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Pacific Symphony and Music Director Carl St.Clair proudly announce 35th season and the 2013-14 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Series
March 11, 2013
Opera and vocal initiative continues for third year with Verdi's "La Traviata," plus concerts featuring Pacific Chorale, Southern California Children's Chorus and world-class solo vocalists
Thirteenth American Composers Festival shines spotlight on leading film composers Bernard Herrmann, Hans Zimmer and Eliot Goldenthal
American Music Recording Project features five new recordings in five years: 2012-2017
Debut performance of Handel's neglected Judas Maccabeus
William Bolcom center of one of three new innovative "Music Unwound" concerts featuring in-depth exploration, multimedia and other enhancements
Concert explores impact of Stalin's political and cultural policies on music of Shostakovich, featuring composer's biographer/musicologist Solomon Volkov
Major guest artists include pianists Conrad Tao, Joyce Yang, Alexander Toradze, Alexandre Tharaud and Yulianna Avdeeva; violinists Sarah Chang and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; guitarist Xuefei Yang; and the Eroica Trio
Plus, guest conductors John Alexander, Thierry Fischer, Tito Muñoz, Christopher Seaman and Jean-Marie Zeitouni
Music Director Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony today announce the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series and special events for 2013-14—Pacific Symphony's 35th season. The Symphony approaches this milestone anniversary with a number of recent accomplishments setting a foundation and providing momentum for the season ahead: two newly released CDs, with three more designated for release in the next few years; a major new music festival to be announced in April; and a slate of 35th anniversary community focused celebrations planned for 2013-14. At the center of all the excitement is concert programming. Maestro St.Clair (celebrating his 25th anniversary in 2014-15) has crafted a season of 12 classical concerts steeped in unforgettable music, featuring both beloved masterpieces and adventurous new works, performed by many of today's most exciting soloists. Seeking to balance great traditions in orchestral music with new discoveries, the season includes repertoire new to Symphony audiences, non-traditional interpretations by guest artists and conductors, creative approaches to program design and inventive staging.
"It might seem that 35 years is a long time, but in orchestra life, Pacific Symphony is still a young orchestra and institution. Yet in this span of time, we have accomplished so much—garnering local acclaim and national attention," says Maestro St.Clair. "We continue to grow and expand our horizons with each passing year.
"More often than ever, I am planning seasons with the goal of it being a collective experience—not just a series of single concerts," he continues. "I am always thinking of how I can excite our audience, lift their spirits, probe and challenge them with each and every work. 2013-14 will be a season to enjoy some of music's greatest moments, and I believe the audience will find it to be rewarding and fitting for Pacific Symphony's 35th anniversary."
For the fifth year in a row, the Symphony offers three new innovative Music Unwound programs, designed to contextualize and enhance the musical experience: "Rodrigo's Concierto," "Toradze Plays Shostakovich" and "Carmina Burana." The highly popular opera and vocal initiative that began three seasons ago—"Symphonic Voices"—continues with Verdi's "La Traviata," with special attention given to the Symphony's relationship with the Pacific Chorale and the Southern California Children's Chorus.Additionally, the critically acclaimed American Composers Festival enters its 13th year by exploring orchestral music of some of today's leading film composers in juxtaposition with film scores of Hollywood legends.
"With each season, Pacific Symphony matures as an institution and puts deeper and more meaningful roots down into the community it loves and serves," says St.Clair. "At 35, the orchestra has accomplished so much, but not without the support and partnership of Orange County—our beloved patrons and subscribers and our generous and dedicated donors. The season is one that celebrates this partnership and offers an opportunity for the orchestra to demonstrate its thankfulness to the community, as well as have the opportunity to express the virtuosity and artist level of excellence it has achieved."
For more information or to purchase season tickets, $270-$975; call (714) 755-5799 or visit 2013-14 Classical Series for specific performance dates.
Season Opening: 35 Years and Counting
"It's going to be an ambitious season," says Symphony President John Forsyte, "capturing elements that best distinguish Carl's tenure and the virtuosity of an orchestra with extraordinary versatility and ability to play a wide range of styles. From new repertoire—never before heard in our concert hall—to the time-tested masterworks, always delivered in fresh new ways, it's going to be a season that gets off to a soaring start and never lets up."
The Symphony's 2013-14 season begins with an opening night featuring a new work by a California-based composer, a dazzling pianist performing one of the great piano works in the literature and a monumental symphony. Performed on Sept. 26-28, Maestro St.Clair welcomes back a young piano sensation who has been hailed as both an "exciting prodigy" and "breathtaking"—18-year-old Conrad Tao. By popular demand, Tao returns to perform one of the repertoire's most powerful, demanding and much-loved works—Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, featured in the 1996 hit movie "Shine." Tao first wowed Pacific Symphony audiences two seasons ago when he stepped in at the last minute to replace an ailing Yuja Wang. Last season, Tao returned for a heart-wrenching performance of Grieg's masterful Piano Concerto that had audiences on their feet for standing ovations.
"In a dashing account of Rachmaninoff's 'Rhapsody,' his attacks were crisp, with rhythmically tricky high-velocity passages cleanly articulated. Throughout, there was a sense that Tao was having fun."—Los Angeles Times, following Tao's first performance with Pacific Symphony.
"[Tao] certainly had a bead on the Grieg concerto and the technique to bring it off…he revealed a real understanding of the score in his crisply inflected and strongly sculpted fortissimos and effervescent scherzando playing. His phrasing was consistently alert and active, shaded and colored sensitively, but it never put on airs."—Orange County Register, following Tao's second performance with Pacific Symphony.
"The opening concert will mark Conrad Tao's third time with us," says St.Clair. "He has become a favorite of our audience and of the musicians of the orchestra. We have such great chemistry together that it makes each of our collaborations all the more exciting and musically rewarding."
This opening night program packs a particular wallop, ending with Brahms' monumental fourth and final symphony—full of emotional sweep, sighing melodic writing, passion and power.
No Sign of Fat Lady Singing
You know what they say, it ain't over until… Returning opera to Orange County has proved to be a highly popular proposition—with no indication that it might leave again anytime soon. Inspired by St.Clair's stellar career as an opera conductor in Europe, the Symphony presents concert opera for the third season in a row, beginning with the highly successful debut in 2011-12 of Puccini's heartbreaking "La Bohème," followed by sold-out performances in 2012-13 with the same composer's beloved "Tosca."
Coming next is Giuseppe Verdi's passionate story of a doomed love affair—"La Traviata"—featuring the composer's glorious music—in recognition of Verdi's bicentennial celebration. It is also an opera that St.Clair is intimately familiar with—having conducted it while general music director of the Komische Oper Berlin. Again presented in a semi-staged production over three thrilling nights, the orchestra is joined by world-class opera stars and the Pacific Chorale, who together fill the concert hall with astonishing voices as Verdi's dramatic tale unfolds.
"We continue our 'Vocal Initiative' by veering away from Puccini to celebrate the anniversary of Verdi with his masterful opera, 'La Traviata,'" says St.Clair. "It is one of the all-time favorites on stages all around the world."
Joy and despair! Sung in Italian with English subtitles, this grand tale of love and sacrifice begins with a festive supper party in a Parisian salon…but romance ends in remorse as the characters' own passions bring them to an unfortunate end. Assisted by stage director A. Scott Parry, who returns after a successful run with the Symphony's presentation of "La Boheme," St.Clair and the orchestra deliver a newly inspired performance in February 2014.
"Symphonic Voices," the initiative to return opera back to Orange County after the demise of Opera Pacific, has been drawing on the expertise of St.Clair, whose career in opera set the stage for the ambitious venture. St.Clair was the former general music director and chief conductor of the German National Theater and Staatskapelle (GNTS) in Weimar, Germany, where he led Wagner's "Ring Cycle" to great critical acclaim.
During his tenure at the Komische Oper Berlin, St.Clair led acclaimed productions of not only "La Traviata," but also the world premiere of Christian Jost's "Hamlet" as well as the heralded production of "Lear" by Aribert Reimann, one of Germany's most distinguished composers. He was the first non–European to hold his position at the GNTS, a role that also gave him the distinction of simultaneously leading one of the newest orchestras in America and one of the oldest orchestras in Europe.
American Composers Festival: From Score to Screen
The Symphony's critically-acclaimed American Composers Festival (ACF)—with a mission to engage and challenge audiences through the creation and presentation of new and under-appreciated works in unique concert formats, accompanied by educational enrichment activities—continues in May 2014 with "From Score to Screen." Led by Maestro St.Clair, the Symphony's 13th ACF looks at how the right chord or the right melody enhances the drama, the joy or the tension of a great cinematic moment. Music can, in fact, determine the success of a film. "From Score to Screen" explores a legendary composer, Bernard Herrmann, while featuring two of today's most highly acclaimed film composers Elliot Goldenthal and Hans Zimmer—each a revolutionary figure in film music, each an extraordinary composer who deserves to also be celebrated in the concert hall.
The prolific Zimmer has composed music for more than 100 films, including award-winning film scores for "The Lion King," "Gladiator," "The Last Samurai," "The Dark Knight" and "Inception." He has received four Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, a Classical BRIT Award and an Academy Award. Zimmer was also named on the list of Top 100 Living Geniuses, published by The Daily Telegraph.
Also an Academy Award winner (for "The Devil and Daniel Webster," 1941), Herrmann is particularly known for his collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock, most famously "Psycho," "North by Northwest," "The Man Who Knew Too Much," and "Vertigo." He also composed notable scores for many other movies, including "Citizen Kane," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "Cape Fear" and "Taxi Driver." The third composer, Goldenthal, was a student of Aaron Copland and John Corigliano, and is best known for his distinctive style and ability to blend various musical styles and techniques in original and inventive ways. Goldenthal won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2002 for the motion picture "Frida," and has also written scores for films such as the "Batman" franchise, "Interview with the Vampire," "Michael Collins," "Titus," "Alien 3" and "Final Fantasy." Goldenthal has a long relationship with St.Clair and Pacific Symphony, having written a Vietnam Oratorio in 1996, which was later recorded for Sony Classical with cellist Yo Yo Ma.
Considering that film music has been an integral part of Southern Californian culture since the inception of the movie industry and that it has strong connections to the world of "classical" concert music, this is a particularly relevant topic for ACF. Once disregarded by the modernist school of composition, film music has come into its own as a fully recognized art form. And, of course, this recognition is not just academic. Millions of filmgoers have been exposed to—and delighted by—orchestral music through the movies.
But this is not the first time the Symphony has taken a stab at this theme; in 2009—through ACF—the orchestra first began looking at the differences between composing for concerts and composing for film and how the two styles have evolved into what we hear today—all the while celebrating the art of film music, past and present. "From Score to Screen" takes the discussion a step further, examining these three specific composers who have had a significant impact on films.
Music Continues to Unwind
Now entering its fifth season, Music Unwound—a series of three concerts with enhancements underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—continues to deliver new innovative formats and thematic programming as part of the concert experience. By creating contextual backdrops, the Symphony endeavors to give the audience a better understanding and the music deeper meaning.
"In 2013-14, we have a golden opportunity to celebrate not only our own anniversary, but the lives and anniversaries of three great composers—Giuseppe Verdi (200 years), Benjamin Britten (100 years) and William Bolcom (75 years)," says St.Clair. "These are major musical figures and it is wonderful to have the chance to program the music of these masters so that we can join together and celebrate their contributions to the history of music. Though Britten and Verdi have passed on, my dear friend Bill Bolcom will be on hand as we give tribute and perform his song cycle based on the poems of Lorca."
Beginning in October, the first Music Unwound concert of the series offers an evening focused on the influences of Flamenco music and the poet Federico García Lorca, led by St.Clair and highlighted by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo's well-known guitar concerto, "Concierto de Aranjuez," features guitarist Xuefei Yang, and one of today's most revered composers, Pulitzer-Prize winner William Bolcom, whose musical response to poems by Lorca became a remarkable piece of music that premiered at the opening of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2006. Described by Variety as a "fascinating, free-spirited song cycle," Bolcom's "Canciones de Lorca," in 2013, features tenor René Barbera. The program also includes Manuel De Falla's "El Amor Brujo" (Love, the Magician), which was originally scored for a gypsy dancer of the Flamenco tradition.
In January 2014, the second Music Unwound concert seeks to amplify the cultural policies under Stalin and their impact on Shostakovich and his music. The concert features Russian pianist Alexander Toradze, a musician who is widely recognized as a masterful virtuoso with deep lyricism and intense emotion, as well as an artist who had a personal relationship with Shostakovich. Toradze joins the Symphony to perform the composer's Second Piano Concerto. The Guardian (London) has said that Toradze "plays as a man possessed, as if umbilically attached to the instrument, which in his hands becomes as varied and expressive as a full orchestra…. The audience roared approval." Toradze returns following a performance with the Symphony of Prokofiev'sThird Piano Concerto during the 2008-09 season.
For this Shostakovich festival, St.Clair and the orchestra also dive into the composer's melancholy yet intense Symphony No. 10— written just after the death of Stalin. Full of tragedy, terror and, ultimately, triumph, the electrifying 10th symphony is also full of memorable musical ideas, making it the anchoring work for an exploration of the Stalinist period. The program rounds out with excerpts from Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony and from his "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk," which was publicly criticized by Stalin. Assisting St.Clair in probing the composer and his music are controversial Shostakovich historian and musicologist Solomon Volkov and Symphony artistic advisor Joseph Horowitz.
The final Music Unwound concert of the season takes place in June 2014, with the magnifying glass focusing on an epic piece of music that almost everyone recognizes when they hear it: Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." One of the most dramatic and powerful pieces of music ever written, it's no wonder that it turns up so often in movie soundtracks, TV commercials and video games.
But what many may not realize is that "Carmina Burana" examines not only love and sex, but also gambling, drinking, fate and fortune! With a depth of content, patrons are invited to investigate Orff's massive choral work as it caps a musical search for life's meanings—with the help of St.Clair, the Symphony and the angelic voices of Pacific Chorale and the Southern California Children's Chorus. To contrast the scale and the profane aspects of Carmina Burana, St.Clair offers a gentle, but spiritually intense program that includes John Williams' celebratory theme from "Empire of the Sun," "Exaltate Justi," Kathy C. Bowen's emotive echoes of the Holocaust, "I Believe in God," Lukas Foss' "Elegy for Anne Frank" (recorded in 2001 by Pacific Symphony for Harmonia Mundi) and Charles Ives' "The Unanswered Question."
The concert is also broadcast live for the Symphony's third free "Inside and Out" Plazacast, a live simulcast of the concert taking place in the concert hall. Outside, on the plaza, the public is invited to come early, bring chairs and blankets, and picnic on the plaza, while enjoying a preview and live interviews with key guest artists. This unique event is free and open to the public with no ticket required.
Exceptional Music Played by the Best
From inventive and forward-thinking to great and timeless repertoire that audiences know and love, this season is committed to presenting both: from the great masterworks to the new and bold—performed by some of today's most commended artists. While much of the repertoire and guest artists may be familiar old friends, some are new to Symphony audiences.
"There are many orchestral highlights," says St.Clair, "including Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, Brahms' Symphony No. 4, Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'—which our European audiences loved when we performed it on tour—Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 and so much more.
"And throughout the season we are welcoming back a wonderful list of soloists," he continues. "Additionally, we will be on stage with our dear friends from the Pacific Chorale, both with 'La Traviata' and on our closing concert of the season, Carl Orff''s 'Carmina Burana.'"
A number of Symphony audience favorites return in 2013-14, including two remarkable pianists. In addition to the Russian phenomenon Toradze is the 2005 Van Cliburn silver medal winner, Korean-born pianist Joyce Yang, who has been described as "the most gifted young pianist of her generation" with a "million-volt stage presence." Joining the orchestra to perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 (with its instantly recognizable introduction), Yang is sure to dazzle Orange County all over again.
Luminaries to newly grace the stage include pianist Alexandre Tharaud, who makes his debut with the orchestra in March 2014, performing the brilliant, clear and light Piano Concerto by Ravel with influences ranging from Mozart to jazz. According to The New York Times, Tharaud possesses "fingertips with the force of nature." Rounding out the program—led by Swiss guest conductor Thierry Fischer, Music Director of the Utah Symphony and Opera—are Berlioz's Suite from "Romeo and Juliet" and Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.
Later in March is a program dominated by a brilliant piano part that the composer wrote to showcase his extraordinary virtuosity, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1—a perfect vehicle for the stunning 28-year old Russian Yulianna Avdeeva,winner of First Place at the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Competition 2010 and new to Symphony audiences. According to Le Journal du Médoc, "This Russian pianist is a revelation. She plays brilliantly with emotion and a magical touch. Her audiences are caught under her spell." Completing this emotional program is "Ein Heldenleben," ("A Hero's Life"), Strauss' monumental tone poem—depicting confidence, unrest and the battle of life, love and serenity. On the Symphony's 35th anniversary season, St.Clair revives this tone poem to celebrate its triumphant performances in Europe, during its first international tour.
For those who prefer strings over keys, audiences may remember the blistering intensity of the incomparable Sarah Chang, one of classical music's most captivating performers, when she played the beautiful and technically demanding Brahms' Violin Concerto in 2009 with the Symphony. Chang returns to interpret one of the best-known violin pieces in the repertoire—Sibelius' Violin Concerto. The program includes Dvorák's Symphony No. 8, a delightful work with luxurious sound—fresh, crisp, even cheery—led by guest conductor Tito Muñoz, an American conductor and the music director of the Opéra national de Lorraine and Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy. He was previously assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Muñoz makes his debut with the Symphony in April 2014. Muñoz opens the program with a colorful tone poem by Adam Schoenberg based on the paintings of Mark Rothko.
Another memorable musician well known to Symphony audiences is Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who joins the Symphony in January 2014 as both violinist and guest conductor. Salerno-Sonnenberg has always stood out for her passionate and powerful sound, her risk-taking musical persona and her energetic presence. Described as an artist who "will make you hang breathlessly on every note"—many are sure to find her downright electrifying when she performs Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Under her capable baton, the orchestra also tackles Bizet/Shchedrin's "Carmen Suite," a witty re-orchestration of the classic opera score, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's "Prologue and Variations."
Demanding utmost virtuosity, as well as intimate teamwork among the soloists this season, Beethoven's rarely heard Triple Concerto is a marvel in the hands of the Eroica Trio. The Los Angeles Times says of the trio, "These people have it all: technique, temperament, interpretive savvy, good looks and winning stage presence." Taking place in November, this concert is led by French-Canadian guest conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni—who makes his debut with the Symphony and has emerged as one of Canada's brightest young conductors. Zeitouni's recent CD, titled "Piazzolla," garnered him a JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year in the category Solo or Chamber Ensemble in 2007. His eloquent yet fiery style also is put to the test with a program that also includes Beethoven's Overture to "Prometheus," Debussy's Nocturnes and Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra—the latter two of which are being heard for the first time in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
New Recordings, Old Relationships
The 2013-14 season sees the continuation of a recent slate of recordings under the Symphony's American Music Recording Project that began with two newly released CDs in 2012-13, featuring the orchestra and two of today's leading composers— Philip Glass' "The Passion of Ramakrishna" (last September) and Michael Daugherty's "Mount Rushmore" and "Gospel According Sister Aimee" (at the end of April), both the result of works commissioned by the Symphony, with three more recordings due to be released over the next few years. These feature the music of Symphony-commissioned works by William Bolcom, "Songs of Lorca" and "Prometheus," followed by James Newton Howard's "I Would Plant a Tree," and Richard Danielpour's "Toward a Season of Peace."
The Symphony is dedicated to developing and promoting today's young and established composers and to expanding the orchestral repertoire. In the past, the orchestra has also commissioned such leading composers as Paul Chihara, Bolcom, Daniel Catán, William Kraft, Ana Lara, Tobias Picker, Christopher Theofanidis, Frank Ticheli and Chen Yi, who composed a cello concerto in 2004 for Yo-Yo Ma. The Symphony has also commissioned and recorded "An American Requiem," by one of the Symphony's composers-in-residence, Richard Danielpour in 2002, and Elliot Goldenthal's "Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio" with Yo-Yo Ma. Other recordings have included collaborations with such composers as Lucas Foss and Toru Takemitsu.
"Carl St.Clair has developed strong relationships—both professional and personal—with many of today's leading composers, and as a result, we have begun to create a signature canon of work that defines who we are as an orchestra," says Forsyte. "It will be an important part of Pacific Symphony's legacy, one of which we are all very proud."
"Hallelujah! Amen": Two Special Holiday Events
The season includes two special holiday classical events offering the grandeur and ebullience of Handel—the first taking place (for the first time with the Symphony) on Sunday, Dec. 1: Judas Maccabaeus: The Hanukkah Story, led by John Alexander and featuring Pacific Chorale. Inspired by one of the greatest warriors in Jewish history, this musical celebration centers on the Jewish feast of Hanukkah ("Dedication"), commemorating the restoration of Jewish worship at the temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE, after Judah Maccabee removed the Hellenistic statuary. Full of historic symbolism and soaring arias, this rarely performed oratorio is a rich journey from hopelessness to triumph. For Handel, "Judas Maccabeus" was a symbolic tribute to the British war victory of that period.
And the Symphony's annual favorite, Handel's glorious "Messiah"—the timeless masterwork that transcends three centuries of fads and fashions—is always an event of joy, reflection and renewal. This year, British guest conductor Christopher Seaman leads this cherished holiday tradition—adding his own mark to the classic work, featuring Pacific Chorale. Thrill one more time to blazing trumpets, thundering timpani and the electrifying, uplifting "Hallelujah" chorus at Orange County's most popular rendition of this cherished holiday tradition taking place Dec. 15.
Intimacy and Insidght: Sunday Connections
Sunday Connections, comprised of four 90-minute Sunday matinees with repertoire from the Classical series, offers an intimate and informative experience. All the concerts are led by originator and host, Maestro St.Clair, who peers beneath the surface of the music to explore a whole world of fascinating history, intrigue and discovery.
The season begins with the exquisite "Rach 3 Revealed," which focuses on one of the most difficult—and most beautiful—concertos in the repertoire. Performed by teenage piano sensation Conrad Tao, audiences discover why Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto is now one of the most popular. In February, St.Clair and the Symphony showcase Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10—and discover why it's considered the composer's greatest work. For the third Sunday Connections concert in March, St.Clair and the orchestra dissect the six sections of Strauss' monumental tone poem, "Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life")," to explore how the work was both a nod to the past and a herald of the future. And finally, in June, the orchestra along with Pacific Chorale, deliver Orff's powerful and multilayered Carmina Burana, packed full of love, sex, gambling, drinking, fate and fortune! Find out why the composer once said: "Everything I have written to date…can be destroyed. With 'Carmina Burana,' my collected works begin."
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