Pacific Symphony Dives Into New Year with Mozart's REQUIEM, Now thru 2/3

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Pacific Symphony dives into the New Year with gusto by exploring Mozart's "Requiem"-one of the most enigmatic pieces ever composed, mainly due to the myths and controversies surrounding it. Mozart's "Requiem," which was left unfinished at the time of the composer's death, now enjoys an elevated status as one of the most magnificent achievements in sacred music. It is therefore a subject ripe for the second Music Unwound concert of the Symphony's season, as Music Director Carl St.Clair and the orchestra dissect the master composer and his deathbed composition, which (ironically) was written for a stranger, yet in The End became the composer's own requiem. In addition to providing a probing look inside the composer and his final work, this concert examines Mozart's desire to create "some higher form of Church music."

Featuring four world-class vocalists, soprano-Sharla Nafziger, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, tenor Brian Stucki, bass-baritone Derrick Parker-and the angelic voices of the Pacific Chorale, the program also includes Mozart's Masonic Funeral Music, Fantasia in F Minor for solo organ, featuring organist Jung-A Lee, Ave verum corpus, plus, excerpts from and the Overture to "The Magic Flute." Taking place tonight through Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the concert includes a preview talk at 7 p.m. and a post-concert talkback with Symphony advisor Joseph Horowitz and Maestro St.Clair. Tickets are $25-$112; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.

Then, on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 3 p.m., Classical Connections further investigates why Mozart's deathbed composition is considered one of the most sublime accomplishments in classical music. In addition to Mozart's "Requiem," the program includes the composer's Fantasia in F Minor for solo organ, featuring organist Jung-A Lee and Ave verum corpus. Led by Maestro St.Clair, as he provides insightful commentary to the composer and his works, Pacific Symphony is joined by soprano Nafziger, mezzo-soprano Mentzer, tenor Stucki, bass-baritone Parker and the sublime voices of the Pacific Chorale. Tickets for this concert are $25-$95. For more information about this concert or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.

And in preparation for the concerts, don't miss the screening of the 1984 feature film, "Amadeus," which tells the indelible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through flashbacks by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri (confined at the time to an insane asylum). The film is being shown in partnership with the Newport Beach Film Festival on Monday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Regency Lido Theater in Newport Beach. This is a free event-first come, first served. The story is a variation of Alexander Pushkin's play "Mozart i Salieri" (1830), in which the composer Salieri recognizes the genius of Mozart but thwarts him out of envy. The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes and a Directors Guild of America award. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked "Amadeus" 53rd on its "100 Years... 100 Movies" list.

Mozart's "Requiem" provides another chapter in the Symphony's "Departures" theme, which explores final works by classical music's most iconic composers, all of whom had very different and fascinating ways of expressing their last thoughts. Mozart's "Requiem" follows on the heels of Mahler's Ninth and Beethoven's Ninth in 2011-12, Bruckner's Ninth Symphony from the 2010-11 season's "Cathedrals of Sound"; and the 2009-10 season's "A Tchaikovsky Portrait: Child of Glass," which looked at how Tchaikovsky's turbulent personal life shaped his emotionally packed Sixth Symphony.

"We're continuing this tradition of composers' final thoughts with a program that is all Mozart-featuring his 'Requiem," says St.Clair. "We know Mozart didn't complete this before he died, but he left us with 91 pages of manuscript-and there have been several completions done by various people. We know that his wife felt he was ill at the time he wrote it and that he had at least an inkling that these could be his final pages of manuscript. And so it is really always a very inspiring and religious experience-a spiritual experience-to approach the 'Requiem,' with a program that really probes Mozart's departure."

Now in its fourth year, the Music Unwound initiative brings innovative new formats and thematic programming to the concert experience continues. Underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, each season the Symphony produces three very different enhanced concert experiences created through contextual backdrops in an attempt to give the music deeper meaning-this year beginning with a concert that took place in November 2012, "Come to the Cabaret." As the second Music Unwound concert, Mozart's Requiem is delivered through an array of media.

"This particular program will be linked together with dialogue, actors, lighting, pictures and pictorials, so that we can get a deep sense of Mozart's final years and final days, as he was struggling to complete this 'Requiem' at The End of his life," says St.Clair. "It's going to be a very, very interesting compilation of Mozart's work, all having to do with his departure, ending with his Requiem."

In the lobby, patrons are going to encounter Mozart Mashup-a musical game of dice- originally called a Musikalisches Würfelspiel, which began as a system for using dice to randomly generate music from pre-composed options. These games were quite popular throughout Western Europe in the 18th century. In 2013, Symphony patrons swipe a touch pad, which then yields a "virtual dice roll" resulting in a number between two and 12-with the number corresponding to a specific measure of music. The process is repeated to produce 15 different measures, in order to complete a score. The newly arranged scores are revealed electronically via a computer and flat-screen TV and a violinist and cellist from the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO) perform the music. This process is repeated, each time revealing new music determined by chance. The PSYO musicians perform the patron-generated scores on both the Unwound and Connections Mozart concerts.

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. The Thursday, Jan. 31, concert is sponsored by the Shanbrom Family Foundation and Friday, Feb. 1, is sponsored by Symphony 100.