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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony Announces the 2016-17 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series

Orange County, Calif. — January 27, 2016


Season Celebrates 10-Year Residency at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

Superstar Talent—The Reigning Queen of Opera, Soprano Renée Fleming—Makes a One-Night-Only Guest Appearance

Season Launches with Electrifying Van Cliburn-Winner Olga Kern Performing Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme Of Paganini”; Orchestra Playing Respighi’s “Pines Of Rome” and More

Powerhouse Pianists to Sizzling String Players: Olga Kern, Jeremy Denk, Haochen Zhang, Joaquín Achúcarro, Louis Lortie, Zhang Zuo, Orli Shaham, Arnaud Sussmann, Ning Feng, Tracy Silverman

Plus, Leading, Young Conductors David Danzmayr, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Rune Bergmann and Darrell Ang

Best of Piano Concertos: Tchaikovsky’s Concerto, Chopin’s Concerto No. 2, Beethoven’s No. 3, Mozart’s G Major Concerto, Brahms’ D Minor Concerto

Monumental Symphonies, Including Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony, Mahler’s “Resurrection”

Opera/Vocal Initiative Enters Seventh Year with Verdi’s Most Popular Opera, “Aida,” Featuring World-Class Soloists and Pacific Chorale

American Composers Festival Probes the Immigrant Experience and the American Dream; California Composers

Season Features World Premieres by Young, Living Composers Narong Prangcharoen and Conrad Tao

Music Director Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony today unveil the 2016-17 Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical and Sunday Casual Connections series and special events. This season celebrates the orchestra’s 38th season and its 10th year in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Inaugurated by the Symphony in September 2006, this magnificent venue—with its exceptional acoustics and beautiful architecture—changed the world of symphonic music forever in Orange County. Both the orchestra and its audiences suddenly felt the ceiling to their musical opportunities open up to limitless possibilities. The trajectory of the orchestra sped up, allowing for broader choices in repertoire, greater ensemble excellence and immersive audience experiences—culminating, 10 years later, in this momentous season.

Following on the heels of last season’s numerous sold-out concerts and stellar programming designed to celebrate Maestro St.Clair’s landmark 25th season, the Symphony in 2016-17 continues to bring to the stage some of classical music’s greatest luminaries and repertoire that has moved audiences for centuries. As with every year, this coming season is a clear reflection of St.Clair’s vision for the future, with a deep appreciation for the past and a vast range of repertoire.

“Our concert hall has literally changed Pacific Symphony’s and our audience’s relationship to music,” says St.Clair. “The sheer purity and beauty of sound is experienced in the most pristine acoustic setting. This spectrum—from the softest of soft to the most visceral loud—has a sonic impact we had never heard before. This has allowed us to approach new repertoire and to present works in the appropriate setting. The C.B. Fisk/William J. Gillespie Concert Organ only added to the majesty of the hall. Upon entering the building, you first see the impressive façade, then are embraced by an inviting warmth that fills the atmosphere.”                     

The season launches in magnificent style with a one-night-only spectacular—“An Evening with Renée Fleming.” This special concert features “America’s reigning diva” (The Washington Post) Fleming in a rare Orange County appearance. And the season hasn’t even officially begun!

A week later, the remarkable Olga Kern—of whom The Washington Post wrote: “Call it star quality—music likes Kern the way the camera liked Garbo”—joins the Symphony for a grand Opening Night, as she masterfully tackles Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” while the orchestra demonstrates its musical chops with Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” Dvorák’s “Carnival Overture” and a world premiere by Conrad Tao.

Expect electricity all season long as sheer talent, extraordinary technique and astute musicianship all make appearances on the stage, one performance after another. With a special focus on repertoire for piano, seven out of the 12 concerts this season feature piano soloists, including keyboard wonders Jeremy Denk, Haochen Zhang, Joaquín Achúcarro, Louis Lortie, Zhang Zuo and Orli Shaham. Plus, three virtuoso violinists not to be missed: Arnaud Sussmann, Ning Feng and Tracy Silverman, who dazzles on electric violin.

Musical highlights are innumerable next season. The orchestra injects new life into centuries-old masterpieces such as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Selections from the ever-popular Peer Gynt, Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony and Mahler’s earth-shaking Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” (see below for more). Fresh renditions, powerful performances…it’s a year to savor.

The season is also rich with inventive projects. Among the many highlights that are undeniably part of St.Clair’s legacy—the highly popular opera and vocal initiative, “Symphonic Voices,” continues with Verdi’s “Aida,” when special attention is given to the Symphony’s relationship with the Pacific Chorale, as an era ends and Artistic Director John Alexander steps down in 2017. The critically acclaimed American Composers Festival (ACF) enters its 17th year with a special nod to the past, fortified by the future. “Ellis Island” explores the impact of an era that defined our nation, while also shining the spotlight on California composers such as John Adams, whose 70th birthday the Symphony’s celebrates.

“From experiencing the exquisite voice of Renée Fleming to the exhilarating conclusion of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection,’ there are moments after moments of music that will be enhanced by our hall’s sonic beauty,” says St.Clair. “Hearing the ‘Triumphal Chorus’ from ‘Aida,’ the rousing return of soldiers in the ‘Pines of the Appian Way,’ to the soft strains at the end of ‘Don Quixote,’ each concert will have music that will lift spirits, tug at heart strings and touch our emotions.”


“A voice that possesses the complex sweetness of wildflower honey…”—Toronto Star

The Symphony’s season starts on a glittering high note with an exceptional one-night-only extravaganza on Sept. 13, spotlighting one of the most revered opera stars and greatest voices of our time—Renée Fleming. From the Metropolitan Opera and the White House to the Super Bowl and now the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the internationally sought-after soprano and reigning queen of opera for more than a decade arrives to inaugurate the Symphony’s 10th season in its home. There is no better place in the world to hear this modern diva’s sumptuous voice and dazzling technique than in the opulent and acoustically superior Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

This exceptional concert and rare appearance in Orange County is designed as a special opportunity for Symphony subscribers to have the highest priority for tickets to a certain sell-out performance. The concert features Fleming singing Richard Strauss’ hauntingly beautiful “Four Last Songs,” a lush late-Romantic work written near the end of the composer’s career; it is certainly among the greatest song cycles for soprano and orchestra. The program includes popular favorites from the world of opera and the Broadway stage.


The season continues to blaze, as Opening Night arrives with a concert to remember. At the center of the program is a performance of Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Olga Kern. The New York Times calls Kern “an absolute whiz at the piano.” Gramophone says: “Sheer talent does not come more transparently.” If anyone has inherited the mantle of Rachmaninoff’s musicianship, intelligence and keyboard ability, it’s Kern. Her arresting presence, muscular power and sheer pianistic dexterity make her the perfect musician for this mammoth work. Unfazed by mountains of passagework, Kern astounds.

“Kern shot off plenty of rockets with her reading of Rachmaninoff’s showy ‘Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.’ Kern played like every note mattered... Many players try to pound Rachmaninoff into submission. Kern played with fire, but she didn’t try to burn the house down. Her Rachmaninoff had plenty of meaning, energy and articulation.”—The Boston Herald

Widely recognized as one of her generation’s great pianists, Kern was born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. She began studying piano at the age of 5 and jumpstarted her U.S. career with her historic Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition—the first woman to do so in more than 30 years. Steinway Artist and First-prize winner of the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition at the age of 17, Kern is a laureate of many international competitions and tours around the globe.

“Her electricity at the keyboard is palpable, and though she generates from the music itself, as it flows through her fingers it takes on fresh voltage that is unmistakably hers.”—The Washington Post

The special moments only start with Kern—and continue with the Symphony’s exquisite rendition of Italian composer Respighi’s richly colored symphonic poem, “Pines of Rome,” Dvorák’s festive “Carnival Overture” and a fascinating world premiere composed by world-renowned pianist Conrad Tao, who is rapidly emerging as a composer of great promise.


“Throughout the season I have planted some of music’s greatest piano concertos—Rachmaninoff’s ‘Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,’ Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, Mozart’s G Major Concerto (No. 17) and Brahms’ epic First Piano Concerto are just some of the concerto highlights the season will offer—all performed by internationally acclaimed artists on our fantastic Hamburg Steinway pianos,” says Maestro St.Clair.

Chopin’s two piano concertos were written within a year of each other and published in the reverse order. The second movement of the No. 2 begins with the strings and woodwinds leading the piano into arguably one of the most beautiful passages of music ever written. Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, one of his best-known works and among the most famous in all of classical music, is a deeply expressive and romantic tour de force that enriches the lives of those that hear it—while the Brahms Concerto is simply an uncompromising and awe-inspiring piece of work—or as St.Clair put it: epic.

Described as beautiful and elegant, Mozart’s G Major Piano Concerto (No. 17) seduces the listener at the very start. The 230th anniversary of Mozart’s birth occurs in 2016, represented in the programming by three contrasting works of Mozart: in addition to his piano concerto, a violin concerto and a symphony. Mozart’s most famous and beloved Third Violin Concerto is certain to be a highlight of the season. It shares a program with the spectacular finale of Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Fourth Symphony.

“The great Russian symphonies—Prokofiev’s Fifth and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth are always favorites of mine and the orchestra’s,” says St.Clair.

Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony is considered one of the great orchestral works of the 20th century. The composer described it as “the culminating point of my creative life. I imagine the Symphony as the expression of the grandeur of the human spirit.”

Tchaikovsky described his Fourth Symphony as “a reflection of Beethoven’s Fifth.” This powerful work even sounds similar to Beethoven’s Fifth, and focuses on fate as its theme—from the fateful thundering brass fanfare to the dramatic finish, this quintessentially romantic Russian music sweeps the listener away, evoking surging powerful emotions.

The season draws to a phenomenal end with Mahler’s Second Symphony, “Resurrection,” in which the composer ponders the question of life, death and transcendence and in so doing pens some of his most sublime music. Meditating on these questions required Mahler to compose the largest symphony ever known at that time—with massive instrumental and vocal forces, daring harmonic structure and expansive length—all to astonishing effect. As the composer once said, “The term ‘symphony’ means creating a world with all the technical means available.”

“Mahler intended his symphonies to test the full sonic range of the orchestra,” says the Symphony’s President John Forsyte. “It’s obvious that a concert hall such as ours provides incredible impact, bloom to the sound and blending, but equally important is the ability for the orchestra to play softly and have confidence in their projection. It has impacted the musicians, music-making and thus our audiences tremendously.”

“The fact that John Alexander’s final season as artistic director of the Pacific Chorale is in 2016-17 is in part why we are doing ‘Aida’ and are closing with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2—in honor of this great talent,” says St.Clair. “Having John as a colleague and friend during my entire tenure has been a blessing and an honor.”

The season also includes Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” one of the greatest of all English orchestral works. Elgar called the tune, which he had not recognized as anything worthwhile, “Enigma,” not in the sense of a riddle to be solved, but, he said, a “dark saying [that] must be left unguessed,” expressing the “nothingness” from which it came.

Simply for fun, Elgar began toying with the tune, adapting it to make musical caricatures of some of his friends.

The magic of Stravinsky’s famous “Firebird,” also slated in 2016-17, lies in the elaborate orchestration and the excitingly uneven rhythmic writing. Stravinsky made the folklore at the heart of the ballet score fantastic, giving audiences an exotic and thrilling adventure. A parable of virgin sacrifice on the ancient Slavic steppe called “The Rite of Spring,” earned Stravinsky his greatest success.

“To hear Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ or Respighi’s ‘Pines of Rome’ in our concert hall can be overwhelming,” says Symphony President John Forsyte. “You can hear the pluck of a string or strum of harp with such vividness. The power of the greatest orchestral climaxes provide clarity. In lesser halls, these details get lost. I also enjoy hearing a delicate Mozart symphony or piano concerto, where the lyrical, quiet passages put one into a dream state.”

Centuries old yet somehow fresh and alive with each performance, the season includes tried-and-true favorites but also less-commonly heard works such as Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony, inspired by a walking tour of the ruins of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace, and Debussy’s “Ibéria.” With its aura of a romanticized Scotland, the “Scottish” Symphony offers light and energetic music that contrasts with heavy emotion. The slow movement that follows is some of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching music Mendelssohn ever wrote. “Ibéria,” one of Debussy’s most significant works, undeservedly stands in the shadow of earlier masterpieces like “Nocturnes” and “La Mer.” Debussy was one of the most influential French composers of his time.

Also this season, several pieces are being performed for the very first time by the Symphony in its concert hall: Romantic Scottish composer Hamish MacCunn’s charming Scotch overture, “Land of the Mountain and the Flood,” which “carries you over the hills and far away,” as George Bernard Shaw once described it; Finnish composer Rautavaara’s “Cantus Articus” (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra), whose style combines modernism with mystical romanticism; Pacific Symphony premiere of a work by Tan Dun, who is perhaps best known to wider audiences for his film scores (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero”): “Orchestra Theatre I: O,” the first part of a trilogy, which presents a fascinating synthesis of western classical music with aspects of Chinese ritual; Adams’s “The Dharma at Big Sur”; Boyer’s “Ellis Island,” which was performed to a large, enthusiastic audience in July 2005 by the Symphony at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater but not in the concert hall.


“I am very excited about the array of guest artists that are making debut performances with Pacific Symphony,” says Forsyte. “Joaquín Achúcarro is one of Spain’s preeminent artists and has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic. Louis Lortie’s interpretations of Chopin are unrivaled. Olga Kern, Jeremy Denk and Haochen Zhang are all captivating artists with unique artistic voices.”

Knocking the ebony off the keys this season are a stunning group of pianists joining the orchestra to make magic. It will be an exciting, not-to-be missed debut with Pacific Symphony when the great Basque pianist Joaquín Achúcarro performs Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Zubin Mehta said of Achúcarro: “I have only heard this sound from Rubinstein.” Simon Rattle put it this way: “There is something special with Joaquín Achúcarro. Very few musicians can extract this kind of sound from the piano.”

Stunning music will flow through the fingers of Louis Lortie for Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The Guardian wrote: “Lortie’s Chopin playing has a wonderful, penetrating directness” and BBC Music Magazine commented on Lortie’s gifts as an interpreter of Chopin: “Lortie is a model Chopinist: eloquent but never sentimental, elegant without ever sounding effete, dramatic but never exaggerated, harmonically luminous, structurally immaculate—and surprising.”

Jeremy Denk’s insightful interpretation of Brahms’ First Piano Concerto is a must-hear. Winner of a 2013 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the 2014 Avery Fisher Prize and Musical America’s 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year award, Denk is one of America’s foremost pianists. As The New York Times wrote: “Mr. Denk, clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs, in whatever combination—both for his penetrating intellectual engagement with the music and for the generosity of his playing.”

If anyone is adept at communicating the beauties of the lyrical slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, it’s pianist Haochen Zhang, who shines in the virtuosic passages. According to the Boston Globe, Zhang, Gold Medal winner of the 13th International Van Cliburn Competition, displays “poetic temperament as much as technical power… [He is] a pianist with ample reserves of power whose imagination seems nonetheless most kindled by subtle delicacy,” artistic gifts that should serve him well when he tackles Tchaikovsky’s popular piano concerto.

Not to be confused with Haochen Zhang, Zhang Zuo (nicknamed “Zee Zee”)— makes her Pacific Symphony debut performing Beethoven’s transcendent Third Piano Concerto. The Los Angeles Times described the gifted young pianist as “a powerful, passionate and compelling representation of pure artistry.”

Another startlingly fine pianist possessed with a striking technique is Pacific Symphony’s own pianist and artful curator of the Café Ludwig chamber music series, Orli Shaham. The New York Times called Shaham a “brilliant pianist” and the Chicago Tribune referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean.” It will be a special night when she devotes herself to Mozart’s sunny Piano Concerto No. 17, with the famous third movement theme inspired by the composer’s melodic pet starling.

Expect fireworks to shoot from the strings for two breathtaking performances by young soon-to-be superstars: Arnaud Sussmann and Ning Feng. A thrilling young musician capturing the attention of classical critics and audiences around the world, Sussmann, winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, has distinguished himself with his unique sound, bravura and profound musicianship. Sussmann tackles Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 3. “The stature of a handsome young gentleman, the allure and assurance of an artist …He displayed the confidence, beauty of sound and elegance of the great violinists.”—Nice Matin (France). Minnesota’s Pioneer Press said, “Sussmann has an old-school sound reminiscent of what you’ll hear on vintage recordings by Jascha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler, a rare combination of sweet and smooth that can hypnotize a listener. His clear tone [is] a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, his phrasing spellbinding.”

Feng, who will be performing Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy,” is another talent to be reckoned with, one exhibiting top-notch technique. “The young Chinese violinist wowed the bravo-spouting audience with his effortless virtuosity, clarity and command…it was Ning that stole the show.” —TimeOut

“The guest conductors on our podium in 2016-17 represent some of the finest of the next, younger generation of maestros,” says St.Clair. 

On the podium will be four dynamic young guest conductors—David Danzmayr, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Rune Bergmann and Darrell Ang. Selected to bring repertoire and interpretation viewpoints that enhance the variety and richness of the audience experience, they represent a new generation of podium leadership, all of whom are garnering increasing international attention.

The Symphony welcomes the return of Jean-Marie Zeitouni, who has demonstrated great subtlety and elegance in his interpretations of French repertoire. Zeitouni, who serves as musical director of the Colorado Music Festival, has emerged as one of Canada’s brightest young conductors. His eloquent yet fiery style lends itself to a range of repertoires.

Described as “extremely good, concise, clear, incisive and expressive,” by The Herald, former assistant conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Danzmayr makes his Pacific Symphony debut conducting a program that presents three different musical perspectives evoking the wild Romantic landscapes of Scotland.

Norwegian conductor Bergmann has a reputation as an inspiring and profound musician and is considered one of the most talented Scandinavian conductors. He is praised as a dynamic and versatile conductor with an extensive repertoire. The Albuquerque Journal wrote: “Bergmann led the orchestra masterfully, drawing forth all both the music and the orchestra have to offer. While firmly in control, he allowed the players to sing with their instruments.”

Ang, born in Singapore, is one of Asia’s top conductors. Sudquest (France) has called him “irresistible” and has written: “Darrell Ang’s star is on the ascent.” The Straits Times (Singapore) compared him to “a young Leonard Bernstein… The chorus of bravos that greeted the magnificent performance was well earned. A star is born.”


“Semi-staged opera in a concert hall of this quality has been revelatory as one hears orchestral detail not heard from an orchestral pit, while still affording the singers incredible room to explore their full vocal range,” says Forsyte. “One leaves these opera experiences with both a sense of the drama and new-found musical discoveries. These are nearly fully staged productions, with lighting, costumes and dramatic interplay between the performers.”

First inspired by St.Clair’s career as an opera conductor in Europe and experiencing sell-out crowds since its inception in 2011-12, the Symphony’s opera initiative once again brings opera to the concert hall with “Aida,” Verdi’s most popular opera. “Aida” recounts the doomed love triangle of an Egyptian princess, a young slave girl and the soldier they both love. Audiences thrill to some of opera’s greatest arias, most powerful choruses and the stirring “Triumphal March” in this semi-staged concert opera production full of visual, emotional and vocal allure.

As the former general music director and chief conductor of the German National Theater and Staatskapelle (GNTS) in Weimar, Germany, St.Clair led Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” to great critical acclaim. During his tenure at the Komische Oper Berlin, he led acclaimed productions of not only “La Traviata,” but also the world premiere of Christian Jost’s “Hamlet” and the heralded production of “Lear” by Aribert Reimann, one of Germany’s most distinguished composers.

“There are few operas more grand than this year’s ‘Turandot,’” says St.Clair, “so the only way to go was to Verdi’s monumental ‘Aida.’ I always want to do big choral operas because including the magnificent Pacific Chorale, which is over 120 singers strong, means our opera performances will be all the more spectacular and memorable.” 


Exploring a different facet of American music each year, the Symphony’s critically acclaimed American Composers Festival enters its 17th season with “Ellis Island,” celebrating the historic American immigrant experience and the American dream—taking inspiration from the work by the same name, composed by Peter Boyer and featured in this program. “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” Boyer’s Grammy-nominated, innovative work, written for actors and orchestra with projected images, presents first-person narrations of seven immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island between 1910 and 1940. The program celebrates the hopes and fears of those immigrants in search of a utopian dream—a topic that remains relevant today.

“I found myself deeply moved by the real stories of real people, which are included, spoken in their own words,” says Boyer. “Over the years, it has been immensely gratifying to me that so many have found ‘Ellis Island’ to be a moving and uplifting experience; and it is my hope that this will be the case with Pacific Symphony audiences.”

This ACF spotlights major works by not only Boyer but also John Adams, in celebration of his 70th birthday. John Adams’ Concerto for Six-String Electric Violin and Orchestra, “The Dharma at Big Sur,” composed in 2003 for the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall, was composed for violinist Tracy Silverman, who is featured on this program. BBC Radio hails Silverman as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin.”

“This American Composers Festival program is wonderfully diverse,” says St.Clair. “For Boyer’s work, narrators tell the stories of those who came to America through Ellis Island, and we celebrate the 70th birthday of one of America’s preeminent composers with ‘The Dharma at Big Sur,” a fantastic collision of east and west, with a thrilling violin jam to close. It has become one of John’s most beloved works and a showcase for violinist Tracy Silverman. It is definitely a cool concerto and one rarely heard in concert.” 

 “This ACF explores the various influences on American music and its important voices,” adds Forsyte. “We visit California-based composers with very different compositional approaches. California is home to some of our most distinctive compositional traditions.” In addition to Boyer and Adams, the program features Frank Ticheli’s fun, jazzy “Blue Shades.”

“I have been a long-time admirer of ACF and attended many of them, going back to the first festival in 2000,” says Boyer. “From my perspective as an American composer, it is one of the most important programming initiatives of Pacific Symphony, and it’s clear that it has been widely admired throughout the orchestral community. As an audience member, I have found these festivals to be both enjoyable and illuminating.

“The list of composers that have been featured in these festivals is simply stunning,” Boyer continues. “I am humbled to have my work sharing the program with John Adams and Frank Ticheli, two giants of contemporary American composition. It is both an honor and a thrill. It’s also a fascinating cross-generational program, with composers born in 1947 (Adams), 1958 (Ticheli) and 1970 (Boyer).”


“As we celebrate 10 years of evolution and growth, the Symphony’s season includes a tremendous range of repertoire including two world premieres, which will be highlights,” says St.Clair.

Living composers play a vital role in helping shape and create the Symphony’s artistic character and profile, both nationally and internationally. Under the guidance of St.Clair, the Symphony has long been dedicated to championing today’s young and established composers and to expanding the orchestral repertoire. Through these exciting new works, the Symphony is creating a signature canon of work for the orchestra.

This season is no exception, with two new compositions. The Symphony’s composer-in-residence Narong Prangcharoen’s intriguing “Concerto for Four Principal Winds” makes its world premiere and is a work that gives the Symphony’s four principal wind players a virtuoso workout. Conrad Tao, one of the Symphony’s favorite pianists-composers, is busily at work on a new composition to be revealed at a future date.


The grandeur and ebullience of Handel returns for the annual favorite, Handel’s glorious “Messiah,” conducted in 2016 by George Hanson. This timeless masterwork transcends three centuries of ever-changing trends in music. Thrill once again to blazing trumpets, thundering timpani and the electrifying, uplifting “Hallelujah” chorus at Orange County’s most popular rendition of this cherished holiday tradition. The orchestra is joined by the angelic voices of the Pacific Chorale for an afternoon that is always full of joy, reflection and renewal.


Sunday Casual Connections, comprised of four 90-minute Sunday matinees with repertoire from the Classical series, offers an intimate and informative experience. Led by the originator and host of the series, Maestro St.Clair, these concerts peer beneath the surface of the music to explore a whole world of fascinating history, intrigue and discovery. To expose the next generation to great music, the Symphony offers children under 17 a free subscription to Sunday Casual Connections, when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

For the first concert of the series’ season, the spectacular finale of Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Fourth Symphony shares the program with Mozart’s most famous and beloved violin concerto and an intriguing world premiere starring the Symphony’s principal wind players. Next, explore Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony with Maestro St.Clair. The composer described this great work as “the culminating point of my creative life. I imagine the Symphony as the expression of the grandeur of the human spirit.”        “Ellis Island: An American Dream” dives deeper into Peter Boyer’s stirring work celebrating the hopes and fears of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island in search of a utopian dream. “Renewal and Redemption” features Mahler’s magnificent Second Symphony, “Resurrection,” a monumental symphony on a grand scale. It culminates in an exhilarating chorus that sings of humanity’s highest hopes and heavenly visions.

For more information or to purchase season tickets for 12 Classical concerts ($300-$1,149)/Box Circle ($1,949); six Classical concerts, ($150 - $576); four Sunday Casual Connections, ($88-$339), call (714) 755-5799 or visit