Pacific Symphony Opens 35th Season with 19-Year-Old Pianist, Conrad Tao, 9/26

Pacific Symphony Opens 35th Season with 19-Year-Old Pianist, Conrad Tao, 9/26

Pacific Symphony celebrates its 35th anniversary season by opening with a concert featuring the stunning virtuosity of 19-year-old piano phenomenon Conrad Tao, who returns for his third appearance to perform Rachmaninoff's powerful Piano Concerto No. 3, featured in the 1996 hit movie "Shine." Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the concert takes place Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 26-28, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

An acclaimed pianist himself, Rachmaninoff wrote and debuted this dazzling showpiece for his North American tour in 1909. Tao-hailed as both an "exciting prodigy" and "breathtaking"- is sure to give a jaw-dropping performance when he tackles this piece, one of the repertoire's most powerful, most demanding and most loved works. Fittingly, the evening opens with the short and jubilant "Festivities" by California-based composer Peter Boyer and concludes with Brahms' monumental Symphony No. 4, sweeping with melodic writing and dual emotions of joy and sorrow.

As Rachmaninoff's close friend Clara Schumann observed of the music: "It is as though one lay in springtime among the blossoming flowers, and joy and sorrow filled one's soul in turn." Season-ticket packages for the Classical series are $240-$975. Single tickets for this concert are $25-$99. A preview talk with Alan Chapman begins at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

"It is always a wonderful moment to welcome the return of a new season and to greet our faithful audience back to the hall, as well as new family members, after a summer under the stars," says Maestro St.Clair. "For the orchestra, celebrating our 35th Anniversary is a milestone. It also symbolizes the importance the Symphony has grown to have within our community. Conrad is an exciting artist and we love having him perform with our orchestra. It will be especially memorable to have him open our season with Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto, a favorite of almost everyone. And offering a masterwork like the Fourth Symphony of Johannes Brahms is also a wonderful way to say 'welcome back.'"

An opening night celebration, "Rachmaninoff-From Russia with Love," takes place Thursday, Sept. 26, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Center Club in Costa Mesa, and includes a delectable dinner, concert and post-concert reception with desserts and entertainment (including dancers from UC-Irvine)-all wrapped in Russian elegance. The event's presenting sponsor is South Coast Plaza and OMEGA at Tourbillon Boutique is the retail partner. For more information about purchasing a table or individual seats and concert tickets, contact the Symphony's special events department at (714) 876-2364 or

Last but not least, Tao returns for a fourth performance and the start of the Sunday Connections series, "Rach 3 Revealed," on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 3 p.m. Maestro St.Clair serves as host to bring the composer and his music-one of the most difficult and most beautiful concertos in the repertoire-to life. Sunday Connections (full of personal and insightful commentary) four-concert season packages are $85-$285. Single tickets are $25-$85. For more information or to purchase subscriptions or single tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

"Most of my time is spent trying to understand the work structurally-it's a huge piece!-so that I can feel free, in performance, to be spontaneous and impulsive," says the dynamic pianist, Tao. "It's an incredibly colorful piece filled with ageless melodies...which equals endless possibilities...which equals endless fun for me! I'm looking forward to working with Carl St.Clair again! The past two experiences were galvanizing music-making and I'm excited for more."