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Cabrillo Festival Invites Community Voices to Share Experiences With Fire and Drought For New Project

Cabrillo Festival has also launched a new online discussion series, Composers in Conversation.

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music has commissioned Santa Cruz-born composer and multimedia artist Scott Ordway to create a new work for orchestra and vocal ensemble. The End of Rain weaves together stories and words from regions of the Western U.S. recently impacted by wildfire and drought. Performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, led by conductor Cristian Măcelaru, and featuring the eight-member, Grammy Award-winning vocal band, Roomful of Teeth, the work is scheduled to premiere during the Festival's 2022 live performance season.

Of the concept, Ordway says: "In recent years, the western United States has experienced wildfire and drought with catastrophic frequency and intensity. These events force us from our homes, devastate our communities, and destroy forests, farms, ranches, and orchards.

We can see the physical devastation. We can measure its economic impact. But how does it change us internally? How does it alter our fundamental relationship to place? Do we look at the forest in a different way? The sky? Each other? Do we still feel the same way about our homes? What about the crops we grow, the food we eat, the water we drink? Has our collective relationship with the landscape changed? What remains the same?

Is it possible to ask a large group of people how they're feeling and then make some sense out of the answer?"

To collect the words that will form the foundation of the work, Scott Ordway and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music are asking members of the public to share their individual experiences of wildfire and drought. The collected stories and words will be translated into a musical form, as Ordway says, "in an attempt to better understand how we feel about our evolving relationship to place, home, and security in a changing world." Stories can be shared at until May 15, 2021. The project's website is presented in both English and Spanish, and welcomes submissions in any language.

This project is the third in a series of Cabrillo Festival commissions reflecting on the wildfires and climate crisis. Executive Director Ellen Primack remarks on its poignant timing, "The End of Rain is especially meaningful as it includes our community's voices and experiences at a time when it's still so visceral and potent. When it premieres in 2022 we'll have the opportunity to gather together for the first time and reflect as a community."

Cabrillo Festival has also launched a new online discussion series, Composers in Conversation, featuring small groups of composers and Festival Music Director/Conductor Cristian Măcelaru talking about their experiences as creators of new music. Running March-July, most episodes feature a live Q&A; however, the May 1st session with Wynton Marsalis and Tan Dun will be pre-recorded, and audiences are encouraged to submit questions before April 27 at: Each Composers in Conversation session is available for free on-demand streaming at

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