Pacific Symphony’s 2022-23 season, announced today, captures many of the currents and concerns that have recently swept through Orange County and the world at large.

While COVID protocols remain in place for Orange County’s major arts organizations, and nobody can predict how long they will endure, the symphony’s 44th season is as robust and wide ranging as any in memory. Beginning in September, 36 concerts are scheduled.

A large list of guest artists includes violinists Dennis Kim and Stefan Jackiw; pianists Jeffrey Biegel, Yefim Bronfman, Claire Huangci, Louie Lortie, Orli Shaham and Conrad Tao; organist Dennis James; cellist Warren Hagerty; and soprano Elissa Johnston.

The organization’s return to normalcy will be celebrated appropriately, with a pre-season concert by pianist Lang Lang in a special performance of Saint-Saëns’ Second Piano Concerto on Sunday, Sept. 18. Since his career began in the 1990s, Lang Lang has vaulted to the first rank of classical pianists. He was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and many top American orchestras.

Lang Lang. Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/© OLAF HEINE Deutsche Grammophon

Pacific Symphony will participate in the long-anticipated opening of the Orange County Museum of Art’s new Segerstrom Center structure with a performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in early October. Groundbreaking took place in September 2019 for the 53,000-square-foot museum, which is located next to the symphony’s home, Costa Mesa’s Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

This season marks the beginning of a new composer-in-residence for the symphony, Viet Cuong. The symphony’s opening concert will include Cuong’s “Re(new)al.”

“I could also call him an artist-in-residence because he will be contributing to our musical lives in so many ways,” said Carl St.Clair, the symphony’s music director. “And, as a Vietnamese American, he will help us to engage in new cultural conversations with Orange County’s Vietnamese community, the largest in the world outside of Vietnam itself.”

Viet Cuong is the new composer-in-residence with the Pacific Symphony. Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony

Other season highlights include world premieres of James MacMillan’s Fiat Lux and John Wineglass’ Violin Concerto and the music of several women composers from outside the U.S., including Mexico’s Gabriela Ortiz, the United Kingdom’s Anna Clyne and Brazil’s Clarice Assad.

St.Clair called the upcoming season “a multicultural mosaic.” Its substantial international programming includes guitarist Milos from Montenegro performing Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez and a work by Polish film composer Wojciech Kilar.

Pacific Symphony president John Forsyte called the new season a “watershed moment” that celebrates a return to regular programming after two tumultuous years of pandemic.

“The resilience of Pacific Symphony is a direct reflection of the affection of this community for its orchestra,” he said. “We are so grateful to all of our patrons and ticket holders who have stayed engaged and supportive.”

Pacific Symphony’s 2022-23 Season:

Sept. 18, 2022: Lang Lang Returns

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Lang Lang, piano

Ravel: Mother Goose – Suite
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2
Mussorgsky (orchestrated by Ravel): “Pictures at an Exhibition”

Pacific Symphony’s concertmaster Dennis Kim. Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony

Sept. 22-24: Beethoven and Bolero

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Dennis Kim, violin
Warren Hagerty, cello
Orli Shaham, piano
Sandbox Percussion

Wagner: Overture to The Flying Dutchman
Beethoven: Triple Concerto
Viet Cuong: “Re(new)al”
Ravel: Boléro

Claire Huangci Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony

Oct. 20-22: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Claire Huangci, piano

Gabriela Ortiz: “Luz Eólica” from Altar de Viento (“Aeolian Light” from Altar of Wind)
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Oct. 23: Brahms Symphony No. 4

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Guest conductor Karen Kamensek Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/Benno Hunziker

Nov. 17-19: The Planets

Karen Kamensek, conductor
Stefan Jackiw, violin
Women of Pacific Chorale
Robert Istad, artistic director

Anna Clyne: Pivot
Bruch: Scottish Fantasy
Holst: The Planets

Guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/Kito

Dec. 1-3: Milos Plays Rodrigo

Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
Milos, guitar

Clarice Assad: Sin Fronteras
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

Dec. 4: Handel’s Messiah

Julian Wachner, conductor
Pacific Chorale, Robert Istad, artistic director
Vocal soloists to be announced

Handel: Messiah

Jan. 12-14, 2023: Mahler 9

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Jan. 28, 2023: Lunar New Year

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Yefim Bronfman Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony/Frank Stewart

Feb. 2-4, 2023: Bronfman Plays Schumann

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano

Prokofiev: Suite from Romeo and Juliet
Schumann: Piano Concerto
J. Strauss Jr.: On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Feb. 5, 2023: Romeo & Juliet

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Prokofiev: Suite from Romeo and Juliet

Feb. 23-25, 2023: Tchaikovsky & Strauss

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Dennis Kim, violin

R. Strauss: Serenade for Winds
John Wineglass: Violin Concerto (World Premiere) †
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Feb. 26, 2023: Tchaikovsky’s Fourth

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

March 16-18, 2023: Tao Plays Mozart

Michal Nesterowicz, conductor
Conrad Tao, piano

Kilar: Orawa
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24, K. 491
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3, “Scottish”

April 1, 2023: Nowruz: Iranian New Year

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Members of the Pacific Chorale Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony

April 20-25, 2023: Verdi’s Rigoletto

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Cast to be announced
Pacific Chorale, Robert Istad, artistic director

Verdi: Rigoletto

May 11-13, 2023: The Roaring Twenties

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Jeffery Biegel, piano
John Tu and Friends band
Dennis James, organ

Part I:
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (Paul Whiteman Band version)
Antheil: A Jazz Symphony (1925 version)
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Additional works to be announced

Part II:
Fox-trot on the Plaza to the sounds of John Tu and Friends band

Part III:
Landmark silent film of the 20s accompanied on the organ by Dennis James

May 14, 2023: The Genius of Gershwin

Carl St.Clair, conductor

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Additional works to be announced

June 1-3, 2023: Grieg Piano Concerto

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Louie Lortie, piano

Teddy Abrams: Overture in Sonata Form
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Stravinsky: Petrushka (1947 version)

June 15-17, 2023: Cathedrals of Sound

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Robert Istad, conductor
Elissa Johnston, soprano
To be announced, baritone
Pacific Chorale, Robert Istad, artistic director

Allegri: Miserere mei, Deus
R. Strauss: Death and Transfiguration
James MacMillan: Fiat Lux (World Premiere)

Paul Hodgins is the founding editor of Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at

Classical music coverage at Voice of OC is supported in part by a grant from the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. Voice of OC makes all editorial decisions.

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