The California Symphony'S First Program of the New Year Kicks Off with PASTORAL BEETHOVEN

The California Symphony'S First Program of the New Year Kicks Off with PASTORAL BEETHOVENThe California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera's first program of the New Year kicks off with two performances of PASTORAL BEETHOVEN at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on Saturday January 20th at 8pm and Sunday January 21st at 4pm.

The addition of an evening performance to augment the usual matinee marks a bold expansion to Saturday night programming for the California Symphony in Walnut Creek. Bucking negative trends impacting orchestras nationwide, the California Symphony has enjoyed large increases across sales, donations and subscription renewals, and their popular Beethoven concerts have drawn full house audiences for the past two years. The Saturday evening performance was added to give more people access and serve more people, particularly as the population is rapidly growing in downtown Walnut Creek. Diablo Regional Arts Association is the presenting sponsor of the California Symphony's Saturday night concert series, which includes PASTORAL BEETHOVEN in January and MOZART REQUIEM in March, 2018.

The PASTORAL BEETHOVEN program features the instantly recognizable masterpiece Beethoven's Symphony No.6, also known as the Pastoral Symphony, which was inspired by Beethoven's walks in the countryside around Vienna. Written at the same time and premiered at the same 1808 concert as the famously dark and dramatic Fifth Symphony, the Sixth showcases a lighter, more lyrical side of the composer, with each movement named after the rural scene he is depicting.

Also on the program, Bay Area native Alexi Kenney performs the virtuosic Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor by Max Bruch. The German Romantic Bruch was feted as a choral composer in his day but nowadays is known only for this one celebrated work. Although this is Kenney's debut with the California Symphony, it is a resumption of a long-standing relationship with California Symphony Music Director Donato Cabrera which began when Kenney was a high school student, playing under Cabrera's direction at the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.

The recipient of a 2016 Avery Fisher career grant, Kenney has been praised by the New York Times for "...immediately drawing listeners in with his beautifully phrased and delicate playing." He joins having recently completed a European tour as Guest Concertmaster with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Kenney plays on the "Joachim-Ma" Stradivari of 1714, the violin which was used by Joseph Joachim, who is widely regarded as one of the most significant violinists of the 19th century.

Cabrera on Kenney: "Alexi is one of the most thoughtful and serious artists I've ever worked with. It has been a joy for me to be part of his artistic growth and I look forward to performing one of the greatest violin concertos with him."

Smetana's Vltava (Die Moldau), which rounds out the program, was written about a river that flows through Prague. It's also the first music that maestro Cabrera ever conducted as a 19-year old student. "It was a piece that I had fallen in love with when I was in high school," says Cabrera. "As a sophomore at college, I was given the opportunity to conduct the university orchestra and I chose to conduct this piece. Looking back, it is far too difficult for a young conductor's debut effort, but ignorance can be bliss!"

Music Director Donato Cabrera explains that the Smetana and Beethoven pieces were paired together because they both describe outdoor scenes, but from entirely unique perspectives. "The symphony is like a day in the country, from the exuberance of the early morning sunrise, to the final lullaby at the very end. In Smetana's piece, it's almost like it's from the perspective of the river, starting from the sounds of its source, to reaching its full force at the St. John's Rapids, finally ending as it joins with the Elbe River in Germany."

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