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Pacific Symphony announces 2009-10 season

February 25, 2009 |  2:00 pm

Carl St.ClairThe Pacific Symphony announced its 2009-10 season today.  It will be Carl St.Clair’s 20th as music director.  A young orchestra, founded in 1978, this one has St.Clair’s unmistakable stamp.  He is only its second music director (Keith Clark, his predecessor, is curiously ignored in the orchestra’s official history), and the season is meant to reflect his legacy. 

To that end, St.Clair will revisit three works that, he says, have particularly resonated with him and audiences, as part of a new series called “Music Unwound.”  The season will be the orchestra’s third in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which means St.Clair will also have a more flattering acoustical environment than the older Segerstrom Hall across the way in which to perform the works.

Underwritten by a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the special programs will incorporate multimedia and include extended musical discussions as well as an online component.  Richard Strauss’ “Alpine” Symphony will be accompanied by footage of the Bavarian Alps shot by German videographer Tobias Melle. The other works singled out are Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony, which will be part of an all-Tchaikovsky program, and Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, part of an evening looking at jazz influences in classical music.

Four American composers with whom St.Clair has previously worked in Orange County have been commissioned to write new pieces for the next two seasons.  A choral composition by Michael Daugherty, to Carl Sandburg texts, will be a highlight of the orchestra’s American Composers Festival in early February 2010 (the theme is “The Greatest Generation”).  Two weeks later, a piano concerto by Richard Danielpour will have its premiere with Jeffrey Biegel as soloist.  Works by William Bolcom and Zhou Long, both spotlighted in earlier American Composers Festival programs, will premiere in the 2010-11 season.

Violinists are the most stellar of the coming season’s soloists.  Midori will play Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on opening night, Sept. 24.  Leila Josefowicz will present one of her specialties, John Adams’ Violin Concerto.  A one-night gala with Joshua Bell will feature him in the Beethoven Violin Concerto.  Other soloists will include the popular pianist André Watts, the hot young German cellist Jan Vogler and Paul Jacobs playing Poulenc’s Organ Concerto.

Once rarities at the Pacific Symphony, guest conductors are now a necessity, given St.Clair’s busy schedule in Germany, where he is music director of Berlin’s Komische Oper and Weimar’s German National Theater and Staatskapelle.  Next season there will be four guests on the Pacific Symphony podium: Grant Llewellyn, Giancarlo Guerrero, Daniel Hege and Michael Stern.

-- Mark Swed

Photo: Carl St.Clair. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times