Now in the homestretch of its third summer series at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, the Pacific Symphony is looking to set new records.
"We'll probably break $600,000 on total income for the five concerts, which is considerably better than we did last year--which was, roughly, $525,000," orchestra executive director Louis G. Spisto said in a recent phone interview. "I think we're going to break 40,000 on attendance as well."
Spisto attributes the steady rise in attendance to the user-friendly outdoor venue and the "theme-orientation" of the concerts (all-Beethoven, all-Mozart or, as on Saturday, Sept. 15, an all-Tchaikovsky program with fireworks, cannons and band for the ubiquitous "1812" Overture.)
"An outdoor setting seems to be a lot less threatening for some people than a concert-hall experience," Spisto says. "The mix of programming, artists and the outdoor venue is just simply a winner."
Spisto says the orchestra will continue the "theme" programs next year, with newly appointed Carl St. Clair scheduled to conduct the final two concerts.
But even with bells, whistles and cannons, the program on Saturday will offer some serene and lovely music. Featured will be 20-year-old cellist Allison Eldredge.
Eldredge was born in New York but raised in California. Her mother, Julliard-trained pianist Yoshie Akimoto, started Eldredge at the piano when the child was only 3. Today, they concertize together. Their first recording, on the Pony Canyon label (a Japanese firm), is scheduled for release in the United States this season.
This is also the year that the cellist will receive her bachelor's degree from Julliard--after seven years of study with Harvey Shapiro, who she says taught her "almost everything that I know. He's been my mentor, my friend. It just seems that he's been everything to me."
Eldredge was invited to play at the White House at the age of 13, and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic in London. This season, she is scheduled to perform more than 40 recital and orchestral dates. She will also return to Southern California to offer the first Shostakovich Concerto with the Pasadena Symphony, under Jorge Mester.
Eldredge's fervor for music is evident when she speaks, and she is especially enthusiastic about Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme," which she will perform at the concert. "I love playing Russian music, Beethoven and Brahms, but anything passionate is wonderful. There's plenty of that in this piece!"
Outdoor forums do worry the cellist, who recently found herself performing amid a mosquito onslaught encouraged by stage lights on a muggy night. This time, she says, she will consider arming herself with long sleeves and insect repellent, determined "to portray to the listeners what a divine work this is. And that's a great . . . responsibility, but I just want those who are familiar with it, and those who aren't, to feel how beautiful this music is."
Who: Allison Eldredge and the Pacific Symphony.
When: Saturday, Sept. 15, at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, 8800 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine.
Whereabouts: San Diego Freeway to Irvine Center Drive exit. Turn left at the end of the ramp if you're coming from the south, right if you're coming from the north.
Wherewithal: $8.50 to $37.50.
Where To Call: (714) 474-4233.