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Press Release


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

Celebrate the season with the King of Instruments! Popular Christmas carols mingle with traditional organ works for Pacific Symphony’s annual “Holiday Organ Spectacular”

Orange County, Calif. — December 01, 2015

Christmas melodies majestically reverberate from the mighty pipes of the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ during Pacific Symphony’s “Holiday Organ Spectacular,” an annual tradition that envelops the audience with joyous sounds and musical splendor. The magnificent color, beauty and versatility of the organ is showcased in partnership with solo instruments to bring out the best of treasured holiday classics. Returning organist Todd Wilson, “a fabulous virtuoso with fleet feet, a prodigious memory and technique to burn” (The Plain Dealer), is curator of the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Severance Hall and regarded around the world as one of the finest concert organists today. Pacific Symphony principal musicians Benjamin Smolen, flute; Jessica Pearlman Fields, oboe; Timothy Landauer, cello; Barry Perkins, trumpet and Mindy Ball, harp, as well as percussionist Kenneth McGrath join Wilson in an exciting mix of popular Christmas carols.

Taking place on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m., this concert launches the 2015-16 Pedals and Pipes series, which spotlights the $3.1 million concert organ created by C.B. Fisk—the visual focal point of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The Laguna Flutes add to the festivities with a performance in the lobby beginning at 6:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets at $15-$75, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

"The William J. Gillespie Concert Organ is an instrument of almost limitless possibilities,” says Wilson. “The grandeur, warmth and beauty of its tonal palette enable this great organ to convey the many colors and emotions of the holiday season with maximum effect.”

An acoustic delight to be had by one and all, this performance features beloved Christmas songs that warm the heart and create the feeling of good cheer.

“We have a wonderfully varied musical menu for this year’s concert,” says Wilson. “I really look forward to all of it, but some pieces I’m particularly excited about are the new and colorful arrangements we’ll have for beloved holiday favorites such as ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ ‘Sleigh Ride’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy.’ We have a beautiful piece for harp and organ called ‘Fantasia on the Coventry Carol’ that is a first for both Mindy Ball and me. I’ll be playing the famous Toccata by Charles-Marie Widor—and playing that piece on the Fisk organ is more exciting than any roller-coaster ride!”

This year’s program also includes “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” “Greensleeves,” “Nöel No. 10: Gran Jeu et Duo,” “Ave Maria,” “Sussex Carol,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “The Christmas Song” and “O Holy Night.” To wrap up the evening, the audience is invited to participate in a holiday sing-along of “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”

“You have fabulous players in Pacific Symphony, and it’s always a real pleasure to collaborate with them. With flute, oboe, cello, trumpet and harp in this year’s line-up, we’ll have a wide array of instrumental solos and combinations. Every player is a superb solo performer, and the various instruments sound almost like ‘living extensions’ of the color possibilities of the Gillespie organ.”

Setting “the gold standard by which others are measured” (The American Organist), Wilson is internationally acclaimed for his virtuosity. He is head of the organ department at the Cleveland Institute of Music and director of music and worship at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland; he also serves as house organist for the newly restored Aeolian organ at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio. Wilson has performed in major cities throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. His latest CDs on the JAV label feature a live recital of American music from the National Cathedral in Washington, and “Live from Severance Hall,” a concert of music for trumpet and organ.

The Pedals and Pipes series is generously sponsored by Valerie and Barry Hon, as well as Avenue of the Arts Wyndham Hotel and PBS SoCaL.