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Press Release


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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Enjoy Tchaikovksy’s timeless tale—“Nutcracker for Kids”—at Pacific symphony’s Family Musical Mornings featuring Festival Ballet Theatre

Orange County, Calif. — November 17, 2014

Pacific Symphony and Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT) entice audiences of all ages with the sweet melodies, magical celebration and excitement of one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballets during the holiday concert, “Nutcracker for Kids,” part of Family Musical Mornings presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank. Led by Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, the orchestra shares the stage with the enchanted ballerinas from FBT, led by Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla, who bring this beloved Christmas tale of the prince and Clara to life. The classic battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker has children on the edge of their seats as Tchaikovsky’s memorable music, performed live, fills the air with wonder. Then the dancers twirl and glide across the stage to the renowned “Waltz of the Flowers” and the enchanting “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Created especially for children ages 5-11, this 45-minute version of the ballet is adapted by Bree Burgess Rosen, and features narrator Charlotte Rubino, age 11, making it perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

The Symphony’s annual event includes a holiday sing-along of “Deck the Halls,” “The Dreidel Song” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” To end the concert on an even sweeter note, Santa Claus arrives to spread more holiday cheer. This magical morning takes place Saturday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, where children are also invited to participate in a Musical Carnival at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert). Tickets are $35-$60; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

“The Nutcracker is always a great opportunity to stimulate the imagination of children through this fantastic story and the beauty of the music and the ballet itself,” says Maestro Gutiérrez. “‘The Nutcracker’ will not only stimulate the imagination of children but of everyone in the audience, children and adults, and even those of us performing on stage.”

More entertainment awaits at the merry Musical Carnival, where carolers and the Tuba Christmas ensemble join in the fun. Children and families are invited to participate in a special holiday craft, meet the ballerinas from FBT and browse the ballet museum. The trumpet is the “spotlight instrument,” and children and family members have the chance to mingle and ask questions of some of the Symphony’s and Youth Ensembles’ musicians about their own instruments.

“Tchaikovsky is well known for his beautiful and refined melodies and the wonderful use of the wind and percussion instruments, but also for the difficult writing, especially for the string instruments,” says Gutiérrez. “It is always wonderful to listen to the celesta, an instrument Tchaikovsky discovered in Paris a few years before he composed this music—also the delightful harp solos, the sweetness of the woodwinds, the tenderness and virtuosity of the strings, the subtlety of the percussion instruments and the brightness and power of the brass.”

Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet was adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and over time has come to be an annual holiday tradition throughout America. The timeless tale, written in 1816, centers around a young girl named Clara. Her mysterious Godfather, a toymaker, arrives at her family’s Christmas Eve party and gives her a special doll, the Nutcracker, which makes all the other children jealous. As the story develops, Clara finds herself in an uncharted world where toy soldiers and their brave leader, the Nutcracker, battle the despicable Mouse King and his army of followers. Good trumps evil as the Nutcracker saves Clara from the grasps of the Mouse King, and she is amazed when he transforms into a prince!

Together they visit the Land of Sweets and are spellbound by dances of Spain (Chocolate), Russia (Candy Canes), China (Tea), as well as the Dance of the Reed Flutes. There, Clara and the prince are greeted by the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and are led into a romantic “pas de deux,” dance for two, to conclude the grand festivities.

“The young dancers of Festival Ballet Theatre are fantastic and very enjoyable to work with. Their technique, expressiveness and artistry is just outstanding,” says Gutiérrez.

Through the grace and elegance of dance, children are transported into a world of movement and art as they watch the skill and poise of professional ballet dancers. Under the direction of Salwa Rizkalla since its founding in 1988, FBT has become one of Southern California’s most vibrant and accomplished professional ballet companies. Celebrating 26 years of artistic service to Orange County, FBT is dedicated to presenting works that epitomize the artistry of professional-quality ballet, offering cultural awareness of dance through educational programs, and nurturing a creative environment for some of our county’s most talented dancers.

Boasting a roster of impressive, up-and-coming talent, the company’s productions feature internationally acclaimed guest artists from prestigious companies, such as American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Ballet, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Scottish Ballet. FBT’s significant work has been recognized with a 2001 Arts Orange County Award for Outstanding Arts Organization of the Year.