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Press Release


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

Pacific Symphony celebrates opening of 35th Anniversary Season with "Rachmaninoff From Russia With Love" party and concert featuring “Conrad Tao Plays Rach 3”

September 26, 2013

It’s a night of Russian splendor, drama and thundering piano, when Pacific Symphony’s Opening Night celebration, “Rachmaninoff—From Russia With Love,” kicks off the orchestra’s 35th anniversary season with a grand reception, dinner and entertainment, surrounding the first concert of the 2013-14 Hal and Jeannette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series: “Conrad Tao Plays Rach 3.” Hosted by the Symphony’s board of directors and co-chaired byRuth Ann and John Evans and Karlyne and Nick Greenko, this black-tie event takes place Thursday, Sept. 26, with profits supporting the Symphony’s artistic and education programs. The Russian merriment gets underway at the Center Club in Costa Mesa, where attendees begin their night of celebration.

At the center of this grand evening is—of course—the concert, featuring internationally celebrated pianist ConradTao, who, at just 19, gives a dazzling display of virtuosity in Rachmaninoff’s demanding Piano Concerto No. 3.Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the concert takes place at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

“Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto is, to me, among the greatest concertos written,” says event co-chair Ruth Ann Evans. “It is romantic, thrilling and miraculous—both in the complexity of the piece and the difficulty, coupled with gorgeous melodies; it’s the perfect combination. So, the theme ‘From Russia With Love’ seems appropriate. Conrad Tao performing should be the perfect storm for an Opening Night celebration!”

Beginning at 5 p.m., guests gather on the Center Club’s outdoor patio for a cocktail reception that includes an array of hors d’oeuvres including potato blinis, caviar, crème fraiche, compressed watermelon, aged balsamic feta, smoked chicken, pecan crostini, fig jam, mini truffle cheese brioche and tomato coulis. Entertainment includes music by Third Wheel and Russian folk dances performed by members of the UC Irvine, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Department of Dance.

At 6 p.m., guests are ushered into the Grand Ballroom, adorned in Russian elegance with dark teal linens and crystal candelabras, where dinner is served and guests enjoy a roasted beet and goat cheese tower, Kenter farm mixed greens with toasted pine nuts, orange segments and a champagne vinaigrette. Following the salad, a duo of petit filet mignon and local sea bass with stacked potatoes and red wine reduction and citrus beurre blanc is served and for dessert, an appetizing Russian Bird’s milk cake. Entertainment while dining includes a performance of Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” by soprano Kellee King accompanied by pianist David Clemensen.

“John and I have been supporting Pacific Symphony for 26 years because we love this orchestra!” continues Evans. “We have seen it evolve into one of the finest orchestras in this country. Our symphony is a pleasure for us and the many thousands who will be enjoying classical and pops music for generations to come, bringing to us musicthat lifts the spirits, entertains and introduces us to the most important music ever written.”

After dinner, guests stroll across the arts plaza for the opening concert. Already an audience favorite, Tao returns for his third appearance with the Symphony and Maestro St.Clair to perform Rachmaninoff’s commanding PianoConcerto No. 3, featured in the 1996 hit movie “Shine.” Tao, who’s been hailed as both an “exciting prodigy” and “breathtaking,” is sure to give a jaw-dropping performance when he tackles this piece, one of the most demanding and most loved works in the repertoire. The program also appropriately opens with the short and jubilant “Festivities” by California-based composer Peter Boyer and concludes with Brahms’ monumental Symphony No. 4, sweeping with melodic writing and dual emotions of joy and sorrow.

The Opening Night festivities continue with a private intermission reception in the Box Circle lobby of the concert hall. At the conclusion of the performance, guests are welcomed back to the Center Club’s Encore Lounge fora post-concert party to enjoy champagne, a Russian candy bar and other desserts, plus music by The Joey Sellers Quartet—and an appearance by the star of the evening, Conrad Tao!

South Coast Plaza is the presenting sponsor for Opening Night and Omega at Tourbillon Boutique is the retail partner.