Pasadena Symphony Opens 2019-2020 Classics Season with Brahms, Bruch and A World Premiere Commission

Published : Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 2:20 PM

L-R: Tessa Lark, David Lockington, Sydney Wang

Music Director David Lockington and the Pasadena Symphony open their 92nd season with Brahms Symphony No. 1, featuring an all-new Composer’s Showcase on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at Ambassador Auditorium with both matinee and evening performances at 2:00pm and 8:00pm. The 2019-20 season kicks off with quite possibly the best first symphony ever written, establishing Brahms in his rightful place as one of the world’s most beloved musical geniuses whose works stand the test of time. Naumburg Competition winner violinist Tessa Lark will delight audiences with Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1., and the program opens with a world premiere commission by up-and-coming local composer Sydney Wang worthy of a grand opening night!

Pasadena’s most-anticipated opening night of the concert season is bursting at the seams with fresh new talent both on and off stage. “An accomplished and expressive artist worthy of all the fuss,” (Albany Times Union) 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant winner Tessa Lark will bring her astounding range, technical agility and musical elegance to Bruch’s Violin Concerto. The world premiere of 16-year-old composer Sydney Wang’s commission, P (is for Play) will jumpstart the Pasadena Symphony’s new Composers Showcase, which will feature work by both emerging and established contemporary composers at each concert of the 19-20 season. To learn more about the music or the soloists for this performance, join us for Insights – a free pre-concert dialogue with David Lockington, Tessa and Sydney, which begins one hour prior to each concert.

The Pasadena Symphony provides a socially vibrant experience specially designed for the music lover, the social butterfly or a date night out, and the inner epicurean in us all. Celebrate opening night in style in the luxurious Symphony Lounge, yet another addition to the delightful and elegant concert experience the Pasadena Symphony has to offer. A posh setting along Ambassador Auditorium’s beautiful outdoor plaza, patrons enjoy uniquely prepared menus for both lunch and dinner at each concert from Claud &Co, fine wines by Michero Wines serving Riboli Family Wines, plus music before the concert and during intermission.

All concerts are held at Ambassador Auditorium, 131 South St. John Ave, Pasadena. Subscription packages start at as low as $99. Single tickets start at $35 and may be purchased online at or by calling (626) 793-7172.

About the Pasadena Symphony Association

Recent Acclaim for the Pasadena Symphony and POPS:
“The Pasadena Symphony signals a new direction…teeming with vitality…dripping with opulent, sexy emotion.” Los Angeles Times.

“…full of pulsating energy from first note to last… the strings were lushly resonant, the wind principals were at the top of their games, and the brass rang out with gleaming vigor.” –Pasadena Star News.
Formed in 1928, the Pasadena Symphony and POPS is an ensemble of Hollywood’s most talented, sought after musicians. With extensive credits in the film, television, recording and orchestral industry, the artists of Pasadena Symphony and POPS are the most heard in the world.

The Pasadena Symphony and POPS performs in two of the most extraordinary venues in the United States: Ambassador Auditorium, known as the Carnegie Hall of the West, and the luxuriant Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Internationally recognized, Grammy-nominated conductor, David Lockington, serves as the Pasadena Symphony Association’s Music Director, with performance-practice specialist Nicholas McGegan serving as Principal Guest Conductor. The multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” Michael Feinstein, is the Principal Pops Conductor, who succeeded Marvin Hamlisch in the newly created Marvin Hamlisch Chair.

A hallmark of its robust education programs, the Pasadena Symphony Association has served the youth of the region for over five decades through the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras (PYSO), comprised of five performing ensembles with over 300 gifted 4th-12th grade students from more than 50 schools all over the Southern California region. The PYSO has toured internationally at prestigious venues in New York, Vienna, and most recently San Jose, Costa Rica. They regularly perform throughout Southern California and have appeared on the popular television show GLEE.

The PSA provides people from all walks of life with powerful access points to the world of symphonic music.

About the Artists

David Lockington
Music Director

David Lockington began his career as a cellist and was the Principal with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years. After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Cambridge where he was a choral scholar, Mr. Lockington came to the United States on a scholarship to Yale University where he received his Master’s Degree in cello performance and studied conducting with Otto Werner Mueller. He was a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and served as assistant principal cellist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra for three years before turning to conducting.

Over the past thirty years, David Lockington has developed an impressive conducting career in the United States. A native of Great Britain, he served as the Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony from January 1999 to May 2015, and is currently the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate. He has held the position of Music Director with the Modesto Symphony since May 2007 and in March 2013, Mr. Lockington was appointed Music Director of the Pasadena Symphony. He has a close relationship with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain, where he was the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor from 2012 through 2016, and in the 15/16 season was named one of three Artistic Partners with the Northwest Sinfonietta in Tacoma, Washington.

In addition to his current posts, since his arrival to the United States in 1978 Mr. Lockington has held positions with several other American orchestras, including serving as Assistant Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and Opera Colorado, and Assistant and Associate Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In May 1993 he accepted the position of Music Director of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, assumed the title of Music Director of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in September 1995 and was Music Director of the Long Island Philharmonic for the 96/97 through 99/2000 seasons.

Mr. Lockington’s guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Saint Louis, Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Oregon and Phoenix symphonies; the Rochester and Louisiana Philharmonics; and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall. Internationally, he has conducted the Northern Sinfonia in Great Britain, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra in Beijing and Taiwan, and led the English Chamber Orchestra on a tour in Asia.

Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the New Jersey, Indianapolis, Utah, Pacific, Colorado, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Stamford, Tucson and Kansas City symphonies, the Florida and Louisville Orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and the Buffalo, Calgary and Oklahoma Philharmonics. Mr. Lockington’s summer festival activities include appearances at the Grand Teton, Colorado Music, Interlochen, Chautauqua and Eastern Music festivals.

David Lockington began his career as a cellist and was the Principal with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years. After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Cambridge where he was a choral scholar, Mr. Lockington came to the United States on a scholarship to Yale University where he received his Master’s Degree in cello performance and studied conducting with Otto Werner Mueller. He was a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and served as assistant principal cellist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra for three years before turning to conducting.

Tessa Lark

Violinist Tessa Lark, recipient of a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Silver Medalist in the 9th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition, is one of the most captivating artistic voices of our time. She has consistently been praised by critics and audiences for her astounding range of sounds, technical agility, and musical elegance. A budding superstar in the classical realm, she is also a highly acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky, delighting audiences with programming that includes Appalachian and bluegrass music and inspiring composers to write for her.

Ms. Lark has been a featured soloist at numerous U.S. orchestras since making her concerto debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age sixteen. She performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2017 on Carnegie’s Distinctive Debuts series, and again the following year as part of APAP’s Young Performers Career Advancement showcase. Ms. Lark has appeared at such venues as Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Perlman Music Program, San Francisco Performances, Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, Ravinia’s Bennett-Gordon Classics series, Troy Chromatic Concerts, Chamber Music Tulsa, Caramoor’s Wednesday Morning Concerts, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, Australia’s Musica Viva Festival, and the Marlboro, Yellow Barn, Olympic, Bridgehampton, and Music@Menlo festivals.

Highlights of Ms. Lark’s 2019-20 season include debuts with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Lincoln Center Great Performers Series; appearances with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Performance Santa Fe; and concerto engagements with numerous orchestras including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic, Oregon Mozart Players, and the Delaware, Pasadena, Topeka, Tucson, and West Virginia symphonies. Three recordings featuring Ms. Lark were released in 2019: Fantasy, an album on the First Hand Records label that includes fantasias by Schubert, Telemann and Fritz Kreisler, Ravel’s Tzigane, and Ms. Lark’s own Appalachian Fantasy; SKY, an Albany Symphony Orchestra release on Albany Records whose title selection is a bluegrass-inspired violin concerto written for her by Michael Torke that she premiered with the ASO in January 2019; and Invention, a debut album of the violin-bass duo Tessa Lark & Michael Thurber that comprises arrangements of Two-Part Inventions by J.S. Bach along with non-classical original compositions by Ms. Lark, Mr. Thurber, and Eddie Barbash.

A passionate chamber musician, Ms. Lark has toured with musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and Musicians from Marlboro. Her piano trio, Trio Modêtre (now known as the Namirovsky-Lark-Pae Trio), was awarded one of the top prizes in the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Ms. Lark has collaborated with such renowned artists as Mitsuko Uchida, Itzhak Perlman, Miriam Fried, Donald Weilerstein, Pamela Frank, Kim Kashkashian, Peter Wiley, and Ralph Kirshbaum. She joined Caramoor Virtuosi as a result of her participation in Caramoor’s Rising Stars Series.

Keeping in touch with her Kentucky roots, Ms. Lark performs and programs bluegrass and Appalachian music regularly and collaborated with Mark O’Connor on his album MOC4, released in June 2014. She also plays jazz violin, most recently performing with the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City. She premiered her own Appalachian Fantasy as part of her Distinctive Debuts recital at Carnegie Hall, where she also gave the world premiere of Michael Torke’s Spoon Bread, written specifically for her stylistic capabilities.

In addition to her busy performance schedule, Ms. Lark has served on the faculty of the Great Wall International Music Academy in Beijing, and as an alumna of NPR’s From the Top she is active in that radio show’s arts leadership program as a performer and educator. Ms. Lark’s primary mentors include Cathy McGlasson, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Miriam Fried, and Lucy Chapman. She is a graduate of New England Conservatory and completed her Artist Diploma at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Sylvia Rosenberg, Ida Kavafian, and Daniel Phillips. Ms. Lark plays a ca.1600 G.P. Maggini violin on loan from an anonymous donor through the Stradivari Society of Chicago. Tessa Lark is represented worldwide by Manhattan-based Sciolino Artist Management,

Sydney Wang

Sydney Wang (b. 2002) is an aspiring composer studying with Professor Ian Krouse of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. She has been in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program since 2017 under the mentorship of Sarah Gibson, Thomas Kotcheff, and Andrew Norman. Her works have won top prizes in national and international competitions for young composers, including the Robert Avalon International Competition and the BMI Student Composer Award. Her short orchestral piece, Moonlit River, was performed in May 2017 by the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra in the Ambassador Auditorium. Sydney was also a part of Sunset ChamberFest in June 2018, where her chamber piece, The Writing Set in Stone, was performed at USC’s Cammilleri Hall. In addition, her flute and string quintet, Dances from the West Side, inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s score for West Side Story, was performed at the Pasadena Symphony’s 2018 Annual Moonlight Sonata Gala in September 2018. Most recently, Sydney has been commissioned by the Modesto Symphony to write a song cycle, which will be premiered in May 2020.

Sydney has been playing piano since the age of four and is currently studying with Dr. Sarkis Baltaian. She has won many awards in piano competitions in Southern California, including Southern California Junior Bach Festival, Southwestern Youth Music Festival, Los Angeles Young Pianist Competition, Kathryn Gawartin Chopin Piano Competition, Glendale Piano Competition, and CAMPT Contemporary Music Competition. In February 2019, she played in a CAPMT piano masterclass with Jeffrey Kahane. In addition to her solo repertoire, Sydney played piano in the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Institute at the Colburn School for 4 years and her piano trio group was featured in Sundays Live at LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) in 2016. From 2018-19, she played in an honors piano trio group in the Los Angeles Junior Chamber Music program. Sydney also plays cello in the La Cañada High School Advanced Orchestra, and her piece, Gateway to Atlantis, for string orchestra and flute was performed at their annual Fall Concert last year with Sydney conducting.

Aside from her passion for music and composition, Sydney loves playing tennis and is a member of La Cañada High School’s varsity tennis team. She also enjoys reading, writing, art, and traveling around the world.






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