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Press Release


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

Making spirits bright! Pacific Symphony’s enchanting “Nutcracker for Kids” dazzles with twirling ballerinas, magical music and an abundance of holiday fun!

Orange County, Calif. — November 23, 2015

Children’s eyes are sure to light up when beautiful ballerinas dance and twirl to Tchaikovsky’s charming and imaginative music for Pacific Symphony’s annual “Nutcracker for Kids,” led by the Symphony’s new Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia and featuring the Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT). The most popular concert of the Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings series, presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank, this holiday concert brings to life the enchanted world of toy soldiers, waltzing flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy in a 50-minute version of the famous ballet adapted especially for children ages 5 and above. The orchestra performs the ballet’s most famous moments including “Clara and the Nutcracker,” “Waltz of the Flowers,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “A Pine Forest in Winter.” Family-favorite actress Stephanie Draude (“A Sherlock Holmes Halloween” and “Superheroes”) joins in as elf Clementine Sparkletoes to help narrate the story told through music and dance. And to top off this festive holiday tradition—Santa Claus makes a special appearance with his young “Elves in Training,” along with Miss Sparkletoes, to lead the audience in a merry sing-along!

This much-loved fairy tale takes place on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, and also includes a Musical Carnival at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. show) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. show). Tickets are $35-$60, and are available at (714) 755-5799 and

“‘The Nutcracker’ has been a holiday favorite for as long as I can remember,” says Maestro Kalia. “Not only is it one of the greatest musical masterpieces ever written, the visual aspect of watching the dancers mixed in with the music is a wonderful sight. The music is absolutely extraordinary, and there are a wide range of emotions throughout the ballet. One of my favorite dances is ‘A Pine Forest in Winter,’ which is perhaps the most beautiful and lyrical in the entire ballet, and features lush strings and a stirring climax with powerful brass and percussion. The music depicts Clara’s Nutcracker being transformed into a handsome human prince, where he proceeds to take Clara on a magical sleigh into a moonlit pine forest.”

During the concert, children also learn about different percussion instruments including the triangle, bass drum, timpani and celesta. The merriment continues at the Musical Carnival where the Caroling Connection and Northwood High School Tuba Ensemble perform holiday music. Children can make ornaments filled with holiday wishes, and meet and take photos with Santa, Symphony musicians and the dancers from FBT. The Symphony has also partnered with Pretend City to present the Imagination Playground.

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 envious. As the story develops, Clara finds herself in an unfamiliar 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), China (Tea), Russia (Candy Canes), 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 ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ is another favorite moment of mine and is one of the most famous and recognizable tunes from ‘The Nutcracker,” says Kalia. “The use of the celeste was groundbreaking at the time, and creates a lovely effect on top of strummed strings. Working with dancers is always a thrilling experience, and the Festival Ballet Theatre is one of the finest companies in Orange County. Tchaikovsky captures the spirit and essence of each dance wonderfully, and I am looking forward to seeing how the Festival Ballet Theatre will interpret these various dances.”

FBT, led by Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla has grown to be one of Southern California’s most vibrant and accomplished professional ballet companies. For more than 26 years, FBT has been dedicated to enriching community arts education through outreach performances, master classes and collaborations with other esteemed local arts organizations. Arts Orange County named Festival Ballet Theatre Outstanding Arts Organization of the Year in 2001, and also recognized Rizkalla with the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award in 2014.

Family Musical Mornings continues with three more concerts in the New Year: “The Pirates of Penzance: Opera for Kids,” featuring both professional singers and talented students from Chapman University on Feb. 6, 2016; “Symphony in Space” featuring NASA footage, Holst’s “The Planets” and music from “Star Wars” on March 12, 2016; and “The Firebird: Ballet for Kids” featuring Orange County Ballet Theater on April 30, 2016.