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In addition to concerts, first “Pacific Symphony Plazacast,” presented in
association with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, takes place Saturday, June 2,
with wall projection of live performance on the plaza
Free plaza event also a grand celebration of Music Director St.Clair’s birthday;
John Alexander’s anniversary; and the Center’s 25th
Part of “Music Unwound,” the concert features a display of local artwork
inspired by Beethoven’s Ninth
Orange County, Calif.—May 14, 2012—Beethoven’s crowning achievement, the epic and exquisite Symphony No. 9, “Choral”—featuring the soul-stirring “Ode to Joy,” which has thrilled listeners around the world for nearly two centuries—brings Pacific Symphony’s 2011-12 classical season to a memorable close in a variety of ways. First! The concert, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, features a monumental union of orchestra and voices that includes Pacific Chorale and four world-class opera singers—soprano Kelley Nassief; mezzo-soprano Susana Poretsky; tenor Chad Shelton; and bass Kevin Deas—who take on the florid and challenging solo passages in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. Completing the program are two timely works by Frank Ticheli: “Rest” (a world premiere version for strings) and “Radiant Voices,” a hopeful response to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, providing a stunning prelude.
Taking place Thursday-Saturday, May 31, June 1-2, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, this concert is also part of the Symphony’s Music Unwound series and includes a display of Beethoven-inspired artwork by local artists who responded to the call: “OC Can You Create?” (more below). A preview talk by composer Ticheli begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$110; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
Second! Pacific Symphony, in association with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, presents the very first “Pacific Symphony Plazacast,” a live simulcast of the Symphony’s Beethoven Ninth performance shown on the Center’s Arts Plaza during the Saturday, June 2, concert starting at 9 p.m., with festivities, including a selection of food available for purchase, beginning at 8:30 p.m. The evening is a prismatic celebration of Maestro St.Clair’s 60th birthday, the Center’s 25th anniversary and John Alexander’s 40th anniversary as artistic director of Pacific Chorale, hosted by Classical KUSC’s Rich Capparela. This unique event is free and open to the public with no ticket required. The community is invited to come early, bring chairs and blankets, and picnic on the plaza, while enjoying a preview and live interviews by Capparela with key guest artists—and a few surprises.
“Beethoven’s Ninth is a symphony in search of a voice,” says Maestro St.Clair. “Yet, we don’t hear that voice until the final movement. ‘Ode to Joy’ has become an anthem for peace, for unification, for brotherly love, for manhood, and it’s just a simple little tune that we all know and can hum.”
When Beethoven’s Ninth premiered in 1824, conducted by the composer himself, he was so profoundly deaf that he heard nary a note. Nor did he hear the five standing ovations the epic choral work received. This is the final complete symphony of Beethoven, which has become one of the best-known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem. The symphony is considered one of Beethoven’s masterpieces and one of the greatest musical compositions ever written. It’s also the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. The words were taken from “Ode to Joy,” a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785.
“One of the texts that I love in Beethoven’s Ninth is diesen kuss der ganzen welt, “the kiss for the whole world,” continues St.Clair. “I really look upon this piece as Beethoven’s kiss to the whole world. What a gem he has given us. What Beethoven was trying to convey to us is probably prophetic, he was trying to tell us something, and that is why this piece has lived so long in our lives, in our hearts, and in concert stages around the world.”
Furthering the message of joy and hope during hard times, the concert opens with two works by the Symphony’s first composer-in-residence, Ticheli. “Rest” was originally written for and premiered by Pacific Chorale under the title “There Will Be Rest” for SATB chorus (1999), and dedicated “In Loving Memory of Cole Carsan St.Clair.” A renamed arrangement for concert band called “Rest” (2010) turned it into a purely instrumental work. For this concert, St.Clair requested that Ticheli recreate a new version for strings only. The second piece, “Radiant Voices,” was written in 1993 as a response to the Los Angeles riots, only a couple years after Ticheli had moved to California to teach at USC, Thornton School of Music.
“‘Radiant Voices,’ though composed in 1993 as a result of his feelings about the L.A. riots, is more a hopeful statement that something positive would come from this dark time,” says St.Clair. “Also, because he knew the orchestra so well, there are many solos for specific players and instruments. It starts with a cello solo; there’s also a trumpet solo, a clarinet solo, a flute cadenza, wonderful moments for just strings and a lot of percussion. It ends with an incredible joyful quality of sound and an energy that is quite positive, which is Frank Ticheli in a nutshell.”
This set of concerts is generously sponsored by Tara and David Troob. Pacific Symphony’s classical series performances are made possible by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation, with additional support from American Airlines, The Westin South Coast Plaza, KUSC and PBS SoCal.
St.Clair also leads the Symphony in an afternoon performance and conversation of the Ninth Symphony for Classical Connections, “Beethoven’s Ninth Revealed,” on Sunday, June 3, at 3 p.m. After the concert, patrons are invited to enjoy a free cup of coffee or tea and mingle with St.Clair and Symphony musicians in the lobby for “Coffee Connections,” as well as join a reception for the artists who submitted works to “OC Can You Create?”
About the Guest Vocalists
“If the angels in heaven really sing, please let them do it like Nassief. Her voice combines the best of two worlds: It has bel canto size, warmth and height, and yet is svelte, with a youthful sparkle,” wrote the Leipziger Volkszeitung when soprano Kelley Nassief sang “Elijah” with the Gewandhausorchester and Kurt Masur. It is her critically acclaimed performances on symphonic stages across the globe that have established Nassief as one of the world’s leading concert artists.
Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for having a voice of “extraordinary passion and power” and her “grand but emotionally transparent” characterizations, mezzo-soprano
Poretsky’s future engagements include a return to San Diego Opera as Fenena in “Nabucco” and performances of Verdi’s Requiem with the Washington Chorus. She also joins the San Francisco Ballet for Leonid Desyatnikov’s “Russian Seasons” as a part of Alexei Ratmansky’s Diamond Project, a work she premiered in the 2005-06 season and reprised the following season with the New York City Ballet.
Opera News praises tenor Chad Shelton for one of his trademark roles, claiming that his “Don José was the dramatic heart of this production; this was a performance that grew in complexity as he struggled to reconcile the forces of loyalty, lust and fate. Shelton owned the final scene, as his character descended into despair fueled by psychotic obsession. His bright tone amplified the intensity of the last gripping moments.”
Kevin Deas has gained international acclaim as one of America’s leading basses. Lauded for his “burnished sound, clarity of diction and sincerity of expression” and “fervent intensity” by Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein, Deas has been variously called “exemplary” (Denver Post), “especially fine” (Washington Post) and possessing “a resourceful range of expression” (The Cincinnati Enquirer). He is perhaps most acclaimed for his signature portrayal of the title role in “Porgy and Bess,” having sung it with Pacific Symphony, as well as the New York Philharmonic and numerous others.
About “OC Can You Create?” and Music Unwound
This concert is also one of three Music Unwound performances this season and includes
an array of artwork by local artists who responded to “OC Can You Create?” The call by the Symphony for original expressions reflecting the numerous ways Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has impacted humanity are on display in the concert lobby during the concerts, Thursday-Sunday, May 31-June 3.
“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is so interesting on so many levels,” says Kurt Mortensen, director of audience engagement. “Not only is it this iconic masterwork which influenced and transformed music in the 19th century and beyond, but it has so many extra-musical cultural associations which have greatly affected life on this planet. The piece serves as great inspiration for artists and our intention is that the lobby experience at the concert leaves patrons thinking about the monumental significance that Beethoven’s final symphony has had on humanity.”
Now in its third year, the Music Unwound initiative to bring innovative new formats and thematic programming to the concert experience is underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The goal of Music Unwound is to enhance the concert experience by creating contextual backdrops in an attempt to give the music deeper meaning. “Beethoven’s Ninth” is the third of three very different Music Unwound concerts produced by the Symphony during the 2011-12 season.
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