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San Diego Symphony Announces Annual January Festival

The San Diego Symphony's annual January Festival returns in its fourth year entitled, Hearing the Future. Throughout the festival, which runs January 9 - 27, 2019, the organization explores and celebrates the power of music and art to give voice to the evolution and revolutions in the world at large. The festival, curated by composer-conductor Matthew Aucoin (b.1990), will shine a spotlight on the music being made today - from composers and performers who are still in high school, to a 90-year-old jazz master. The festival will also explore the way music from the past - from Haydn, Beethoven and Berlioz to the creators of African-American spirituals - engaged with the most urgent issues of their time.

We live in an age of dizzying possibility, of constant transformation and reinvention. The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and it can be hard to know just where we stand. The old rules don't seem to apply anymore, but is anyone sure what the new rules are? Musicians, and other artists, can have an uncanny ability to sense what's just around the corner, or to make sense of a transformation that's underway in our world. Think of the liberation in the first chords of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, or the first chords of The Clash's post-punk album "London Calling." Think of the way Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong took the industrial rhythms of freight trains and factories, and channeled that energy into something beautiful.

"It's hard, in the 21st century, to know what the world will look like even a decade or two from now. That's both thrilling and scary. Through this festival, I want to help shine a spotlight on what living artists of all stripes think is happening in our world, and what we can do about it. Of course, artists aren't soothsayers - artists don't predict future election results or trade deals or anything like that. But artists can sometimes sniff what's coming on the wind, or what's bubbling in our cultural subconscious, long before the rest of us sense it. And that can help all of us gain perspective on the world we live in,"

said Aucoin, festival curator.

Festival highlights include concerts conducted by incoming San Diego Symphony Music Director Designate Rafael Payare January 10-13; Were You There, bass-baritone Davóne Tines's meditation on the lives lost in America due to racial injustice on January 13; a participatory performance of Cornelius Cardew's radical choral piece The Great Learning at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on January 17; concerts conducted by Michael Francis that explore the revolutionary works by young Romantic composers, January 18-20; a concert of music by high-school age composers from the "Young Artists in Harmony" program on January 23 presented by Art of Élan; and concerts conducted by Aucoin, which will take the form of a "playlist" of dozens of short pieces and excerpts from orchestral music from the past, present and predicting the future, January 24-27.

"The Festival exists to engage the local community while also making San Diego a destination for out of town visitors during the month of January. Partnering with San Diego arts and educational organizations, this festival of springtime hope and fearlessness will include programs throughout the city to highlight artists who look toward and help shape the future," said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. "I am also extremely excited that we will welcome Rafael Payare to his first concerts as music director designate during Hearing the Future, and I cannot wait to hear the incredible energy when he works with our orchestra in January."

Festival partners include local and national organizations and venues: American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), Art of Élan, ARTS (A Reason to Survive), Festival of New Trumpet Music West, Fresh Sound, IDEA1, kallisti, James Beauton and Justin Morrison, La Jolla Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, Malashock Dance, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), Playwrights Project, San Diego Dance Theater, Sandbox and Saville Theatre, San Diego City College, and Vanguard Culture.

Tickets are currently on sale for San Diego Symphony performances. Other ticket information can be found at each partner organization's website and information on each artist and full program listing can be found by clicking the headlines below. For more festival information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the box office at 619-235-0804. Guests may also visit the San Diego Symphony Jacobs Music Center Copley Symphony Hall box office at 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101.



WED JAN 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Copley Symphony Hall at the Jacobs Music Center


Matthew Aucoin, festival curator, Rafael Payare, San Diego Symphony music director designate, Gerard McBurney, creative consultant and artists and musicians from San Diego Symphony and American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) will provide a preview of the festival and discuss how artists reflect today's changing cultural landscape, and what inspires them in creating the art of the future. This event will include performances of music by Aucoin and music from throughout the festival. The audience is invited to stay after the event to chat and mingle with the panelists, musicians and fellow arts-lovers over a drink.


SEP 20, 2018 - FEB 03, 2019

MCASD Downtown, Jacobs Building

Tickets and more information at

Being Here with You/ Estando aquí contigo brings together work by 42 artists and collectives living and working in the San Diego and Tijuana region. This exhibition borrows its title from the bilingual song "Angel Baby" by Rosie and the Originals, a teenage band from National City, California, which points to the region's rich history of homegrown talent. Recognizing that San Diego and Tijuana's artistic communities are distinct but overlapping, the exhibition builds on the ongoing artistic exchanges between the two cities.

PAYARE CONDUCTS MOZART AND TCHAIKOVSKY presented by the San Diego Symphony

THU JAN 10 at 8 p.m.

Copley Symphony Hall at the Jacobs Music Center

$35 - $120

Don't miss Rafael Payare's momentous inaugural concert as San Diego Symphony's music director designate. This program features the tone poem Don Juan, composed by a 24-year-old Richard Strauss, and Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition (written in that composer's 35th year) in its well-known orchestration by Maurice Ravel. The concert opens with the dramatic overture to Mozart's Don Giovanni, which he debuted at age 31, and also features cellist Alisa Weilerstein in Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations. All funds from this concert will go to support the San Diego Symphony's Learning and Community Engagement programs.

CONVOLUTION: A TWISTED JOURNEY OF MUSIC AND MOVEMENT presented by James Beauton & Justin Morrison

FRI JAN 11 at 7:30 p.m.


Tickets on sale in October 2018

The inextricable nature of music and movement is often taken for granted. Yamaha Performing Artist James Beauton and Justin Morrison will explore this entanglement with "Convolution: A Twisted Journey of Music and Movement". Beauton will guide the evening's sonic journey performing various compositions on marimba, vibraphone, drums, gongs, and triangles, while Morrison ( performs original work based on the ways dance has interacted with music over time. The East Village's Sandbox venue will host the first collaboration of these two local artists and SDSU faculty. Tickets available at

PAYARE AND WEILERSTEIN presented by the San Diego Symphony

FRI JAN 11 at 8 p.m. | SAT JAN 12 at 8 p.m. | SUN JAN 13 at 2 p.m.

Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center

$20 - $100

Music Director Designate Rafael Payare makes his first Jacobs Masterworks appearance this season with acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra's first-ever performance of Benjamin Britten's Symphony for Cello and Orchestra. Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 was performed months after the death of Stalin, and is a self-reflective composition containing embedded messages of personal identity.

PLAYS BY YOUNG WRITERS FESTIVAL presented by Playwrights Project

SAT JAN 12 at 7:30 p.m.| FRI JAN 25 at 7:30 p.m. | SAT JAN 26 at 2 & 7:30 p.m.

The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe

Tickets on sale in October 2018

This annual festival features the 34th season of professional productions of winning scripts from the 2018 California Young Playwrights Contest, written by students ages 18 and under. Contest winners were selected from 415 plays submitted by students from across the state. Tickets available by calling (858) 384-2970 or

WERE YOU THERE presented by the San Diego Symphony

SUN JAN 13 at 6 p.m.


Ticket pricing and availability at

America's memory is short, fractured, and skewed; this week's tragedy is last week's forgotten hashtag. Were You There, a musical and theatrical meditation featuring Davóne Tines, takes up the task of strengthening our collective memory by gathering and channeling some of America's most prescient voices, from the words and melodies of African-American spirituals to the poetry of Walt Whitman. It is an invitation to give voice to, and shed light on, the memory of the lives lost at the hands of racial injustice, in the hope that by illuminating past and recent tragedies, we understand better why they happened and ensure that we do not repeat them. Were You There was developed and premiered by American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), and is directed by AMOC's co-artistic director, Zack Winokur.

CHAMBER CONCERT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF "NEW MUSIC" presented by the San Diego Symphony

TUE JAN 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The Auditorium at TSRI


All music was "new music" once; plenty of now-familiar pieces once seemed startling and strange (and if we listen deeply, they can still sound startling and strange!). This chamber concert brings together four pieces written across nearly 250 years: first, one of Haydn's early string quartets, through which he breathed new life into string quartet form; next, Schoenberg's passionate early work Transfigured Night; John Adams's jubilant Shaker Loops, a piece that gathers the joyous energy of Minimalism into an ecstatic dance; and finally, the meditative Its Own Accord, composed just last year by festival curator Matthew Aucoin.

THE GREAT LEARNING presented by MCASD and the San Diego Symphony

THU JAN 17 from 5-8 p.m.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown location


Visual and performing arts converge at MCASD's monthly after-hours offering: Downtown at Sundown. On the third Thursday of every month, guests enjoy free Museum admission and exhibition tours of the exhibition Being Here With You/ Estando Aquí Contigo: 42 Artists From San Diego And Tijuana, DJ-spun tunes, free entry at SDSU Downtown Gallery, drink specials at the adjacent Stone Brewing Company Store, and so much more. For the first Downtown at Sundown of 2019, San Diego Symphony will present excerpts of Cornelius Cardew's experimental masterpiece The Great Learning: Paragraph 7 (with words by the Chinese philosopher Confucius). A chorus of singers led by UC San Diego vocal ensemble, kallisti - and audience members too - will walk through the galleries while singing Cardew's semi-improvised score to create a uniquely immersive and interactive sound-scape. Check program upon arrival to the Museum for specific performance times.

THE YOUNG ROMANTICS presented by the San Diego Symphony

FRI JAN 18 at 8 p.m. | SUN JAN 20 at 2 p.m.

Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center

$20 - $100

The Romantic movement was launched by the three early innovators on this program, who shook the world and shaped the future with these youthful masterworks - Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, and Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique - all originating in the bountiful year of 1830. Michael Francis (Mainly Mozart Festival Music Director) conducts, with rising star pianist Rodolfo Leone.

BEYOND THE SCORE: SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE presented by the San Diego Symphony

SAT JAN 19 at 8 p.m.

Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center

$20 - $100

Hector Berlioz's passionate fever dreams changed the world of classical music forever when he unleashed his Symphonie fantastique onto unsuspecting audiences in 1830. This Beyond the Score multimedia concert presentation dramatizes how this surprising symphonic shocker came to be. Michael Francis conducts this unique performance that reveals the illuminating stories found "inside" the score.

MAKING DANCE: THE FUTURE STARTS NOW presented by Malashock Dance in partnership with Vanguard Culture

SAT JAN 19 at 7 p.m.
The Hub at IDEA1

$20 / $25 at the door

In this intimate event, audience members will witness what is almost always kept private - the initial creation of a new dance work. This rare peek into the creative process will illuminate how movement is created from scratch, 'on the spot' by the choreographer with his dancers. Experience dance in a new way when choreographer John Malashock creates new choreography set to music by festival curator Matthew Aucoin. Tickets and more information at or call (619) 260-1622.

YOUNG ARTISTS IN HARMONY presented by Art of Élan

WED JAN 23 at 7 p.m.
San Diego Art Institute

Tickets on sale Fall 2018

Art of Élan's "Young Artists in Harmony" program is offered in partnership with the nationally recognized A Reason To Survive (ARTS), an organization that believes in the power of the arts and creativity to literally transform lives - especially those of kids facing adversity. Consisting of weekly workshops where ARTS Empower students have the opportunity to be mentored by Art of Élan musicians and festival curator Matthew Aucoin through unique apprenticeships, the residency culminates in a concert that showcase original compositions the students create over the 10-week residency, performed by Art of Élan musicians. Tickets and information at

JAZZ CONCERT BY Sheila Jordan AND CAMERON BROWN, with ZION DYSON presented by La Jolla Athenaeum

THU JAN 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

Tickets on sale in October 2018


At 90 years-young, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master vocalist Sheila Jordan has had a remarkable seven-decade career including collaborations with bebop legend Charlie Parker. She continues to bring an irrepressible vibrancy to her performances and to her longstanding commitment to jazz education. For this concert, she will be joined by her longtime duo partner, bassist Cameron Brown, and by special guest artist Zion Dyson, a dynamic 17 year-old San Diego vocalist who is a senior at Bishops School. For tickets and information: or 858-454-5972.

MATT'S PLAYLIST: ECHOES OF THE FUTURE presented by the San Diego Symphony

THU JAN 24 at 6:30 p.m. | FRI JAN 25 at 8 p.m. | SUN JAN 27 at 2 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center

$20 - $100

Festival curator Matthew Aucoin has some music he wants to share with you...from the past, from the present and predicting the future. This playlist includes music by Beethoven, Schubert, Stravinsky, Lili Boulanger, Aucoin, and others.

Stephanie Richards' TAKE THE NEON LIGHTS presented by Fresh Sound

FRI JAN 25 at 7:30 p.m.

White Box Live Arts in Liberty Station.

$20 / $10 for students

After her "spellbinding" (NPR) debut record, new music trumpeter Stephanie Richards follows up with a premiere of works from her latest project. Using New York City as a backdrop, Richards selected poems from icons including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and Allen Ginsberg to name a few, and has crafted music for quartet that explores a spontaneous prose of grit and brilliance; the ugly beauty of the city. Part of the Festival of New Trumpet Music West ( Tickets at the door. For concert info visit

JANUS: DANCING THE FUTURE presented by San Diego Dance Theater

FRI JAN 25 at 7:30 p.m. | SAT JAN 26 at 7:30 p.m. | SUN JAN 27 at 2:30 p.m. presented by San Diego Dance Theater
Saville Theatre, San Diego City College

$15 - $40

San Diego Dance Theater presents a wide range of dances that look simultaneously to the past and the future. Highlights include a revival of Charles Weidman's 1936 "Lynchtown," a new piece by Artistic Director Jean Isaacs based on John Adams' "Shaker Loops," set in a future world "shaken" by the current events of 2018. This program also features a collaboration with Bang on a Can All-Stars founding member Robert Black, who will create original, on-the-spot sound scores as he "dances" with his double bass and choreographer/dancer Katie Stevinson-Nollet. Tickets available at

GENERATION NEXT: HEARING THE FUTURE OF JAZZ presented by the San Diego Symphony

SAT JAN 26 at 8 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center

$24 - $76

Just as popular melodies find new life and perspective with every jazz improvisation, so too is jazz music constantly revitalized by the emerging artists who fall under its spell and make it their own. In the spirit of "Hearing the Future," this concert, curated by Gilbert Castellanos, will feature some of today's most interesting and innovative young jazz musicians. Part of the Festival of New Trumpet Music West.

About the San Diego Symphony

Founded in 1910, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra in California and one of the largest and most significant cultural organizations in San Diego. The Orchestra performs for over 250,000 people each season, offering a wide variety of programming at its two much loved venues, Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego and the Embarcadero Marina Park South on San Diego Bay. In early 2018, the San Diego Symphony announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as music director designate. Payare will lead the orchestra's 82 full-time musicians, graduates of the finest and most celebrated music schools in the United States and abroad. The SDSO also serves as the orchestra for the San Diego Opera each season, as well as performing at several regional performing arts centers. For over 30 years, the San Diego Symphony has provided comprehensive music education and community engagement programs reaching more than 65,000 students annually and bringing innovative programming to San Diego's diverse neighborhoods and schools. For more information, visit

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