hohenberg.

You won’t want to miss the pre-season special: Lang Lang Returns. Heralded by The New York Times as “the hottest artist on the classical music planet,” Lang Lang plays sold-out concerts all over the world. He has performed for numerous international dignitaries, including the Pope, four U.S. presidents and monarchs from many nations. And now this world-celebrated piano superstar returns to perform for you!

Celebrating over half a century of bringing music to Southern California, Pacific Chorale is internationally recognized for exceptional artistic expression. Under the direction of Robert Istad, the Chorale presents a substantial performance season of its own at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County in addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony. During the 2022-23 season, Pacific Chorale will collaborate with Pacific Symphony on four programs: The Planets, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Cathedrals of Sound and Handel’s Glorious Messiah.

Photo Credit: Aaron Jay Young.

In commenting on the upcoming season, Music Director Carl St.Clair said, “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.

Composer Gabriela Ortiz.

“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,” added St.Clair. “The international surprises continue all season long, including guitarist Milos 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.”

Read all the details in the 2022-23 Season Announcement press release.

Watch the trailer video:

Voice of OC Features Guest Conductor Teddy Abrams  

Maestro Teddy Abrams. April 2016. Photo Credit: O’Neil Arnold.  

This weekend, Pacific Symphony will be led by Guest Conductor Teddy Abrams during our Mendelssohn’s Violin Concertos between Nov. 11 – 13, 2021. He was recently featured in an article written by Paul Hodgins from Voice of OC. To see the full piece, please click here.  

Abrams fell in love with music at a young age. Not only was he a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for several seasons and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he has also studied under renowned conductors like Michael Tilson Thomas. His professional journey began when he was 21-years-old, to give you a brief background.  

In addition to conducting, he plays the piano and clarinet and even composes. When he’s not on tour, Maestro Abrams is the Music Director for the Louisville Orchestra and Britt Festival Orchestra in Oregon. Earlier this year, Musical America named him “Conductor of the Year.” We’re excited to welcome him in his debut appearance with us.  

Don’t forget to catch him in action at the concert hall tonight, tomorrow and Saturday! Tickets are still available. To learn more about the show, please click here.  

Thank you for the mention, Voice of OC! To read more of their Arts & Culture section, please click here.  

Meet Rachel Barton Pine 

Image Description: Conductor Teddy Abrams (left) with Violinist Rachel Barton Pine (right).
Photo Credit: Sally Jubb Photography.

In both art and life, violinist Rachel Barton Pine has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Celebrated as a leading interpreter of great classic and contemporary works, her performances combine her innate gift for emotional communication and her scholarly fascination with historical research. She plays with passion and conviction, thrilling audiences worldwide with her dazzling technique, lustrous tone and infectious joy in music-making.  

She makes her Pacific Symphony debut (Nov. 11-13) performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Teddy Abrams, who was recently named “Conductor of the Year” by Musical America. “Mendelssohn is one of the most enduringly popular violin concertos. We think of the Mendelssohn as one of the ‘easier’ concertos, because it doesn’t demand as much stamina or technical virtuosity as Tchaikovsky or other ‘more difficult’ works,” commented Rachel Barton Pine in her Mendelssohn Master Class article for The Strad. “But for a professional, it is extremely challenging: as with any popular piece, you have to make it feel fresh to an audience that has heard it a million times. Not only that, but you can spend a lifetime trying to capture the character, the sound, the phrases and exactly what you are trying to say in the moment.”  

Rachel explains further in the article, “I first played this concerto when I was nine with a Romantic interpretation, but in my teens I became aware of more specific Classical styles and started to think of Mendelssohn coming from Mozart rather than going towards Bruch. Finally in my twenties, I played it with flowing Classical tempos and free, Romantic rubato, and that’s how I’ve done it ever since.” She also talks about the perfect opening, recalling once spending her hour-long lesson with Almita Vamos on the bow distribution, emphasis and articulation in just the first three B-naturals that open the piece.  
 
The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto was one of 24 violin concertos Rachel covered during her popular 24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside with RBP, an Olympic-like streaming series available on-demand in which she performed the entire solo part of 24 different violin concertos, live and unaccompanied, over 24 weeks. You may watch or share the free, 20-minute public version of the Mendelssohn episode here
 
Rachel has been described by The Washington Post as a “boundary-defying performer” and has been featured on programs including PBS Newshour, NPR’s Tiny Desk, The Today Show, NBC Network News’ “Making a Difference,” and CBS Sunday Morning. Pine began violin studies at age three and made her professional debut at age seven. Today, she performs with major orchestras around the world under the baton of conductors including John Nelson, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Neeme Järvi and Marin Alsop. 
 
This past July, with just 3 1/2 hours notice, Rachel stepped in for Midori at Ravinia, to perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop conducting, when Midori pulled out at the last-minute citing illness.  
 
She was able to pull this off due to her good practice habits and because she had recently completed the concerto in her aforementioned 24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside series. 
 
Rachel began her Herculean #24in24 task during the pandemic because she missed performing these works, which she calls “my life-long companions and best friends.” She had a wonderful time sharing them with audiences in a new way and format. 

Rachel’s unique interpretations continue to distinguish her from her peers. She does a staggering amount of research to prepare any piece and says that this baseline of knowledge frees her up to connect to and communicate the emotional truth of what she is performing. She examines the work within its larger context: studying the composer’s life, the historical and music context of the composition, as well as works by that composer outside of the violin repertoire. She jokes that her bedtime reading is often doctoral dissertations. 
 
“I’m always working to find an effective balance between intellectual validity and instinct — good ideas won’t be effective if you don’t feel them inside, but what you feel needs to be backed up by something more meaningful than ‘I like it that way.’ Basically, every performance needs to be a true collaboration between the performer and the composer, even if the composer has long passed away,” she says. 

You won’t want to miss Rachel Barton Pine’s exciting first appearance with Pacific Symphony. To learn more about Rachel, please visit RachelBartonPine.com. To purchase tickets for her upcoming debut with us, please click here

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.  

Welcome! Live Music is Back!

From the Desk of John Forsyte

Please join me for the opening weekend of what will surely be an emotional return to classical music performances by Pacific Symphony at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Music Director and Conductor Carl St.Clair has a wonderful program planned including the world premiere of a fantastic work by Juilliard-based composer, Wayne Oquin. The work is described by the composer as the “ongoing aspect of urban city life: the construction of modern skyscrapers.” It features virtuosic and colorful writing for the entire orchestra and for solo clarinet.

One of the great legends in classical music is pianist Emanuel Ax who has had a distinguished solo and recording career and has been a close collaborator with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and so many other luminaries. Mr. Ax will perform the sparkling Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17. To close the concert, we will hear the sweeping drama of Tchaikovsky’s most beloved Symphony No. 5.

Concerts take place Thursday-Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (Sunday is Tchaikovsky only). To learn more, please click here: www.pacificsymphony.org.

Video message from Music Director Carl St.Clair