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Classically Trained: Lang Lang one of many highlights at next Pacific Symphony concert

His will be a one-night affair on Orange County’s top piano pedestal.

Acclaimed virtuoso pianist Lang Lang performs Tuesday with the Pacific Symphony in an all-Russian composer program at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The 8 p.m. performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, led by music director Carl St.Clair, features the works of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

A word of advice: The show is fast selling out, so book your tickets soon. The intimate concert hall seats about 2,000, and as of Thursday afternoon, about 100 tickets were left.

The guest appearance by Lang will likely be the highlight of the Costa Mesa-based orchestra’s “Year of the Piano” season. The Chinese musical superstar held the attention of billions who watched him in the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.


At only 28 years old, Lang has already helped sell out concerts worldwide when performing with the world’s top orchestras. He’s even played for famous folks, including American presidents (Bush the elder and younger, as well as Clinton), former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Prince Charles.

Added to his considerable credentials are plaudits from The New York Times (which called him the “hottest artist on the classical music planet”) and a listing in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Lang will perform Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 3" — the composer’s most popular piano concerto of his five. Aside from what will surely be spectacular playing by Lang, listeners can tune in for the middle movement’s clarinet glissando, which, as indicated in the concert notes by Michael Clive, echoes what American composer George Gershwin later used to begin “Rhapsody in Blue.”

And if O.C. isn’t familiar with that great musical beginning — which happens to be my favorite crescendo in all of music — try re-watching the scene from Disney’s “Fantasia 2000.”


What’s also great about Tuesday’s concert is, well, the rest of it.

Shostakovich’s rousing “Festive Overture,” written in 1954 and first performed at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre — some of whose ballet dancers are dancing next door at Segerstrom Hall — will literally trumpet in the evening’s program. The symphony’s brass section is a highlight of this speedy piece that has since become a performance standard for orchestras, wind bands and marching bands everywhere.

Next comes Tchaikovsky’s musical suite comprised of excerpts from his 1877 “Swan Lake” ballet, which also premiered in the Bolshoi Theatre. “Swan Lake” is a welcome change of mood compared to Tchaikovsky’s other two ballets, though it often seems underappreciated alongside the innocent charms of “The Nutcracker” or sweeping melodies of “Sleeping Beauty” (melodies used, by the way, in Disney’s 1959 feature cartoon of the same name).

From the suite’s opening sequence, beginning with the oboe solo, the musical mindset is set for the subsequent dark and occasionally ethereal beauty that makes Tchaikovsky’s music so enduringly admired the world over.

For more information about the series, visit And remember, those interested should buy soon, for this concert will sell out.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. E-mail him story ideas at