Arts-X-Press Moves to Concordia University to Provide Kids with Ideal Setting for Arts Immersion

arts-x-pressNew location, new vibe, same quality experience—it’s like hitting the “refresh” button for Pacific Symphony’s popular summer program, arts-X-press, as it settles into its beautiful new home at Concordia University Irvine (CUI). For the 17th year in a row, arts-X-press will be providing 150 middle-school students with a safe and encouraging environment for exploring their love of the arts. And thanks to a new partnership between the Symphony and CUI, campers will for the first time be staying on the university’s private campus, located in the heart of Irvine. Filled with workshops led by arts educators who foster artistic discovery and creative expression, arts-X-press will be treating students to experiences most have never had before.

“We are thrilled to have this incredible opportunity to bring arts-X-press to its new home,” says Symphony Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Susan Kotses. “We have been particularly impressed by the warmth and helpfulness of the Concordia team, as well as the lovely campus and wonderful arts spaces. We look forward to future opportunities to partner with Concordia and to the enhanced experience our new arts-X-press home will offer our students and staff."

arts-x-pressThe magic begins each year when Orange County students entering seventh and eighth grade are nominated by their teachers and apply for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This summer, starting July 8-12 (session one), and continuing July 15-19 (session two) and July 22-26 (session three), 50 students will participate in each session by diving into the arts and exploring dance, theater, visual art, vocal and instrumental music during a five-day stay in the dorms at CUI. To learn more about the program, CLICK HERE. For more about CUI, visit

The Symphony’s Community Arts Participation Director Alison Levinson, comments: “Arts-X-press is a refuge where 50 students from all kinds of backgrounds, communities, artistic disciplines and skill levels can come together to safely explore the arts, try new things, and find their own unique voice. Concordia’s serene and secure campus and their beautiful arts spaces will surely enhance the program and greatly contribute to the safe and creative environment that arts-X-press creates for our students. At arts-X-press, the focus is on the creative process rather than artistic output, which allows our students the space to learn about themselves, about each other and about the world around them."

arts-x-pressConcordia University’s arts spaces include the 500-seat CU Center with spacious acoustics, which is home to the 3,920-pipe Casavant organ and a Steinway grand piano. The Good Shepherd Chapel is an intimate hilltop venue with seating for 100, used regularly for solo recitals and chamber music. The rear wing of the CU Center is outfitted with practice rooms, classrooms, studio teaching room, a keyboard lab and a tiered acoustically-engineered choir rehearsal room. The Performing Arts Annex is the rehearsal home of the Concordia Wind Orchestra, Chapel Choir, worship bands and chamber ensembles.

arts-x-press“We’re looking forward to being the new home for arts-X-press,” says CUI Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jeff Held. “The rich heritage of Concordia Irvine’s fine arts program makes it a perfect fit. Our liberal arts university and Pacific Symphony share some donors and board members, making the partnership ideal.

Founded by Music Director Carl St.Clair in remembrance of his and wife Susan’s son, Cole Carsan St.Clair, the innovative and multidisciplinary arts-X-press program allows students to test the boundaries of their creativity in an overnight summer camp, where no artistic risk is too intimidating. Reflective of how many artistic disciplines influenced his own creative development, Maestro St.Clair’s philosophy is the driving force behind the program. Aligned with his vision for encouraging love of the arts, arts-X-press is designed for students to gain a lifelong connection to the arts and to foster respect for each student’s individuality, interests and diversity.

Arts-X-press students, ages 12-14, are at a critical point in life where they are figuring out who they are and what they’re about. They are encouraged to leave their comfort zones as they explore new ways of expressing themselves and learn about one another. During their arts-X-press week, they actively engage in the arts through dance, drawing, singing, acting and playing music in workshops led by experienced faculty who teach at schools and arts programs across Southern California. Providing a nurturing and encouraging environment for taking artistic risks and embracing those different than themselves helps the students embrace who they are as unique and important individuals in society.