Can you name Orange County’s first musical organization?
No, it’s not Pacific Symphony, although they have been around for 43 years. And it’s not Pacific Chorale, which traces its beginnings back to 1968.
OC’s oldest musical organization is The Philharmonic Society of Orange County, which just announced details of its 2022-23 season—its 69th season, to be exact, and one that celebrates the return of live music to OC venues.
The season consists of 26 concerts taking place at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the Irvine Barclay Theatre, and Soka Performing Arts Center.
Presented from October 2022 through April 2023, the Philharmonic Society’s season is bookended by orchestras led by female conductors, opening with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and closing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Elim Chan.
Additional season highlights include appearances by globally renowned and beloved cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, the Israel Philharmonic with music director Lahav Shani, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Riccardo Muti, rising star violin prodigy Randall Goosby, the Vienna Boys Choir, pianists Daniil Trifonov and Seong-Jin Cho, and violinist Midori, among others.
“The 2022-2023 season represents a turning point for our organization. It brings us ever so close to our much anticipated 70th Anniversary season, but more aptly after over two years of facing unanticipated challenges from the pandemic, this season represents a resounding return of bold, celebrated orchestras, dynamic programs, and renown artists and ensembles that the Philharmonic Society has been historically known to present,” said Tommy Phillips, the Philharmonic Society’s President and Artistic Director. “The new season, one of the largest and most compelling seasons we’ve presented in some years, is a reflection and response to our community’s desire and directive that live music not be anything other than a fundamental, irreplicable component of our society.”
While you can’t go wrong with any event presented by the Philharmonic Society, there are several I’m looking forward to attending:
April 4, 2023: Yo-Yo Ma at Segerstrom Center.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing and hearing Yo-Yo Ma in concert twice before, and each time he’s left audiences astounded by his musical prowess. For this concert, he appears in an evening recital with longtime musical collaborator pianist Kathryn Stott. The partnership between Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott spans decades, the two regularly touring and performing together and recording albums, including 2020’s “Songs of Comfort and Hope,” inspired by the series of recorded-at-home musical offerings that Ma began sharing in the first days of the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States.
April 16, 2023: Midori at Irvine Barclay.
As a violinist myself, I was inspired to take up the instrument at age 8 after watching Itzhak Perlman on TV, and then years later live from the front row of Segerstrom Center. I was reinspired after seeing violinist Midori perform with Pacific Symphony. For this concert, Midori commemorates the 40th anniversary of her legendary New York Philharmonic debut with Zubin Mehta in 1982 with a program bookended by works by Bach. Midori is a visionary artist, activist, and educator whose career, like Yo-Yo Ma’s, has transcended traditional boundaries through her relentless drive to explore and build connections between music and the human experience. Seeing her in the intimate Barclay Theatre will be something special.
Eclectic Orange Series
I remember former Philharmonic Society President Dean Corey, a jovial raconteur, telling me he launched the Eclectic Orange series because he had a handful of interesting and unusual concerts and wanted to create a series different from anything they had done before.
Success breeds success, and I welcome the five concerts in this season’s Eclectic Orange series that blends boundaries and explores the relationships between multiple art forms and genres.
The series begins with Kronos Quartet, which has performed music that responds to societal issues, both contemporary and historic. In this concert, the members of Kronos Quartet—David Harrington and John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello)—are joined by Mahsa Vahdat, a prominent performer of Persian vocal music, who collaborated with the quartet on the evocative 2019 recording “Placeless.” Co-presented with Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Friday, October 21, 2022)
Then comes pianist-composer Aaron Diehl, back for his second consecutive Philharmonic Society season, joined by John Webber (bass) and Aaron Kimmel (drums). Diehl leads the trio in a project bringing together classical repertoire and dynamic jazz improvisation. Co-presented with Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Saturday, January 21, 2023)
Celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary, the spectacular Japanese taiko drumming troupe Kodo visits with “Tsuzumi,” a commemorative work featuring signature pieces such as “O-daiko,” “Yatai-bayashi,” and “Zoku,” coupled with new compositions. Paying homage to its incredible legacy and decades on the stage, Tsuzumi also features “Dyu-Ha,” being performed on tour for the first time in about 15 years, as well as Maki Ishii’s masterpiece “Monochrome.” If you’ve never seen Kodo, prepare to be astounded! Co-presented with Soka Performing Arts Center. (Thursday, February 2, 2023)
Then, cellist Alisa Weilerstein launches her multi-season “Fragments” project in which she performs Bach Cello Suites alongside new music—fragments, which she has commissioned 27 composers to create. I’m told that “Fragments: Chapter One” is set against the familiar musical tapestry of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 with Weilerstein playing in a curated design space, whereby fragmented wall pieces re-frame the venue to awaken a new relationship to performance and space through shifting lighting cues, evoking a fragmented recital hall, a landscape, or a muted hall of mirrors. Co-presented with Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Sunday, March 12, 2023)
Concluding the Eclectic Orange series is composer/performer Nathalie Joachim, who brings her Grammy-nominated project “Fanm d’Ayiti” (Women of Haiti), an evening-length work for voice, flute, string quartet and electronics celebrating some of Haiti’s most iconic yet under recognized female artists, as well as an exploration of Joachim’s Haitian heritage. “Fanm d’Ayiti,” released in 2019 on New Amsterdam Records as Joachim’s first featured solo album, received a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album. The project features original songs incorporating the recorded voices of Joachim’s grandmother and the girls choir of her family’s home farming village of Dantan; new arrangements of songs by some of the greatest known female voices in Haitian history; and recorded interviews with these artists about their lives fighting for social justice and uplifting the people of Haiti. Co-presented with Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Saturday, April 1, 2023)
Tickets and Other Information
The Philharmonic Society’s 2022-23 season subscription packages are currently on sale. Single tickets to all 2022-23 performances are available to subscribers upon subscription purchase and will go on sale to the general public on Monday, August 22.
For more information, contact the Philharmonic Society’s Patron Services Department at (949) 553-2422, or visit the Philharmonic Society’s website at www.PhilharmonicSociety.org.