Classically Trained: Music for everyone coming to Costa Mesa

In the coming days, there is something for everyone in Costa Mesa's classical scene: a youth ensemble, an organist, a visiting orchestra and a classic film score.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, an educational group under the auspices of the Costa Mesa-based Pacific Symphony, will be having a concert titled "Music for Prague." The afternoon event inside the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall features "Music for Prague 1968," by Czech-American composer Karel Husa.

The concert's program notes by Joshua Grayson explain that Husa, who taught at Cornell University for more than 40 years, wrote the piece in response to the Soviet Union sending military forces into Czechoslovakia in 1968. The piece incorporates a melody from a 15th-century war song that, to the many Czechs who know it, represents Czech nationalism and independence.

Also included on the Youth Wind Ensemble's concert program is Morton Gould's rousing "American Salute." The piece written in 1943 was a patriotic response to the U.S. World War II effort and utilizes the American folk song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" in a variety of ways.

The Youth Wind Ensemble, formed in 2007, is led by composer-conductor Joshua Roach, an Arizona native who also has led the Pacific Symphony, the Downey Symphony Orchestra and ensembles at USC. The band is comprised of music students from grades 8 through 12 who are from high schools throughout Orange County.

Later on Sunday in the concert hall, at 7 p.m., the Pacific Symphony will play host to Argentinian organist Hector Olivera. The evening is the final concert in this season's Pedals and Pipes series.

Olivera has performed throughout the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Notre Dame and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In Costa Mesa, he will be performing on the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, a $3.1-million, 30-ton instrument with more than 4,300 pipes.

Tickets to the Youth Wind Ensemble's concert start at $18, and admission to the organ concert starts at $15. For more information on either concert, visit or call (714) 755-5799.


The Philharmonic Society of Orange County is hosting a concert by the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The Russian orchestra is led by Roman Leontiev and features solo pianist Alexandre Pirojenko. The program consists of a suite of Ravel's music from the "Daphnis et Chloé" ballet, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major and the Ravel-orchestrated rendition of Mussorgky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."

Tickets to the engagement start at $30. For more information, visit or call (949) 553-2422.


Of all the movies in all of Hollywood in all the decades, it's no surprise the Pacific Symphony has chosen to play alongside one of the best.

"Casablanca" was never expected to amount to much when it was made and released in 1942. And yet it has in the strongest of moviedom ways, with its memorable dialogue, A-list stars like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and excellent music by Max Steiner.

On March 15 to 17, the symphony will be playing the score to "Casablanca" live with the film. The 8 p.m. concerts in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall will be led by longtime Pacific Symphony principal pops conductor Richard Kaufman, a movie music veteran.

"When people think of motion pictures, only a few films come to mind as iconic and legendary," Kaufman said in a press release. "At the top of most everyone's list is 'Casablanca.' When Pacific Symphony performs Max Steiner's score live with the film, our audience will enjoy a wonderfully unique and memorable experience. I think Bogart would have loved it!"

Steiner, an Austrian immigrant, was one of the early pioneers who established how music can make all the difference in movies. It would be hard imagine 1939's "Gone with the Wind" or 1948's "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" without his lush musical contribution that helped tell the stories. "Casablanca," certainly, is no exception.

Tickets for the concerts start at $25. For more information, visit or call (714) 755-5799.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Coastline Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at

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