Interview: Meredith Crawford, principal viola

By ERICA SHARP

Meredith Crawford, principal viola of Pacific Symphony, cheerfully picked up the phone to talk to an interviewer at the appointed time. She said she had just come back from a walk on the beach. She currently resides in Belmont Shore, a neighborhood in Long Beach, commuting to Costa Mesa to play in the orchestra. 

Crawford found Pacific Symphony while finishing up her studies as a college student, wanting to find orchestras just so she could gain audition experience for her professional career, which she thought would come much later. 

But during her research of this orchestra, she said the image of the musicians photographed on the beach began to change her mind to take the audition more seriously. The idea of moving to California to become part of what she perceived to be a well-loved and innovative group was her dream. 

Crawford was born in Massachusetts in 1986 but her family moved to Maine shortly thereafter. Although she grew up in a musical family, in which both of her grandparents were musicians, she jokes that the music “skipped a generation,” since her parents were not.  

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Pacific Symphony: June concerts

This month we wind up the season with classical concerts and pops concerts. Here’s a quick guide to all of our events in June, with links to tickets.

Anne Akiko Meyers

A pair of young musicians who are already established in international careers visit the orchestra May 31-June 2. British conductor Ben Gernon, born in 1989, principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, makes his Pacific Symphony debut with a program that includes Prokofiev’s “Russian Overture” and Stravinsky’s vibrant ballet “Petrushka.” In between, Israel pianist Boris Giltburg, born in 1984, winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2013, takes on Rachmaninoff’s ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 2. Tickets here

Pops conductor Richard Kaufman is on hand for the series finale (June 8-9), when Stayin’ Alive, a Bee Gees tribute band, arrives to re-create the hits of the kings of falsetto. On the first half of the program, Kaufman leads light classics by Johann Strauss Jr., Otto Nicolai, John Williams and others. Tickets here

Richard Strauss’ rambunctious tone poem “Ein Heldenleben” is featured in concerts June 14-16. With its extended violin solos, the work serves to introduce local audiences to the orchestra’s new concertmaster, Dennis Kim. Star violinist Anne Akiko Meyers also appears in a trio of short solo works, Ravel’s “Tzigane,” Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” and Bernstein’s “Somewhere.” Carl St.Clair conducts, opening the program with Glinka’s Overture to “Ruslan and Ludmilla.” Tickets here

A slightly truncated version of this concert (Lauridsen, Ravel, Strauss) is offered as a matinee on June 17. Tickets here

Also this month, at the Balboa Bay Resort, Pacific Symphony presents the 11th annual Pacific Coast Wine Festival, featuring  a wine auction and wine-paired dinner, and wine tasting of exceptional wines from the premier wine producing regions of the world. Tickets here

Van Cliburn gold medalist brings Rachmaninoff for his debut with Pacific Symphony

June 7, 2017. Yekwon Sunwoo  performs with the Brentano String Quartet in the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Ralph Lauer)

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

Yekwon Sunwoo showed up on Skype at the appointed time recently, or rather his voice did. He initially preferred not to appear on screen — 24 hours of travel from Poland to Aspen the day before had left him disheveled, he implied — but soon enough he came on camera, his thick black hair slightly tousled perhaps, but otherwise looking fresh and fit in a pair of Clark Kent glasses and a light cardigan sweater.

Sunwoo is otherwise a superman. In June, he became the first Korean to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, doing it with a series of knucklebusters that included Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata and Prokofiev’s Sixth, Ravel’s “La Valse” and, in the finals, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (all of which can be seen and heard online at the competition’s website.) Since then, life has been a whirlwind for the 28-year-old musician.

“It’s been hectic,” Sunwoo says. “Like right after winning, for about a week I had some meetings, and a photo session which went about four hours straight. Everything was happening kind of quickly and they already had concerts lined up. I had to decide everything pretty much all at once, in a short time.

“The concert tour started in the middle of July, I went to Steamboat Springs (Colorado), the Grand Teton Music Festival, which was wonderful, and the Spencer Theater in Roswell, New Mexico. Then I was in Italy for concerts, Germany, Poland. I’m really enjoying it. I’ve kind of been waiting for this moment and I love performing for the audiences. It’s just a great thing. So it’s been busy but I’m very happy about it.”

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