Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Announces its 57th Season

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Announces its 57th Season

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, America's longest running festival of new orchestral music, celebrates its 57th season, July 28 - August 11, 2019, with a remarkable women-centric season, featuring a series of relevant and forward-looking commissioned works.

This is the Festival's third season with Music Director and Conductor Cristian M?celaru at the helm, and the esteemed conductor continues to push the leading edge at Cabrillo. This year the Festival presents four commissioned works-three world premieres, two US premieres, and eight West Coast premieres. The highlights are many.

On opening night the Festival presents the world premiere of When There Are Nine, an innovative symphonic work by Kristen Kuster reflecting upon and celebrating the life and work of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, featuring vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. Opening weekend also includes DANCE for cello and orchestra by composer Anna Clyne featuring cellist Inbal Segev, as well as second concert appearances by mezzo Jamie Barton and Roomful of Teeth. The second weekend features the West Coast premiere of Academy Award-winner Tan Dun's multimedia harp concerto, Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, about a disappearing language created by and for women in 13thcentury Hunan, China. The Festival's closing night is dedicated to Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, and features two of his acclaimed compositions for orchestra: his Violin Concerto with renowned violinist Nicola Benedetti, and his epic Blues Symphony.

"Music should and must play a leading role in opening direct and compelling dialogue to achieve a more enlightened social narrative," says M?celaru. The Festival's 2019 season reflects this vision.

Twelve of the fourteen featured composers will be in residence this season, and nine of the featured composers are women. The composers in residence are Preben Antonsen, Clarice Assad, Anna Clyne, Dan Dediu, Melody Eötvös,Vivian Fung, Jake Heggie, Kristin Kuster,Hannah Lash, Wynton Marsalis, Nina Young, and Du Yun.

Special guest artists include Clarice Assad (piano/vocals), Jamie Barton (mezzo-soprano), Roomful of Teeth (vocal ensemble), Inbal Negev (cello), Sarah Fuller (harp), and Nicola Benedetti (violin).

The Festival also continues its "pay-what-you-can" Community Night performance on Thursday, August 8 at 7pm. This hour-long chamber music concert is designed to introduce new audiences to the Festival. Last year's inaugural Community Night was a huge hit, with audiences lined up around the block. This year's concert spotlights members of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra.

In addition to the featured evening concerts, the Festival continues its tradition of hosting open rehearsals, talks, and the Conductors/Composers Workshop professional training program focusing on the creation and performance of new music, the Free Family Concert with orchestra tour, and the two-day Church Street Fair. On Saturday, August 3, Roomful of Teeth will offer an hour-long singing technique workshop free to the public at the Civic Auditorium.

Notorious - Friday, August 2, 8pm

Maestro M?celaru kicks off the 57th season with works by composers Nina C. Young, Melody Eötvös, and Kristin Kuster.

An American electro-acoustic composer, Nina C. Young is the winner of the 2015 Rome Prize in Musical Composition, the 2014 Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was named one of WQXR's "10 Imagination-Grabbing, Trailblazing Artists of 2014." The West Coast premiere of her Agnosco Veterisis one of a partnered set of compositions loosely based on quotes found in the literary works of Virgil and Dante.

The West Coast premiere of Australian composer Melody Eötvöswork,The Saqqara Bird, was inspired bythe story of an expedition that took place in Saqqara, Egypt, in 1898, during which a mysterious bird-shaped wooden relic was found. Eötvös writes, "Some hypothesize it is a ceremonial object, while others radically envision it as evidence that the Egyptians were dabbling in the principles of aviation. It has also been posited as a weather vane, an elite child's toy, some sort of boomerang, and as a featured carving on the masthead of a sacred boat. This orchestral work places the Saqqara Bird at the intersection of all these theories in an imagined tapestry of the mechanical, the living, and the ancient becoming new again."

The evening culminates with the centerpiece of this year's Cabrillo Festival: the highly anticipated world premiere of Kristin Kuster's When There Are Nine. Commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival, When There Are Nine reflects on and celebrates the life of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The title of the work is taken from a 2015 interview with Justice Ginsburg, in which she famously said, "People ask me sometimes--'When will there be enough women on the court?' And my answer is: 'When there are nine.'"

Joining the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra are acclaimed mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and Grammy Award-winning eight-member vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, recognized for "revolutionizing choral music" (The New Yorker). The libretto by San Francisco-based poet Megan Levad features nine poems touching upon pivotal civil rights issues that Justice Ginsburg has faced over the course of her distinguished career.

Contrasts - Saturday, August 3, 7pm

M?celaru leads the Festival Orchestra in three West Coast premieres and one US premiere on Saturday, August 3.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, described by TheNew York Times as "an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge," is a Chinese-born composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Her 17-minute orchestral work, Kraken, is a non-narrative, non-programmatic piece suggestive of the nonlinear structure of certain novels. She writes, "A Kraken is Sea Dragon or Sea Serpent... These half gods or half demons are at once familiar and foreign, creatures that are alive among many cultures, latitudes and ages. This sensibility is very close to my heart. It speaks of the belief I have that our lives are often lived on the edge, in the inbetweenness; a place not between reality and surreality and/or a dream state, but rather, a transient stage, an interstitial place, a location between right and wrong, true or false."

Cellist Inbal Segev, praised for her "warm, pure and beautiful tone" (Strings Magazine), takes the stage for two West Coast premieres on tonight's program: Anna Clyne's Cello Concerto and Jake Heggie's The Work at Hand.

The Grammy-nominated Anna Clyne is a composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music. Heralded in The New York Times as a "composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods," Clyne was first introduced to Festival audiences in 2011 and has been a favorite at Cabrillo ever since. The Festival presents the West Coast premiere of her new cello concerto, DANCE for cello and orchestra, based on a poem by Rumi. DANCE is a co-commission with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, featuring Segev as soloist.

Renowned mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton joins Segev and the Festival Orchestra in Jake Heggie's The Work at Hand, a song cycle set to poems by the late poet Laura Morefield, who died of colon cancer in 2011. Morefield wrote her poems after being diagnosed with cancer, chronicling the difficult and deeply human experience of saying goodbye.Of this composition the Pittsburg Post Gazette wrote, "The work had a profound emotional intelligence, matching and uniting music and text. Ms. Barton's crystalline voice was an effortless, inevitable extension of herself."

The evening concludes with the US premiere of Dan Dediu's Levante, a work of emotional intensity and extreme contraststhat the composer calls a "symbolic auditive mandala."The Romanian composer made his Cabrillo Festival debut in 2018 with Grana, a work loved by critics and audiences alike.

Free Family Concert- Sunday, August 4, 1 pm

The Festival's annual fun, free and always engaging family concert features an interactive work by Brazilian-American composer and vocalist Clarice Assad. The work is inspired by The New York Times bestseller Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a book featuring 100 bedtime stories about the lives of 100 extraordinary women through the ages. Assad will sing, play piano, and involve the audience in an afternoon designed for first-time concertgoers and music lovers of all ages. The event also includes the popular Tour of the Orchestra, which invites kids to meet the orchestra's different instruments and players.

Roomful of Teeth in Concert- Sunday, August 4, 7pm

The experimental, Grammy Award-winning Roomful of Teeth is dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. The eight-voice ensemble has studied with some of the world's top performers and teachers in extended techniques such as Tuvan and Inuit throat singing, Broadway belting, yodeling, Korean P'ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical voice, and Death Metal vocals.

Secret Songs - Saturday, August 10, 7pm

The second weekend of the Cabrillo Festival begins with works by Hannah Lash, Preben Antonsen, Vivian Fung and Tan Dun.

Maestro M?celaru leads the Festival Orchestra in the West Coast premiere of God Music Bug Music by Hannah Lash, whose work was hailed by The New York Times as "striking and resourceful... handsomely brooding." Lash made her Cabrillo Festival debut in 2015 when she was commissioned by the Festival and the Pacific Harmony Foundation. She writes,"God Music, Bug Music uses the same cell of five notes in both movements of the piece, though very differently in each. In God Music, this cell rages in the brass before it infiltrates the rest of the ensemble, and the movement culminates in rhythmic unison for the whole orchestra. In Bug Music, the motif is expressed canonically in a chamber-like setting, slowly swarming its way into all the instruments, finally reaching full saturation: a breakdown of the canonic structure into a fully chromatic cluster."

Bay Area-based composer and pianist Preben Antonsen makes his Festival debut with Psalm Without Words, a world premiere commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival. "I found myself coming back again and again to a sense of awe at Antonsen's use of the orchestra," wrote Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle (when reviewing a piece composed when Antonsen was only 17 years old).This commission is part of an ongoing partnership designed to identify the next generation of talent and sponsored by the Pacific Harmony Foundation, established by celebrated composer John Adams and his wife, the noted landscape photographer Deborah O'Grady.

Receiving its US premiere is Earworms, a whimsical work by JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung. Fung explains, Eagworms "provides a commentary on the world we live in today - it musically depicts our diverted attention spans, our constant barrage of music and other media, and our multi-tasking lives. Since having my son almost three years ago, I have found my life to be more complicated and chaotic, but also all the richer and more meaningful. I find myself at the end of the day humming tunes that have gotten into my head and that I cannot seem to escape no matter how hard I try. Eagworms features snippets of some of the best, most insistent, and most annoying of these tunes and combines them into a playful and quirky arrangement."

The evening concludes with the West Coast premiere of Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, by Academy and Grammy Award-winning composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). This multimedia work for harp and orchestra focuses on a secret, disappearing language created by and for women in 13th century Hunan Province of China. The culmination of years of ethno musicological research, Nu Shu tells the story of this ancient language through music and film, incorporating 12 short films directed by the composer and shot on location in Hunan Province. Harpist Sarah Fuller is the featured soloist.

Wanton - Sunday, August 11, 7pm

Closing night is dedicated to American legend Wynton Marsalis, one of the most accomplished and acclaimed artists and composers of his generation. Marsalis has helped propel jazz to the forefront of contemporary American culture through his performances, recordings, compositions, educational efforts, and his visionary artistic leadership of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis' love of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart has also driven him to pursue a career in classical music. He recorded the Haydn, Hummel and Leopold Mozart trumpet concertos at age 20 and won a Grammy Award for his debut recording.

Tonight his friend and frequent collaborator Maestro M?celaru leads the Festival Orchestra in two of Marsalis' celebrated compositions: his Violin Concerto featuring acclaimed Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti and Blues Symphony. Marsalis will be composer in residence at Cabrillo for his first time this season, and while not scheduled to pick up his horn in performance, he will participate in an afternoon talk with M?celaru.

Marsalis' Violin Concerto was written specifically for Benedetti. The piece draws inspiration from the violin concerto's first formation in the Baroque era through its current manifestation in the 21st Century, incorporates a slow movement inspired by an African American spiritual, and explores Benedetti and Marsalis' own musical heritages in Scottish folk and American jazz music, respectively. It is not only a unique fusion of musical styles from around the world but a celebration and representation of collective cultures embodied in one work.

Marsalis' Blues Symphony features a compendium of his encyclopedic knowledge of blues, jazz, and other traditional American music. One of his only pieces composed for purely orchestral forces, this celebration of the blues is heard through the prism of moments in American, and specifically African-American, history, and folklore.



Festival tickets range from $30-$65 for individual concerts and $375 for full subscriptions. Many events are free and open to the public. The public may access information on the Festival website at or call (831) 426-6966; and are encouraged to join the mailing list to receive advance notification.

Full subscriptions and single tickets may be ordered on-line at beginning April 1; and then via phone, walk-up, or on-line beginning May 29.

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