Pasadena, CA Pasadena Symphony Artistic Advisor James DePreist is recovering from recent and unanticipated heart bypass surgery and is unable to appear with the orchestra later this month as originally scheduled. American conductor Michael Stern will step in to conduct the Pasadena Symphony’s final concert of its Classics Season featuring Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Strauss’ poignant Four Last Songs with Grammy Award-winning soprano Christine Brewer at Ambassador Auditorium on Saturday April 28 at 2pm & 8pm.

“We never know when life will take us on an unexpected journey,” comments Paul Jan Zdunek, Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Symphony Association. “Our thoughts are with Maestro DePreist and his wife Ginette during his recovery. We look forward to their visit to Pasadena in the very near future. Although not under these circumstances, we are pleased that Michael Stern was available to step in; he is a consummate musician who has successfully partnered with Christine Brewer before.”

Celebrated soprano Christine Brewer is regarded as one of the leading interpreters of Strauss’ works, and has performed the lead roles in his operas Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau ohne Schatten with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and more. A hallmark of her extensive discography is the critically acclaimed recording of Stauss’ Four Last Songs with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the leading roles of both the Tristan Project with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Turandot with Gustavo Dudamel.

She made her debut with LA Opera last month in a leading role of Benjamin Britton’s Albert Herring, earning a review from the Los Angeles Times describing her as a “galvanizing…force of nature!”

Conductor Michael Stern is in his seventh season as music director of the Kansas City Symphony. He is also the founding artistic director and principal conductor of The IRIS Orchestra in Tennessee. He has produced a string of recordings and acclaimed commissioned new works by American composers.

“[Michael] Stern has a dynamic stick technique that commands rather than coaxes. Attacks are sharp and aggressive. Rhythms are clean and propulsive. He knows his way to a climax… He is someone we should be seeing more of.” – Los Angeles Times

Stern has led orchestras worldwide including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. and more. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.

April 28 marks the final concerts of the 2011-12 classics series and the Pasadena Symphony’s second season as the resident professional orchestra of the historic Ambassador Auditorium. Tickets to Brewer Sings Strauss on Saturday, April 28 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm begin at $35 and may be purchased by visiting, calling 626.793.7172 or onsite on the day of the concert.


  • What: Brewer Sings Strauss with the Pasadena Symphony
  • When: Saturday, April 28 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
  • Where: Ambassador Auditorium; 131 St. John Ave, Pasadena, CA 91123
  • Cost: Tickets start at $35.00
  • Parking: Valet on Green Street, $10 general parking available adjacent to the theater in Maranatha parking lots.
  • Full Program: Wagner Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey from Götterdämmerung, Strauss Four Last Songs, Dvorak Symphony No. 8
  • Pre-Concert Conversation: Pasadena Symphony Association’s CEO Paul Jan Zdunek visits with Guest Conductor Michael Stern about the program, his musical journey and much more an hour before each concert (1 pm and again at 7 pm on stage at Ambassador Auditorium).

Grammy Award-winning American soprano Christine Brewer’s appearances in opera, concert, and recital are marked by her own unique timbre, at once warm and brilliant, combined with a vibrant personality and emotional honesty reminiscent of the great sopranos of the past. Her range, golden tone, boundless power, and control make her a favorite of the stage as well as a sought-after recording artist.

Highlights of Brewer’s 2011-12 season include opening the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 67th season with a program featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the Immolation scene from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. A “superlative Strauss singer” (New York Times), she also looks forward to singing the German composer’s Four Last Songs with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson, besides featuring his music alongside that of Marx, Thomson, Ives, and Smith in recital with pianist and frequent collaborator Craig Rutenberg, at New York’s Alice Tully Hall.

The soprano’s numerous 2010-11 season highlights included performances of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with both the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles and the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass with the Toronto and Chicago Symphonies led by James Conlon. She reprised Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Royal Concertgebouw and Detroit Symphony under Mariss Jansons and Leonard Slatkin respectively, besides performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony. She was also the featured soloist for the New York City Opera’s opening night gala.

An avid recitalist, Brewer has graced such prestigious venues as Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Oberlin Conservatory, the Friends of Chamber Music, Washington DC’s Vocal Arts Society, and many others. She has appeared in Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Song” series at Alice Tully Hall, the Boston Celebrity Series, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, California’s Mondavi Center, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Her unique voice has also been featured at the Gilmore, Ravinia, and Cleveland Art Song festivals.

On the opera stage, Brewer is highly regarded for her striking portrayal of the title role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, which she has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Théatre du Chatelet, Santa Fe Opera, English National Opera, and Opera Theater of St. Louis. Attracting glowing reviews with each role, the soprano has performed Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at San Francisco Opera, Gluck’s Alceste with Santa Fe Opera, the Dyer’s Wife in Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Paris Opera, and Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Santa Fe Opera. She is also celebrated for her work on lesser-known operas such as the title roles in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride with the Edinburgh Festival, the Rio de Janeiro Opera, and Madrid Opera and Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena with the Santa Fe Opera.

Brewer has worked with many of today’s most notable conductors, including Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Shaw, and Jaap van Zweden. Frequently sought after to sing the great symphonic works of Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, Mahler, Beethoven, Strauss, Wagner, Janácek, and Britten, she has sung with the philharmonics of New York and Los Angeles, and the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., St. Louis, San Francisco, Boston, and Dallas. In Europe, the soprano counts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Orchestre de Paris, and Toulouse Orchestra as regular partners. In addition, she has made appearances with the Malaysia Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Toronto Symphony. The versatile artist has also been invited to perform for such special engagements as the re-opening of Covent Garden with Plácido Domingo for TRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, a concert of Handel with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and a gala performance of Górecki’s Third Symphony with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and long-time collaborator Runnicles.

Brewer’s recordings include a contribution to Hyperion’s prestigious Schubert series with pianist Graham Johnson; the Janácek Glagolitic Mass and Dvorák Te Deum with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc); Dvorák’s Stabat Mater (Naxos); and two recital recordings entitled “Saint Louis Woman” and “Music for a While,” produced and released by Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Recent releases include a live recital disc from Wigmore Hall (Koch); Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde, Strauss’s Opera Scenes, and Mozart’s Requiem with Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony (Telarc); Fidelio in German with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live); Barber’s Vanessa with the BBC Symphony (Chandos) and the Grammy Award-winning Bolcom Songs of Innocence and Experience (Naxos), both conducted by Leonard Slatkin; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (EMI); a disc of lieder for Hyperion’s new Richard Strauss series with pianist Roger Vignoles; Fidelio in English and “Great Operatic Arias” with the London Philharmonic (Chandos); and Britten’s War Requiem with the London Philharmonic and Kurt Masur (LPO Live).

Conductor Michael Stern is in his seventh season as music director of the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth and development since his tenure began. The Symphony and Stern concluded their first year together by making a recording for the Naxos label which was released in 2007. They have released two CDs on the Reference Recordings Label Britten’s Orchestra with orchestral works of Benjamin Britten, and The Tempest, with music by Sullivan and Sibelius inspired by Shakespeare’s play, both released to critical acclaim and the Britten album winning a Grammy in 2011.

Mr. Stern is also founding artistic director and principal conductor of the IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. Other past positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history), Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, and as permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years.

Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony’s tour of China.

In North America, Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.

Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Stern coedited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. Stern is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history.