By Larry Taylor/Garden Grove Journal
Pacific Symphony Orchestra finishes up its concert season this weekend at Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts. Later this month, Pacific begins preparing for its outdoor summer schedule which kicks off July 4 with an Elvis Presley tribute.
The regular schedule concludes this weekend at the Segerstrom Concert Hall with a “Rhapsody in Blue” concert. It features the Gershwin classic, with OrionWeiss at the piano. The evening finishes with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.
Also worth noting is last week’s PSO concert which was particularly notable for its introduction of 16-year-old pianist prodigy Conrad Tao.
At the end of his dazzling performance, he received a prolonged ovation before coming back for an encore. He was followed by a dramatically moving performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. Conductor Carl St. Clair, in an introduction, said that the Russian composer was “persona non grata” with Stalin in the thirties. In this symphony, he clearly thumbs his nose at the dictator with its mock-heroic satiric tone.
Kicking summer off in Irvine at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, the Presley Fourth of July celebration stars the “King of Rock and Roll” in the guise of renowned Elvis impersonator Kraig Parker, performing with the Pacific orchestra, led by conductor Richard Kaufman. On the program are “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Love Me Tender,” “Hound Dog” and more Elvis hits. The evening includes fiddler Tom Demer, playing patriotic holiday favorites. Concluding the evening will be a fireworks display.
The second concert, “The Fab Five,” takes place July 16, with the orchestra under the baton of Carl St.Clair. It stars five young pianists known as The 5 Browns. Internationally acclaimed, the quintet will play Mozart’s Concerto for Three Pianos. Rounding out the bill, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Saint-Saens’ colorful tribute to the animal kingdom, “Carnival of the Animals.”
On Aug. 6, childhood memories will be revived with “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, led by the show’s creator and conductor Richard Kaufman. Bugs, Tweety Pie, Sylvester, Pepe le Pew, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd will cavort across the big screen, accompanied live by the orchestra. Classic cartoons such as “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “The Rabbit of Seville” will be re-visited.
World-famous Duke Ellington, jazz composer and band leader, will be celebrated Aug. 27. For this concert, Ellington’s musical genius will spotlighted in a selection of his great songs: “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mood Indigo,” “Take the ‘A’ Train” and more. The program, under Carl St. Clair’s leadership, also includes Bernstein’s rousing “Slava” and “Three Dance Episodes” from “On the Town,” as well as Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”
As per tradition, Tchaikovsky Spectacular” closes the summer season Sept. 3. It will be highlighted by the Russian composer’s “1812 Overture” with its thrilling climax consisting of thundering cannons and fireworks. Led by Maxim Eshkenazy, the concert also features young Georgian virtuoso pianist Alexander Korsantia soloing in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Rounding out the bill is Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Liadov’s “The Enchanted Lake” and Tchaikovsky’s Suite from “Sleeping Beauty.”
As summer concert-goers know, there is nothing like listening to music outdoors in mild summer weather, and a picnic supper on the lawn makes the experience even better. At Summer Fest, concert-goers can choose from several options which provide picnic suppers or bring in their own baskets. The outdoor party ambience is what makes the experience so much fun.
For more information, call (714) 755-5799. or go to www.pacificsymphony.org