Pacific Symphony logo

Press Release


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

Pacific Symphony Announces 2017-18 Pops Season Brimming with Bright Stars and Sparkling Entertainment Led By Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman

Orange County, Calif. — April 21, 2017

Not-to-be-missed: Icon David Foster, eye-popping Cirque de la Symphonie, ever-popular Bee Gees’ music, Holidays with Seth MacFarlane, Valentine’s Day celebration with Christopher Cross, a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and a popular surprise band!

Pacific Symphony Pops 2017-18 promises a season so bright with stars, music and fun that audience members may need their sunglasses! Led for the 27th year by Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman, the season includes seven heavenly concerts showcasing a constellation of indelible music, beginning with one of today’s most talented music producers, David Foster, and special guests. Cirque de la Symphonie returns by popular demand to mesmerize audiences with astonishing acrobatics synched to live music! The audience will undergo a little “Saturday Night Fever” when the music of the Bee Gees makes everyone want to strut like John Travolta. The holiday season is extra special when celebrated with multi-talented Seth MacFarlane, and Christopher Cross’ ballads provide the perfect music to swoon to for Valentine’s Day. Highlights also include a tribute to the legend responsible for so many unforgettable songs—Ella Fitzgerald—and, finally, one of today’s most popular bands returns (but remains unidentified for the time-being).

All of the Symphony Pops concerts take place on Fridays and Saturdays, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Seven-concert subscriptions for Pops range from $245-$1,099, Box Circle $1,365. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

“Once again, Pacific Symphony has created a season of great music and remarkable performers—it’s entertainment for the entire family!” exclaims Kaufman. “Several of these artists will be making their Pacific Symphony Pops debut, which always makes the series extra special. And these great performers bring a wide variety of musical styles and genres that are sure to make each Pops weekend a wonderful event.”

TOWERING TALENT! The 2017-18 season gets off to a stupendous start on Oct. 13-14, when Pacific Symphony welcomes for the first time one of the most successful music producers/entertainers in history—16-time Grammy Award winner David Foster, along with special hand-picked guests—for a Pops opening to remember! Led by guest conductor Albert-George Schram, Foster delivers popular hits from his unparalleled catalog—written for artists including Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Olivia Newton-John, Barbra Streisand and many, many others—including “You’re the Inspiration,” “The Prayer,” “The Glory of Love” and “St. Elmo’s Fire.”

In addition to his Grammy Awards, which include three for Producer of the Year, Foster has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe and racked up three Oscar nominations for “Best Original Song.” In 2010, he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. But before he became one of the most successful record producers in history—creating albums that have collectively sold in the hundreds of millions—Foster received a valuable piece of advice from legendary music impresario Quincy Jones.

“He said to me, ‘If something isn’t exactly the way you think it should be, don’t put your name on it,’ ” Foster recalls. “His words of advice had a great impact on me, and since then I’ve always fought for my artistic vision. I don’t always win, but I know when an artist hires me, it’s my job to push them toward greatness, and to get something out of them they didn’t know was there. My personal motto has become, ‘compromise breeds mediocrity.’ ” This philosophy has shaped the way Foster has approached everything in his more than four decades as a musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, producer and recording artist. Few other songwriters and producers have had their fingerprints on more major moments in all of popular music.

A LEGEND LIVES! Dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy Awards and sold over 40 million albums. And now, a very special centennial celebration of this extraordinary singer—“Ella @ 100”—takes place Nov. 3-4, when the Symphony and special guest vocalists honor Fitzgerald’s remarkable legacy with the sultry ballads and sweet jazz that she made her own. Among these are “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” And so many more!

“In the dictionary under ‘singer,’ it could simply say one word: Ella!” says Kaufman. “There’s no one like her, and this show as created by conductor Larry Blank, will bring all the brilliance of this legendary performer to our Pacific Symphony audience. Combine our orchestra with the music of Ella and the skill of this conductor/arranger, and you’ve got a magical night of music not to be missed!”

The legendary singer’s voice was not only uniquely flexible, but also wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman, and she performed at top venues all over the world, packing them to the hilt. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range and they all loved her and her music. Now relive the magic when the Symphony recreates the wonder and awe of this extraordinary singer’s songs and distinctive music style during this night celebrating the legend!

DECK THE CONCERT HALL! It’s a heartwarming, humorous and delightful way to celebrate the holidays when the highly talented vocalist, Seth MacFarlane, makes his Pacific Symphony debut to croon tunes from his award-winning Christmas album, “Holiday for Swing”—an homage to the great albums from the ’40s and ’50s celebrating the most wonderful time of the year! MacFarlane’s gorgeous, lush baritone also delivers sophisticated interpretations from the Great American Songbook, performed in the style of the greats, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. “Celebrate the Holidays with Seth MacFarlane” on Dec. 22-23, the perfect new way to experience the joy of the season!

While MacFarlane is best known for writing, animating and producing the hit TV show “Family Guy,” he has since developed his multiple talents including creating two more animated series, “American Dad!” and “The Cleveland Show”; releasing his first feature film in 2012, “Ted”; hosting the 2013 Oscars—and cultivating his magnificent voice and love for singing. A lifelong fan of big band tunes and retro-style full orchestras, MacFarlane sang in 2009 at the BBC Proms with a set list of old favorites such as “Singin’ in the Rain.” He says of his musical passion: “I love and am fascinated by exciting orchestration—what you can do with a band that size—and I think in many ways it’s a lost art.”

GET SWEPT AWAY! A few decades ago, no one could turn on the radio without hearing a song by Christopher Cross. And now, the singer-songwriter sets sail with Pacific Symphony for an evening of yacht rock featuring smooth sounds from the ’70s and ’80s. Such hits as “Ride Like the Wind” and “Sailing” garnered several Grammys for this titan of soft rock, while “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” earned him the Oscar for “Best Original Song.” These intricately crafted and indelible musical jewels feature virtuoso musicianship and an instantly recognizable voice. Symphony audiences have the chance celebrate Valentine’s Day by spending a romantic evening with this prince of ballads on Feb. 16-17, 2018, for an evening sure to elicit a little swooning.

“I don’t know if my goals have changed a great deal,” says Cross. “I just write songs because I love to write them, and I’ve never expected much. Everything happened so quickly for me… To me, it’s sort of a natural progression that you have this start, and there’s a lot of excitement, and then you settle back into a place in the business, but that doesn’t affect the drive and the reason you do it. You do it because you love it.”

Cross made history with his 1980 self-titled debut album, winning his five Grammy Awards, including—for the first time ever—the four most prestigious awards: Record of the Year (for the single “Sailing”), Album of the Year, Song of the Year (also for “Sailing”) and Best New Artist. The singer’s debut was such a huge hit he quickly cemented his place in music history. Favoring sentimentality and tender ballads, Cross’ considerable gifts as a craftsman can’t be denied. His melodicism is rich and song construction tight. In fact, soft rock albums hardly ever came better than his. Thirty-plus years after his extraordinary emergence into the music business, Cross says: “I’m still a romantic at heart. My passion and commitment to music haven’t diminished a bit,” and his classic hits remain staples on radio to this day.

TOP SECRET! After standing ovations and shouts of “bravo!” during their past visits to Pacific Symphony, some very special guest artists are scheduled to join the orchestra again for “A Night at the Copa” on March 23-24, 2018, for a wildly upbeat evening of entertainment led by Maestro Kaufman. (Unfortunately, due to contract restrictions, the announcement of this awesome band’s name has to be delayed.) What everyone should known, though, is that these nameless popular artists are returning with their dynamic, high-energy, feel-great, around-the-world musical adventure, so get it marked on the calendar and don’t miss it! And stay tuned!

“The excitement of our next very visual performance combined with memorable music means only one thing: Cirque de la Symphonie is back!” says Kaufman. “There’s no end to what the cirque artists come up with, and the audience will, once again, be in awe of what they see and hear!”

BEAUTY, THRILLS AND MAJESTY! Indeed, on April 6-7, 2018 music soars to stunning new heights when aerial fliers and acrobats, along with contortionists, dancers, jugglers and strongmen, perform their death- and gravity-defying feats to popular classical masterpieces—all live, on stage and dramatically backed by a full orchestra for Pacific Symphony Pops, led by Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia. This jaw-dropping, eye-popping fusion of two art forms wows Symphony audiences of all ages, as the internationally recognized and award-winning artists of Cirque de la Symphonie take to the air and push themselves to the limit in a spectacular event that couples the magical music of the Symphony with the playfulness of acrobats sharing the same stage.

“One doesn’t usually hear gasps, oohs and aahs from a symphony orchestra audience, but then one doesn’t usually see a woman dangling by her feet from a hoop that swings high above the lip of the stage as an orchestra plays,” said the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The aerial acts are breathtaking, with performers working high above the stage without nets or wires. The tumbling, juggling and strong man acts, which take place on the stage in front of the orchestra, are equally gripping and polished.”

Cirque de la Symphonie 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 one-of-a-kind fusion of music and circus acts is sure to leave the audience filled with wide eyes and stunned expressions!

BEE GEES FEVER! Next, return to the era when bellbottoms and disco reigned supreme for this homage to the “Music of the Bee Gees” and a little “Saturday Night Fever”! Think gold chains, manes of long hair and open-necked shirts—all part of the Bee Gees trademark look. In the hands of the extraordinary tribute band, Stayin’ Alive, the quintessential pop culture icons of the 1970s live to sing and gyrate again on June 8-9, 2018, when joining the Symphony led by Maestro Kaufman. With expert harmonies and undeniable groove, powerful vocals recreate the sound that defined a generation—from blockbusters like “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep is Your Love” and “Night Fever” to early hits like “To Love Somebody” and “Massachusetts.”

“As a studio violinist, I had the honor to play on the original score of ‘Saturday Night Fever,’” recalls Kaufman, “and that began my appreciation of the Bee Gees and their memorable musical style. I can’t wait to be a part of their music again with this band and great symphony orchestra!”

Formed in 1958 by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, the Bee Gees became the uncontested kings of the disco movement—that infectious gotta-dance-to music with its elements of funk, soul, pop and salsa. Hitting their peak in the 1970s, the group scored innumerable hits and 15 Grammy Awards for their tracks on the soundtrack for the 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta. The success of the two heart-pumping songs, “Staying Alive” and “Night Fever,” and the ballad “How Deep is Your Love,” all reached the No. 1 spot. No disco act saw more success, and it’s still making news today. A number of major celebrities recently joined the sole surviving member Barry Gibb for his “Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees” on CBS, in celebration of the Bee Gees’ 50th anniversary. The group sold more than 220 million records worldwide before the deaths of Maurice and Robin Gibb in 2003 and 2012, respectively.

The tribute band Stayin’ Alive, the embodiment of the Bee Gees, captures the excitement of live performance and the tender subtleties of the human voice, when the band delivers the songs and sights of a full Bee Gees play list, with blockbusters that also include “Jive Talkin’,” “You Should Be Dancing,” and “Nights on Broadway,” plus softer poetic ballads. The band is the largest and most definitive production of its kind, offering big-screen video clips, photos and dazzling imagery.