The musicians of the Pacific Symphony are pleased to have become the 53rd member orchestra of ICSOM at the conference’s annual meeting in August 2021.
The Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, has been the resident orchestra of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, California for the past 15 years. Currently in its 44th season, the Pacific Symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the United States in the last 50 years and is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene, as well as in its own community of Orange County, California.
In April 2018, the Pacific Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut as one of two orchestras invited to perform during a yearlong celebration of composer Philip Glass’s 80th birthday, and the following month the orchestra embarked on a successful tour of mainland China.
The orchestra made its national PBS debut in June 2018 on Great Performances with Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America, conducted by Carl St.Clair. Presenting more than 100 concerts and events each year and a rich array of education and community engagement programs, the Pacific Symphony reaches more than 300,000 residents from school children to senior citizens.
In addition to a classical orchestral concert series, the Pacific Symphony also offers a Pops season enhanced by state-of-the-art video and sound; Café Ludwig, a chamber music series curated by Orli Shaham; an educational Family Musical Mornings series; and Sunday Matineés, offering rich explorations of selected orchestral works led by our music director.
The Pacific Symphony’s highly successful opera initiative, Symphonic Voices, presents operas in which the orchestra and singers share the stage, continuing in April 2022 with Verdi’s Otello. The orchestra also enjoys a long partnership with the Pacific Chorale and performs with touring ballet companies including the American Ballet Theatre in its annual production of The Nutcracker.
The orchestra was founded in 1978 as a collaboration between California State University, Fullerton and North Orange County community leaders. It wasn’t until September 1986 that the Symphony found a home in the newly built Orange County Performing Arts Center (now the Segerstrom Center for the Arts).
In 2006, the Symphony made its first highly acclaimed European tour, performing in nine cities in three countries. That same year, the orchestra performed the inaugural concert in the newly built Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. With striking architecture by Cesar Pelli and acoustics by Russell Johnson, the concert hall provides a more appropriate home for orchestral concerts than the orchestra’s former home, which remains next door. In the summer, the Symphony presents a concert series at the Pacific Amphitheater as well as a series of free, family-oriented concerts at parks around Orange County.
The Pacific Symphony has commissioned and recorded major works by many of the leading composers of our time, including Philip Glass (The Passion of Ramakrishna), William Bolcom (Songs of Lorca and Songs of Innocence and Experience), Richard Danielpour (An American Requiem and Toward a Season of Peace), Michael Dougherty (Mount Rushmore and The Gospel According to Sister Aimee), and Elliot Goldenthal (Symphony in G-sharp Minor and Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio featuring soloist Yo-Yo Ma).
Other collaborations have included composers Daniel Catán, Paul Chihara, Lukas Foss, James Newton Howard, William Kraft, Ana Lara, Tobias Picker, Narong Prangcharoen, Toru Takemitsu, Conrad Tao, Christopher Theofanidis, Frank Ticheli, and Chen Yi.
The Pacific Symphony maintains one of the most extensive education and community engagement programs in the country, striving to integrate the orchestra and its music into the community in ways that stimulate participants of all ages.
The orchestra’s Class Act program provides elementary school classroom lessons by individual orchestra members as well as performances of the full orchestra and has been honored as one of nine exemplary orchestra education programs by the National Endowment for the Arts and the League of American Orchestras.
Instrumental training initiatives include a youth orchestra, youth wind ensemble, several youth string ensembles, and the OC Can You Play With US? events for adult amateur musicians. The orchestra also partners with ethnic communities in Orange County to produce annual events such as a Lunar New Year Festival and Nowruz (Persian New Year) Festival.
The Pacific Symphony has twice been awarded the prestigious ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and was featured in Fearless Journeys, a 2010 study by the League of American Orchestras, as one of the country’s five most innovative orchestras.
The seventy-eight musicians of Pacific Symphony, represented by AFM Local 7, are honored to be accepted into membership in ICSOM whose members include America’s most important and successful orchestras. Our membership is a validation of our work to date and shows that we are serious about matching the quality of our employment to the quality of our orchestra.
We are grateful for the support and good wishes from our ICSOM colleagues, and look forward to working with you to advance ICSOM’s mission of promoting “a better and more rewarding livelihood for the skilled orchestral performer … and a thriving future for symphonic music and the arts in America.”