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.
Single tickets for next season’s Pacific Symphony concerts at the Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo go on sale today. The popular three-concert series was previously available by subscription only.
Programming for the three Sunday afternoon concerts has also been set.
The series opener, on November 18, will be led by the soloists. Principal trumpet Barry Perkins leads Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and concertmaster Dennis Kim leads Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, with principal violist Meredith Crawford sharing the spotlight in that work.
Concert 2, on Feb. 10, is conducted by music director Carl St.Clair and features Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with the young American pianist and recent Avery Fisher Career Grant winner Drew Petersen as soloist.
St.Clair is on the podium as well for the series finale, March 31, and Schubert and Chopin appear again on the agenda, this time with the “Unfinished” Symphony and the Piano Concerto No. 1. Conrad Tao, a local favorite, is the soloist in the latter.
Both pianists are scheduled to add a couple of Chopin Preludes to their programs.
All concerts in the series are held on Sundays at 3 p.m. and are performed without intermission. Single tickets are $56, or $46 for students, seniors and acting military. To purchase tickets call (949) 480-4278 or visit the tickets page at the Soka Performing Arts Center website.
A good way to prepare for this week’s performances by Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in Ravel’s incomparable orchestration is to hear the piece in its original version, for solo piano.
Since you liked the last one so much, we thought we’d share another. Here’s Otto Klemperer conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra in Mozart’s Overture to “Cosi fan tutte.” This was recorded in 1971, late in Klemperer’s life. The ensemble is not the tightest, but the tempos are beautifully chosen and the woodwinds wonderfully highlighted.
“The Magic Flute” is Mozart’s final opera and one of his last compositions. It premiered in Vienna in September 1791 and Mozart died a mere two months later. Despite being sick, hungry, broke and altogether miserable, Mozart’s music is some of the most joyous and beautiful he ever wrote.
The piece is technically termed a “singspiel” — meaning that it combines singing and spoken dialogue – and that means that it’s what we today call a musical. While on the surface “The Magic Flute” and its characters can be considered a bit silly, it is actually an endlessly fascinating work of art.
So many meanings have been attached to this opera: Is it about brotherhood? The meaning of true love? The method for achieving an honorable life? Some feel the work is a philosophical tract about the Age of Enlightenment, some believe it’s a commentary on the French Revolution, some accuse Mozart of purloining Masonic secret rituals. Others argue that it’s a political diatribe aimed against a conservative Austrian government headed by Maria Theresa. There are also theories that the work is inspired by tarot cards or even by the psychosexual beliefs of Carl Jung. (Obviously, the latter is historically impossible.)
Every one of these is fascinating to research but ultimately one has to tell this story in a way that will speak to modern audiences. We like the idea of approaching this largely as an adult fairy tale but with real characters experiencing real emotions. And one of the great advantages of producing opera with the Pacific Symphony is that the orchestra can be given its rightful place as a character in the piece. It really is perhaps the character of the opera. Mozart’s amazing writing not only has the orchestra supporting the singers’ emotions, but it oftentimes tells us things that words can’t express. And without giving away too many secrets, the beauty of Segerstrom Concert Hall gives a fantastic jumping off point to offer a feast for the eyes. And when all is said and done, there always is – and always will be – Mozart’s music. A beautiful hall; a world-class orchestra, cast and conductor; this opera; Mozart. What a privilege for every one of us — performers and listeners alike — to be a part of this!