Pacific Symphony Announces 21-22 Classical Season

Pacific Symphony’s live concert reopening this September will be modified as needed based on conditions improving and vaccination levels rising.

By: May. 06, 2021
Pacific Symphony Announces 21-22 Classical Season

After more than a year of producing online education and performance content, Music Director Carl St.Clair and President John Forsyte today announced the return of live music to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Hall with Pacific Symphony. The 2021-22 concert season begins Sept. 30 with a festive opening night featuring internationally acclaimed pianist Emanuel Ax as soloist, kicking off the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Classical Series for the 2021-22 season.

Music Director Carl St.Clair commented, "Pacific Symphony musicians and I are so happy to be reuniting with our audiences. From the bottom of our hearts we welcome you all back and invite you into our musical home once again. The musicians have continued creating great art online during pandemic, but nothing compares with performing for you live in our concert hall. Orange County audiences have come to appreciate a combination of innovative new works, neglected but not forgotten works of the past and classical favorites. In 21-22 we will offer three new world premieres, first-time Pacific Symphony performances, and I am very excited to produce the ambitious opera, Verdi's 'Otello,' which was the first opera I conducted. Lastly, I greatly look forward to partnering with David Ivers, artistic director of our beloved neighbor South Coast Repertory, on 'The Mozart Project.'"

President John Forsyte added, "Our patrons were amazing throughout this difficult year, offering encouragement, donating tickets and making financial contributions which enabled us to keep symphonic and chamber music alive. After a year's hiatus from performing live concerts in the hall leading to streamed concerts online, Carl and I are thrilled to be able to announce the orchestra's return to the acoustically pristine Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall." Forsyte continued, "We take pride in performing for audiences in a venue which has been thoroughly tested for excellence in air-handling and which possesses ample lobby space. Teams from UC Irvine and from the industrial hygiene firm, TRC, have provided outstanding input on safety protocols and attested to outstanding quality of air handling in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall."

Board Chairman John Evans added, "On behalf of Pacific Symphony, I would like to thank the board members and donors for their generosity in helping the orchestra to continue to serve the community through digital offerings in spite of the unprecedented financial difficulties we experienced during the pandemic. We would also like to extend our gratitude to our loyal subscribers who allowed us to keep on account the money they paid for the 2020-21 season and apply it to the 2021-22 season."

Pacific Symphony's live concert reopening this September will be modified as needed based on conditions improving and vaccination levels rising. The Symphony remains committed to the safety of the public and will continue collaborating closely with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts to align with evolving regulations set by the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the California Department of Public Health, Orange County Health Department and University of California, Irvine public health experts.

2021-22 Season Highlights at a Glance

The 2021-22 classical season reflects the orchestra's diverse repertoire-from core symphonic works, new commissions, full-length opera and cross-disciplinary collaborations.

First Pacific Symphony Performances and World Premieres

The 2021-22 season holds a number of exciting works that are World Premieres and First Symphony Performances:

Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 2-Maintaining his long-standing commitment to American composers, Carl St.Clair has programed the first piece to be heard on opening night in the new season to be the world premiere of Wayne Oquin's orchestral transcription, "Tower Ascending." Oquin, who is one of among today's most performed American composers, wrote that this work "is my own depiction of an ongoing aspect of urban city life: the construction of modern skyscrapers. Just as skyscrapers are built laying stone upon stone, floor upon floor, so, too, is this music constructed from the bottom up: measure upon measure, phrase upon phrase, rhythm upon rhythm."

Oct. 14-16-Frank Ticheli, who was Pacific Symphony's first composer-in-residence (1991-1997), has written an all new work "All the World's A Stage" for audience and orchestra. Patrons will experience a completely immersive sonic experience that requires them to generate sounds that enrich and engage with the tonal production of the orchestra. The world premiere of this innovative new work commissioned by and dedicated to Carl St.Clair will be performed on a program that also includes Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme and Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony.

Jan. 27-29, 2022-First Pacific Symphony Performance: Lili Boulanger was the first female winner of the Prix de Rome for composition in 1913. She was the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger, the music mentor who influence generations of young composers from Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla and Quincy Jones to Burt Bacharach. Boulanger's "D'un matin de printemps," a symphonic tone poem that evokes a spring morning's fresh beauty, was written during the last year of her life. Her promising career was cut short when she passed away from tuberculosis at only 24.

March 10-12, 202-First Pacific Symphony Performance: American-born Michael Ippolito found inspiration in Joan Miro's 1940 painting "Nocturne." Ippolito commented about his Nocturne for Orchestra that he was "first drawn to the pure visual appeal of Miro's fantastical figures and swirling lines, but I was also intrigued by the idea of a 'nocturne' with so much energy and whimsy."

April 28-30, 2022-First Pacific Symphony Performance: Innocente Carreño's "Margariteña" captures the colorful spirit and folk music of popular tunes and lively rhythms from the island of Margarita off the coast of Venezuela where Carreño was born. Venezuelan-born conductor, José Luis Gómez brings an authentic energy to the piece from his native country.

World Premiere of Pacific Symphony Commission from Sir James MacMillan

Feb. 17-19, 2022-Leading Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan has been hailed by The New York Times as "ceaselessly inventive, evocative and penetrating." This major commission, entitled "Fiat Lux" ("Let There Be Light"), utilizes a text by Dana Gioia, the internationally acclaimed poet, California poet laureate and chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Carl St.Clair directs the performance, which opens with the English Renaissance motet "Spem in alium" by Thomas Tallis followed by Strauss' eternal tone poem "Death and Transfiguration." Pacific Chorale joins the Symphony on both the Tallis and the MacMillan world premiere for this "Cathedrals of Sound" program, which will take audiences on a spiritual journey, offering an evening of inspiration, awe and ambience. This concert is generously sponsored by Fieldstead and Company.

Metropolitan Opera Star Carl Tanner in Verdi's "Otello"

April 7, 9 and 12, 2022-"Otello" is the first Verdi opera that St.Clair ever conducted and remains a favorite of his. This great tragic opera will be Pacific Symphony's semi-staged opera for the 2020 season 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." South African soprano Kelebogile Besong, who made her North American opera debut with Pacific Symphony as Aida in 2017, returns in the role of Desdemona. The stage director is Robert Neu, who directed the Symphony's online broadcast of "La Traviata" (June 5, 2021).

"The Mozart Project," an Original Collaboration with South Coast Repertory

May 19-21, 2022-Pacific Symphony and South Coast Repertory come together for an original partnership inspired by the artistry of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Joining the Symphony will be South Coast Repertory's Artistic Director David Ivers, who portrayed Antonio Salieri, to critical acclaim in the Utah Shakespeare Festival production of "Amadeus" in 2015, and James Sullivan as stage director. With the combined forces of the Symphony, Pacific Chorale and South Coast Repertory, this unique cross-disciplinary collaboration, "The Mozart Project" promises to be a memorable highlight of the 2021-22 season.

Beethoven Immersion Weekend

June 9-11, 2022-The capstone of the 2021-22 season will be a special immersion weekend presenting all five Beethoven piano concertos over three days (June 9-11, 2022). 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" overture (June 9, 2022), Symphony No. 8 (June 11, 2022) and Romances Nos. 1 and 2 (June 10, 2022) with Concertmaster Dennis Kim as soloist.

Guest Soloists

Pacific Symphony guest soloists during the 2020-21 season include Emanuel Ax performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 (Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 2); Rachel Barton Pine* performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto (Nov. 11-13); Haochen Zhang performing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 (Dec. 2-4); duo pianists and identical twins, Christina and Michelle Naughton* in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos (Jan. 6-8, 2022); Bomsori Kim* performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto (Jan. 27-29, 2022); soprano Elissa Johnston performing in the world premiere of MacMillan's "Let There Be Light" ("Fiat Lux") commissioned by Pacific Symphony (Feb. 17-19, 2022); James Ehnes performing Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 (March 10-12, 2022); tenor Carl Tanner in the lead role of Verdi's "Otello" (April 7, 9, 12); pianist Joyce Yang performing Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini (April 28-30, 2022), Alexander Romanovsky in all five Beethoven Piano Concertos (June 9-12, 2022).

* An asterisk indicates soloists who are making debuts with Pacific Symphony this season.

Sunday Matinees

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 matinee series was launched in 1995. Speaking from the stage, 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. The series includes: Tchaikovsky's Fifth (Oct. 3); Beethoven's Heroic Symphony (Oct. 17); Mahler Symphony No. 4 (Jan. 9, 2022); and Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto (June 12, 2022).

Additional Programming

Pacific Symphony presents four special concerts during the 2021-22 season: the holiday presentation of Handel's Glorious "Messiah" (Dec. 5, 2021) featuring the Pacific Chorale, led by guest conductor Robert Moody; and two concerts that reflect the Orange County community including "Lunar New Year" and "Nowruz" (Iranian New Year) celebrations led by Carl St.Clair (Feb. 5, 2022 and March 26, 2022, respectively).

The soon-to-be-announced SummerFest season will presents concerts beneath the stars, beginning July 4 and ending on the weekend after Labor Day weekend. Programming still to be announced in coming weeks and months includes the Pops series, Café Ludwig chamber music series and the Pedals and Pipes organ series.

Subscription and Ticket Information

Subscriptions on Sale, May 3, 2021
Season Tickets Start at Just $25 per Concert
Visit, or call (714) 755-5799

Subscription information for Pacific Symphony's 2021-22 classical season is 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.

Additional single tickets for subscription performances as well as 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, Suite 100, 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 that are interested in subscribing to the 2021-22 season should call Pacific Symphony's box office at (714) 755-5799.

Patrons may also visit to 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.

Pacific Symphony performs in the heart of Southern California at the Renée 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. The 2021-22 season media sponsors include the Los Angeles Times, Classical KUSC and PBS SoCal.

All concerts at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Programs, artists and dates subject to change.



Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, 2021 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Emanuel Ax, piano

OQUIN: "Tower Ascending" (Symphonic World Premiere)

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5


Oct. 14-16, 2021 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Cellist to be announced

TICHELI: "All the World's a Stage" (World Premiere)

TCHAIKOVSKY: Variations on a Rococo Theme

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, "Eroica"


Nov. 11-13, 2021 • 8 p.m.

Teddy Abrams, conductor

Rachel Barton Pine, violin

MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto

Remaining program to be announced


Dec. 2-4, 2021 • 8 p.m.

Markus Stenz, conductor

Haochen Zhang, piano

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2

DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
STRAVINSKY: Suite from "The Firebird" (1945)


Jan. 6-8, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Celena Shafer, soprano

Christina Naughton, piano

Michelle Naughton, piano

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos

MAHLER: Symphony No. 4


Jan. 27-29, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Anja Bihlmaier, conductor

Bomsori Kim, violin

BOULANGER: "D'un matin de printemps"

TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2


Feb. 17-19, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Robert Istad, conductor

Elissa Johnston, soprano
Baritone to be announced
Pacific Chorale-Robert Istad, artistic director

TALLIS: "Spem in Alium"

STRAUSS: "Death and Transfiguration"
MACMILLAN: "Fiat Lux" (World Premiere)


March 10-12, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Edo de Waart, conductor

James Ehnes, violin

IPPOLITO: Nocturne for orchestra

PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 2

SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3, "Organ Symphony"


April 7, 9 and 12, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Robert Neu, stage director

Carl Tanner, tenor

Kelebogile Besong, soprano

Pacific Chorale-Robert Istad, artistic director

VERDI: "Otello"


April 28-30, 2022 • 8 p.m.

José Luis Gómez, conductor

Joyce Yang, piano

CARREÑO: Margariteña

RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

SCHUMAN: Symphony No. 4 (1851 version)


May 19-21, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor
David Ivers, Artistic Director, South Coast Repertory
James Sullivan, stage director

Pacific Chorale-Robert Istad, artistic director

MOZART: Overture to "Don Giovanni"
MOZART: Selections from the movie, "Amadeus"
MOZART: Requiem in D Minor


June 9-12, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alexander Romanovsky, piano

Dennis Kim, violin


BEETHOVEN: Overture to "Coriolan"

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1

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"



Dec. 5 • 3 p.m.

Robert Moody, conductor

Pacific Chorale-Robert Istad, Artistic Director


Feb. 5, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Festivities honoring the Lunar New Year, The Year of the Tiger. Artists to be announced.


March 26, 2022 • 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Traditional celebration that marks the beginning of spring. Artists to be announced.



Oct. 3 • 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5


Oct. 17 • 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, "Eroica"


Jan. 9, 2022 • 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

MAHLER: Symphony No. 4


June 12, 2022 • 3 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Alexander Romanovsky, piano

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor"

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