Pacific Symphony to Kick Off SYMPHONY IN THE CITIES Concerts, 7/26

Pacific Symphony to Kick Off SYMPHONY IN THE CITIES Concerts, 7/26

Pack a picnic and gather the family for an evening of free music and outdoor summer fun when Pacific Symphony presents "Symphony in the Cities" (SITC) in Irvine and Mission Viejo. Music Director Carl St. Clair takes the orchestra out of the concert hall and into Orange County cities for the first in a series of community concerts (more to be announced) this 2014-15 season celebrating the maestro's milestone 25th anniversary with the orchestra.

Now a long-standing summer tradition, SITC brings thousands of people together for great music and entertainment in local parks each year. With a potpourri of popular classics, Americana and patriotic tunes, this year's concert includes Bizet's sultry Suite from "Carmen," featuring mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo, and four talented young violinists from Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings (PSSS) performing Vivaldi's Concerto in B Minor. Classical KUSC's radio host Rich Capparela serves as emcee and also narrates Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" before a final audience sing-along of patriotic favorites.

Starting at 7 p.m., this year's free SITC concerts take place Saturday, July 26, in the Village Green at Mission Viejo's Oso Viejo Community Park and Sunday, July 27, at Irvine's Mike Ward Community Park in Woodbridge. Arrive early to enjoy Mission Viejo's annual "Prelude in the Park," which begins at 4 p.m. and the Symphony's Musical Playground, which begins at 4 p.m. in Mission Viejo and 5:30 p.m. in Irvine. The Musical Playground features many interactive and hands-on activities for children, including instrument making, a drum circle, an instrument petting zoo, and an opportunity to meet the musicians. Pre-concert entertainment by the Helix Collective takes place 5:30-6:30 p.m. (in Irvine only). And in both cities-back by popular demand-kids have the chance to learn how to conduct with Maestro St.Clair and later help lead the orchestra in Sousa's "Hands Across the Sea" during the concert.

SITC is sponsored by FivePoint Communities/Great Park Neighborhoods with support from the cities of Irvine and Mission Viejo and other local sponsors. For more information, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

"One of my greatest passions is sharing my love of music with others, so every summer I am excited to bring Pacific Symphony out into the community, where music can touch the hearts of more people than ever," says Maestro St.Clair. "This year's program has something for everyone. We have familiar classical pieces from Bach, Vivaldi and Dvorák, a little opera from 'Carmen,' and some fantastic American music by two icons: John Williams and Aaron Copland. I am also greatly looking forward to working with the four young musicians from Santiago Strings. They have such great energy, and Symphony in the Cities will be an ideal way to show off their talents."

To begin, St.Clair opens the evening with Dvorák's spirited Slavonic Dance No. 1. Guest vocalist Rafalo, deemed "a mezzo to watch" by The Washington Post, channels the fiery Carmen for four selections from Bizet's famous opera. The gorgeous melodic lines of Bach's "Air" from Suite No. 3 (also known as Air on a G-String) are easily recognized because of its many uses in popular culture. PSSS violinists Danielle Liu, Albert Gang, Luchi Jiang and Sean Chang take the stage to perform the allegro movement from Vivaldi's Concerto in B Minor for Four Violins and Strings No. 10. The notable "Olympic Fanfare" by John Williams transitions the concert from European composers to classic Americana. Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" and his funny children's song, "I Bought Me a Cat" follow, and the evening concludes with a patriotic sing-along.