6/3/2014 - Philharmonic Society of Orange County Appoints John Mangum as New President and Artistic Director

Philharmonic Society of Orange County Appoints John Mangum as New President and Artistic Director

IRVINE, CA—The Philharmonic Society of Orange County announced today the appointment of John Mangum as its new President and Artistic Director, effective July 1, 2014. After a six-month nationwide search, Mangum was selected for his extensive experience in the classical music industry, artistic knowledge and vision. Mangum replaces Dean Corey, who is retiring after a 21-year tenure with the Society.

In announcing Mangum’s selection, Dean Corey remarked, “It was apparent through our search process that John was the candidate whose passion and views aligned with the Society’s mission for presenting high caliber musical programs in Orange County. I am extremely pleased that John will be joining the Philharmonic Society family.”

“I’m tremendously excited to be joining the Philharmonic Society as it embarks on its 61st season,” said John Mangum. “The Society has a distinguished history of bringing the world’s greatest musicians and performers to Orange County’s stages and enriching countless students’ lives through its dynamic, volunteer-led music education programs. I look forward to building on this remarkable foundation and working with our dedicated Board, patrons, audience, community, and staff to chart a dynamic course for the future.”

Guided by the firm Albert Hall & Associates, the focus in the search for the Philharmonic Society’s President and Artistic Director was to find the perfect candidate to position the Society for a strong future—one with not only extensive artistic knowledge and experience but also pioneering vision for the arts in Orange County. Noel Hamilton, Chairman of the Philharmonic Society’s Board of Directors, stated, “Though we’ve only recently celebrated our 60th anniversary, the Philharmonic Society’s greatest years are just ahead, and as we look forward to our next 60 years, John’s artistic vision and leadership makes him the perfect person to lead the Society through this new chapter.”

Mangum has held several senior artistic planning roles at major American orchestras. Most recently, he served as Director of Artistic Planning at the San Francisco Symphony, where he worked with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas on major artistic initiatives including semi-staged productions of works by Bartók, John Cage, Debussy, and Ibsen/Grieg; concert performances of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, recorded for release on SFS Media; the revival of the Symphony’s successful American Mavericks festival; and artist and composer residencies by Mason Bates, András Schiff, and Yuja Wang.

Prior to joining the San Francisco Symphony, Mangum was Artistic Administrator for the New York Philharmonic, where he worked on the launch of Alan Gilbert as the Philharmonic’s new Music Director, as well as Vice President for Artistic Planning at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Administrator for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. He has also worked as a program annotator for the Salzburg Festival, Harmonia Mundi, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others.

A California native raised in the Bay Area but with familial ties to Southern California, Mangum previously lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. He holds a Ph.D. in history and musicology, in addition to master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history, from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mangum enjoys traveling and hiking and plans to live in Orange County with his wife and son.

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5/16/2014 - Philharmonic Society ends season with salute to Dean Corey

Philharmonic Society ends season with salute to Dean Corey
by Peter Lefevre, for the Orange County Register

Orange County listeners may recall a not-so-distant past when the region wasn’t a regular stop for the world’s great orchestras and soloists. Well before OCPAC became SCFTA. Well before Soka. The dark ages.

That we now regularly see visits – and returns! – from premier orchestras and name-brand blue chip soloists, that the region in general continues to enjoy phenomenal artistic growth, can’t be attributed to any one individual. But any list of those responsible for this burst of quality in our performing arts options would be incomplete without the name of Dean Corey.

Corey is president and artistic director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, at least for a few more weeks. After 21 years at the helm, he’s retiring in June and moving to France. Thursday night at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall he bid his public farewell at a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony performed by young musicians drawn from throughout the county, under the direction of Daniel Alfred Wachs. The concert, part of the Society’s “Beethoven: The Late Great” series, brought to a close the Society’s 60th anniversary season.

Ambling on stage before the concert, in his characteristic gray beard and Philip Johnson glasses, Corey took a moment to address the packed hall.

“Last concert of my career,” he said. “What better way to end it than with these people. I’m in the past tense now, but I’m handing off the football to these young people who will run with it into the future.”

And with that he ended his tenure as the head of one of the nation’s most active producing organizations, and made way for his beloved Beethoven. No fuss. A gunslinger heading into the sunset. A tip of the hat and his work here is done.

The program, rounded out by the West Coast premiere of Marc-Anthony Turnage’s “Frieze” (2012), and the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featured the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Chapman Orchestra, the Chapman University Choir, the Chapman University Singers, singers from UC Irvine, pianist Marc Yu, soprano Jessica Rivera, mezzo-soprano Renée Tatum, tenor Nicholas Phan, and bass Craig Colclough.

The prolific, lauded Turnage was commissioned to write “Frieze” in honor of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s bicentenary. The New York Philharmonic presented the U.S premiere only last October. Inspired by Gustav Klimt’s four-panel Beethoven Frieze from 1914, the work hints at the choral symphony while offering a landscape of tension, conflict, menace, explosive gestures, and a touch of Shostakovichian black humor. It’s a fight between civilization and barbarianism, with nods to Mussorgsky, Ravel, Gershwin, Bernstein, and big-band swing along the way. Technically demanding, acidic, and dense, the score requires a wide dynamic range, and a capacity to go from zero to 60 to zero at whim.

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5/12/2014 - Ovations keep coming for Corey

Ovations keep coming for Corey
by Anne Valdespino, for the Orange County Register

How do you say goodbye to a buddy who’s been with you through thick and thin for 21 years? It ain’t easy when that guy is Dean Corey, the president and artistic director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County who will retire at the end of this season. Under his stewardship, the musical society grew into a world-class presenting organization, and his staff members, board members, patrons and legions of volunteers keep throwing celebrations for him.

Eye on the Scene spent a weekend in early May with Corey and company at two events. The first took place at the Balboa Bay Resort, where 129 well-wishers celebrated the group’s 60th anniversary, dined on French cuisine and enjoyed a mini recital by pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. At the second, a fundraiser held at Prego Ristorante in Irvine and hosted by the Big Canyon/Spyglass Hill Committee, the food was Italian but the sentiments were the same. Come along with Eye on the Scene for a peek into a couple of last hurrahs for Orange County’s ultimate impresario.

Friday Night fever
In a reception area at the Balboa Bay Resort, a staff member cheerily regales arriving guests with tales about Corey and his wife, Kaly’s, plans to retire in Guizerix, France. Their backyard has a view of the Pyrenees, they’re building a pool, they’ll keep chickens, Corey will have a studio where he can play music and write. Sounds idyllic until joke after joke is cracked about friends and colleagues planning visits. We wonder if Corey just thinks he’s retiring but is unintentionally starting a bed and breakfast.

“He’s been a great friend and a great supporter,” says Thibaudet who was in his 20s when he met Corey and barely spoke English. “I want to give him a good au revoir.” As the pianist rushes out to change, guests keep arriving. The crowd is studded with performing arts elite: Douglas C. Rankin, president of the Irvine Barclay Theatre; Burton Karson, a Philharmonic Society board member and founding artistic director of Baroque Music Festival, Corona del Mar. Terry Dwyer, president of the Segerstrom Center, poses with past center President Jerry Mandel. William D. Hall, founding dean of the Paul Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University, sums up Corey’s contribution: “We’re losing a giant ... Corey brought all the great artists to this small community and now we’re a large community.” Former society director Erich Vollmer put it simply, “My hat’s off to Dean, he lasted twice as long as I did.”

As guests head into dinner, South Coast Plaza executive Debra Gunn Downing busily rearranges placecards at table 17. The committee meeting about who should sit where lasted two hours – we think Debra could have done it in a heartbeat. The bigger job was transforming the ballroom. That was all event chairwoman Kathy Hamilton’s doing. She decided on a theme of springtime in Paris, and decorator Youngsong Martin went to town with green and lavender floral arrangements and gauzy chair covers. The feast included escargots and beef tenderloin. Thibaudet served food for the soul: Chopin nocturnes, a Brahms intermezzo and a surprise piece by Richard Strauss on a little-known theme of Schubert. There were more musical surprises as artists popped up in the tribute videos: Carl St.Clair, Itzhak Perlman, Gustavo Dudamel.

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5/9/2014 - Dean Corey of Philharmonic Society of Orange County still full of ideas

Dean Corey of Philharmonic Society of Orange County still full of ideas
by Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic

Weirdly appropriate, "Thanks for the Memories" is playing in the background of an Asian bistro in South Coast Plaza where Dean Corey and his wife, Kaly, have ordered a late afternoon bottle of white wine.

Life is good. The 67-year-old president of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County is retiring next month and moving to a small village in the south of France.

The memories are good. The arts, and classical music in particular, should never again be the same in Orange County thanks to Corey's 21 years of advocacy. He has made the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts and surrounding venues into destinations not only for the world's great orchestras, ensembles and musicians, but many a venturesome avant-gardist as well.

He has fought a number of battles in doing so. He has wooed donors day and night. Keeping classical music alive isn't getting any easier.

The reports of orchestras, opera companies and classical record labels in trouble inevitably get all the attention. But as Corey looks up from his glass with a satisfied smile, he insists he is not worried about the future.

"The death of classical music," he announces with a hint of a Southern twang, "is classical music's oldest tradition," paraphrasing the late pianist and scholar Charles Rosen.

A Yale-educated former French horn player from Arlington, Texas, with a folksy, funny, charming, wry manner, Corey is one of the arts leaders who has explored ways to find modern meaning for today's audiences.

"Classical music is beloved by millions and millions of people," Corey says. "Models change. We just need a new model."

And for Corey that model is not so much thinking outside the box as simply making the box better.

That experience may partly explain just how peculiar Monday's performances were. Maazel can do anything with an orchestra, and he's always got a new trick up his sleeve. He also has the reputation for having a mind suited for four-dimensional chess.

He believes in quality and has wrested money from a wealthy community to obtain the best orchestras money can buy, such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, often to the envy of L.A. His most ambitious seasons have made the Orange County Performing Arts Center almost a Carnegie Hall West.

Just as important, Corey has been cheerleader for massive musical change.

"One of the first things I did here," he says about his first season in 1993, "was plan to bring the Kronos Quartet as soon as I could. I wanted to bring them every season, forever." In 1999, Corey turned his passion for presenting new work into the Eclectic Orange Festival, making the Philharmonic Society at the time the most progressive presenter in Southern California.

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5/8/2014 - After leading the Philharmonic Society for 21 years, Dean Corey is going out with a bang, and Beethoven.

Philharmonic Society leader going out on a high note
by Timothy Mangan, for the Orange County Register

Dean Corey is having trouble remembering all of the tributes coming his way these days. There’s nothing wrong with his mind; there just have been so many of them. “Let’s see,” he says as he starts the list. He’s certainly not ungrateful.

“They make me feel very tired, very great, very proud and very happy,” he says of the tributes – luncheons, dinners, speeches and awards. Corey, a big, burly, talkative Texan with an august gray beard, is retiring after 21 seasons running the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, the area’s premier presenter of classical music. He’s had a good run. He’s had a tough run. Everyone feels he’s done an exceptional job.

On June 29, he’ll head out of town with his wife, Kaly, on a road trip through the South and up the East Coast to New York, where they’ll board a ship to France and eventually make their way to the “hamlet” of Guizerix in Gascony, where they have a small home (a former convent) set among fields of sunflowers. They initially planned the trip without air travel to accommodate their old and beloved dog, Luke. When he died recently, they decided to stick to the plan, anyway. No need to rush the change. France will wait until they get there.

Sitting behind the desk in his well lived-in office at the Philharmonic Society’s headquarters in Irvine recently, Corey is not in a particularly reminiscing mood. His current home is in a topsy-turvy state of renovation as he gets it ready for sale. The upcoming trip, and the food he’ll eat, is on his mind. His last concert as head of the Society is a little more than a week away.

Good luck getting tickets. It will be an appropriately grand send-off for Corey, including performances of a substantial and difficult new piece, “Frieze,” by noted British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage (in its West Coast premiere) and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The performing forces are unusual for the Society, at least on its main orchestral series: students. Daniel Alfred Wachs will conduct his Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Chapman Orchestra, as well as choirs from UC Irvine and Chapman (the vocal soloists are professionals).

“I’m leaving, I’m turning into the past, I’m turning into history,” Corey says. “And these kids represent the future, and I thought that’s a good symbolic way of ending.”

Corey’s accomplishments in O.C. have been many. A former professional French horn player, he has nurtured partnerships with many performers, with Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances at Berkeley and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and commissioned new music. He was the founder and director of the adventurous Eclectic Orange Festival, a multi-season exploration of the new and avant-garde in several art forms that helped put Orange County high culture on the national map. His titles with the Society are president and artistic director, but you also could add “curator.”

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