Pacific Symphony

Inspiring, engaging and serving Orange County through exceptional music performances

aka Pacific Symphony Association   |   IRVINE, CA   |  www.pacificsymphony.org

Mission

Pacific Symphony’s mission is to inspire, engage and serve Orange County through exceptional music performances, and education and community engagement. Its vision is to lead a renaissance in the appreciation, accessibility and impact of classical music in the region through creativity, responsiveness and innovation.

Ruling year info

1982

President and CEO

Mr. John Forsyte

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Sean Sutton

Main address

17620 Fitch Suite 100

IRVINE, CA 92614 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

95-3635496

NTEE code info

Music (A68)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Pacific Symphony was established in 1978 to serve the classical music needs of Orange County, and to provide music education and community engagement for school districts lacking arts learning programs. The Symphony's education and community initiatives were developed to meet the need of declining in-school arts programs and to supply quality music activities in local neighborhoods. Facing ongoing budget cuts, schools continue to rely on Pacific Symphony to furnish valuable music education for their students. The Orange County Cultural Indicator Report shows that only 38% of the county’s school districts have policies to include arts programs in their schools. Less than 2% of district budgets allocate for the arts, and just 5 of the 27 county districts employ arts administrators. With a ratio of arts specialists of 1 in 1,147, these statistics demonstrate the strong need for arts programming in embattled school districts to fill the void of music in the classroom.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE/PERFORMANCE

Pacific Symphony presents more than 100 performances each year to some 275,000 community members in venues throughout the county. The Symphony consists of 88 musicians led by Music Director Carl St.Clair. Every season, the Symphony presents concerts that include classical, pops, family programs, semi-staged opera presentations and an outdoor summer series. Programming also includes chamber music concerts on Sunday afternoons, three youth ensembles for middle and high school students, three or more Symphony in the Cities summer public park concerts, and a concert series at SOKA Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Celebrating 27 consecutive years, the Frieda Belinfante Class Act music education program is an award-winning initiative offered to all public, private, parochial and charter schools in Orange County. Up to 32 elementary schools partner with a Symphony musician who provides in-classroom music workshops aligned with Common Core and VAPA education standards. Classroom teachers are provided with professional development, training and lesson plans to augment the workshops and aid in their own music education beyond the scope of the program. Musicians perform in Family Night concerts onsite and at the end of the year, every grade 2-5 student is bused to the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for a full performance by Pacific Symphony.  As a culminating activity, Bravo Assemblies allow students to showcase what they have learned during the year through creative expression in song, dance, music, theater and visual arts presentations.

Population(s) Served
Non-adult children
Economically disadvantaged people

Santa Ana Strings (SAS) was founded in 2012 as a immersive violin instruction and music engagement program for low-income Title I students. In 2015, the program partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana, selected for its strong neighborhood presence and reputation. SAS workshops run four days a week in the Fall and Spring in an afterschool program for 28 weeks during the year. Professional Pacific Symphony musicians serve as teaching artists, coaches and mentors. The program's purpose is to provide intensive music training for children who focus on achievement by playing challenging music. Student performances are an integral part of the program with concerts at the Club and OC Music & Dance School in Irvine, plus all children are bussed to the concert hall for a Pacific Symphony performance. Today, the program continues to serve low-income, Title I students through a continuing partnership with the Boys & Girls Club.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People of Latin American descent

Heartstrings provides free access to concerts, hands-on wellness activities, transportation and immersive music instruction for a broad range of local non-profit agencies and their under-served constituents. Musical experiences are customized to help partner organizations in Orange County fulfill their own missions and to provide the most meaningful impact on program participants. More than 9,000 community members, low-income families and children engage in Heartstrings every year. Heartstrings has broadened its focus to offer music and wellness programs to serve children on the autism spectrum and homeless families in partnership with The Center for Autism and OC Rescue Mission, respectively. Additional program partners include Academy of Music for the Blind, Alzheimer's Association, Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Talk About Curing Autism, Friendship Shelter and Working Wardrobes.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Seniors

Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles (PSYE) is a premier performance program, nurturing and inspiring young artists in grades 6-12. PSYE consists of three performing ensembles, all benefiting from the artistic vision of Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair. Students representing 72 area middle and high schools enjoy a variety of interactions with Symphony musicians including sectional coachings, master classes and side-by-side performances. The ensembles are:  Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings, providing string musicians in grades 6-9 with quality string and performance instruction; led by Irene Kroesen. Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, led by Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, the orchestra provides over 100 string, wind and percussion musicians in grades 9-12 with intense orchestral training.  Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble offers wind and percussion musicians in grades 8-12 opportunities to refine their skills in an innovative wind symphony environment; led by Gregory X. Whitmore.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Immigrants and migrants

Founded in 2012, Pacific Symphony's Opera Vocal Initiative was created to fill the void of world-class professional opera in Orange County, following the closure of Opera Pacific in 2008. Now celebrating ten years of successful, critically-acclaimed presentations, Pacific Symphony reliably provides inspiring opera performances which attract opera lovers and first-time attendees alike. With its decade-long history, the orchestra has developed a strong following of opera enthusiasts who travel from across the country and California. The Symphony has established its own dedicated Opera Focus support organization comprised of donors and advocates devoted to the Symphony’s opera performances. Pacific Symphony serves as a unique resource to provide quality vocal performances by exemplary artists.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Multiracial people
People of Asian descent
People of European descent
People of Latin American descent

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

League of American Orchestras 1990

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of free admissions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In-person concerts were suspended due to COVID so no metrics are available for 2020. Figures are for free admissions to Pacific Symphony concerts.

Total number of off-site performances held

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE/PERFORMANCE

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

No metrics for 2020 due to COVID. Off-site performances include SOKA Performing Arts concerts, Symphony on the Go, and annual concert in Palm Desert.

Total number of performances

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE/PERFORMANCE

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Performances include Classics, Pops, summer, family, chamber, free outdoor and education and community engagement concerts.

Total number of audience members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE/PERFORMANCE

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Total audience includes all concerts, and education and community engagement attendees. For 2020, this total reflects online participation total.

Number of students enrolled in service-learning courses

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

CLASS ACT - ELEMENTARY MUSIC EDUCATION

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Fluctuations due to the pandemic, with in-person education program activities suspended in 2020. Student totals come primarily from Class Act, Santa Ana Strings and Youth Ensemble programs.

Number of parents/guardians engaged in student activities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

PACIFIC SYMPHONY YOUTH ENSEMBLES (PSYE)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Totals reflect Class Act, Santa Ana Strings and Youth Ensemble programs, with parent engagement continuing in 2020 with online student participation.

Total number of classes offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Santa Ana Strings - Violin Instruction for Underserved Children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Numbers were down in 2020 due to the pandemic. Classes consist of Santa Ana Strings. Class Act, Strings for Generations and other offerings for K-12 students; Youth Ensembles are not included.

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The five organizational goals follow, which will lead to the attainment of Pacific Symphony’s mission and vision.

1. Establish Pacific Symphony as a beacon of artistic achievement and Orange County’s artistic ambassador to the world.

2. Attract, engage and serve a larger and more diverse audience in Orange County and the region by enhancing and leveraging the Symphony’s innate versatility.

3. Engage with the diverse community to inspire curiosity, improve well-being, and connect to local citizens through a deeper appreciation and love of classical music.

4. Recruit and retain board, musicians, staff and volunteers with skills, creativity and passion, so that Pacific Symphony has both the human capital and organizational capacity to achieve its future vision and goals.

5. Develop an optimal mix of philanthropic, earned and capital resources to ensure long-term capacity to achieve strategic goals.

A five-year strategic plan was developed and implemented to serve as a blueprint for the organization from 2017 to 2021. Strategies and tactics are outlined and detailed in the plan for each of the five organizational goals. For example, in working towards establishing Pacific Symphony as a beacon of artistic achievement, the organization advanced its brand awareness to the national and international markets during the 2017-18 season. Leading into its 40th anniversary, major promotional and public recognition reached new heights through three major events in 2018: an invitational debut at Carnegie Hall in April, a successful tour to five major metropolitan cities in China in May, and a PBS Great Performances national broadcast in June 2018. The year produced three of the most important and noteworthy achievements in Pacific Symphony history, made all the more meaningful with an additional $3.1 million secured from philanthropic support above and beyond the annual income goal.

The organization has been a leading arts institution in Orange County, California for 42 years, with senior leadership demonstrating the necessary experience and capacity to achieve the strategic, organizational and aspirational goals of the orchestra. Music Director and Conductor Carl St.Clair celebrates his 31st year in 2021-22; President John Forsyte marks his 24th year of leadership in 2022; Executive Vice President and COO Sean Sutton has 20 years of experience with the Symphony; and several long-serving staff members enjoy tenures of up to 20 years each. Pacific Symphony has a strong board of directors, with leaders serving terms of 3 to 6 years in order to keep membership current, relevant and renewed. Moreover, Pacific Symphony has a 28-consecutive-year history of balanced budgets, up until the pandemic, demonstrating its exemplary fiscal management.

Pacific Symphony’s five-year strategic plan from 2021-2026 is a living document which is reviewed and revised every year (or more) over the life of the document. As such, stakeholders have developed a unifying strategic direction for the future of the orchestra that builds on the success of Pacific Symphony’s artistic, community engagement and experimental initiatives. Potential strategies will always be judged through the lens of financial sustainability. Among the ten strategies are the following three:

1. Continued investment in artistic excellence, attaining the highest standard of achievement, and recognition on the national and international stage.

2. Develop additional innovative programs, and evolve the concert experience in order to serve the increasingly diverse community.

3. Holistically leverage community partnerships to respond to the community’s needs and interests, while advancing the Symphony’s vision.

With apologies, the strategic plan document is too large to include on this profile.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    The southern California region primarily targeting the 34 cities of Orange County. Pacific Symphony attracts music lovers, classical music enthusiasts and other performing arts audiences who participate in the programs, concerts and services by the orchestra, up to 275,000 individuals each year.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In response to the social unrest, Black Lives Matter movement and other turmoil during the pandemic, Pacific Symphony commissioned African American composer John Wineglass to create a premiere orchestral work to bring light to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. The work entitled Alone Together premiered in 2020 through online streaming. Mr Wineglass is commissioned a second time to premiere a new work for violin and orchestra to premiere during the upcoming 2022-23 season. Music Director Carl St.Clair has also invited Vietnamese composer Viet Cuong to create a new work for the season opening gala in September 2022.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Feedback from the people we serve, our staff, board, musicians and other stakeholders, has strengthened the relationship with each constituency and has created bonds with individuals in each category. For example, subscription ticket holders have regular and consistent contact with staff: before, during and after performances to galvanize their valued relationship to the organization.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve,

Financials

Pacific Symphony
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Pacific Symphony

Board of directors
as of 07/08/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

John Evans

Retired/Wells Fargo Bank

Term: 2019 - 2022

Susan Anderson

Community Volunteer

Jo Ellen Chatham

Southern California Edison

Lucy Dunn

President and CEO Orange County Business Council

John R. Evans

Retired Regional Managing Director, Wells Fargo Bank

Barbara Foster

President, Insights Worldwide

Michael Gordon

Vice-Chairman, First Q Capital

Nicholas Greenko

CFO, Tangram Interiors

Rondell B. Hanson

Community Volunteer

Michelle Horowitz

Seth Johnson

Joann Leatherby

President, Leatherby Family Foundation

Phillip N. Lyons

PinecreekInvestment Co.

David Melilli

President, David Melilli Company

Timothy Molnar

Wealth Management Advisor

Stacey Nicholas

Mark Nielsen

Executive Chairman, TextPower, Inc.

Anoosheh Oskouian

President, Ship and Shore Environmental, Inc.

William F. Podlich

Honorable Warren Siegel

Retired Superior Court Judge

Elizabeth Stahr

Christopher Tower

Partner, BDO Seidman LLP

David Troob

Troob Capital Management

W. Henry Walker

President, Farmers & Merchants Bank

Leona Aronoff-Sadacca

John Forsyte

Pacific Symphony

Donald Hecht

James Newton Howard

JNH Studios

Ronald Simon

RSI Holding Co.

Eric Chamberlain

Bank of America

Ginny Davies

Raymond Francis

University Medical Pharmaceuticals

David Ontko

Disneyland Resorts

John Peller

Judith Posnikoff

PAAMCO

Chiyo Rowe

Bart van Aardenne

Vinculums Services, Inc.

Charles Zhang

Zion Enterprises LLC

Catherine Emmi

Jane Fujishige Yada

Lindsey Ayers

Carothers DiSante Freudenberger LLP

Sheng Jiang

Cisco Systems

Agnes Lew

East West Bank

Diana Martin

Diana Martin Gifs

Brian Maryott

Wells Fargo Bank

Scott Seigel

Judy Whitmore

Carol Choi

Philip Wendt

Donald Hu

Scharrell Jackson

John Mark Jennings

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/8/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/08/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.