Weathering funding challenges, the turbulent national economy and the perpetual crisis of the performing arts, this Orange County-based entity headed into its 31st season as one of the nation's most respected contemporary-classical symphonies. For 20 years, director Carl St. Clair has not only helped keep the Pacific Symphony Orchestra (PSO) solvent and entertained thousands of Southern Californians, but he's also helped this OC-born-and-bred organization attain international status, including European tours, working with many of the world's finest musicians and continually pushing the musical envelope. The orchestra performs more than 100 concerts per year, both in its permanent home inside the Orange County Performing Arts Center and at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater for its summer series. And it's always offering educational and community programs. Clearly, the PSO isn't just keeping classical musical relevant in Orange County: It's making a case that it's absolutely indispensable.