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Press Release


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

Pacific Symphony names accomplished young maestro, Roger Kalia, as new assistant conductor, replacing Alejandro Gutiérrez, who returns to Costa Rica at the end of the summer

Orange County, Calif. — June 29, 2015

Roger Kalia

Pacific Symphony announces Roger Kalia as its next assistant conductor, beginning in September. Kalia replaces Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, who after three years with the Symphony returns home to Costa Rica to take on the roles of professor at the University of Costa Rica and guest conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra. Gutiérrez’ final concert takes place at the Symphony’s Summer Festival on Saturday, July 25, when he leads “Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ and Scheherazade.” With a great deal of experience as a conductor and educator, Kalia, age 30, comes to Orange County from the Charlotte Symphony, where he has served as assistant conductor since September 2013. In his new role, Kalia will serve as conductor of the Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings concerts and music director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. Among his duties, the new assistant conductor will lead the youth orchestra on its tour to China in June 2016.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the next assistant conductor of Pacific Symphony,” says Kalia. “I am very much looking forward to making music with the fantastic musicians of Pacific Symphony and working closely with Music Director Carl St.Clair. I am also excited to connect with our audience and to play a vital role in Orange County’s cultural scene.”

Maestro Kalia led a variety of performances for the Charlotte Symphony including the family, education, outreach and parks concerts, and he also collaborated frequently with the Charlotte Ballet. He’s been praised for conducting with “vigor” and “commitment” (Charlotte Observer) and for bringing a “fresh view to classical music” (The Republic). Kalia also finishes up three years as music director of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles. Winner of YMF’s 2012 National Conductor Search, he follows in the footsteps of such illustrious conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, André Previn and Myung-Whun Chung.

“We are all very excited that Roger will be joining our Pacific Symphony family as assistant conductor,” says Maestro St.Clair. “He is a conductor with immense talent and great passion. Though relatively young, he has amassed a great deal of experience as a conductor. His conducting successes have garnered him national attention. I welcome him and look forward to having him as an assistant.”

In addition to assisting Maestro St.Clair with conducting duties, Kalia will play a vital role in the Symphony’s education initiatives. These include programming and conducting the Family Musical Mornings series, which introduces children ages 5-11 to the exciting world of orchestral music through engaging and educational concerts. He will also welcome more than 12,000 elementary schoolchildren to the concert hall at the end of each school year for the Class Act Youth Concerts, which conclude a year of music lessons and performances in Orange County schools given by Symphony musicians. His introduction to the Symphony audience takes place at the first family concert of the year, “Phantoms of the Orchestra,” on Saturday, Oct. 24.

“With Roger, the Symphony will have an excellent musician and conductor, but most importantly a great person with wonderful energy and experience working with young artists and young audiences,” says departing Assistant Conductor Gutiérrez.

Another primary role for Kalia will be serving as music director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO), a premier training orchestra for instrumentalists in grades 9-12. In addition to preparing them for a three-concert series each season, Kalia will also be guiding the orchestra on a 10-day international tour to China in the June 2016.

“One of the greatest joys of working with young musicians is their curiosity and excitement about music,” says Kalia. “Many of them are encountering these masterpieces for the very first time, and their energy is simply contagious.

“I am eager and excited to be going to China with Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra next year,” he continues. “Having the opportunity to see and experience another culture is something that these young musicians will never forget. I, too, had the experience of visiting China as part of a youth orchestra when I was a junior in high school, and the trip made a huge lasting impression on me. Performing in different concert halls and seeing the sights and sounds of different cities in China inspired me to become a professional musician. This will be an elevating and transformative experience for these young musicians, and I can’t wait for this trip.”

Kalia has proven to be a prolific leader in the music world through his appearances with orchestras across North America and Europe, as well as his innovative programming choices. Highlights from his time with YMF Debut Orchestra include a production of Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale” with actors Jack Black and Michael Lerner at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a unique concert titled “Gamer Jams: Music Behind the Screen” featuring music by leading video game composers at the Ford Theater, and the orchestra’s debut performance at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels “Virgin of Guadalupe” Celebration, which was televised and streamed worldwide.

Kalia has worked with many famous composers, commissioning and programming more than 100 works as an advocate for contemporary classical music. This fascination for the advancement of music in today’s world along with the reverence for the old masterpieces is expressed in Kalia’s co-founding and music directorship of the Lake George Music Festival in New York, which serves as a meeting point for composers and musicians from across the nation. Kalia’s many praiseworthy experiences are further bolstered by his acceptance of the BMI/Lionel Newman Conducting Scholarship and YMF Conducting Grant. He completed his work as a doctoral conducting fellow at Indiana University.