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California Symphony Presents POETRY IN MOTION Season Finale in Three Parts

POETRY IN MOTION will broadcast locally on May 8, May 15, and May 22 at 7:00 p.m. PST on Walnut Creek Public Access Television.

California Symphony Presents POETRY IN MOTION Season Finale in Three Parts

California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera today announce details of POETRY IN MOTION, a three-part series premiering over consecutive Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. PST on May 8, 15, and 22. Filmed at Bay Area landmark Oakland Scottish Rite Center, each 20- to 45-minute episode features music for string orchestra that uses poetry as a source of inspiration. In terms of audience experience, the series marks a step change from previous digital offerings by the orchestra during the 2020/21 virtual season.

POETRY IN MOTION will broadcast locally on May 8, May 15, and May 22 at 7:00 p.m. PST on Walnut Creek Public Access Television and simultaneously stream worldwide at californiasymphony.org, where it will remain for on-demand viewing through May 31, 2021. The new three-part series also serves as California Symphony's 2020/21 season finale.

Next Week's Trees-the first commission by California Symphony Young American Composer Viet Cuong, 2020-23-receives its world premiere in episode one, Saturday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. Currently teaching at Kennesaw State University and finishing his PhD at Princeton University, Cuong's "alluring" and "wildly inventive" works (New York Times) have been performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center. Episode two, on Saturday, May 15 at 7:00 p.m. features Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) by Arnold Schoenberg, while episode three on Saturday, May 22 at 7:00 p.m. explores Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, featuring Bay Area soloists Nicholas Phan (tenor) and Meredith Brown (horn).

Since becoming California Symphony's Music Director in 2013, Cabrera has enhanced the orchestra's performance repertoire, often highlighting the incredibly diverse musical genius of American composers, including alumni of the Symphony's acclaimed Young American Composer-in-Residence program. POETRY IN MOTION was filmed in collaboration with Mercury Soul, a San Francisco Bay Area collective of musicians, dancers, visual artists, DJs and videographers, one of whose co-founders is Grammy-winning composer Mason Bates, himself a former resident composer of the California Symphony and longtime personal friend of Cabrera. Cabrera said: "Both of our current institutions, Mercury Soul and the California Symphony, reflect the vision of breaking down barriers between the audience and the performer."

"Donato's approach to our virtual concerts provides an opportunity to get to know the Orchestra on a more intimate level," said California Symphony Executive Director Lisa Dell. "How often can you see a violinist's fingerings from your seat? Or the conductor's expression? This pandemic has changed-and in some ways enhanced-how our audience can connect with California Symphony."

The series premieres Saturday, May 8, with EPISODE ONE-Next Week's Trees, which is the title of the first commission by California Symphony Young American Composer-in-Residence Viet Cuong in his three year tenure with the orchestra, 2020-23. Instead of the orchestral overture piece Cuong would normally have written for an in-person performance, Music Director Donato Cabrera requested Cuong write for string orchestra, specifically to be the opener for this project. In place of in-person readings with the orchestra, Cuong was present virtually during rehearsals.

Cuong's Next Week's Trees takes its name from American poet Mary Oliver's Walking to Oak-Head Pond, And Thinking Of The Ponds I Will Visit In The Next Days And Weeks. A reflection of current times, Cuong says he considers the poem "a gentle reminder of the uncertainty of the future, the confident hope of the present, and the propulsive force of live that drives us through any doubt that a new day will arrive."

EPISODE TWO-Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), debuting Saturday, May 15, features a Schoenberg piece arranged for string orchestra which draws on German poet Richard Dehmel's poem of the same name. Dehmel's text explores a woman's confession to her lover that she is pregnant with another man's child, and the man's ultimate acceptance and willing forgiveness of her. Between the subject matter and Schoenberg's lush and romantic musical treatment of it, the piece was shocking and scandalous when it was debuted to early 20th century Vienna audiences.

Although played as one continuous piece, the work consists of five sections which correspond directly to the five stanzas of the poem. Says Cabrera, "Schoenberg wrote melodic and rhythmic content that reflected the meaning of each stanza. In this sense, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht is purely an abstract representation of Dehmel's poem, and in this act, Schoenberg created something wholly original and independent."

The mini-series-and California Symphony's 2020/21 season of performances-concludes on Saturday, May 22, with EPISODE THREE-Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings by Britten. Performed by string orchestra and featuring soloists Nicholas Phan, tenor, and Meredith Brown, horn, the Serenade sets to music a selection of six poems by British poets on the subject of night.

As a former horn player himself, Cabrera has a special affection for the Britten piece, "Nicholas Phan and I have talked about performing Britten's Serenade since perhaps when we were in school together nearly twenty years ago. Since those early days, Nicholas has gone on to become one of the foremost interpreters of Britten and his recordings of Britten's songs have garnered much deserved acclaim. It takes a supreme musician and a keen mind to sing Britten's music and Nicholas has both in spades."

The piece begins and ends with horn solos, performed by acclaimed hornist Meredith Brown. "Meredith Brown is a Bay Area musical superstar. She plays horn for many California orchestras and opera companies, including the California Symphony, and I have admired her musicality and sound for as long as I have known her, which is to say since I've lived in Bay Area! I'm very excited to work with Meredith on this cornerstone of the horn repertoire," says Cabrera.

The POETRY IN MOTION series is supported by Hewlett Foundation, Lesher Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and New Music USA.

POETRY IN MOTION will broadcast locally on May 8, May 15, and May 22 at 7:00 p.m. PST on Walnut Creek Public Access Television and simultaneously stream worldwide at californiasymphony.org, where it will remain for on-demand viewing through May 31, 2021. Each episode will run approximately 20 to 45 minutes.


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