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Press Release


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

Pacific Symphony announces the 2015-16 Pops season to celebrate Pops conductor Richard Kaufman's 25th anniversary

Orange County, Calif. — April 28, 2015


Major headliners include Chris Botti, Bernadette Peters, Martin Short and Michael Feinstein; plus A Cirque Christmas and Classical Mystery Tour’s evening of Beatles hits

Also, drummer for The Police Stewart Copeland performs his score to “Ben Hur”

A gala season awaits as great stars in entertainment lead the way to celebrate Richard Kaufman’s 25-year legacy as principal pops conductor of Pacific Symphony. While last season marked the occasion of Music Director Carl St.Clair’s 25th anniversary, 2015-16 puts the spotlight on Kaufman, who has championed the lighter side of the Symphony, bringing countless memorable artists to the stage. What better way to celebrate than with some of the best songs and genres of our time delivered by mega-watt stars and backed by the lush, magnificent sounds of the full symphony orchestra? This special season includes major headliners and the return of Orange County favorites including trumpeter extraordinaire Chris Botti, Broadway diva Bernadette Peters, comedy legend Martin Short and Golden-Age champion Michael Feinstein. The amazing acrobats of Cirque de la Symphonie return for A Cirque Christmas, and Classical Mystery Tour delivers dozens of Beatles hits as they were originally recorded with orchestra. Also, Stewart Copeland, former drummer for The Police, joins the Symphony to perform his score to the 1925 silent film, “Ben Hur.”

The Symphony’s Pops series, revered nationally for presenting top headliners and great shows backed by the full orchestra, takes place in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Seven-concert subscriptions are available and range from $235-$1,050. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 16, and range from $35-$155. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

Without a doubt, Kaufman has played an important and beloved role in the history of the orchestra. For the last 24 seasons, he has charmed audiences with his infectious humor, amused patrons with personal reflections about working alongside some of music’s most famous stars, and blessed listeners with the concert premieres of more than 30 film scores. Along the way, the Grammy Award-winning conductor has entertained more than a quarter-million Orange County residents—who have used Pops concerts to conjure a memory, capture a moment or maybe even rekindle a romance.

“I have been incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with the musicians and staff of Pacific Symphony,” comments Kaufman. “If someone had told me 24 years ago that I would have the chance to conduct an orchestra for the next 10 years, I would have felt like I’d won the conductor’s lottery. To think that it’s been almost 25 years is, in a word, unbelievable!

“The reality is that when a conductor waves his or her arms, there is not one sound heard...until the players bring the music to life. The musicians of Pacific Symphony are truly the reason our audiences love attending the concerts. And the people of Orange County, both young and not-so-young, can be very proud to have such a world-class ensemble bringing music to the community. To have been part of that effort is one of the great joys of my life. I look forward with unbridled enthusiasm to many more years of the same.”

Music Director Carl St.Clair expresses his appreciation: “It’s been a great pleasure to work with Richard and observe his tremendous contributions to the Symphony’s work. He is a great entertainer, champion of great film composition, and has accompanied artists as renowned as John Denver and Andy Williams. I know this will be a special celebratory year that everyone will want to experience!”

Kaufman’s 25th anniversary season opens with multi-platinum-selling artist Michael Feinstein singing “A Sinatra Centennial,” Friday-Saturday, Nov. 6-7, at 8 p.m. Feinstein’s rich voice recalls the music of timeless artists Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin and others during a performance that brings the audience back to the swanky nightclubs of the 1950s. Principal pops conductor for the Pasadena Symphony POPS since 2013, Feinstein is known as the “Ambassador of the American Songbook” and is one of the foremost talented interpreters of American standards.

“The coming concert season is varied and exciting, with some incredibly talented artists joining Pacific Symphony in concert,” continues Kaufman. “Our opening weekend features the wonderful memories from the classic American Songbook sung by a great vocal artist, Michael Feinstein.”

Distinguished for his award-winning Sinatra interpretations, Feinstein received a Grammy nomination for his CD, “The Sinatra Project,” and an Emmy nomination for his TV special, “Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy.” His PBS series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook,” received an ASCAP award. In 2007, Feinstein created a program to recognize the genius of these golden-age performers called the “Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative,” which celebrates and preserves this music through educational programs.

Feinstein serves as the artistic director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts in Indiana, home to the Great American Arts Festival. Since 1999, he has served as artistic director in collaboration with ASCAP for the popular series at Carnegie Hall, “Standard Time with Michael Feinstein.” Putting on more than 200 shows a year, Feinstein is not only singing the standards, but also preserving music legacies for generations to come.

A Cirque Christmas brings the joys of the holidays to new heights with astonishing acrobats and amazing thrills for a unique family-friendly performance that’s sure to be a delight to both eyes and ears. Elegant Christmas classics such as Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” Suite, Mozart’s “The Sleigh Ride,” Emerson’s “Fantasia on Greensleeves” and Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” accompany the amazing performers from Cirque de la Symphonie, on Dec. 18-19. This spectacular performance includes aerial fliers, contortionists, dancers, jugglers and strongmen who choreograph their routines to the music. The Cirque performers include world-record holders, Olympians and gold-medal winners of international competitions who rank among the most exceptional cirque artists in the world. This festive fusion of music and circus acts is sure to leave the audience filled with awe and in the Christmas spirit.

Christmas at Pacific Symphony Pops has always been a special time of year for Kaufman who says, “What a joy this season will be for the Symphony and audience as the orchestra performs classical and popular Christmas music that will enhance the awe and beauty of the circus feats.” He adds, “I am proud that while we almost always feature a guest artist on Pops programs, I have made it my goal to make sure that our audiences know, without a doubt, that the true stars of the Pops series are the musicians of Pacific Symphony. The orchestral selections display the many talents and tremendous artistry of the members of the orchestra.”

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, on Feb. 12-13, 2016, the Symphony invites the incomparable Broadway, film and television star—Bernadette Peters—to serenade hearts with her three-time Tony Award-winning voice. Backed by the full symphony orchestra, Peters sings from her extensive repertoire including hits from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Of her many Broadway performances, Peters is especially noted for her roles in the musicals “Into the Woods,” “Gypsy,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Song and Dance,” “Mack and Mabel” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”

Peters was praised for her early work and appearances on “The Muppet Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show,” and for her roles in films like “Silent Movie,” “The Jerk,” “Pennies from Heaven” and “Annie.” More recently, Peters had guest appearances on NBC’s “Smash” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” and had a recurring role on the popular TV show, “Ugly Betty.” Peters is presently a part of the new hit series for Amazon Prime, “Mozart in the Jungle,” and has recently taken the stage in many musicals such as Sondheim and Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning “A Little Night Music.”

The epic adventure of Ben Hur shows on the big screen as Stewart Copeland, former drummer for The Police, brings his virtuosic talents on the drums and percussion to the Symphony to perform his new soundtrack to the MGM classic, March 18-19, 2016. Best-known for its famous chariot race, the 1925 film tells the story of a Jewish prince who is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend. After becoming a wealthy Roman athlete, he returns home to find his family, but when they are lost, seeks revenge.

Kaufman and the orchestra perform Copeland’s new score, a dramatic, tuneful and beautiful complement to the film. It uniquely combines Copeland’s talents in composition, orchestration, film scoring, film editing and his remarkable skills behind the drums. Kaufman premiered this special project with Copeland at the Virginia Arts Festival in 2010, when the Virginia Pilot wrote: “No one who experienced this evening can write it off as less than extraordinary… Ben-Hur’s horses run even faster when they have a beat.”

Following the film masterpiece is comedy legend Martin Short, who makes his Symphony debut April 15-16, 2016. Filling the concert hall with laughter and a good time, Short is known for taking audiences by surprise with his unpredictable sense of humor. Singing, dancing and telling jokes, Short shares his many talents with the Symphony audience, which is in for a hilarious and entertaining evening.

Kaufman says, “The extraordinary career of the multi-talented Martin Short has included film, television, Broadway and just about every entertainment medium you can name.”

Short is best known for his appearance in the comedy television show “Saturday Night Live” and his memorable roles in “Father of the Bride” and “Three Amigos.” He has been nominated for 19 Emmy awards, and won a Tony and Outer Critics Circle Award for his role in the revival of “Little Me.” He has starred in many television shows, including “How I Met Your Mother” and PBS’s “Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That,” and is praised for his talent at celebrity interpretations. The New York Times applauded Short for his production, “Fame Becomes Me,” describing him as “a natural for live musicals, a limber singer and dancer who exudes a fiery energy that makes you want to reach for your sunglasses.”

Back by popular demand, trumpeter extraordinaire Chris Botti makes his fourth Symphony appearance May 13-14, 2016. The well-known trumpeter for Sting delivers an all new show to delight audiences, with music that ranges from rock and pop to classical and jazz. Botti is not only acknowledged as a talented trumpet player, but is also a gifted composer. Led by guest conductor Albert-George Schram, together this charismatic soloist and vibrant orchestra is not to be missed.

Botti is officially the largest-selling instrumental artist in America. Performing worldwide, he has sold more than 4 million copies of his albums including his latest Grammy-winning “Impressions.” He has also performed with some of the best names in music, including Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Steven Tyler and Frank Sinatra. On the road for almost 300 days a year, Botti is consistently sharing his music with the world, having become an important, innovative figure in contemporary music.

The Pops series concludes with a return to a time when four lads from Liverpool ruled the music world. Beatlemania takes over the concert hall as Classical Mystery Tour performs dozens of Beatles tunes exactly as they were originally recorded—with a symphony orchestra! The acclaimed tribute band delivers the greatest hits from early Beatles music on through the solo years, June 17-18, 2016. Hear “Penny Lane” with a live trumpet section, experience the beauty of “Yesterday” with an acoustic guitar and string quartet, and enjoy the classical/rock blend of “I Am the Walrus.” In celebration of The Beatles’ 50th anniversary, this special concert focuses on the band’s final live concert in 1966.

The band’s lead Jim Owen, who portrays John Lennon in the show, explains, “We really make it an effort to sound exactly like the originals. The orchestra score is exact, right down to every note and instrument that was on the original recording.”

The Los Angeles Times called the show “more than just an incredible simulation… the swelling strings and soaring French horn lines gave the live performance a high good-bump quotient… the crowd stood and bellowed for more.”

A new wave of Beatles fans have emerged through the release of The Beatles music on iTunes, The Beatles Box Set and Beatles Rock Band, and Classical Mystery Tour offers the live concert experience that many of these fans never had the chance to experience. 

The Symphony’s Pops series receives support from Avenue of the Arts Wyndham Hotel, K-Earth 101 and PBS SoCal.