It’s been a tumultuous year for arts organizations, but things are finally starting to improve. Segerstrom Center is resuming live events on its Argyros Plaza, and Pacific Symphony is actually planning a new “live” concert series beginning later this month.
But first, flash back to March 7, 2020, when the Pacific Symphony held its annual gala. It was attended by more than 400 guests and raised $1.8 million (net) to benefit Pacific Symphony’s education and community engagement programs.
A week later, Pacific Symphony was forced to cancel or postpone multiple concerts and events due to the coronavirus and state-mandated restrictions on large gatherings. Originally thinking that the restrictions would soon be lifted, nobody in the arts community expected the pandemic to force the shutdown of Broadway, classical concerts, plays, operas, and even art museums for most of 2020 and into 2021.
Over the past year, the Pacific Symphony has hosted virtual discussions with symphony musicians, presented streaming concerts of previously recorded material, and done everything possible to keep its audiences engaged until it was safe to return to the concert hall.
Now, nearly a year after its last live performance inside the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Pacific Symphony has announced during a live streamed town hall that it is returning to “live” performances beginning Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. with PacificSymphony+, the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Virtual Classical Series.
According to information from Pacific Symphony, they had an in-depth collaboration with UCI’s Department of Public Health to develop Covid protocols in order to ensure the health and safety of the musicians. Following that, the Symphony has been given permission from the OC Health Officer to begin recording new content inside Segerstrom Concert Hall—minus audiences, of course.
According to Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte, “Recent metrics from the Orange County Health Authority and the California Department of Public Health, combined with increasing vaccination numbers, suggest an end to the pandemic may be in sight. And we want to be prepared to resume our place as Orange County’s musical ambassador, as a vibrant and engaging cultural partner that inspires, engages and serves our community. With that in mind, we are launching PacificSymphony+, a new way to experience your Symphony online and on demand so you can enjoy the magic of music whenever and wherever you can.”
Starting February 25, newly recorded footage from the Segerstrom Concert Hall will be premiered every Thursday beginning with classical events, and eventually including pops, family and chamber programming. Many of the programs will be free of charge. The classical offerings are made possible by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation.
Music Director Carl St.Clair said, “The musicians and I are gratified to be creating and making music again after such a long period of being unable to play together. I planned the repertoire for these online concerts in such a way that each piece can be performed by a smaller ensemble rather than the full orchestra. This allows us to be properly socially distanced on stage and assures that everyone is safe. Last weekend, for example, we recorded Richard Strauss’ Serenade for 13 Winds and the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.”
Upcoming concerts in the PacificSymphony+ series include the symphony’s brass section in two works: Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” and Daugherty’s “Asclepius,” Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” Suite and Suite from “The Firebird;” Mozart’s “Serenata Notturna;” Gounod’s “Petite Symphonie for Winds” (finale only); selections from Ravel’s “Mother Goose;” Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 3;” and a number of Bach concertos. The Thursday night concerts will be streamed on Pacific Symphony’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and on the Symphony’s website, PacificSymphony.org. Individual events will remain available for online viewing for 30 days.
Additional programming will be announced as it becomes available. Artists and programs subject to change.
For more information, visit www.PacificSymphony.org.