Category: Pacific Symphony

Pacific Symphony pops season: Gladys Knight, Kenny G, Jersey Boys

March 29, 2012 |  8:45 am

Richard Kaufman conducting Pacific Symphony pops credit PSO
Gladys Knight, Amy Grant and Kenny G are the leading stars of the Pacific Symphony’s 2012-13 pops season in Costa Mesa, with four members of the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” and two former witches from the “Wicked” franchise also in the mix.

The season at the Segerstrom Center’s Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, announced this week, also includes a multimedia tribute to George and Ira Gershwin, as well as a movie night (May 9-11, 2013) at which the orchestra will provide live accompaniment to Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds in a screening of “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“Wicked Divas – An Evening of Broadway Hits” (Nov. 15-17) stars the team of Alli Mauzey, who grew up in Anaheim Hills and went on to play Glinda in "Wicked" on Broadway, and Julia Murney, a former Elphaba from Broadway and touring companies of “Wicked.” They'll sing songs from hit musicals, among them both "Wicked" and “The Wizard of Oz.” Murney's credentials include surviving Broadway's critically pilloried “Lennon,” in which she was one of the nine actors who took turns playing John Lennon. Her reading of "Beautiful Boy" was one of the few moments that critics liked in the 2005 disaster.

Three of the “Jersey Boys” original Broadway cast veterans -- Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer, who played Four Seasons Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi, respectively -- perform June 13-15, 2013, as will Michael Longoria, who played several parts, including a young Joe Pesci, while understudying (and eventually succeeding) the original Frankie Valli, John Lloyd Young.

The Pacific Symphony’s announcement says that the show is “not a performance of, nor affiliated with the show 'Jersey Boys.'” Instead, the foursome, billed as the Midtown Men, will sing a repertoire of harmony-driven oldies, with the Beatles, Beach Boys, Temptations and Jackson 5 on the menu along with the Four Seasons.

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Music review: Pacific Symphony celebrates Iranian New Year

March 23, 2012 |  1:11 pm

Members of the Shams Ensemble perform with the Pacific Symphony
The Pacific Symphony was, Thursday night, the pacific Symphony, an orchestra serving the cause for peace.

The circumstance was the opening at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall of the orchestra’s 11th annual American Composers Festival. This year’s focus was Persian, partly in recognition of the large Iranian American community in Orange County.

The theme was innocuous on the surface, a celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, which begins the first day of spring. It’s an occasion for Iranians of all religions and ethnicities to come together. On Nowruz, people who stopped talking to each other are encouraged to try again.

We don’t, however, live in an innocuous world, and the festival’s news was the premiere of Richard Danielpour’s portentous 51-minute “Toward a Season of Peace.” It got a unanimous standing ovation. Political observers overlook classical concerts as useful litmus tests for popular sentiment toward war and peace. But given the current Iranian situation and Orange County’s reputation for championing conservative causes, this instance perhaps merits noting.

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Pacific Symphony season to star Lang Lang and honor Ellington

February 2, 2012 |  5:12 pm

Lang Lang
Guest pianists Lang Lang and Andre Watts will highlight the Pacific Symphony’s 2012-13 season at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, and the music of another renowned pianist, Duke Ellington, will be in the spotlight as the focus of the orchestra’s annual American Composers Festival.

The season announced Thursday is light on living composers. Saxophonist Daniel Schnyder, who straddles jazz and classical music, will be part of the May 16-18, 2013, American Composers Festival program that also features the Duke Ellington Orchestra and soloists Kenny Drew (piano) and Dave Taylor (trombone). Pieces by contemporary composers from China –- Chinese Canadian An-Lun Huang, and the team of Chen Gang and He Zhanhao -- will be performed along with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (April 4-6, 2013), led by guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen, music director of the Memphis Symphony.

The Pacific Symphony’s music director, Carl St.Clair, will continue to keep the torch burning for opera in Orange County, with a semi-staged performance of “Tosca” (Feb. 21-26, 2013), with singers to be announced. The current season includes another Puccini work, “La Boheme” (April 19-24), which was programmed partly in reaction to the near-absence of opera in Orange County since the Segerstrom Center’s resident company, Opera Pacific, folded in fall 2008.

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Music review: Carl St.Clair, Pacific Symphony at Segerstrom Hall

November 18, 2011 |  1:06 pm

Gustav Mahler’s emotionally conflicted, musically prophetic Ninth Symphony was once a rarity in the concert hall.  Yet in the span of a little more than a year, Southern California orchestras will have performed it on at least four occasions -– Gustavo Dudamel led the Ninth last January and will reprise it next February, the San Diego Symphony performed it just last week -– and the Pacific Symphony made the Ninth the capstone of its “Departures” trilogy Thursday night at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Those who came early were treated to actors Nick Ullett and Jenny O’Hara's dramatically charged readings from Mahler’s letters and his wife Alma’s diaries and memoirs (assembled by artistic advisor Joseph Horowitz); Gustav’s bluntly alpha-male ultimatum on what he expected from Alma drew gasps of amazement from this 21st century audience. Another prologue followed in which three songs from “Rückert-Lieder” were performed with a big, rolling timbre by baritone Christòpheren Nomura and pianist Hye-Young Kim, with linking commentary from music director Carl St.Clair.  

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Arts on TV: Motown; Woody Allen; Herbie Hancock; Sam Gilliam

November 17, 2011 |  6:00 am

Woody Allen: American Masters

“In Performance at the White House” 10:30 p.m., Friday KOCE: "The Motown Sound": The Motown record label celebrates 50 years. Hosted by Jamie Foxx, performers include Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, Gloriana, Nick Jonas, Ledisi, John Legend, Amber Riley, Smokey Robinson, Mark Salling, Seal and Jordin Sparks.

“AFI Master Class” 10:30 a.m., Saturday TCM: "The Art of Collaboration: Steven Spielberg and John Williams": Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams collaborate on movies.

“Justin Hines: Days to Recall” 1:30 p.m., Saturday KOCE: Folk singer Justin Hines performs original music and familiar tunes with a full orchestra.

“SoCal Connected” 7:30 p.m., Saturday KCET: "Herbie Hancock: All That's Jazz"

“The Artist Toolbox” 8:30 p.m., Saturday KLCS: Abstract artist Sam Gilliam.

“Woody Allen: American Masters” 9 p.m., Sunday KOCE: Woody Allen's childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., his creative process and his career as director and writer. (Part 1 of 2)

“Woody Allen: American Masters” 9 p.m., Monday KOCE: Woody Allen's childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., his creative process and his career as director and writer. (Part 2 of 2)

“The Layover” 9 p.m., Monday Travel: Singapore : (Series Premiere) A 24-hour tour of Singapore's food and architecture.

“Bulgarian Rhapsody: Pacific Symphony” 10:30 p.m., Monday KOCE; 12:30 p.m., Wednesday KOCE: The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra performs in Bulgaria, homeland of its artistic director, Maxim Eshkenazy.

“Movie: Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage” (2008) 8 p.m., Tuesday Lifetime: (PG) Jared Padalecki, Marcia Gay Harden. Inspired by his mentor, a young artist paints a mural of his hometown.

 -- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo: 'Woody Allen: American Masters' Credit: Brian Hamill / MGM

Monster Mash: Table talk at MOCA; the fork is with us

November 14, 2011 |  8:06 am

A performer at the gala for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art
Talking heads:
How strange was it, sitting under a banquet table with your head emerging through a hole in the center, staring at MOCA patrons while they ate dinner? (Los Angeles Times)

They think not: Citing historical inaccuracies, Ford's Theatre won't be selling Bill O'Reilly's book about Abraham Lincoln's assassination. (New York magazine)

Post-Berlusconi biennial: Silvio Berlusconi's choice to be the new president of the Venice Biennale has withdrawn his name from consideration after the Italian prime minister's resignation. (The Art Newspaper)

"Spidey" trouble: Could Julie Taymor's lawsuit against "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" actually stop the show? (Hollywood Reporter)

"Fork" art: An 18-foot-tall wooden fork in Pasadena is refurbished, reinforced, insured and finally legal. (Los Angeles Times)

Miami noir: The departure of founder Edward Villella from the Miami City Ballet was more complicated and less voluntary than originally portrayed. (New York Times)

Worrisome trend? The president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts says the influence of citizen critics is scary. (Huffington Post)

Worrisome trend II? Should we be watching live performances in movie theater? (Radio Times)

European adventure: The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra's recent trip to Bulgaria is featured in a half-hour documentary that will air several times on KOCE. (Orange County Register)

Another serving: Tustin's defunct Elizabeth Howard's Curtain Call Dinner Theater is under new ownership and will open in December under the name Encore Dinner Theatre & Club. (Orange County Register)

Berliners: Two artists born on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall work together to make a painting on a surviving portion of the wall located on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A. (Los Angeles Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: Mark Swed reviews the Labèque sisters with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Carl Stone concert at the Getty; Charles McNulty reviews "Bring it On" at the Ahmanson Theatre.

-- Kelly Scott and Sherry Stern

Above: One of the performers at the gala for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for MOCA

Arts on TV: Bill T. Jones; Steven Spielberg and John Williams

November 10, 2011 |  6:00 am

American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man

“Austin City Limits” 10 p.m., Thursday KVCR: Steve Miller Band performs; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band presents classic New Orleans jazz with special guests the Del McCoury Band and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.

“American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man” 9 p.m., Friday KOCE: Choreographer Bill T. Jones mounts a full-evening dance event inspired by Abraham Lincoln's life.

“Live From the Artists Den” 10 p.m., Friday KLCS: Booker T. and the Drive-By Truckers perform at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans; special guest Bettye LaVette.

“Inside” 7 p.m., Saturday KSCI: "The Emperor's Treasure": Taiwan's National Palace Museum houses an art collection of more than 600,000 objects that gives a new perspective on China's cultural history.

“Movie: The Producers” (1968) 8 p.m., Saturday TCM: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder. A Broadway producer and his accountant back a sure-fire flop: “Springtime for Hitler.”

“Bulgarian Rhapsody: Pacific Symphony” 7 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday KOCE: The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra performs in Bulgaria, homeland of its Artistic Director Maxim Eshkenazy.

“Gallery: The National Museum of the American Indian” 10 p.m., Monday KVCR: The unveiling and dedication of the first Smithsonian museum dedicated to American Indians.

“AFI Master Class” 5 and 9 p.m., Tuesday TCM: The Art of Collaboration: Steven Spielberg and John Williams: Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams collaborate on movies.

“Movie: Black Swan” (2010) 8 p.m., Wednesday Cinemax: (R) Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis. A ballerina begins to lose her fragile grip on reality as a sultry newcomer threatens to usurp her position as the lead dancer in “Swan Lake.”

“Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” 9 p.m., Wednesday Bravo: Street Dealers : Randomly paired, each team is to select a public space where they will reveal their final piece to the public.

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo:  From "American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man'" a dancer in "Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray." Credit: Paul B. Goode / PBS

Music review: Giancarlo Guerrero conducts the Pacific Symphony

October 21, 2011 |  3:00 pm

The theme of Thursday night’s concert by the Pacific Symphony at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall seemed to be music made famous by famous movies. That’s not as crass as it may sound when the music is Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 (“Elvira Madigan”), and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” with its shattering opening fanfare used by Stanley Kubrick to begin his mystical space epic, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, who is in his third season as music director of the Nashville Symphony, included another famous score, also given a space-age spin in “2001”: Johann Strauss Jr.’s waltz “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.” (Would Strauss have liked knowing that Kubrick turned it into space Muzak?)

The concert opened with Alan Hovhaness’ “Prayer of St. Gregory,” a short meditative piece for strings and solo trumpet featuring the orchestra’s principal, Barry Perkins. He performed admirably, though a more rounded, ethereal tone would have been welcome.

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Should phones be turned on at classical concerts?

August 6, 2011 |  6:30 am

Turn on your cell phone
Have you ever read the program in the middle of a classical music concert? Brought your own printed score and followed it during a performance? Of course you have, say champions of digital media. Now it's time for classical music to get over its stodgy self and allow you to boost your experience of Beethoven by lighting up your smartphone or tablet during a concert.

To resuscitate classical music in our hyperactive age, says social media consultant Beth Kanter, who works with nonprofit groups, the industry has taken many fine steps in marketing its wares on the Internet. But now its executives need to cross "the final frontier -- the sacred concert experience."

"Maybe I'm just weird," says Kanter, 54, a longtime fan of classical music. "But I want to be able to take an iPad to a concert and have downloaded an interactive program and maybe follow a score. Or I might listen, and think, 'Wow, that was great. Who was that player?' 

"And look him up on Wikipedia."

All together now: Is this a good idea?

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The 5 Browns: 10 hands on 440 keys

July 15, 2011 |  4:15 pm

Off a freeway far away from "Carmageddon" on Saturday night, the 5 Browns will be headlining a program of Mozart, Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky. The two brothers and three sisters and their five pianos will appear  on the Verizon Amphitheater stage in Irvine with the Pacific Symphony and conductor Carl St.Clair.

It's not been an easy year for the family. Their father, Keith Brown, who once managed the group, recently pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his three daughters and in March was sentenced to 10 years to life and is now in Utah State Prison.

It's not something they will discuss about as they move on with performing. In a conversation with Calendar, brothers Ryan and Gregory spoke about their sibling closeness and their craft. Click here to read the interview.


Carmageddon: L.A.'s cultural institutions plan to hunker down

Photo: The 5 Browns, from left: Gregory, Deondra, Desirae, Ryan and Melody. Credit: Andrew Southam


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