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Jean Oelrich
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Tchaikovksy galore: thunderous Piano Concerto No. 1, booming "1812" Overture, Symphony No. 4 and more mark the end to Pacific Symphony's "Spectacular" Summer Festival!

Orange County, Calif. — August 02, 2013

Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the concert features prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition's 2013 Gold Medalist—Vadym Kholodenko

This year, it's an all-"Tchaikovsky Spectacular," featuring not only the heart-pounding cannons and fireworks in the traditional "1812" Overture, but also the poetic lyricism and grandeur of some of the Romantic composer's other masterworks, bringing Pacific Symphony's Summer Festival 2013, presented by Hoag, to a dramatic close. Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the orchestra welcomes to the stage recent gold medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Vadym Kholodenko. A talented pianist who has brought audiences to their feet "[cheering] him like a rock star" (Cincinnati Inquirer), Kholodenko performs the demanding and iconic Piano Concerto No. 1. Also on the program are three dances from "The Nutcracker," an emotional but triumphant Symphony No. 4 and, of course, the explosive "1812" Overture, featuring the Huntington Beach Concert Band, which also provides pre-concert entertainment.

The Symphony's "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" takes place Saturday, Aug. 31, at 8 p.m., at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Individual tickets are $25 (lawn) to $104 (orchestra); kids under 14 are half price in most sections with the purchase of an adult ticket. Guests are welcome to picnic on the grounds of the amphitheater starting at 6 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit the concert page.

"An evening under the stars at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and an entire program of some of Tchaikovsky's most beloved music is the perfect combination for a special evening and fitting close for this summer's season," says Maestro St.Clair. "When thinking of Tchaikovsky's most beautiful, unforgettable melodies, the dramatic excitement of his driving allegros, the virtuosity of his masterful First Piano Concerto, or the intimacy of his great ballet scores—this magnificent music reflects Tchaikovsky's genius and reminds us all of its importance and relevance in our lives. It's as powerful today as it was the moment it was first heard."

The concert opens with selections from one of the world's most famous ballets, "The Nutcracker," a story about a little girl who falls asleep after a party at her home and dreams herself into a fantastic world where toys become larger than life. Tchaikovsky's sparkling music and talents for narrative melodies are revealed in Chocolate (Spanish Dance), Tea (Chinese Dance) and Trepak (Russian Dance).

Next, thunderous chords leap heroically across the piano to open Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, performed by Kholodenko. This historically relevant work also happens to be the very concerto American pianist Harvey Lavan Van Cliburn played to win the First International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958—at the height of the Cold War. The concerto, known for its sweeping melodies, crisp rhythms, huge note span and majestic chords makes it a perfect choice for Kholodenko, who has been said to show "the guts of a true superartist" (San Francisco Classical Voice).

"The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is one of the most noted in the world," says St.Clair. "This year was their 14th competition and because of our long relationship with them, we have proudly presented many of the winners. The intense competitiveness of the pianists and the immense talent it takes to win such an international competition is just beyond belief. We are so proud to be able to present one of the initial concert performances by this year's winner, Vadym. What an exciting moment for all of us!"

After intermission, the Symphony performs one of classical music's favorite symphonies: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4. While experiencing many turbulent changes throughout his life, Tchaikovsky's hardships led him to write strongly personal and expressive music that wrestles with life's questions and the concept of fate.

"The Symphony No. 4 is a distinct portrait of Tchaikovsky's personal life during the time he composed this mighty symphony," says St.Clair. "From the first dramatic blows representing the ‘sword of Damocles' hanging over his head, to the tender reminiscing of the solo oboe opening the second movement, or the frantic pizzicato and taunting dance of the third, to the relentless finale—this is a great symphony from beginning to end with never a note out of place. And it is packed with emotion and meaning."

The evening, as well as the Summer Festival, ends with Tchaikovsky's thrilling battle for orchestra—the "1812" Overture—featuring the Huntington Beach Concert Band for added brass and Symphony supporter Erik Jaksch playing percussion, along with 16 cannon blasts and synchronized fireworks!

Winner of the coveted gold medal at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Kholodenko captured the attention of jury, audience and critics alike for "mesmerizing and exhilarating" performances (Cincinnati Enquirer). Also taking home prizes for best performance of the piano quintet and best performance of the commissioned work, he showed his aptitude in both recital and chamber music, then highlighted the Final Round with two stunning concertos with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Leonard Slatkin. His cadenza in Mozart's Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467—which he composed himself on the plane from Moscow to the Competition—was praised as "fascinatingly contrapuntal" (San Francisco Classical Voice).

Kholodenko is scheduled to perform in more than 50 engagements during 2013-14, as part of his debut season as gold medalist. Also part of his prize package, recording label Harmonia Mundi plans to release a live CD of his competition performances in fall 2013, followed by a forthcoming studio recording.

The Symphony's Summer Festival 2013 is presented by Hoag with support from the Orange County Register and major sponsor Mercedes-Benz. The festival receives additional support from American Airlines, VIZIO, The Westin South Coast Plaza and media sponsors KUSC, K-EARTH, KPCC and PBS SoCal.