Pacific Symphony plays Bach and Beethoven with George Li, Dennis Kim and Ted Sugata
“Li brought a wealth of sonorities to the piano part, from warm lyricism to glittery cascades of sound.” - Seattle Times
“There are few adjectives that adequately describe Mr. Li’s technical prowess, as seemingly effortless elegance marked every aspect of his interpretation of the concerto.” - Broadway World
Pacific Symphony welcomes pianist George Li to the Soka Performing Arts Center stage to perform Beethoven’s powerful “Emperor” Concerto. Before that, Concertmaster Dennis Kim and Pacific Symphony oboist Ted Sugata join forces in Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe. Carl St.Clair conducts.
Carl St.Clair, conductor
George Li, piano
Dennis Kim, violin
Ted Sugata, oboe
Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair for the last 32 years, is currently in its 43rd season. The Symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the U.S. in the last 50 years and is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene, as well as in its own community of Orange County. In April 2018, Pacific Symphony made its debut at Carnegie Hall as one of two orchestras invited to perform during a yearlong celebration of composer Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, and the following month the orchestra toured China. The orchestra made its national PBS debut in June 2018 on Great Performances with Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” conducted by St.Clair. Presenting more than 100 concerts and events a year, and a rich array of education and community engagement programs, the Symphony reaches more than 300,000 residents—from school children to senior citizens.
The Symphony offers repertoire ranging from great orchestral masterworks to music from today’s most prominent composers. Nine seasons ago, the Symphony launched the highly successful opera initiative, “Symphonic Voices.” 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 Matinées, an orchestral matinée series offering rich explorations of selected works led by St.Clair.
Founded in 1978 as a collaboration between California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), and North Orange County community leaders led by Marcy Mulville, the Symphony performed its first concerts at Fullerton’s Plummer Auditorium as the Pacific Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of then-CSUF orchestra conductor Keith Clark. Two seasons later, the Symphony expanded its size and changed its name to Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Then in 1981-82, the orchestra moved to Knott’s Berry Farm for one year. The subsequent four seasons, led by Clark, took place at Santa Ana High School auditorium where the Symphony also made its first six acclaimed recordings. In September 1986, the Symphony moved to the new Orange County Performing Arts Center, and from 1987-2016, the orchestra additionally presented a Summer Festival at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. In 2006, the Symphony moved into the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and two years later, inaugurated the Hall’s critically acclaimed 4,322-pipe William J. Gillespie Concert Organ. The orchestra embarked on its first European tour in 2006, performing in nine cities in three countries.
Praised by the Washington Post for combining “staggering technical prowess, a sense of command and depth of expression,” pianist George Li possesses an effortless grace, poised authority and brilliant virtuosity far beyond his years. Since winning the Silver Medal at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Li has rapidly established a major international reputation and performs regularly with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, such as Dudamel, Gaffigan, Gergiev, Gimeno, Honeck, Orozco-Estrada, Petrenko, Robertson, Slatkin, Temirkanov, Tilson Thomas, Long Yu and Xian Zhang.
Highlights of the 2021-22 season include orchestral engagements with the Nashville, San Diego, New World, North Carolina, Pacific and Valencia Symphonies; and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia; as well as recitals in Chicago, Seattle, Ft. Worth, Atlanta and Stuttgart.
Li is an exclusive Warner Classics recording artist, with his debut recital album released in October 2017 recorded live from the Mariinsky. His second recording for the label, released in October 2019, features solo works by Liszt and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and was recorded live with Vasily Petrenko and the London Philharmonic.
Li gave his first public performance at Boston’s Steinway Hall at the age of ten, and in 2011 performed for President Obama at the White House in an evening honoring Chancellor Angela Merkel. Among Li’s many prizes, he was the recipient of the 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, a recipient of the 2012 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the First Prize winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the New England Conservatory, continuing to work with Wha Kyung Byun. When not playing piano, George is an avid reader and photographer, as well as a sports fanatic.
BACH Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C Minor, BWV 1060R
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73 “Emperor”