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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380

“OC Front and Center”! Pacific Symphony presents three events showcasing a month of community talent in January!

December 09, 2013

These include: Violin Master Class with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; NPR’s “From the Top” with host Christopher O’Riley; and Community Ensembles Festival

Pacific Symphony shares its stage and presents some of the best community talent, while providing an opportunity to be inspired and learn from professionals during three events collectively titled, “OC Front and Center.” Beginning Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at 2 p.m., in the Samueli Theater, acclaimed violinist and music educator Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg takes three multi-generational violinists to the next level in a Violin Master Class. The following weekend, the Symphony presents a live taping of the popular, nationally broadcast NPR show, “From the Top” with host Christopher O’Riley, showcasing the captivating stories and musical prowess of the country’s top-notch young musicians—Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The Community Ensembles Festival gives the adult musical community a chance to perform on the concert hall stage, learn from other ensembles and receive feedback from Pacific Symphony musicians. This all-day event, featuring eight Orange County ensembles, is open to the public and takes place Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Both “Violin Master Class with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg” and “Community Ensembles Festival” are underwritten by The James Irvine Foundation and are free to attend, but due to limited seating, tickets are required. Tickets for NPR’s “From the Top” are $20. Students are $10. For ticket reservations or more information, please call (714) 755-5799 or visit

Event #1: Violin Master Class with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

The first event, a Violin Master Class with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg” offers a “behind-the-scenes” look at what it takes to become an accomplished musician. Three advanced students—Sydney Grace Mariano, Chloé Tardif and Debbie Tindle—have the opportunity to work directly with Salerno-Sonnenberg in an open performance setting to receive her guidance and expertise. Audience members and performers alike have the chance to discover the vital differences in interpreting and playing that can make someone a better musician. Musical master classes focus on the finer details of attack, tone, phrasing and overall shape rather than the more fundamental basics of rhythm and phrasing of which students are expected to have control. Students to be featured were selected from Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles, Chapman University and the adult music community.

Sixteen-year-old Mariano began studying violin at age 6 at the Cristofori Music School in Singapore before her family relocated to Irvine, where she now attends University High School and continues her study of violin at the prestigious Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles. A former member of Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings, she is currently principal second violin of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. She has also played in the Idyllwild High School Chamber Music Festival Orchestra, 2011 All Southern California Honors Orchestra and the 2012 All-State Honors Orchestra. Her awards include the grand prize in the 2013 Satori International Strings Solo Competition, the 2012 Cal Poly All State Music Festival solo competition, the “Young Artist Award” for outstanding achievement in violin from the L.A. International Performing Arts Institute and a Certificate of Achievement with honors from Junior Chamber Music. She is a regular violinist at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish Church.

Tardif, 19, lives in Old Towne Orange, is a sophomore at the Chapman Conservatory of Music and has studied violin since her sophomore year at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). In 2012, she toured England as concertmaster of the orchestra. Professor Robert Becker (Pacific Symphony’s principal violist) coached her in various small ensembles, including the Ravel Piano Trio, which won first place in the California Association of Professional Music Teachers competition in 2010. In 2008, Tardif toured southeastern Australia with the OCSA Symphony Orchestra and performed in the Sydney Opera House. She is also a student in Chapman University’s Honors Program and has spent the past two summers studying with Cornelia Heard at the Aspen Summer Music Festival. She has been a member of the Chapman String Quartet for two years and has been assistant concertmaster of the Chapman Orchestra. Last year, she was named “runner-up” in the Chapman Concerto Competition.

Tindle was raised in Long Beach, where her interest in music was influenced by her parents, attending concerts by the Long Beach Symphony, and a strong public school music program. She began learning piano from her mother at age 3, and then changed to violin in the public school program at age 9. For the past 35 years, Tindle has performed with a variety of ensembles including Lakewood Philharmonia, Long Beach City College Coterie Symphonique, Garden Grove Symphony, Jewish Community Center Symphony, Irvine Valley College Orchestra and the Montage Civic Orchestra. Currently, she performs with Symphony Irvine along with two chamber groups, Ensemble Lirico and Double Treble. Music is a passion for Tindle, who has been a registered dietitian for the past 30 years. Her current position is systems director of nutrition II for Morrison Healthcare, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, where she is known as “Debbie Diet.” She also provides presentations on nutrition and was featured in a country-wide webinar, “Elevating the Role of the RD.”

“The Violin Master Class is a rare opportunity to see into the mind and work process of a world-class musician,” explains Molly Pontin, the Symphony’s director of community arts participation. “And Nadja is not only a world-class musician, but is also known as a world-class educator. She has appeared in numerous non-musical formats and also wrote an autobiography intended for children that focuses on herself as a young musician. She’s also a very lovely individual and will be a pleasure to work with.”

Salerno-Sonnenberg is highly regarded for her compelling performances, daring interpretations and dedication to her craft. She is one of today’s leading violinists, renowned for her work on the concert stage, in the recording studio and in her role as music director of the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra. She was the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-nominated film, “Speaking in Strings,” an intensely personal documentary on her life. With an impressively demanding workload and glowing reputation, Salerno-Sonnenberg offers her time to direct aspiring students toward reaching a future in music. She is both conducting and performing during the Symphony’s concert, “Nadja Plays Mendelssohn,” taking place Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 9-11, 2014.

Event #2: From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley

The renowned NPR show, “From the Top” comes to Orange County, presented by Pacific Symphony, for a live taping and celebration of the power of music in the hands of extraordinary young people. Described by The Boston Globe as “entertaining, accessible and inspirational,” each taping includes a number of high-caliber performances, interviews, sketches and games to show off the performers’ unique personalities. Broadcast on nearly 250 stations nationwide to an audience of nearly 700,000 listeners, “From the Top” aims to unleash the potential of young musicians as leaders in the arts, trumpet the role of music to affect and enrich lives, and inspire and build new audiences with a deeper appreciation for classical music. This presentation of “From the Top” is made possible through a generous gift from Judith Posnikoff.

“As part of Pacific Symphony’s 35th Anniversary season, we present ‘From the Top’ to reflect the Symphony and Music Director Carl St.Clair’s commitment to music education and to fostering the talents of young people,” says Eileen Jeanette, vice president of artistic and orchestra operations. “We also have three Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles, whose students had the opportunity to audition for the radio program.”

As a result, there are now six performances scheduled to take place on Jan. 18 as part of “From the Top.” Among those is Pacific Symphony Youth Ensemble member and flutist, Ramakrishnan Kumaran, who was chosen to perform the Rondo from Andante et Rondo, Op. 25, by Franz Doppler, along with Pacific Symphony’s principal flutist and “From the Top” alumnus, Benjamin Smolen—accompanied by O‘Riley on piano.

The second performance was chosen as a result of a competition hosted by Southern California’s Classical KUSC 91.5FM, which broadcasts “From the Top,” on Sundays at 6 p.m. Twenty-four high-school choirs uploaded performance videos to the KUSC website to compete for a spot on the national radio show, as a part of the “Local Vocals High School Choir Sing-Off.” More than 30,000 voted—naming La Cañada High School Chamber Singers (performing “Sleep” by American composer Eric Whitacre) as the winner! To view the winning video, visit:

Hosting “From the Top” in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall offers the unique opportunity to utilize the magnificent William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, so among the performers is 15-year old organist Michael Jon Bennet from Chapel Hill, N.C., who currently attends the pre-college division at The Juilliard School of Music. Bennet, a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist, is performing Praeludium in G Minor by Dietrich Buxtehude.

Also selected are: pianist Anna Boonyanit, 14, from Redwood City, Calif., who is playing Chez Pétrouchka, the second movement from Trois Mouvements de Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky; and cellist Ila Shon, 16, from San Francisco, who is performing repertoire that includes Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 19, (third movement) Andante, and de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance,” accompanied by O‘Riley on piano. Shon appeared with the Mondo Trio on “From the Top” in Yountville at the age of 13. The final appearance is by the Idyllwild Arts Academy Piano Trio (coached by Nelms McKelvain), performing (the third movement) “Presto” from “Café Music” by Paul Schoenfield. The Trio includes: Yu-Ming (Andrew) Ma, violin, Wei-An (Vian) Hung, cello, and Vuthithorn (In) Chinthammit, piano, who has also previously performed on “From the Top.”

“There’s energy, an excitement to playing with kids who are this fresh and enthusiastic about music,” says “From the Top” host O’Riley. “I find the collaborations with each of the young performers on our show to be some of my most rewarding performance opportunities. Also, I’m thrilled to return to my friends at Pacific Symphony, with whom I soloed twice, with Carl St.Clair, as well as curated a chamber music series (the Symphony’s Café Ludwig) for two years.”

Event #3: Community Ensembles Festival

The third prong of “OC Front and Center,” the “Community Ensembles Festival,” is an all-day event taking place on Saturday, Feb. 8, featuring eight community ensembles from throughout Orange County performing on the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall stage. After a selective screening process, the ensembles have been chosen and their performance times selected. They include: Golden West Pops (10:30-11 a.m.), Saddleback College Emeritus Institute Symphony (11:20-11:50 a.m.), Placentia Symphonic Band (12:10-12:40 p.m.), Laguna Concert Band (1-1:30 p.m.), Orange County Wind Ensemble (3:30-4 p.m.), Symphony Irvine (4:20-4:50 p.m.), Southern California Philharmonic (5:10-5:40 p.m.) and Huntington Beach Concert Band (6-6:30 p.m.).

While music festivals are often limited to students, the Symphony placed importance on extending this experience to the adult musical community, where participants can perform for, listen to and meet like-minded people. Pacific Symphony musicians are on deck to observe and provide feedback for the ensemble. Friends, family and interested community members are invited to come spend a day in the concert hall and listen to some of the county’s best music groups.

“Community musicians tell us that one of our most valuable assets is our fabulous Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall,” says Pontin. “There is nothing more energizing than getting to play in a concert hall of such high caliber, especially one that is gorgeous both aesthetically and acoustically. It is also always helpful to get feedback from new sources, and we are thrilled to have Pacific Symphony musicians participate as the panel of adjudicators.”