Jayce Keane
Director of Public Relations
(714) 876-2383
For Immediate Release
Plus, program includes a special sing-along with Santa Claus
and a festive Musical Carnival

Orange County, Calif.-Nov. 18, 2011- Pacific Symphony transports the audience to a magical land filled with toy soldiers, mischievous mice, snowflakes, sweets and children for perennial holiday favorite, "Nutcracker for Kids," as the orchestra welcomes back the talented young dancers of Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT). Full of holiday cheer, Tchaikovsky's enchanting ballet comes to life for this Family Musical Mornings concert, presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank, in a condensed 45-minute version created just for kids, ages 5-11. Led by Assistant Conductor Maxim Eshkenazy, the Symphony tells the classic tale of Clara, a girl who receives an extraordinary gift: a nutcracker that magically turns into a prince. After a fierce battle with the Mouse King, the prince whisks Clara away to The Land of Sweets, where she encounters a variety of delightful characters including the Sugar Plum Fairy. This seasonal charmer finishes with a heart-warming holiday sing-along with special guest-Santa Claus!

Taking place Saturday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. and 11: 30 a.m., at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, children are invited to participate in a festive Musical Carnival before and after the show (more details below.) Tickets for the concert are $29-$46; for more information call (714) 755-5799 or visit

"My favorite part of our ‘Nutcracker' is seeing the faces of the audience when the big mouse comes out on stage," says Maestro Eshkenazy. "I just love hearing the gasps when they see him in his elaborate costume! That's a silly moment I enjoy, but overall, Tchaikovsky's ‘Nutcracker' is timeless and has fascinated people for so many years. I was captivated the first time I saw it as a kid, and it continues to charm children and adults today. For our presentation, we create a kid-friendly version that is only 45-minutes long, but it gives the essence of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece, which opens the door for a life-long love of ballet, orchestra and classical music. That's our mission, and it's my goal for all of our family concerts."

Adding to the fun is the Music Carnival, which begins at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert), and is filled with fun holiday music for the whole family, as well as hands-on activities for children. This year, the Carnival features a spotlight on the celesta, which has a special role in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, as well as a Ballet Museum, where point shoes, tiaras and ballet costumes are on display. Children may also: meet the dancers from FBT, Ask the Orchestra and Meet the Musicians, including musicians from Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles, plus, visit Santa, who is ready to hear everyone's holiday wishes.

"The dancers in FBT are young adults in high school, but they are excellent and perform with absolute professionalism. I have been highly impressed with them for the past four years," says Eshkenazy. "Music and dance are so inherently loved by people, and the combination has been around since the dawn of humanity. If there is a rhythm, there is dance. And one of the highest points of dance is ballet, created in Western Europe. Over the last five centuries, ballet has become so well-refined that it truly highlights the most beautiful movements of the human body alongside beautiful music."

FBT, founded in 1988 by Salwa Rizkalla, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the artistic enrichment of the Orange County community through professional productions, educational programs and by providing a nurturing and intensive artistic home base to some of Southern California's most talented young dancers. The dancers appearing in this production are students of Southland Ballet Academy (SBA), the official school of FBT. Founded in 1983, SBA provides the professional level of training in classical ballet that students require before joining the company.

Family Musical Mornings continue on Feb. 4, 2012, with a galactic exploration of the solar system with "Symphony in Space," featuring footage from NASA, "Star Wars" and a side-by-side with Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. Then on March 3, 2012, travel through a magical forest to find a house made of candy for the enchanting story of "Hansel and Gretel" in a condensed version of Humperdinck's opera featuring talented singers. The season concludes on May 12, 2012 with "Happily Ever After?" with selections from Tchaikovsky's classic "Sleeping Beauty."