Lukas Foss: Piano Concerto No. 1

The neoclassical Piano Concerto No. 1 by Lukas Foss (1922-2009), recorded by Pacific Symphony, Carl St.Clair, conductor and Jon Nakamatsu, piano. Released 2001. The piece was first written as a clarinet concerto when Foss was 17. He made this version of it four years later.

–TM

Single tickets on sale, suggestions made

Tickets to individual concerts in Pacific Symphony’s 2018-2019 season go on sale today. This next season marks the orchestra’s 40th anniversary.

The offer includes classical concerts, pops concerts, and special events.* Go to pacificsymphony.org or call (714) 755-5799.

Go to the All Concerts page if you would like to scroll through the season schedule.

But wait, there’s more. If you’re having trouble choosing a concert you’d like to buy tickets for, I’m here to help. As a longtime music critic, and before that a record store clerk, I have plenty of experience making recommendations.

So, drop me a line at tmangan@pacificsymphony.org if you’d like a suggestion or two of concerts that I think you’ll enjoy. For my reference, please include some of your favorite pieces and/or favorite performances you’ve attended. I’ll send you a personalized selection in response. For free.

Continue reading

Connections series renamed, programming set

Pacific Symphony has changed the name of its long-running Sunday Casual Connections series to Sunday Matinees. The substance of the series remains the same: The four concerts each are performed without intermission and last about 90 minutes. Carl St.Clair conducts and offers commentary on the pieces performed.

Subscription brochures for the series were sent out last week, and programming has been finalized. Sunday Matinees opens on Sept. 30 with pianist Olga Kern joining the orchestra for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. St.Clair and the ensemble close with Ravel’s “Boléro.”

Concert two in the series (Oct. 28) celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia with a performance of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” A specially-produced video will be part of the presentation.

Continue reading

Musicians on tour

Joseph Foley, practicing in Chongqing airport.

It was great to catch up with the musicians of Pacific Symphony on the China tour, many of whom I hadn’t spoken to since the European tour in 2006 (which I covered for a newspaper), some of whom I was meeting for the first time. Here are a few of my interactions.

Waldemar de Almeida, cello: “Wally” has been in the orchestra for more than 30 years and has lots of stories and a thick accent (he was born in Brazil). Anyway, one of the most amazing things I found out about Wally is that he was a member of the venerable Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva in 1964-65 and played under the baton of  legendary conductor Ernest Ansermet there. He even made some recordings with them, which I vowed to listen to when I got home.

Eric Byers, guest principal cellist: I recognized Eric for a couple of days before I could place him. Then I realized he was the cellist in the Calder Quartet, a group I had heard perform many times. I fell in stride with Eric at a train station or airport one day and we chatted about the tour. He was impressed with the logistics and magnitude of the thing. The Calder Quartet, he explained, was a for profit organization, so all its traveling is done as cheaply as possible, including the hotels. The group might have a gig at Wigmore Hall in London, but all it has to pay for everything is the not-so-huge performance fee, so the group makes do with budget travel and lodgings. Eric was enjoying and admiring the comparatively all-arranged, luxury travel of an orchestra on tour.

Josephine Moerschel, viola: This was Josephine’s first extended trip away from her two daughters, ages 2 and 4. Turns out she is married to the violist in the Calder Quartet, and dad had his hands full in her absence, sending her S.O.S.s even as we spoke. By the end of the trip, Josephine was saying she’d be bringing home her husband a bottle of duty-free scotch to help with his recovery.

Continue reading

Thursday and Friday in Hefei and Wuxi

Thursday and Friday were what orchestra tours are all about: Getting a boatload of musicians (or in this case a trainload) somewhere far away and giving a concert.

Thursday morning found us in Shanghai. By the afternoon we were in unglamorous Hefei, arriving at 3:15 p.m. or so. As the buses left for the concert hall at 5:45, there wasn’t much to do anything except check into our rooms and grab a meal at the hotel restaurant.

I don’t want to sum up a city of 6 or 7 million people after only a few hours experience there. But the reader will insist on something. Let’s go with “gritty” and “bustling” and perhaps throw in “working class” and leave it at that, knowing that the description is overly generalized. I did like Hefei.

Continue reading

Reviews of Pacific Symphony’s Carnegie Hall performance

Here are links to the reviews of Pacific Symphony’s debut at Carnegie Hall on April 21 in a program of music by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass. I will add reviews if as they come in.

The New York Times

The Orange County Register

Agence Press France

Berkshire Fine Arts

Classical Voice North America (John Rockwell)

Photo: Richard Termine

St.Clair and Pacific Symphony bound for Carnegie Hall in salute to Philip Glass

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony are about to make a big trip, in case you hadn’t heard — a trip to Carnegie Hall. Conductor and orchestra have been invited to perform at the venerable venue on Saturday, April 21, in the final program of a series celebrating the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass. It will be the first time performing there for both St.Clair and Orange County’s 39-year-old symphonic ensemble.

St.Clair has been in Carnegie many times, of course, both as a listener (he remembers hearing Herbert von Karajan’s last concerts there with the Berlin Philharmonic) and as a would-be participant, during his years as an assistant conductor with the Boston Symphony, which has long made regular appearances at the hall. But as it happened, he was never asked to step in when the orchestra was visiting New York, not even in rehearsal.

“I have not conducted on that stage,” St.Clair said categorically in a recent conversation at the Symphony’s Irvine offices. But he’s looking forward to it.

Continue reading