2018-2019 Soka concerts on sale, programming set

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.

Miscellany

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

After four critically acclaimed seasons, Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” is no more….

Composer Jennifer Higdon wins $100,000 Nemmers Prize….

A new economic impact study shows that the Boston Symphony is pumping huge amounts into the local economy….

British orchestra musicians may have to wear earplugs after high court ruling….

You should never have gotten rid of that record player. Something called “high definition vinyl” is in the offing….

The Pulitzer Prize in music goes to … Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop artist….

The Pacific Chorale has announced its 2018-19 season and it includes the performance of a big work with Pacific Symphony….

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music will build a huge addition which will also house its students….

Did you see the April 12 cover of The New Yorker? Classical music is featured….

Mussorgsky: ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ sans Ravel

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.

Here’s Alice Sara Ott playing it live.

Tickets for this week’s performances are here.

Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 (Oistrakh, Philharmonia)

Here’s a warm, full-bodied and irresistibly singing recording of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. David Oistrakh is the violinist and conductor with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Hear Pinchas Zukerman perform this same work with Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony on March 15-18.

Audio: Klemperer conducts the Overture to ‘Cosi fan tutte’

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.

 

Director’s note for ‘The Magic Flute’

“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!

Bob Neu

Tickets here

Audio: Klemperer conducts the Overture to ‘The Magic Flute’

Here’s one of my favorite recordings of Mozart’s Overture to “The Magic Flute,” with the Philharmonia conducted by Otto Klemperer. It’s stately but never heavy, and finely detailed.

Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony give three semi-staged performances of “The Magic Flute” beginning this week. Tickets here