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

Pacific Symphony: May concerts

The Giant Egg in Beijing

Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony are off to China in May, performing concerts in Shanghai, Hefei, Wuxi, Chongqing and Beijing in the early and middle part of the month. Their program, previewed in Orange County, features Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe” Suite No. 2, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 (with Pinchas Zukerman) and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in Ravel’s famous transcription.

The orchestra gives concert in OC both before and after the tour, however.

On May-3-5, the orchestra welcomes back the always scintillating pianist André Watts, who will join the musicians in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. On the second half of the program, St.Clair and the musicians grapple with one of the 20th century’s greatest symphonies, Shostakovich’s Tenth. Tickets here

At the end of the month (and the beginning of the next), May 31-June 2, young British conductor Ben Gernon, the principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, makes his Pacific Symphony debut, leading a program of music by Prokofiev (the “Russian Overture”) and Stravinsky (the 1947 version of “Petrushka”). In between, Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg revives Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Tickets here

Elsewhere on the monthly schedule, Pacific Symphony youth ensembles give their season finales.

On May 6, the Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings, conducted by Irene Kroesen, play music by Britten, Vaughan Williams and others, in a program featuring music of the British Isles. Admission is free but tickets are required

On May 20, Gregory X. Whitmore conducts the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble a wide-ranging American agenda that includes John Philip Sousa’s rarely heard “In Memoriam: President Garfield’s Funeral March” and Robert Russell Bennett’s “Suite of Old American Dances.” Admission is free but tickets are required 

Later the same day, Roger Kalia leads his Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in a concert that features the dual winners of the concerto competition. Violinists Danielle Liu and Leo Matsuoka play the first movements of the Glazunov and Sibelius Violin Concertos. The program winds up with Gershwin’s “American in Paris.” Admission is free but tickets are required

Pacific Symphony: March concerts

Here’s your quick roundup of Pacific Symphony events in the month of March, mobile-friendly and with links to tickets. There will be a total of 12 presentations.

Chief among them will be concerts previewing the orchestra’s first tour of China in May. The performers and repertoire are the same as on tour. Carl St.Clair leads a program with two orchestral showpieces as bookends, Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from “Daphnis et Chloe” and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” (orchestrated by Ravel). In between, the orchestra welcomes back esteemed violinist Pinchas Zukerman as soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. The Mussorgsky will be accompanied by striking visual animation created by eleven students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Performances are March 15-17 in Segerstrom Concert Hall (tickets here). The concert is repeated, without Ravel’s “Daphnis,” on March 18 in Segerstrom (tickets) and on March 19 in McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts in Palm Desert (ticket info).

Zukerman will also give a masterclass on March 18, working with three students from Orange County. The masterclass will be held in Samueli Theater and the public is welcome. Tickets are $10.

The month opens with the third annual Lantern Festival (March 4), a free community event celebrating the return of spring and reunion of the family. A dragon dance, puppet show, Chinese folk dance, lantern making and more are featured. Watch a video of last year’s event. Tickets are free, but required.

Los Angeles-based composer Steven Mahpar will narrate his own “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to open Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble’s spring concert (March 10). Conductor Gregory X. Whitmore continues the concert with two classics of the 20th century: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ gorgeous “The Lark Ascending” (with flutist Yuri Choi) and Paul Hindemith’s boisterous “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber.” Free. Tickets here

On March 12, Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra and conductor Roger Kalia give their own ambitious spring concert featuring Brendan Faegre’s “Analog Intelligence (a 21st Century Dance Suite)” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” Admission is free, but tickets are required.

The Family Musical Mornings series continues (March 17) with Kalia presiding over a program of music from popular video games, including “Super Mario Brothers” and “The Legend of Zelda.” The premise of the show is two kids getting lost inside their favorite video game. Popular classical selections by Wagner, Stravinsky and Mahler are also performed by Pacific Symphony side-by-side with Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. Tickets here

Finally, on the pops series, Pink Martini returns (March 23-24). The stylish ensemble resurrects popular music of the past, with elegance and panache. Conductor Richard Kaufman and Pacific Symphony join them. Tickets here

Pacific Symphony: February concerts

Pacific Symphony will perform in 12 concerts during the month of February. Here’s your quick, mobile-friendly guide to them, with link to tickets.

Having forged a musical friendship with Carl St.Clair through solo appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Ukrainian pianist Alexander Romanovsky, winner of the Busoni Competition at the ripe age of 17, in 2001, makes his debut with Pacific Symphony (Feb. 1-3). His vehicle will be the impossibly difficult and wonderfully barbed Piano Concerto No. 2 by Prokofiev. St.Clair and the orchestra open the program with the Third Symphony of Brahms. The distinguished American composer Paul Chihara’s celebratory “Wild Wood” from 2015 will also be heard, in the world premiere of a new version for orchestra. Tickets here

At 3 p.m. on Feb. 4, the musicians perform a shortened version of the same program without intermission. Chihara’s piece and the Prokofiev concerto are reprised in their entirety; the third movement of the Brahms provides contrast. Tickets here

The next installment of the Family Musical Mornings series is Feb. 3, an opera for kids program featured a masked ball for super heroes set to selections from Johann Strauss, Jr.’s “Die Fledermaus.” Roger Kalia conducts; students from Chapman University’s opera program sing. Two performances. Tickets here

The Symphony’s annual Chinese New Year celebration will feature a long list of performers and a program spanning Eastern and Western music (Feb. 10). Carl St.Clair leads the multidisciplinary extravaganza. Tickets here

The Cafe Ludwig chamber music series continues with a program that honors both the 100th birthday of Bernstein and the 80th birthday of Steve Reich. Music by Bernstein (the Sonata for Clarinet), Reich (the Quartet for two pianos and two vibraphones), Hanson, Schoenfeld and Ewazen is performed. Tickets here

Conductor Richard Kaufman returns to the Pops Series, this time focused on the “yacht rock” of Christopher Cross, the stellar guest on this occasion (Feb. 16-17). Tickets here

The month closes with three performances of Mozart’s final opera “The Magic Flute,” in semi-staged performances on Feb. 21, 23 and 27. Robert Neu is the stage director; Robin Walsh is lasted as  “puppet designer” (that should be fun) and Katie Wilson the costume designer. John Tessier (Tamino), Hadleigh Adams (Papageno) and Tess Altiveros (Pamina) head the cast. Tickets here