Symphony and Avocational Musicians Make “Play Date” for Seventh “OC Can You Play With Us?"

OC Can You Play“Yes, we can!” That has been the emphatic response from the Orange County community for the last seven years, when asked by Pacific Symphony: “OC Can You Play With Us?” What began as a one-time endeavor in 2011 to expose avocational musicians to professional music education and performance has continued to grow in size and spirit with each passing year. More than 230 people have participated in the side-by-side program since its inception. The simple invitation to play onstage alongside the orchestra members was met with such enthusiasm over the years that, in 2014, a chamber music edition was added. Like its predecessor, the chamber edition was an instant success, and now both programs have become highly anticipated annual events. With about 100 participants this year, “OC Can You Play With Us?” continues to encourage, inspire and make dreams come true!

OC Can You PlayWhat makes “OC Can You Play With Us” particularly special is that Music Director Carl St.Clair is behind the baton. The musicians not only have the chance to interact and learn from the accomplished maestro but also from the Symphony’s professional musicians. Chosen on a first-come, first-served basis with no audition required, this year’s participants will be playing a selection from Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavlier,” packed with colorful operatic orchestration and sophistication. Filling the stage to capacity alongside their orchestra counterparts, the participants begin their experience with some valuable rehearsal time led by Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, fine-tuning their individual parts and hearing how they play together with the orchestra.

The final program will be performed on Monday, May 8, at 7 p.m., onstage at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Friends, fans and interested observers are invited to attend this workshop-style event. Free and open to the public, seating is general admission but tickets are required and can be reserved through the box office at (714) 755-5799 or obtained at the door. For more information, visit “OC Can You Play with Us?” is made possible with the support of the James Irvine Foundation and Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

OCCYP“We love this program because it allows Pacific Symphony the opportunity to connect with Orange County’s dynamic community of musicians, and vice versa,” says the Symphony’s Community Arts Participation Manager Kelli Rust. “It’s so rewarding to work with all these people from our community who stay involved and invested in music purely because they love it. Everyone at Pacific Symphony always has such a great time getting to interact and work with them, and the relationships that form over a passion for music are the greatest reasons this program continues to prevail!"

occypThe excitement began earlier in the season when “OC Can You Play With Us” was first announced, and avocational musicians ages 22 and older from across and beyond Orange County hurried to sign up for a spot to play alongside the orchestra. Each year, the Symphony receives more applications than there are seats in the full orchestra side-by-side program—but for those lucky enough to secure a place, so begins a unique and valuable educational opportunity. It’s a chance to see the maestro and a wide variety of musicians at work, as well as engage and learn from some of the best. The final performance is similar to an open rehearsal, where the audience is able to observe the artistic interpretation of Maestro St.Clair and hear the music take shape in the hands of the musicians.

Last year’s participant Donald Hu says: “With the performance date as the deadline in mind, and the excitement to play together with a great orchestra under such a great conductor, it really motivated me to start practicing seriously again after so many years. The whole experience jumpstarted my confidence and desire to play the violin again. Overall, I had great time and I’m really glad I did it, and I’m looking forward to this next one!"