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Press Release


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

West Coast Debut of This Year's Van Cliburn International Competition Gold Medalist, Yekwon Sunwoo. Pacific Symphony’s Much-Loved Annual Favorite “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” Concludes the First “Summerfest” Season of Magical Music at Pacific Amphitheatre!

Orange County, Calif. — August 08, 2017

Tchaikovsky Spectacular featuring Yekwon Sunwoo

Pacific Symphony ends every summer season with a spectacular bang, a burst of colorful fireworks and grand music! This year feels particularly significant, as the orchestra draws to a close its inaugural season in its new home at the OC Fair and Event Center on the triumphant note of “Tchaikovsky Spectacular.” Music Director Carl St.Clair leads this annual hit parade of Romantic masterworks, which also includes favorites by such mighty Russian masters as Shostakovich and Prokofiev. The concert features the brilliant virtuosity of the Van Cliburn gold medal winner, Yekwon Sunwoo, who performs Rachmaninoff’s exquisite and sweeping Piano Concerto No. 2. Capping off this memorable evening is the electrifying “1812 Overture,” featuring the Huntington Beach Concert Band—complete with cannons and brilliant fireworks—sending hearts racing and spirits soaring!

“Our summer will close with the ringing of bells, the sound of canon fire and, of course, fireworks and Tchaikovsky’s ever-beloved ‘1812 Overture’—it’s always a memorable time!” says Maestro St.Clair. “Each year’s ‘Tchaikovsky Spectacular’ features an all-new program, and this summer the audience will be treated to a powerful performance of Rachmaninoff’s famed ‘Second Piano Concerto,’ as well as great music by other top Russian composers. It is sure to bring our first summer at the Pacific Amphitheatre to a wonderful and fitting close!” 

A grand spectacle from beginning to end, “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” takes place Saturday, Sept. 9, at 8 p.m., in the Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair & Event Center. Tickets are $25-$99. Pre-concert entertainment by the Huntington Beach Band takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Plaza Pacifica entrance. All are welcome to bring their own food, wine and non-alcoholic beverages onto the premises, but glass containers and glassware are not permitted inside the amphitheater. Beer, along with additional food and beverages may be purchased at the concession stands inside the amphitheater. The gates open at 6 p.m. for picnicking. Picnic tables are available at the Plaza Pacifica entrance or patrons may picnic at their seats. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

The evening is off and running right out of the gates, as the audience enjoys a short, wild ride via Shostakovich’s “Galop,” which sounds just like its name and is a musical sprint from the satirical operetta “Moscow, Cheryomushki.” Next is the program’s centerpiece,  Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic showpiece—the achingly beautiful, grand and lyrical Piano Concerto No. 2—performed by this year’s Van Cliburn gold medal winner, pianist Yekwon Sunwoo. Sunwoo earned his bachelor’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music, his master’s at The Juilliard School, and also studied at the Mannes School of Music. The young, fast-rising star has already won first prizes at the 2015 International German Piano Award in Frankfurt, the 2014 Vendome Prize held at the Verbier Festival, the 2013 Sendai International Music Competition, and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition.

Rachmaninoff’s most popular piano concerto, the Second, is jam-packed with stunningly beautiful harmonies and melodies, sadness, melancholy, love and passion—and music almost anyone would recognize. From the first opening piano solo chords sounding like bells in a church, to magnificent and magical dialogue between clarinet, piano and violins in the second movement, until the grand tutti of orchestra and piano together in the end of the third movement, Rachmaninoff transports everyone—performers and listeners alike—to a unique and wondrous world. Thundering with drama and achingly beautiful, it’s so mesmerizing it calls to be heard over and over.

Then—as if the audience isn’t already on the edge of their seat, the orchestra delivers Prokofiev’s lesser-known but highly rousing March in B-flat, Op. 99, before taking them by the hand to hear Tchaikovsky’s unabashedly romantic “Romeo and Juliet” Overture-Fantasy, one of the composer’s most-inspired and passionate melodies, telling the tale of the famous doomed lovers. Full of tenderness and longing, Shakespeare’s tragedy and Tchaikovsky’s tortured personal life merge to produce the first true expression of his genius as a composer. This tautly constructed masterpiece with its irresistible melodies then gives way to a thrilling orchestral battle featuring fireworks, cannons and brassy fanfare for Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture.

Tchaikovsky’s exhilarating music, with its distinct brilliant sound and victorious climax, becomes the quintessential conclusion for an evening of fireworks and orchestral music under the stars. As the Symphony welcomes the Huntington Beach Concert Band onstage and St.Clair signals for 16 cannon shots to be fired, fireworks light up the sky and the summer season comes to an unforgettable close.

“Wherever Pacific Symphony performs, we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that our Symphony family has an exciting and rewarding experience,” says St.Clair. “This summer has been special, as we settled into our new life in the Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair, and we’re grateful to our loyal patrons who made the move with us. And, of course, we also look forward to welcoming everyone back to the concert hall in September!” 

Summer Festival 2017 is made possible by supporting sponsors The Orange County Register, Westin South Coast Plaza and media sponsors PBS SoCal, K-Earth 101, KPCC and KUSC.