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.

Pacific Symphony: September concerts

Yekwon Sunwoo
Gold Medalist
15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Photo: Jeremy Enlow/Cliburn

Septembers are always an eventful time at Pacific Symphony, this year especially so.

The summer season comes to an end, the winter season gets underway, a superstar soloist returns. Here’s a quick run down of the concerts, with clickable access to tickets.

The annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular will be held Sept. 9 at the Pacific Amphitheatre. The latest Van Cliburn gold medalist, Yekwon Sunwoo, the first Korean to win the award, is on hand to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Carl St.Clair conducts the orchestra in a galop by Shostakovich, a march by Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” and the “1812 Overture,” the last ornamented with cannons and fireworks. (Click here for tickets.)

A few days later, St.Clair and the orchestra open the indoor season at Segerstrom Concert Hall with a program featuring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Richard Strauss’s “Don Juan” and selections from Wagner’s “Die Walküre,” with bass-baritone Greer Grimsley singing “Wotan’s Farewell.” Sept. 14-16. (Tickets)

The Casual Connections series opens a day later (Sept. 17) with a reprise of the Beethoven symphony and the Wagner excerpts along with explanatory commentary from St.Clair. This matinee concert is presented without intermission. (Tickets)

Then, on Sept. 23, the orchestra presents “An Evening with Joshua Bell,” the popular violinist returning to perform the Violin Concerto by Sibelius. As prelude, St.Clair and the orchestra perform Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” (Tickets)

Upcoming concerts

‘Tis the season between seasons, but there are still a few things to listen to.

Acclaimed contemporary music pianist Gloria Cheng will make a guest appearance on the next “Sonic Kitchen” concert (8 p.m. June 29 at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art). Cheng joins members of the Pacific Symphony in a program to include music by George Crumb (the “Vox Balaenae”); Michael Daugherty, Philip Glass, Mohammed Fairouz and Frederic Rzewski (selections from “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!”).The concert is part of the Center’s current exhibit “Art as Protest” and will be performed in the galleries. Pre-concert events begin at 7:15; attendees can view the exhibit and purchase craft beers and wines at this time. Tickets are $20. Visit pacificsymphony.org or call (714) 755-5799.

At 7 p.m. on June 30, conductor Gregory X. Whitmore will lead the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble in a preview of the tour programs that they will take to Vienna in July. Whitmore will select items from the touring repertoire by Bach, Ticheli, Whitacre, J. Strauss II, Sousa, Basler and Perrine. At the Claire Trevor Theatre, UCI. Tickets are free.

The official opener of the orchestra’s summer season is again July 4, but this year it’s held at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, the group’s new outdoor home. Pops conductor Richard Kaufman directs a program of film and patriotic music and is joined by Matt Ryan & The American dream for a set of “Symphonic Springsteen.” With Fireworks. Tickets start at $25; military comes free. 8 p.m.

We also recommend, the 37th annual Baroque Music Festival, Corona del Mar, June 18-25. Artistic director and violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock calls this year’s agenda a “Festival of Novelties,” and among other offerings it will include a fencing demonstration set to Baroque music; a program devoted to music for four violas da gamba; and a “Music from Monticello” concert. Sunday’s closer (June 25), featuring the stereophonic music that Monteverdi and Gabrieli wrote St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, looks particularly attractive. For info here.