Pacific Symphony Honors Carl St.Clair for 30 Years as Music Director

Share this:
Pacific Symphony opening night gala. photo: Kevin Warn Photography.

How do you celebrate 30 years in the life of the Pacific Symphony’s esteemed music director?

You roll out the red carpet for a memorable evening of celebration to honor Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair’s three decades of leading one of the most exciting and dynamic orchestras in the United States.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, more than 300 guests were welcomed to the “2019-20 Classical Opening Night Celebration and Concert,” a sold-out black-tie affair honoring Carl St.Clair’s 30th extraordinary season as music director of the Pacific Symphony, the largest orchestra formed in the United States in the last 50 years.

Hosted by the Symphony’s board of directors and chaired by long-time Symphony supporter and board member Diana Martin, this extravagant evening was the symphony’s most successful opening night, and raised $315,000 to benefit the orchestra’s award-winning artistic and education programs.

Music Director Carl St. Clair with his statue unveiled on opening night. Kevin Warn Photography.

The evening began with an elegant cocktail reception in the lobby of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. A highlight of the pre-dinner festivities was the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind, life-size statue of Carl St.Clair. Board members had commissioned the award-winning sculptor Márton Váró, who carved it from Carrara marble.

Herald trumpets sounded and guests were escorted to the Samueli Theater for the celebration dinner that opened with a first course of Fuji apple salad with crumbled blue cheese, arugula, and shaved red onion, dressed in apple cider vinaigrette and topped with crostini.

The main entrée, which featured seared arctic char with leeks, haricot verts, smoked fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes and green olive tapenade, was accompanied by Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Symphony President John Forsyte talked about Carl St.Clair’s 30th anniversary and introduced soprano Chelsea Graves, tenor Nicholas Preston and pianist Hye-Young Kim performing selections from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”

John Forsyte, President of the Pacific Symphony, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, and Bill Gillespie. Kevin Warn Photography.

Forsyte noted during his remarks that in the 40 year history of the Pacific Symphony there have been only two music directors, and two executive directors, a rare feat for a major orchestra.

When Carl St.Clair was introduced, he jokingly said that friends told him that “in basketball terms, I would be Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.”

An inspiring orator, St.Clair told the rapt audience that “I am blessed that you have embraced me as the musical leader of this incredible orchestra for three decades. I am truly honored that you have allowed me to become a musical conscience for Orange County and for the cultural growth of who and what we believe in and for who we are.”

Addressing the musicians, St.Clair said “it’s an incredible honor to have stood with you, in front of you, among you, beside you. Sharing musical thought and passion, sharing musical ideals and dreams for us and for our county, knowing what music can do for lives.”

S.L. Huang, Carl St. Clair, Music Director of the Pacific Symphony, and Betty Huang. Kevin Warn Photography

St.Clair paused, then said with great emotion, “it’s a great evening for me. This has been a chapter of my life that will never be repeated.”

Following dinner, herald trumpets saluted the procession of guests that made its way to the Concert Hall for the Symphony’s opening night performance, which began with St.Clair leading Pacific Symphony and the Pacific Chorale in a memorable program featuring Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture and “Choral Fantasy,” along with Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”

During the concert’s intermission, guests were treated to a delicious selection of desserts and champagne at the Box Circle Club lobby. Immediately following the concert, the revelry continued as guests were welcomed back to the Box Circle Club lobby for more sweets and champagne. The evening concluded with champagne toasts to Carl St.Clair in celebration of his 30th anniversary as music director.

For more information, visit

Share this: