Carl St.Clair, Music Director and Conductor
Anoushka Shankar, Sitar
Elissa Johnston, Soprano (Sarada Devi)
Christòpheren Nomura, Baritone ("M")
Donovan Singletary, Bass-Baritone (Dr. Sarkar)
I-Chin Lee, Alto (First Devotee)
Nicholas Preston, Tenor (Second Devotee)
Robert Istad, Artistic Director
GLASS "Meetings Along the Edge" from Passages (based on a theme by Ravi Shankar)
R. SHANKAR Concerto No. 3 for Sitar and Orchestra
GLASS The Passion of Ramakrishna (NY Premiere)
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
Philip Glass is the holder of the 2017—2018 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.
Public support for the Philip Glass residency is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
At a Glance
Honoring distinguished American composer Philip Glass, the program for this concert is based on the program chosen to inaugurate Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, California, in September 2006. That occasion marked the world premiere of Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna—then, as now, with the forces of the Pacific Symphony and vocal soloists under the baton of Music Director Carl St.Clair, with a mixed chorus of 110. This important work, which could be termed a “dramatic oratorio,” was co-commissioned by the Pacific and Nashville symphonies. Though beautiful on many levels, it is all too rarely heard—perhaps because it requires such extensive resources to perform.
Sharing the bill is a movement from one of the most remarkable musical collaborations of recent times: “Meetings Along the Edge” from Passages, a six-movement suite co-composed by Glass and Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. Glass and Shankar had enjoyed a friendship that was deep yet distant before they finally met in Paris 25 years after Glass first transcribed a Shankar film score. Yet it would be another five years before they would finally work together on Passages, with each man composing movements based on themes by the other. Conceived as a recording, Passages has found life in the concert hall as well.
Sitar soloist Anoushka Shankar honors Glass and the friendship he shared with her father by performing Shankar’s Sitar Concerto No. 3. Composed in 2009 specifically for Anoushka, this was the last concerto Ravi Shankar created. In it, as in Glass’s compositions, we can hear musical elements from East and West coming together to enrich each other.
Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair since 1990, the Pacific Symphony has been the resident orchestra of Orange County’s Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for more than a decade. Currently in its 39th season, the symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the US in the last 50 years. It is not only a fixture of musical life in Southern California, but also recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene. In Orange County, the orchestra presents over 100 concerts and events each year, as well as a rich array of education and community engagement programs, reaching more than 300,000 residents of all ages.
The Symphony offers repertoire that ranges from the great orchestral masterworks to music from today’s most prominent composers. Seven seasons ago, the symphony launched the highly successful opera initiative Symphonic Voices, which continued in February 2018 with Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. It also offers a popular pops season, enhanced by state-of-the-art video and sound, led by Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman. Each symphony season also includes Café Ludwig, a chamber music series; an educational Family Musical Mornings series; and Sunday Casual Connections, an orchestral matinee series that offers rich explorations of selected works led by Mr. St.Clair.
The Pacific Symphony’s discography comprises 15 recordings, which feature 20th- and 21st-century music by American composers, including William Bolcom, John Corigliano, and Richard Danielpour. In 2012 for Naxos, Mr. St.Clair and the orchestra recorded Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna, a Pacific Symphony commission. The Symphony has also recorded for Harmonia Mundi, Koch International Classics, Reference Recordings, and Sony Classical, among other labels.
The Pacific Symphony has been recognized with multiple ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and included among the country’s five most innovative orchestras by the League of American Orchestras. The Symphony’s education and community engagement activities have also been recognized by the league as well as the National Endowment for the Arts.
The 2017–2018 season marks Music Director Carl St.Clair’s 28th year leading the Pacific Symphony. He is one of the longest-tenured conductors of a major American orchestra. Mr. St.Clair’s lengthy history solidifies the strong relationship he has forged with the musicians and the community. His continuing role also lends stability to the organization and continuity to his vision for the symphony’s future. Few orchestras can claim such rapid artistic development as the Pacific Symphony—the largest orchestra formed in the United States in the last 50 years—due in large part to Mr. St.Clair’s leadership.
During his tenure, Mr. St.Clair has become widely recognized for his musically distinguished performances, commitment to building outstanding educational programs, and innovative approaches to programming. In spring 2018, he leads the Pacific Symphony on its first tour to China, the orchestra’s first international tour since it toured Europe in 2006. Among Mr. St.Clair’s many creative endeavors is an opera initiative titled Symphonic Voices, which featured Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for its seventh season in 2017–2018 following previous opera-in-concert productions of Aida, Turandot, Carmen, La traviata, Tosca, and La bohème.
Mr. St.Clair’s commitment to the development and performance of new works by contemporary composers is evident in the wealth of commissions and recordings by the symphony. Commissions have included William Bolcom’s Canciones de Lorca and Prometheus, Elliot Goldenthal’s Symphony in G-sharp Minor, Richard Danielpour’s Toward a Season of Peace, and Michael Daugherty’s Mount Rushmore and The Gospel According to Sister Aimee. Mr. St.Clair has led the orchestra in critically acclaimed recordings that have included two piano concertos by Lukas Foss, Danielpour’s An American Requiem, and Goldenthal’s Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Other commissioned composers include James Newton Howard, Zhou Long, Tobias Picker, Frank Ticheli, Chen Yi, Curt Cacioppo, Stephen Scott, Jim Self (Pacific Symphony’s principal tubist), and Christopher Theofanidis.
Sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar is a singular figure in the Indian classical and progressive world music scenes. Her dynamic and spiritual musicality has garnered several prestigious accolades, including five Grammy Award nominations, recognition as the youngest—and first female—recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, credit as an Asian Hero by TIME magazine, and Songlines’s Best Artist Award. Most recently, she became one of the first five female composers to be added to the UK’s A-level music syllabus.
Deeply rooted in the Indian classical music tradition, Ms. Shankar studied exclusively from the age of nine under her father and guru, the late Ravi Shankar, and made her professional debut as a classical sitarist at the age of 13. By the age of 20, she had made three classical recordings for EMI/Angel and received her first Grammy nomination, thereby becoming the first Indian female and youngest-ever nominee in the World Music category. In 2005, she released her self-produced breakthrough album, Rise, which earned her a second Grammy nomination. Following this nomination, Ms. Shankar became the first Indian artist to perform at the Grammy Awards.
As an international solo artist, Ms. Shankar has performed in a range of distinguished venues that have included Carnegie Hall, Barbican Centre, Sydney Opera House, Vienna Konzerthaus, Salle Pleyel, Royal Festival Hall, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Palais des Beaux-Arts, and Lucerne’s Culture and Convention Center. She has appeared at the Verbier Festival, Prague Spring International Music Festival, Boom Festival, and London Proms.
Today, from her home in London where she lives with her husband and two sons, Ms. Shankar’s career reflects her aim to constantly learn and grow as an artist. Across continents and demographics, people respond to what she calls the “honesty” in her music, which is integral to her work both in the classical and modern musical spheres. As Nitin Sawhney wrote, “No one embodies the spirit of innovation and experimentation more evidently than Anoushka Shankar.”
Acclaimed soprano Elissa Johnston performs repertoire that ranges from Bach, Handel, and Mozart to Messiaen, Carter, Chinary Ung, and Helmut Lachenmann. This season, she appears with the Long Beach Symphony in Mozart’s Requiem under Robert Istad, with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Stravinsky’s Les noces and Peter Sellars’s staging of Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro, in recital with the chamber music series Le Salon de Musiques in songs by Samuel Barber, and with Orchestra Santa Monica for Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 under Allen Gross. In addition, she returns to Le Salon de Musiques to sing Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder with pianist Robert Thies, and appears with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Handel’s Alexander’s Feast under Grant Gershon.
Last summer, Ms. Johnston performed in the West Coast premiere of Elliott Carter’s What Are Years under Jeff von der Schmidt at Walt Disney Concert Hall’s REDCAT theater as part of Southwest Chamber Music’s LA International New Music Festival. Also with Southwest Chamber Music, she has performed the world premiere of Anne LeBaron’s Some Things Should Not Move, Unsuk Chin’s Akrostichon-Wortspiel, Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, and the world premiere of Chinary Ung’s Aura under Mr. von der Schmidt.
Ms. Johnston has recorded Chinary Ung’s Aura with Southwest Chamber Music, and toured with the ensemble in Vietnam and Cambodia. She can be heard on dozens of film soundtracks, and is featured in Danny Elfman’s Serenada Schizophrana on the Sony Classical label.
Baritone Christòpheren Nomura has earned a prominent place on the operatic, concert, and recital stages, appearing with leading North American orchestras that include the Boston, National, Baltimore, Vancouver, Indianapolis, and Charlotte symphony orchestras; The Philadelphia Orchestra; Minnesota Orchestra; San Francisco and Utah symphonies; The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Orchestra of St. Luke’s; Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; and Boston Pops. He has performed under internationally renowned conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon, Sergiu Comissiona, Christof Perick, Sir Roger Norrington, Christopher Hogwood, Ton Koopman, Bruno Weil, Jane Glover, Andrew Parrott, and Nicholas McGegan.
Mr. Nomura has become a regular guest artist with orchestras that include the Pacific Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, and National Philharmonic. In 2006, he sang the title role in the premiere of Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna for the Pacific Symphony’s inaugural concerts in Segerstrom Concert Hall, performances that were reprised and recorded there in 2011. He also gave the premiere of Alva Henderson’s From Greater Light with the Pacific Symphony in 2009. That season also brought the first of several appearances at the Oregon Bach Festival in Haydn’s The Creation under Helmuth Rilling. Highlights of 2018 include Handel’s Esther with Music of the Baroque and Bach’s B-Minor Mass with the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra.
Praised for his “bright baritone” (Opera News), bass-baritone Donovan Singletary is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and The Juilliard School. Highlights of recent seasons have included performances at the Metropolitan Opera in productions of Giulio Cesare, Un ballo in maschera, Macbeth, Salome, Don Carlo, Pelléas et Mélisande, Tosca, La bohème, The Enchanted Island, Les contes d’Hoffmann, and The Bartered Bride. In addition, he has performed at Seattle Opera as Zuniga in Carmen, Monterone in Rigoletto, and Jake in Porgy and Bess. He also has sung the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele with Knoxville Opera, Achilla in Giulio Cesare and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Fort Worth Opera, and the title role in Don Giovanni at Aspen Opera Theater. With Kentucky Opera, he portrayed Leporello in Don Giovanni.
I-Chin “Betty” Lee currently sings professionally with the Pacific Chorale and the John Alexander Singers, and was the cantor at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park, near downtown Los Angeles, from 2012 to 2017. Ms. Lee has performed as a chorister and soloist with the Pacific Chorale on numerous occasions, appearing as an alto soloist in Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Bach’s St. John Passion, Mozart’s Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Duruflé’s Requiem, Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Her Southland solo performances have included Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah with the Camerata Singers of Long Beach and the National Children’s Choir at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage. Ms. Lee’s most recent solo work includes Mozart’s Requiem with the Pacific Symphony and Chorale, as well as making her debuts in Denmark and El Salvador. Future engagements include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Long Beach Symphony.
Praised by the Orange County Register as “resonant and warm” and by the classical music site Bachtrack as “a ringing stentorian tenor,” Hawaii native Nicholas Preston is in demand as a soloist in Southern California and beyond, having performed throughout California and in France, Italy, and Spain. He has been a member of the Pacific Chorale since 2002, and has frequently appeared as a soloist with the ensemble.
Mr. Preston’s recent solo appearances include Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Parker’s Hora novissima, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Symphony No. 9, Bach’s B-Minor Mass and St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass and Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Judas Maccabeus, and Britten’s War Requiem. Mr. Preston was featured in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna, which was commissioned for the grand opening of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, and premiered by the Pacific Symphony and Chorale under the direction of Carl St.Clair in 2006.
Founded in 1968, the Pacific Chorale is internationally recognized for its exceptional artistic expression; stimulating, American-focused programming; and influential education programs. The chorale presents a season at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and performs regularly with the nation’s leading symphonies. It has infused an Old World art form with California’s innovation and cultural independence, developing innovative new concepts in programming, and expanding the traditional concepts of choral repertoire and performance.
The Pacific Chorale comprises 140 professional and volunteer singers. In addition to its longstanding partnership with the Pacific Symphony, the chorale has performed with such renowned American ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra. Other collaborations within the Southern California community include performances with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Long Beach, Pasadena, and Riverside symphonies. The chorale has toured extensively in Europe, South America, and Asia, and has collaborated with the London Symphony Orchestra, Munich Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Lamoureux, Orchestre de Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, National Orchestra of Belgium, China National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, and Argentine National Symphony Orchestra.
The Pacific Chorale can be heard on numerous recordings, including American Voices, a collection of American choral works; Songs of Eternity by James Hopkins and Voices by Stephen Paulus, featuring the Pacific Symphony; Christmas Time Is Here; a live recording of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers; the world premiere recording of Frank Ticheli’s The Shore for chorus and orchestra; and the world premiere recording of Jake Heggie’s choral opera The Radio Hour. The chorale also appears on six recordings released by the Pacific Symphony: Elliot Goldenthal’s Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio, Richard Danielpour’s An American Requiem and Toward a Season of Peace, Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna, Michael Daugherty’s Mount Rushmore, and William Bolcom’s Prometheus with pianist Jeffrey Biegel—all conducted by Carl St.Clair.
Robert Istad is celebrating his inaugural season as the artistic director of the Pacific Chorale. He is also professor of music and director of choral studies at California State University, Fullerton; dean of Chorus America’s Academy for Conductors; and president of the California Choral Directors Association. Mr. Istad’s 2016–2017 season included debuts with the Long Beach Symphony and return engagements with the Pacific Symphony, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Sony Classical, and Long Beach Camerata Singers.
Mr. Istad has prepared choruses for a number of America’s finest conductors and orchestras, including Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony, as well as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vassily Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, John Williams, Eugene Kohn, Eric Whitacre, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody.