Pacific Symphony offers glimpse of 2018-19 season

Four decades in, Pacific Symphony is going strong and gearing up for another season, and their next lineup was announced on their blog earlier this week.  Their programming is, as iron-tongued Lisa Hirsch pointed out in the comments, decidedly male-leaning, with not a female composer in sight.  Considering the current gender-focused climate nationwide and big milestones coming up for beloved and well-established female creators, it’s a bit of a surprise, even for OC, which tends to lean conservative.  Indeed, the season is plenty full of chestnuts, but begins with Frank Ticheli’s “Shooting Stars”, ends with Mahler’s epic “Symphony of a Thousand”, and takes some interesting detours into Verdian protest, works for guitar and orchestra, and a new work about a trip to the moon which will be fifty years past as of year. These might not be giant leaps for mankind, but small steps matter, too.

Since Pacific Symphony was wise enough last year to create a position for erstwhile arts critic Timothy Mangan, he has presented this season announcement primarily as a blog post, rather than just sending out a straight press release. The post, in a few small ways,  illustrates the unusual relationship crafted from the ongoing changes in arts criticism and the (hopefully) new ways that organizations are approaching PR. But the arrangement seems fruitful so far, and as a fellow blogger, it’s not only heartening that such a knowledgeable voice and potent pen have found a home.  It’s also very nice to see press releases that are well-written and tell more than “just the facts”: when Mangan calls a work a masterpiece, he means it, and we know he can back up the opinion. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Nielsen he praises below, it’s a grand relief to know that tidbit isn’t coming from a publicist with a thesaurus. And that’s cause enough for thanks.

This is a season packed with beloved hits, and is bound to have something for just about everyone. Do get tickets early, as PacSym has a devoted following, and you’ll want good seats.


Press release follows.


Pacific Symphony 40th season announcement


Music director Carl St.Clair and President John Forsyte unveiled plans today for Pacific Symphony’s 40th anniversary classical season in 2018-19. The schedule includes eight subscription programs (in multiple performances) conducted by St. Clair, who celebrates his 29th season as the orchestra’s leader. The Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation again sponsors the classical series, which is presented at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

The season opens Sept. 27-29 with concerts that commemorate the 40th anniversary. The program will include a new version of Frank Ticheli’s “Shooting Stars,” written for the orchestra for its 25th anniversary and updated here; and a performance of Ravel’s “Boléro” coupled with a newly commissioned film documenting the history of Pacific Symphony. Van Cliburn competition gold medalist Olga Kern will also return to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

The orchestra marks the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth in the season’s second program (Oct. 25-27). St.Clair leads this tribute to his mentor, which includes the “Prelude, Fugue and Riffs,” with Symphony principal clarinetist Joseph Morris as soloist; the “Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium),” with violinist Augustin Hadelich as soloist; the “Chichester Psalms”; and selections from his Broadway musicals sung by Celena Shafer.

A number of special programs dot the season. Guest conductor Rune Bergmann returns with a program including the orchestra’s first performances of Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s masterpiece, the Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable,” in more than two decades (Nov. 15-17). Former composer-in-residence Michael Daugherty will write a new work recognizing the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (April 11-13, 2019). St.Clair ends the season with performances of Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand” (June 6-8, 2019).

The sensational Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas returns to curate and perform in a program featuring works for guitar and orchestra by Rodrigo, De Abreu and Piazzolla (May 2-4).

In a one-night-only performance, conductor Murry Sidlin brings his touring production “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin,” a concert-drama which tells the story of the Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who performed Verdi’s Mass (April 16, 2019).

In addition to Bergmann, two other guest conductors who have made successful recent appearances with the orchestra come back: the Canadian Jean-Marie Zeitouni and the Austrian David Danzmayr. The noted British conductor Christopher Warren-Green will lead the annual performance of “Messiah.”

Guest soloists include violinists Philippe Quint and Paul Huang, pianists Markus Groh, Juho Pohjonen and Gabriela Martinez, and cellist Leonard Elshenbroich.

The annual semi-staged opera performances are devoted for the first time to Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” (Feb. 21, 23 and 26). St.Clair will also preside over a double bill of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” featuring the Magic Circle Mime Company, and Ravel’s “L’Enfant et Les Sortileges,” with singers from Los Angeles Opera’s young artists program.

Subscriptions in packages of four to 12 concerts are on sale now. Single tickets will go on sale later. For more information, call (714) 755-5799 or visit


Programs, artists, and dates subject to change.

September 27–29, 2018 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Olga Kern, piano
Meredith Crawford, viola

Ticheli: Shooting Stars
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante
Ravel: Boléro

October 25–27, 2018 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Augustin Hadelich, violin
Celena Shafer, soprano
Additional singers to be announced
Pacific Chorale
Robert Istad, artistic director

Bernstein: Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs
Bernstein: Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium)
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Bernstein: Broadway hits and highlights

November 15–17, 2018 | 8 p.m.

Rune Bergmann, conductor
Philippe Quint, violin

Mozart: Overture to Don Giovanni
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Nielsen: Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable”

December 6–8, 2018 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Markus Groh, piano

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Tchaikovsky/Ellington: Suite from The Nutcracker

January 10–12, 2019 | 8 p.m.

David Danzmayr, guest conductor
Gabriela Martinez, piano

Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 7

January 31, February 1–2, 2019 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Leonard Elschenbroich, cello

Bernstein: Slava! A Political Overture
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

February 21, 23 & 26, 2019

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Eric Einhorn, stage director
Cameron Anderson, scenic designer
Pacific Chorale
Robert Istad, artistic director
Cast to be announced

Puccini: Madame Butterfly

March 21–23, 2019 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Paul Huang, violin

Beethoven: Adagio from String Quartet No. 16
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, “Italian”

April 11–13, 2019 | 8 p.m.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Juho Pohjonen, piano

Daugherty: World Premiere
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23
Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra

May 2–4, 2019 | 8 p.m.

Carlos Izcaray, conductor
Pablo Villegas, guitar and curator

Ravel: Rapsodie Espagnole
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
Trio of Pieces for Guitar and Orchestra
De Abreu: Tico Tico no Fubá
Piazzolla: Libertango
Anonymous: Romance (jeux interdits)
Piazzolla: Sinfonía Buenos Aires

May 16–18, 2019 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Magic Circle Mime Company
Vocal Soloists and Stage Director to be announced

PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf
RAVEL: L’enfant et les sortilèges
The Child and the Magic Spells: A Lyric Fantasy in Two Parts | Libretto by Colette

June 6–8, 2019 | 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Vocal Soloists to be announced
Pacific Chorale
Robert Istad, artistic director
Southern California Children’s Chorus
Lori Loftus, founding director
Additional Choruses to be announced

MAHLER: Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand”

Visit Pacific Symphony’s website for full details and tickets — and check out what they have going on in the rest of this season while you’re there!

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