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Philharmonic Society’s 2024-25 Season Represents a Return to Normalcy

Updated: Feb 8

The line-up includes seven orchestras, top-tier soloists, Grammy-winning composer. 

Violinist Itzhak Perlman’s performance promises to be special – he will revisit “In the Fiddler’s House.” Released more than 25 years ago, the recording later became a PBS broadcast that earned Perlman an Emmy Award. Photo courtesy of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County/© BYU Arts

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County announced its 2024-25 season today – a lineup designed, as usual, to attract fans of renowned orchestras and top-tier soloists. The venerable presenter, founded 70 years ago, is also offering a small but high-quality slate of lighter acts to attract a wider audience. And the Phil’s annual music festival in Laguna Beach will be helmed by a genre-spanning, Grammy-winning composer famous for her work with Kanye West and major orchestras.

Tommy Phillips, the Philharmonic Society’s president and artistic director, says the upcoming season finally represents a return to post-pandemic normalcy.

“It’s taken a few years,” he said. “We have thankfully had positive results for last couple of seasons and have been building that audience base back up.”

Phillips says his organization was in a better position than many when the pandemic hit. “The trend of dying (season) subscriptions had affected many (arts groups) even before the pandemic. We were really bucking that trend. Our subscriptions had been going up quite healthily.” That made recovery easier, Phillips said. 

The London Philharmonic is one of seven orchestras in the Philharmonic Society’s 2024-25 season. Photo courtesy of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County/Benjamin Ealovega

The only significant change in programming is even more emphasis on quality and name recognition, Phillips said. “We have not significantly increased the number of programs in the season. We’ve focused on ensuring that each program we present is of the highest caliber. There’s no fluff.”

The 2024-25 season is especially rich in large ensembles. Visiting orchestras include the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra (with 18-year-old Cliburn-winning pianist Yunchan Lim in his Orange County debut), the Vienna Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic orchestras, in addition to two American ensembles, San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (which like Orange County’s Pacific Symphony is looking for a new music director).

The strong roster of soloists includes Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Ray Chen, Randall Goosby, Anthony McGill, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Conrad Tao.

The season features plenty of chamber ensembles as well: the Tetzlaff Quartet, Modigliani Quartet with Fabio Bidini and the Danish String Quartet. An indisputable highlight of the chamber music offerings is the Mutter-Bronfman-Ferrández Trio, which includes three of the season’s biggest stars: violinist Mutter, pianist Bronfman and cellist Pablo Ferrández. Another bright spot in the chamber music season will be pianist Ax and clarinetist McGill in a duo recital.

PHOTO 1: Emanuel Ax. PHOTO 2: Anne-Sophie Mutter. PHOTO 3: Yefim Bronfman. Photos courtesy of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County/Lisa Marie Mazzucco (Ax), Julia Wesley (Mutter), Oded Antman (Bronfman)


Violinist Itzhak Perlman’s performance promises to be special – he will revisit “In the Fiddler’s House.” Released more than 25 years ago, the recording later became a PBS broadcast that earned Perlman an Emmy Award. Featuring klezmer instrumentalists and vocalists from around the world, it’s an opportunity for him to revel in his roots and demonstrate his virtuosity and musicality in a different way.

“It’s so much fun,” Phillips said of “In the Fiddler's House.” “It’s just him and this great klezmer band – one of the predominant virtuosos of the violin performing this entertaining and culturally significant music from their country.”

The season includes unusual ensembles such as the Chineke! Orchestra, described in the news release as “Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra,” with soloist Aaron Azunda Akugbo on trumpet.

Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra, will visit Southern California for the first time with soloist Aaron Azunda Akugbo on trumpet. Photo courtesy of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County/Eric Richmond

“They were in Santa Barbara a few years ago, but they’ve never been further south than that,” Phillips said. “From everything I’ve heard it’s a phenomenal artistic experience. Their trumpet soloist is a really dynamite musician.” The orchestra will perform the popular Haydn trumpet concerto as well as “underrepresented works,” Phillips said.

Another unusual event will be a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Pianist Tao and choreographer/dancer Caleb Teicher will collaborate to perform contrasting interpretations of the classic work. Tao will present several versions of the score, including arrangements for solo piano, chamber ensemble and big band; all will feature Teicher’s choreography.

Grammy- and Pulitzer-winning composer Caroline Shaw will be the artistic director of next season’s Laguna Beach Music Festival. Photo courtesy of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County/Kait Moreno

The annual Laguna Beach Music Festival will showcase the work of Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning composer Caroline Shaw in three concerts. Shaw serves as the festival’s artistic director as well. Phillips is thrilled to be bringing Shaw to Orange County. “Certainly this is a triumph for us. I’m frankly surprised we have her before the Ojai Festival. She is a multi-talented artist.” 

The Vienna Philharmonic’s appearance is part of a California residency and tour sponsored by the OC Philharmonic and Northern California’s Cal Performances. The tour begins with three performances at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall hosted by Cal Performances and concludes in Orange County with two performances at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall hosted by the Philharmonic Society. Yefim Bronfman is the featured soloist.

Phillips acknowledged that a residency of this size couldn’t have been undertaken by his group alone. “In order to do something this exclusive we couldn’t do that on our own. We’ve been developing relationships with other presenters. (Cal Performances) shares some of the same artistic aesthetic that we do in the artists that we aim to bring.”

The 2024-25 season starts in October and will run through May 2025 with concerts at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Soka Performing Arts Center, Irvine Barclay Theatre and the Laguna Playhouse. Season ticket packages are available for purchase by phone or online. Dates, times, concert locations and prices will be posted today on the Philharmonic Society’s website.


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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