For release: February 6, 2019


Andrew Brown, President & CEO

Ryan McSweeney, Director of Marketing & Box Office

Pacific Chorale to Celebrate “UnSung Heroes”

Concert on March 30th will highlight the accomplishments of women composers, including a world premiere by guest curator Karen P. Thomas.

Costa Mesa, CA – On March 30, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., in celebration of Women’s History Month, Orange County’s Pacific Chorale will highlight the creative genius of female composers in a concert titled “UnSung Heroes” at Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The evening’s program will feature music composed by women ranging from the medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen to 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw and will include a world premiere commission by Seattle composer and conductor Karen P. Thomas, who also serves as the concert’s guest curator. Artistic Director Robert Istad will conduct the 140-voice Chorale with accompanist David Clemensen and guest musicians.

“It’s no secret that women composers have been vastly underrepresented in music,” says Istad. “Until fairly recently in history, women were strongly discouraged from pursuing careers in composition, and what music they did write was rarely publicly performed or published.” According to the website Bachtrack, which maintains listings of concert, opera, and dance performances worldwide, women were represented in only 16% of classical music programming in the United States last year.

The Chorale’s aim is to introduce audience members to a selection of incredibly talented women — some of them historic, some of them iconic, and many of them active today—who have made and are making an impact in music. Among those featured are the multi-talented 19th century musicians Clara Wieck Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel—both of whom were overshadowed as composers in their lifetimes by the men in their families; the tragically short-lived French prodigy Lili Boulanger; veteran choral composer and arranger Alice Parker; African American composers Ysaÿe Barnwell and Rosephanye Powell; Galina Grigorjeva, representing the rich Estonian choral music tradition; and Hyo-won Woo from South Korea.

During this program, Istad will also recognize the major contributions of women in popular music, with selections from well-known English and American singer-songwriters Kate Bush, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell included in the evening’s performance, and will prominently feature a number of the Chorale’s female members as soloists.
Istad concludes, “You may not yet be familiar with all the names on this concert, but we think you’ll agree their music is amazing!”

Prior to the concert, Segerstrom Center’s second annual ¡DAMAS! celebration will take place on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza beginning at 5:00 p.m. ¡DAMAS! celebrates women creators and will feature performances, activities, and a panel discussion which will include Karen Thomas. As part of the plaza activities, Pacific Chorale will create a “gallery walk” of posters of great moments for women in music history and will provide free concert tickets to groups who primarily serve women’s causes.¡damas!-free

UnSung Heroes
Date & Time: Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Conductor: Robert Istad, Artistic Director
Featuring: Pacific Chorale • David Clemensen, piano
Location: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall • 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tickets: From $25 to $115
Call 714/662-2345 or visit

I Thank You God — Gwyneth Walker
Sorida (A Zimbabwe Greeting) — Rosephanye Powell
Was weinst du, Blümlein, Op. 23, No. 1* — Clara Schumann
Nach Süden, Op. 10, No. 1* — Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Soir sur la plaine — Lili Boulanger
Le Stelle (World Premiere) — Karen P. Thomas
Commissioned by ACFEA Tour Consultants for Rob Istad and Pacific Chorale, in support of Chorus America
O ignee spiritus — Hildegard von Bingen
Her Beacon Hand Beckons, from To the Hands — Caroline Shaw
This Woman’s Work* — Kate Bush
In Paradisum — Galina Grigorjeva
Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal — arr. Alice Parker
From the Wingbone of a Swan — Edie Hill
To See the Sky — Jocelyn Hagen
Both Sides Now* — Joni Mitchell
Wanting Memories, from Crossings — Ysaÿe M. Barnwell
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman* — Carole King
Pal-So-Seong (8 Laughing Voices) — Hyo-won Woo
* solo selection

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Pacific Chorale gratefully acknowledges its generous season sponsors:

Platinum Season Sponsor:
Phillip N. and Mary A. Lyons

Silver Season Sponsor:
Charles and Ling Zhang


Dr. Robert Istad has served as Pacific Chorale’s Artistic Director since July 1, 2017. He has prepared choruses for many of the world’s leading orchestral conductors, and has been featured on a number of recordings including The John Williams Collection on Sony Classical and Nostos: The Homecoming of Music on Yarlung Records. He continues in his role as Professor of Music, Director of Choral Studies, California State University, Fullerton. He is also serving as the President of the California Choral Directors Association and was recently elected to the board of directors of the national choral industry’s association, Chorus America.


Karen P. Thomas, composer and conductor, is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Seattle Pro Musica. Her compositions are performed and broadcast throughout the world, by groups such as The Hilliard Ensemble and the Vocal Consort of Brussels. Her works are published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Northwest Choral Publishers, and have been featured at numerous ACDA and AGO conferences. A prize-winning composer, she has received grants from the NEA, The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and Meet the Composer, among numerous others. As a conductor, Ms. Thomas has produced ten critically-acclaimed CDs, and received the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the ASCAP-Chorus America Award. She has appeared as guest conductor at international festivals in Europe and North America, and the NPR radio show Saint Paul Sunday. She received the 2012 Outstanding Choral Director Award for Washington State, and currently serves on the boards of Chorus America, the American Choral Directors Association (NW Division) and the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium, and is a Commissioner on the Seattle Music Commission.


Pacific Chorale has delighted national and international audiences with concerts of great choral music performed at the highest musical standards since 1968. Under the artistic leadership of Robert Istad, the organization produces a series of concerts each year at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where it serves as the sole resident choir. The mission of Pacific Chorale is to inspire our community through artistry and innovation in choral music performances and education programs.

Pacific Chorale is recognized for exceptional artistic expression, preserving and performing classical choral music as well as stimulating American-focused programming. Pacific Chorale presents a substantial performance season of its own and is sought regularly to perform with the nation’s leading symphonies. Pacific Chorale has infused an Old World art form with California’s hallmark innovation and cultural independence, developing innovative new concepts in programming, and expanding the traditional concepts of choral repertoire and performance. The organization boasts over 30 world premieres and has released 14 self-produced recordings.

In addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, with whom Pacific Chorale made its Carnegie Hall debut in April 2018, the Chorale has performed with such renowned American ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and Musica Angelica.

Pacific Chorale has also toured extensively to more than 19 countries in Europe, South America and Asia, and has collaborated with the London Symphony, the Munich Symphony, L’Orchestre Lamoureux and L’Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l’Île of Paris, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the China National Symphony, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Estonian National Symphony, and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina.
Pacific Chorale also places a significant emphasis on choral music education, offering grades 1-6 after-school programs, a high school student summer camp, and a community-wide singing event at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.


Posted Under: Press Release