Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Pacific Symphony Announces 2019-20 Season

Carl St.Clair, music director of Pacific Symphony and John Forsyte, the Symphony's president, announce programming for the orchestra's 2019-20 season. Pacific Symphony will celebrate Carl St.Clair's 30th year as music director of the orchestra and pays homage to Beethoven to honor the 250th anniversary of the great composer's birth. This landmark season commences on Thursday, Sept. 26 with Maestro St.Clair conducting the combined forces of Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale in a program featuring two great blockbusters: Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, a forerunner to his mighty Ninth Symphony along with Carl Orff's popular masterpiece Carmina Burana, the most frequently performed choral work of the 21st century.

Comprising 18 programs, the 2019-20 classical season features the Maestro's preferred composers, works and performing artists that he has enjoyed over the past three decades. He has carefully selected artists, repertoire and new works by contemporary composers he's worked with in the past. The season also reflects the orchestra's diverse repertoire from core symphonic works to world premieres to full-length operas.

Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte commented: We are fortunate to have had Carl St.Clair guiding and building Pacific Symphony for 30 years. He is the longest-tenured music director of America's leading orchestras and only the second music director in Pacific Symphony's 40-year history. The people of Orange County have enjoyed the benefit of this brilliant musician's singular vision for the orchestra. For three decades, in which we have experienced Pacific Symphony's tremendous growth, he has creatively shaped the musical taste of Orange County audiences and has expanded their listening horizons.

My musical experiences with the incredible musicians of Pacific Symphony has been an incredible gift, acknowledged Carl St.Clair. It has been my pleasure to work with these brilliant artists over the past 30 years, and I have selected for the 2019-20 season particularly meaningful repertoire that showcases their virtuosity and humanity as well as our shared musical history.

St.Clair continued, I see my 30th season as music director with Pacific Symphony as a time to reflect and also celebrate. I am pleased that long-time friends and recently discovered collaborators will be sharing the stage with me during this special season: for instance the French Canadian pianist Alain Lef vre and Benjamin Pasternack, who has played more with Pacific Symphony than any other pianist, as well as new friends such as Alexander Romanovsky, the brilliant young Ukrainian pianist, who will be joining us for an immersive weekend where together we'll traverse all five of Beethoven's piano concertos. I'm also gratified to include world premieres written especially for this season at my request. Elliot Goldenthal, who composed A Vietnam Oratorio for my first recording with Pacific Symphony, agreed to write a new work especially for this season. My dear friend and USC colleague Frank Ticheli will also be writing a new work to be premiered with us this season. And, of course, my 30th season wouldn't be complete without including special works by composer John Williams, who was so instrumental in encouraging me to come to Pacific Symphony in the first place.

2019-20 Season Highlights at a Glance

Beethoven Immersion Weekend

The 2019-20 season presents many opportunities to experience the works of Beethoven, a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in classical music, including a special immersion weekend presenting all five piano concertos over three days (March 19-21, 2020). The soloist will be Alexander Romanovsky, described by the legendary conductor Carlo Maria Giulini as extraordinarily gifted. Romanovsky was praised by Gramophone magazine as a pianist who can produce the thunderous sound and sharp-edge ringing bass that sends a tingle down the spine just the artist you would want to hear perform Beethoven's immortal piano works that culminate in the magnificent Emperor. Sharing in the program for these three concerts will be the Coriolan and Prometheus overtures (March 19, 2020), Symphony No. 8 (March 21, 2020) and Romances Nos. 1 and 2 (March 20, 2020) with Concertmaster Dennis Kim as soloist. Special Beethoven Birthday Bash packages that include a three-concert ticket discount, hotel, champagne toasts, Viennese Sacher Torte and much more will be available starting in spring.

World Premieres in Honor of Carl St.Clair

Carl St.Clair has commissioned two works to mark his 30th anniversary season. St.Clair has asked the Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal to write an adagio that embodies the same poignant post-Romantic sensibility as heard on his film scores for Batman Forever Titus, Cobb and Alien3. Goldenthal's Adagio for Carl's 30th will receive its world premiere on a program that also features Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Van Cliburn winner Vadym Kholodenko's as soloist and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, which was on the first program St.Clair conducted as Pacific Symphony's new music director in 1990 (Dec. 5-7). Frank Ticheli, who was Pacific Symphony's first composer-in-residence (1991-1997) is composing an innovative work, Concerto for Audience and Orchestra that will be performed on a program that also includes Symphony No. 4 of Brahms and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 with Conrad Tao as soloist (May 28-30, 2020).

Metropolitan Opera Star Carl Tanner in Verdi's Otello

Otello is the first Verdi opera that St.Clair ever conducted and remains a St.Clair favorite. This great tragic opera will be Pacific Symphony's semi-staged opera for the 2020 season (April 23, 25 and 28) and presents the Symphony debut of Metropolitan Opera star tenor Carl Tanner. He has established his international career performing regularly in the world's most prestigious opera houses, including Opera National de Paris, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro alla Scala, and in December 2018 was a last-minute replacement as Otello in Gustavo Dudamel's house debut conducting the Verdi opera at the Metropolitan Opera. Tanner's Otello at Savonlinna Festival in Finland was described as 'richly timbred with a clear and astounding ringing force in the top register. Soprano Kelebogile Besong who made her North American opera debut with Pacific Symphony as Aida in 2017 returns in the role of Desdemona. Singing the role of the villainous Iago will be bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, who made his first appearance with the Symphony on opening night of the 2017-18 season singing Wotan's Farewell. The stage director is Robert Neu, who directed last season's performance of The Magic Flute.

First Symphony performances of Florence Price works

Pacific Symphony audiences will be introduced to music by Florence Price, an under-appreciated composer with an important voice. She was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. She was born in Arkansas, but trained at the New England Conservatory, the only music school at the time to accept African-Americans as students. But as a black woman composing classical music, she had a difficult time making headway in a culture that defined composers as white, male and dead, as Alex Ross of The New Yorker recently wrote. Price's Dances in the Canebrakes and Piano Concerto in One Movement will receive their Symphony premieres on a program that also features Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris (Nov. 14-16). The piano soloist for these performances will be Aaron Diehl, described by Wynton Marsalis as The Real Diehl because of his consummate mastery of the instrument.

Guest Soloists

Pacific Symphony guest soloists during the 2019-20 season include pianist Benjamin Pasternack playing Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and on the same program soprano Celena Shafer, tenor Christopher Pfund and baritone Hugh Russell are the soloists for both the Beethoven and Orff's Carmina Burana (Sept. 26-28); Pacific Symphony's concertmaster Dennis Kim performing Ravel's virtuosic Tzigane (Oct. 17-19) and Beethoven's Romances Nos. 1 and 2 (March 20, 2020); Vadym Kholodenko performing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 (Dec. 5-7); Alain Lef vre playing Ravel's Concerto in G Major (Feb. 6-8); Augustin Hadelich performing Paganini's First Violin Concerto (Feb. 27-29, 2020); and Alexander Romanovsky performing all five Beethoven Piano Concertos (March 19-21, 2020).

Soloists making their Pacific Symphony debuts are pianist Aaron Diehl, performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Florence Price's Piano Concerto in One Movement (Nov. 14-16), Clara-Jumi Kang, an award-winning young pianist in demand throughout Europe, performing Beethoven's Violin Concerto (Jan. 16-18, 2020); and Metropolitan Opera star Carl Tanner as Otello (April 23, 25 and 28, 2020).

Sunday Matin es

Carl St.Clair has devoted his tenure at Pacific Symphony to designing festivals and concert series that enable audiences to engage more deeply with both new music and standard orchestral repertoire. The four-concert Sunday Matin es series was launched in 1995. Speaking from the stage, Maestro St.Clair offers the audience an intimate and lively exploration of the classics. These informal concerts are just 90 minutes long and provide a perfect introduction to classical music. (Sept. 29; Feb. 9, 2020; March 22, 2020; and May 31, 2020).

Additional Programming

Pacific Symphony presents three special concerts during the 2019-20 season: the holiday presentation of Handel's Messiah (Dec. 8) featuring the Pacific Chorale, led by guest conductor Robert Istad; and two concerts that reflect the Orange County community including Lunar New Year and Nowruz (Iranian New Year) celebrations led by Carl St.Clair (Jan. 25, 2020 and March 27, respectively).

The soon-to-be announced SummerFest season at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa includes three concerts beneath the stars, beginning July 4 and ending on Sept. 7. Programming still to be announced in coming months includes the Pops series, Family Musical Mornings, Caf Ludwig chamber music series and the Pedals and Pipes organ series.

Subscription and Ticket Information

Subscription materials for Pacific Symphony's 2019-20 season of classics are now available, offering a savings of up to 50% off regular single-ticket prices on a wide variety of concert packages from four to 12 concerts each. Subscribers save 20% on additional tickets purchased throughout the year and enjoy easy ticket exchange options and other subscriber-only benefits, including preferential discounts at nearby restaurants.

Tickets for special concerts are currently available for purchase only with subscriptions. Subscriptions may be purchased or renewed by any of four methods: online, by phone, by mail or in person at the Symphony office at 17620 Fitch, Irvine, CA 92614. Pacific Symphony provides an easy payment plan option for subscribers.

For more information, call Pacific Symphony Patron Services at (714) 755-5799, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit Groups of 10 or more who are interested in subscribing to the 2019-20 season should call Pacific Symphony's group sales department at (714) 876-2311.

Patrons may also visit to order tickets, learn about other nearby attractions and restaurants and make donations. The Symphony's website provides background on the performances and the performers, along with Spotify playlists of works to be performed.

Patrons can subscribe to the Symphony's monthly newsletter Pacific Overtures. They can also check out the blog, which features engaging articles, audio and video clips to enhance patrons' experience before and after performances; and follow us on social media channels, Instagram Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WeChat and LinkedIn.

Pacific Symphony performs in the heart of Southern California at the Ren e and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at 615 Town Center Drive on the Segerstrom Center for the Arts campus in Costa Mesa.

Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa is the official hotel of Pacific Symphony.


All concerts at Ren e and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Programs, artists, dates and prices subject to change.



Sept. 26-28, 2019 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Celena Shafer, soprano

Christopher Pfund, tenor

Hugh Russell, baritone

Benjamin Pasternack, piano

Pacific Chorale Robert Istad, artistic director

BEETHOVEN: Egmont Overture

BEETHOVEN: Choral Fantasy

ORFF: Carmina Burana


Oct. 17-19, 2019 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Dennis Kim, violin

WILLIAMS: Tributes! For Seiji

RAVEL: Tzigane

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6, Path tique


Nov. 14-16, 2019 8 p.m.

Mei-Ann Chen, conductor

Aaron Diehl, piano

CHADWICK: Jubilee from Symphonic Sketches

PRICE: Dances in the Canebrakes

PRICE: Piano Concerto in One Movement

GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue

GERSHWIN: An American in Paris


Dec. 5-7, 2019 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Vadym Kholodenko, piano

GOLDENTHAL: Adagio for Carl's 30th (World premiere)

PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7


Jan. 16-18, 2020 8 p.m.

Christian Arming, conductor

Clara-Jumi Kang, violin

BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto

DVO K: Symphony No. 8


Feb. 6-8, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alain Lef vre, piano

RAVEL: Tombeau de Couperin

RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G Major

BERLIOZ: Symphonie Fantastique


Feb. 27-29, 2020 8 p.m.

Michael Francis, conductor

Augustin Hadelich, violin

ROUSE: Prospero's Rooms

PAGANINI: Violin Concerto No. 1

RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 3

Beethoven Immersion Weekend


Mar. 19-21, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alexander Romanovsky, piano

Dennis Kim, violin


BEETHOVEN: Overture to Coriolan

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1

BEETHOVEN: Overture to Prometheus

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4


BEETHOVEN: Romance No. 1 in G Major

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2

BEETHOVEN: Romance No. 2 in F Major

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3


BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor


April 23, 25, 28, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Kelebogile Besong, soprano

Carl Tanner, tenor

Greer Grimsley, bass-baritone

Pacific Chorale Robert Istad, artistic director

VERDI: Otello


May 7-9, 2020 8 p.m.

Jose Luis Gomez, conductor

Joyce Yang, piano

CARRE O: Margarite a

RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 4 (1851 version)


May 28-30, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Conrad Tao, piano

TICHELI: Concerto for Audience and Orchestra (World premiere)

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4


June 11-13, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale Robert Istad, artistic director

MAHLER: Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand



Sept. 29, 2019 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale Robert Istad, artistic director

ORFF: Carmina Burana


Feb. 9, 2020 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alain Lef vre, piano

RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G Major

BERLIOZ: Symphonie Fantastique


March 22, 2020 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alexander Romanovsky, piano

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor


May 31, 2020 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4

2019-20 SPECIALS


Dec. 8, 2019 3 p.m.

Robert Istad, conductor

Pacific Chorale

HANDEL: Messiah


Jan 25, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Program and artists to be announced

NOWRUZ (Iranian New Year)

March 27, 2020 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Program and artists to be announced

Artists, programs, prices and dates are subject to change.

Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You