California Symphony to Kick Off 30th Season, 9/18

WALNUT CREEK, CA (August 9, 2016) - The California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera open the Orchestra's 30th season on Sunday, September 18 at 4 pm at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, with an early work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, written when he was a Young American Composer-in-Residence there, a performance of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, and flutist Annie Wu, an East Bay native and SF Symphony Youth Orchestra alumna, as soloist in Mozart's Flute Concerto in G.

The Orchestra's 2016-17 season highlights the music of its celebrated Young American Composers-in-Residence, with works by the program's alumni on each of its concerts, including, in addition to Kevin Puts (in residence from 1996-99), music by Christopher Theofanidis (1994-96), Pierre Jalbert (1999-2002), Kevin Beavers (2002-05), and current resident composer Dan Visconti(2014-17). Throughout its 30-year history, the Orchestra has made American repertoire its special focus, nurturing and commissioning work from emerging American composers as well as performing the most revered core classical repertoire.

To open its 30th season and to augment the concert experience, the Orchestra is offering a free outdoor party, "Sunday Funday," at the Lesher Center, beginning at 2:30 pm on September 18. For the first time, the Orchestra will offer a free audio and video stream of the pre-concert preparations and the first 30 minutes of the concert, including interviews, backstage visits, a pre-concert talk with Cabrera, and the Orchestra's performance of Puts' Network and the first movement of the Mozart Flute Concerto in G with Annie Wu. The stream will also be available as a Facebook Live stream through the Orchestra's Facebook page at Outside the Lesher Center, families can enjoy an instrument "petting zoo," and there will be Pokémon Go stops and lures for kids and local food trucks selling food.

Tickets for the September 18 concert go on sale Thursday, August 11 and are priced at $42-$72, and $20 for students, subject to change. Tickets are available through www.californiasymphony.orgor by calling 925-943-7469.

Kevin Puts' Network was composed in 1997, during his three-year tenure as the Orchestra's Young American Composer-in-Residence. Puts is the winner of both the Pulitzer Prize in Music (for his first opera, Silent Night, in 2012) and the Rome Prize in Composition. His work has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by leading ensembles and soloists throughout the world, including Yo-Yo Ma, the New York Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchester, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Miro Quartet, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, St. Louis, and Minnesota.

Flutist Annie Wu, a SF Symphony Youth Orchestra alumna from Pleasanton who recently joined New World Symphony, is the soloist in Mozart's Flute Concerto in G. Wu appeared at Carnegie Hall at age 12, and at age 15 was the First Prize winner of the National Flute Association's (NFA) High School Soloist Competition, becoming the youngest first prize winner in the NFA's history. To complete the Orchestra's opening program, Cabrera also leads the musicians in Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.

"Network" has a wonderful, frenetic quality to it," said Cabrera. "As the work of a young composer, Kevin already had an incredible grasp of what an orchestra can do. It was like he was behind the wheel of an incredible sports car for the first time." Though Puts says he has since adopted a more lyrical and Romantic style, and revised the piece in 2001, Network "represents the fascination I had while still a student with composers like Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, and John Adams, and the great beauty, freshness, and rhythmic energy of their work," Puts writes. "It's a short, explosive fanfare that uses a recurring eight-voice canon of busy sixteenth notes to generate all the music in the piece. It is as if this "network" of melodic lines is always happening in the background, but only pieces of it are actually played at any given moment by the instruments in the orchestra. As I add sharps or flats to the canon at various places, the color of the harmony changes, and demands changes in the orchestration. These harmonic changes and the variations in orchestral sound that accompany them determine the shape of the piece."


The California Symphony, celebrating its 30th Anniversary in the 2016-17 season, is distinguished for its concert programs that combine classics alongside American repertoire and lesser-known works, its pioneering Young American Composer-in-Residence program, its nationally recognized education programs, and for bringing music to people in new and unconventional settings. The Orchestra enters its fourth season in 2016-17 with Music Director Donato Cabrera. The Orchestra is comprised of musicians who have performed with the orchestras of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and others, and many of its musicians have been performing with the California Symphony for nearly all its existence. California Symphony has launched the careers of some of today's most-performed composers and soloists, including violinist Sarah Chang, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and composers such as Mason Bates, Christopher Theofanidis, and Kevin Puts. The Orchestra is expanding its regional base in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and performed concerts in four new venues during the 2015-16 season, in addition to concerts at its home at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. For more information, please visit


Music Director Donato Cabrera joined the California Symphony in 2013. He was the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) from 2009 through the 2015-16 season. In 2014, Cabrera was appointed Music Director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra. He also has a thriving international conducting career.

As Music Director of the California Symphony, Cabrera is committed to featuring music by American composers, supporting young artists in the early stages of their careers, and commissioning world premieres from talented resident composers. A champion of new music, Donato Cabrera was a co-founder of the New York-based American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), which is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily the work of American composers. In September 2012 he conducted ACME in the world premiere of the all-live version of Steve Reich's WTC 9/11 for three string quartets and tape at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. He made his Carnegie Hall and Cal Performances debuts leading the world and California premieres, respectively, of Mark Grey's ?tash Sorushan. In 2012, Cabrera led the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, with Paul Jacobs on organ, in the world premiere of Mason Bates' Mass Transmission, subsequently conducting it with the Young People's Chorus of New York City in Carnegie Hall for the American Mavericks Festival. Cabrera made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2009 when he conducted the Orchestra with 24 hours' notice. As the SF Symphony Resident Conductor, Donato Cabrera worked closely with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, and frequently conducted the Orchestra throughout the year.

From 2005 to 2008, Cabrera was Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Opera, and in 2009, he made his debut with the San Francisco Ballet. Cabrera was the rehearsal and cover conductor for the Metropolitan Opera production and DVD release of John Adams' Doctor Atomic, which won the 2012 Grammy® Award for Best Opera Recording. In 2010, Donato Cabrera was recognized by the Consulate-General of Mexico in San Francisco as a Luminary of the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee, for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area. Cabrera was a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellow at the Salzburg Festival in 2002, and holds degrees from the University of Nevada and the University of Illinois. He pursued graduate studies in conducting at Indiana University and the Manhattan School of Music. For more information, please visit

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