Pacific Symphony Launches New Concert Programs for Musician Innovation Grant

Pacific Symphony Launches New Concert Programs for  Musician Innovation Grant

Orange County, Calif.-June 18, 2015-Inspired by the creative minds and unique backgrounds of its musicians, Pacific Symphony and its Board of Directors awarded four orchestra members with a "Musician Innovation Grant" totaling $20,000 to fund new artistic projects. The grant's purpose is to give musicians the opportunity for original expression, creativity and experimentation, with the goal of serving new communities and developing new or deeper interest in classical music. These four chamber music performances explore such diverse themes as obsession, synesthesia, suppressed musical treasures of the 20th century, as well as classical and Broadway music. Taking place from June through next season, each of the events is free or low-cost to attend and features a chamber ensemble of Symphony musicians and outside artistic collaborators. For more about these projects and Pacific Symphony, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

The inaugural event took place June 6, when Principal Second Violinist Bridget Dolkas curated "Obsession," an evening of passionate and emotionally charged music in partnership with Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) in Santa Ana. On June 17, First Violinist Dana Freeman used music to invoke memories with a program of classical and Broadway tunes for the senior residential community of Laguna Woods. And coming up on July 18 and 19 at the Symphony in the Cities concerts in Mission Viejo and Irvine, Second Violinist MarlaJoy Weisshaar presents "Synesthesia," a family-friendly program that illustrates the concept of experiencing multiple senses at once. In 2016, flute/piccolo Cynthia Ellis uncovers music from suppressed Jewish composers in "The Inextinguishable Project."

Symphony musicians mixed it up with DJs, video and art for an immersive concert experience entitled "Obsession" earlier this month during the opening night of OCCCA's exhibit "Moist" in downtown Santa Ana. Spearheaded by Dolkas, "Obsession" dealt with desire taken too far, as well as sexuality and sensuality in music and art. A three-part event, Symphony musicians Dolkas, violist Carolyn Riley, violinist Alice Wrate and flutist Benjamin Smolen, along with keyboardist Ruby Cheng-Goya and cellist Alex Greenbaum, first performed in the gallery. As guests viewed the artwork, musicians shared the space and played a range of music from the Renaissance period through today. Along with interludes crafted by DJ VFresh, the classical works included Dowland's "Lacrimae Antiqua," Ravel's "Bolero," Debussy's "Syrinx" for Solo Flute, Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin (nicknamed "Obsession"), Bizet's "Habanera" from "Carmen" and Reich's Violin Phase, among others.

Video art was provided by the museum's executive director, Stephen Anderson, to help create a night of intense visual, emotional and aural stimulation. The musicians moved outside to the promenade for a more pop/rock take on "Obsession," which included Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and Santana's "Evil Ways," as well as a new take on Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet." At the conclusion, OCCCA welcomed everyone back inside for an after-party with DJ Hapa.

"Music and art are often a reflection of the human condition," said Dolkas. "Desire is a part of that condition and obsession is taking desire too far, pushing it to the extreme. My vision was to create an emotion-provoking performance to show that classical music can be relevant, exciting and attractive. I already had the theme of obsession in mind when I discovered OCCCA's call for artwork for their exhibit 'Moist.' This performance was a thrilling combination of classical and contemporary music, DJ remixes and art in the gallery!"

OCCCA's exhibit, "Moist," features a call for visual art curated by Ginger Shulick Porcella that explores the intricacies of eroticism and desire through the mediums of painting, photography and video. The show continues through July 11. For more information, visit

For her project, violinist Freeman chose to offer a musical performance to the residents of Laguna Woods, an active retirement community in south Orange County. Co-presented by The Lovers of Music Club in Laguna Woods, "Pacific Symphony Quartet in the Village" recently took place mid-afternoon, when violinist Agnes Gottschewski, violist Adam Neeley and cellist Laszlo Mezo, along with Freeman and soprano Susan Kotses, visited Clubhouse 5 to perform a free concert of classical and Broadway favorites.

"With 18,000 residents, there were certain to many who enjoy music, and quite a few retired musicians and music teachers," says Freeman. "The program balanced serious string quartet repertoire with Broadway sing-along show tunes. We wanted the music to be accessible to a wide audience, while satisfying the discerning taste of the professional musicians present."

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