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Pacific Symphony Announces 2024-25 Season, Probably Conductor St.Clair’s Last

Updated: Mar 4

St.Clair has been leading Pacific Symphony since 1990. The upcoming season will likely be his last as music director. Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony
 

Pacific Symphony’s 2024-25 season, announced today, will be a year of tribute and transition.


The tribute is to music director Carl St.Clair, who will be marking his 35th year with the orchestra – the longest tenure of an American-born conductor among the nation’s major orchestras. St.Clair has made many programming choices that epitomize his approach: significant world premieres, classics from the 19th century, opera and collaborations with notable artists. Several of St.Clair’s programs hold special meaning for him and the orchestra.


The transition, of course, is to a post-St.Clair era. A succession of “guest” conductors, which began this season and continues in 2024-25, are presumably vying for St.Clair’s job. Next season will probably be St.Clair’s last as music director, although he will continue his association with the orchestra.


Pacific Symphony president John Forsyte said that St.Clair’s likely final season with the ensemble he has conducted since 1990 was carefully designed by the conductor as a fond farewell that touches upon some of his favorite works and the musicians’ strengths.


“It’s a little hard to predict, but I’m hopeful we would know who Carl’s successor is for (the) 2025-26 (season). Carl planned this year to be a signature season. It’s a season he thinks of as his opportunity to say thank you to the musicians, the patrons and the audience that has supported him all these years.”


Forsyte said St.Clair has chosen works that are meaningful to him as well as his colleagues and longtime fans.


“He’s built this wonderful rapport and synergy with the Pacific Chorale. Carl’s Carmina Burana is one of the most viscerally exciting (interpretations) you’ve ever heard. And it’s poignant that he finishes with Bruckner’s Seventh (symphony) and Verdi’s Requiem.”


St.Clair will also celebrate his European career as an opera conductor with the first-ever Pacific Symphony ring cycle performance: Wagner’s Das Rheingold. “I’m incredibly excited to hear Rheingold with our orchestra, that hall and some great singers,” Forsyte said. “And he’s picked an interesting director who did it in Seattle.” 


Two newly commissioned works will receive their world premieres next season: a piano concerto by African American composer Adolphus Hailstork and an orchestral work by the orchestra’s current composer-in-residence, Viet Cuong.


“I’m excited (we’ve) commissioned two American composers whose work I admire,” Forsyte said. “Hailstork is (a) venerable composer who has written many great works. We’re honored to be presenting that world premiere.”


Concertmaster Dennis Kim will show off his virtuosity in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons from Jan. 9-11. Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony

Woven into the season will be a few works that are near and dear to St.Clair and some evenings that will showcase individual musicians from the ranks, Forsyte said. “He has certain favorites – Pines of Rome, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony. And he wants to showcase musicians from the orchestra in a playful Halloween-inspired program and The Four Seasons,  which will feature (concertmaster) Dennis Kim.”


The parade of guest conductors continues next season with Rune Bergmann, Paolo Bortolameolli, Valentina Peleggi, Eduardo Strausser and Christopher Warren-Green.


Forsyte wouldn’t say which of the visiting conductors is being considered for St.Clair’s position. “Rune we’ve worked with already and the musicians wanted to bring him back. Valentina has a great reputation as a relatively new music director.” (Peleggi has been music director of the Richmond Symphony since the 2020-21 season and recently renewed her contract through mid-2028.) “She’s done a terrific job developing that orchestra and building its reputation.”


Forsyte is also looking forward to a visit from Chilean-Italian conductor Bortolameolli, currently associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Paolo is very in demand right now. And Strausser was somebody who was very well liked by musicians and has been strongly recommended.”


After the next music director takes up the baton, St.Clair will be given the title of music director laureate. Forsyte said the details of the position are up to St.Clair and the new conductor. 


“(Carl) has said he wants to make this as seamless as possible. He’ll definitely be appearing on the classical seasons at least several times and conducting some special projects. A lot depends on the interests of the new music director. Carl has said, ‘I want to be supportive of this person’s vision and help them succeed.’”


Pacific Symphony’s 2024-25 season


All concerts will be held at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. 

* Indicates Pacific Symphony debut

** Indicates first performance by Pacific Symphony


Pianist Claire Huangci, winner of the 2018 Geza Anda Competition, will be part of Pacific Symphony’s opening night celebration from Sept. 26-28. Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/Mateusz Zahora
Opening Night Celebration: Rachmaninoff and Beethoven

Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 26-28, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Claire Huangci, piano

Ticheli: Shooting Stars

Ravel: Alborada del gracioso

Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7


Classical Spooktacular

Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 17-19, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Meredith Crawford, viola


Williams: “Devil’s Dance” from Witches of Eastwick**

Bunch: The Devil’s Box**

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique


Vadim Gluzman, a Ukrainian-born Israeli classical violinist, will perform the Brahms Violin Concerto from Nov. 14-16. Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/Marco Borggreve
Gluzman Plays Brahms

Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 14-16, 8 p.m.

Valentina Peleggi, conductor*

Vadim Gluzman, violin


Barber: Symphony No. 1

Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini

Brahms: Violin Concerto


Art of the Spanish Guitar

Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 5-7, 8 p.m.

Rune Bergmann, conductor

Mak Grgić, guitar*


Fung: Prayer**

Rodrigo: Fantasy for a Gentleman

Dvorak: Symphony No. 8


Four Seasons and Strauss

Thursday through Friday, Jan. 9-11, 2025, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Dennis Kim, violin and leader

Tobias Melle, visuals


Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Strauss: Alpine Symphony (with visuals)


Pines of Rome

Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 6-8, 2025, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Jeffrey Biegel, piano


Bernstein: Slava!

Hailstork: Piano Concerto (world premiere)**

Cuong: World Premiere**

Respighi: Pines of Rome


Carmina Burana and Bach

Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 27-28, March 1, 2025, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale

Robert Istad, artistic director

Southern California Children’s Choir

Lori Loftus, founding director

Benjamin Pasternack, piano

Alisa Jordheim, soprano

Nicholas Phan, tenor

Hugh Russell, baritone


Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium

Bach: Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052

Orff: Carmina Burana


Korean American violinist Jennifer Koh will play the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto March 20-22. Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/Juergen Frank
Koh Plays Mendelssohn

Thursday through Saturday, March 20-22, 2025, 8 p.m.

Paolo Bortolameolli, conductor*

Jennifer Koh, violin


Mendelssohn: Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10


Curse of the Ring

Thursday, Saturday, and Tuesday, April 10, 12, and 15, 2025

Carl St. Clair, conductor

Brian Staufenbiel, stage director

Vocal soloists to be announced


Wagner: Das Rheingold**


Beethoven’s Emperor

May 1-3, 2025

Eduardo Strausser, conductor

George Li, piano


Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”

Mahler: Symphony No. 1


Cathedrals of Sound

Thursday through Saturday, May 8-10, 2025, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Paul Jacobs, organ

Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey


Traditional: Gregorian Chant

Bach: Sinfonia in D minor

Guilmont: Symphony No. 1**

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7


Verdi’s Requiem

June 5-7, 2025

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale

Robert Istad, artistic director

Vocal soloists to be announced


Verdi: Requiem


Sunday Matinees

Fantastic Symphony

Oct. 20, 2024

Carl St.Clair, conductor


Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique


A Day in the Alps

January 12, 2025

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Tobias Melle, visuals


Strauss: An Alpine Symphony (with visuals)


Carmina Burana

March 2, 2025

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale

Robert Istad, artistic director

Southern California Children’s Choir

Lori Loftus, founding director

Vocal soloists to be announced


Orff: Carmina Burana


Re-discover Verdi’s Requiem

June 8, 2025

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Pacific Chorale

Robert Istad, artistic director

Vocal soloists to be announced


Verdi: Requiem


SPECIAL EVENTS 

   

Handel’s Glorious Messiah

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2024, 3 p.m.

Christopher Warren-Green, conductor

Pacific Chorale,

Robert Istad, artistic director

Vocal soloists to be announced


Handel: Messiah 

 

LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2025, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor


Voice and the Violin

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2025, 8 p.m.

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Joshua Bell, violin

Larissa Martinez, soprano


Nowruz: Iranian New Year

Saturday, March 23, 2025, 8 p.m. 

Carl St.Clair, conductor

 

John Forsyte, who is quoted in this story, is a member of the Advisory Board for Culture OC.



Classical music coverage at Culture OC is supported in part by a grant from the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. Culture OC makes all editorial decisions.





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