All good things must come to an end, and so it was with the Pacific Symphony’s summer concerts at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater.
After nearly three decades, Pacific Symphony played its final concert at Irvine Meadows last September, shortly before the venue closed to make way for a housing project.
The 2017 summer season was in jeopardy, but after considering several options, Pacific Symphony selected Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa as its new summer home.
“As I told our patrons at the end of last summer—I wanted to leave everyone with such a strongly etched memory of how wonderful our summer concerts are that they would follow us anywhere!” said Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair. “We are all so excited to begin our new life in the Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair!”
But wait—doesn’t the OC Fair use the Pacific Amphitheatre for its own programming during the four weeks the Fair is in operation?
Well, yes, but the Pacific Symphony has arranged its summer season to work four of its five concerts around the Fair dates, with the other one coming during the Fair.
So what does the new venue mean for concertgoers.
After taking a tour of Pacific Amphitheatre this week with a Pacific Symphony representative, I discovered that the new venue has a lot going for it.
First, it’s near two freeways (the 55 and the 405), and the parking lot is much easier to negotiate than the one at Irvine Meadows.
Instead of that looong walk from the Irvine Meadows entrance to the seating area (and the even more dreaded walk back to our cars), access to the Pacific Amphitheatre is a breeze.
There are not as many grassy areas to picnic at Pacific Amphitheatre, but the OC Fair promises to have plenty of picnic tables and some picnicking areas available.
Concertgoers can still bring picnics and wine into the amphitheater, although no glass is allowed so the wine must be transferred into a plastic container (such as a large empty water bottle), and wine glasses must be plastic.
Food and drink options will be available for purchase in the Amphitheatre, as they were at Irvine Meadows.
There is no lawn seating at Pacific Amphitheatre, but the back row of the Pacific Amphitheater seats is closer than the old venue’s lawn seating area. And without the lawn seating, the new venue feels much more intimate.
Having attended a Pacific Symphony concert at Pacific Amphitheatre in the past, I know the sound will be excellent.
So what does the Pacific Symphony’s SummerFest season look like?
It starts with the Symphony’s traditional July 4 concert, this year entitled “Symphonic Springsteen.” Conductor Richard Kaufman, along with Matt Ryan & The American Dream, offer a high-energy tribute to “The Boss.”
On Wednesday, July 12, just two days before the OC Fair opens, Kenny Loggins joins Pacific Symphony and guest conductor Albert-George Schram for an evening of his hit, including “Celebrate Me Home,” “This Is It,” and of course, “Footloose.” The concert is co-presented by Pacific Symphony and the OC Fair & Event Center.
On Saturday, Aug. 19, it’s time for “Jurassic Park” as Richard Kaufman and the Pacific Symphony perform John Williams’ thrilling “Jurassic Park” score live while the film is shown on a large screen above the orchestra.
The season concludes on Sept. 9 with the traditional Tchaikovsky Spectacular conducted by Carl St.Clair, including the 1812 Overture with cannons and fireworks.
But wait—that’s only four concerts. The fifth comes during the OC Fair on July 20, when Pacific Symphony will “Dance This Mess Around” with the B-52s. Hear all the B-52 hits from “Rock Lobster” to “Planet Claire” backed by the Pacific Symphony. This concert is presented by the OC Fair.
Available for purchase currently are a Gold Pass that includes all five SummerFest concerts and a Silver Pass that includes three concerts (July 4, Aug. 19 and Sept. 9). SummerFest 2017 passes range from $63-$367. Single tickets are $25-$99.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.