Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Announces its 56th Season

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Announces its 56th Season

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, America's longest running festival of new orchestral music, celebrates its 56th season and the second season of its esteemed Music Director and Conductor, Cristian M?celaru, July 29 - August 12, 2018. This year's festival takes audiences around the globe with a series of new works by composers from the US, UK, Canada, Macedonia, Romania, China, Korea, and Sweden.

Among this season's highlights are two world premieres, three US premieres and eight West Coast premieres. The Festival also commemorates the 80th birthday of two American music icons: William Bolcom and John Corigliano.

Seventeen of the eighteen featured composers will be in residence this season, including Karim Al-Zand, William Bolcom, Anna Clyne, John Corigliano, Dan Dediu, Zosha di Castri, Gabriela Lena Frank, Vivian Fung, Michael Gandolfi, Pierre Jalbert, Kristin Kuster, Missy Mazzoli, Huang Ruo, Pande Shahov, Sean Shepherd, Peter Shin and Andrea Tarrodi. This represents a record number of composers in residence, and a record number of female composers.

Special guest artists include Simon Trp?eski (piano), Mary MacKenzie (soprano), Philippe Quint(violin), Kronos Quartet, Philip Edward Fisher (piano), Nicholas Phan (tenor) and Justin Bruns(violin).

This season the Festival introduces a "pay-what-you-can" Community Night performance on Thursday, August 9 at 7pm. This hour-long chamber music concert, designed to introduce new audiences to the Festival, features dynamic pieces by composers Michael Daugherty, Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer, Andy Akiho, Cristian M?celaru, Francois Rabbath, Thierry De Mey, and Anna Clyne.

In addition to the featured evening concerts, the Festival continues its tradition of hosting open rehearsals, pre-rehearsal talks, and the Conductors/Composers Workshop, a professional training program focusing on the creation and performance of new music.

Aural Histories, Friday, August 3, 8pm

The 56th season kicks off with Maestro M?celaru leading the Festival Orchestra in works by composers Huang Ruo, Zosha di Castri, Pande Shahov and Dan Dediu.

Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo'svibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz. His critically acclaimed work, Folksongs for Orchestra, incorporates four of the most well-known Chinese folks songs. Ruo writes "Folk songs reflect the life and culture of a civilization. China has more than fifty ethnic groups, each with its own culture, traditions, and folk songs. The goal [in this piece] is not only to preserve and renew the original folk songs, but also to transform them into new pieces of art that also contain organic originality."

Receiving its US premiere is award-winning Canadian composer Zosha di Castri's Dear Life.Featuring the sensational soprano Mary MacKenzie, Dear Life is based on a semi-autobiographical short story by Nobel Prize-winner Alice Munro, and is a reflection on memory, childhood, and the formative stages of life. It features recorded narration by legendary actor Martha Henry, who gives a chilling reading of a distilled adaptation of the story by writer Merilyn Simonds.

Macedonian folk music is the starting point for composer Pande Shahov's Piano Concerto, a world premiere Festival commission featuring celebrated pianist (and fellow Macedonian) Simon Trp?eski. "Electrifying virtuosity, but no whiff of show-off. The most delicate feelings, yet nothing precious or lacy. Head plus heart, lots of heart," wrote The London Times of Trp?eski.

Opening night concludes with the US premiere of Grana, by accomplished Romanian composer Dan Dediu. Inspired by the novel Chronicle of an Announced Death by Gabriel García Marquez, Grana springs from a simple idea - the multiple narration of a single event. The piece's four movements tell four stories of the same event, each from a different perspective.

After Dixieland, Saturday, August 4, 7pm

Saturday night's concert features works by composers Vivian Fung, William Bolcom, Kristin Kuster and Gabriela Lena Frank.

San Jose-based, JUNO Award-winning, Canadian composer Vivian Fung's evocative, 10-minute work, Dust Devils, kicks off tonight's concert. The composer describes this work as "the journey of emotional swirls in my mind, sometimes calm, but more often than not, full of raw and intense energy." The Toronto Star wrote "Dust Devils is like a good abstract painting, where one can appreciate the techniques used in its composition. Fung is a clever orchestrator, using all sorts of subtle layering to achieve her effects."

The Festival commemorates the 80th birthday of National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize, and Grammy Award-winner William Bolcom with his Concerto in D for violin and orchestra. This work reflects Bolcom's interweaving of multiple musical styles - both classical and popular and was inspired by the playing of the great jazz violinist Joe Venuti. Grammy Award-nominated violinist Philippe Quint performs the work, making his Cabrillo Festival debut. Bolcom's first Cabrillo residency was in 1976 and his last was in 1986. He returns to Cabrillo this year in celebration of his 80th.

Two West Coast premieres by two Bolcom protégées, Kristin Kuster and Gabriela Lena Frank, round out the program. Kuster has composed works for orchestra, wind ensemble, chamber ensemble, and voice. Her lush compositions take inspiration from architectural space, the weather, and mythology. On composing Rain On It, Kuster wrote "I love rain. In this music, I freeze an instant of imagined rain, fully static, non-passing, and still. Yet I stretch and dwell within this moment to capture a mood, which celebrates the relentless intensity of time, our enraptured emotionality that is over in the blink of an eye, our strained and fumbling grip on time, churning, incessant, and ceaseless. After the rain, there is newness and joy."

Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank's music. Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions.Her piece Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra was inspired by Frank's travels in Peru, her mother's homeland. She asks, "What does it mean to be American born yet with such a motley crew of forebears hailing from Lithuania, China, and Andean South America?"

Free Family Concert, Sunday, August 5, 1 pm

The Festival's annual free and always engaging family concert features Tunisian-born, Canadian-American composer Karim Al-Zand's Parizade and the Singing Tree, a work based upon a Middle Eastern folk tale and featuring a female protagonist.Originally written for narrator and small ensemble, Al-Zand was commissioned to re-orchestrate the work for its world premiere performance with the full Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Cristian M?celaru. In addition to Al-Zand's magical piece, the afternoon also includes the popular Tour of the Orchestra, which invites kids to meet the orchestra's different instruments and players.

In the Blue Room with the Kronos Quartet - Sunday, August 5, 7pm

The San Francisco-based, Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet - David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Sunny Jungin Yang (cello) - is the guest artist for this year's In the Blue Room concert. For more than 40 years, this venerable quartet has combined a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagine the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the world's most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts, releasing more than 60 recordings, collaborating with many of the world's most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning over 900 works and arrangements for string quartet.

Notes from a Journey, Saturday, August 11, 7pm

The second weekend of the Cabrillo Festival kicks off with works by Andrea Tarrodi, John Corigliano, Sean Shepherd, Peter Shin, and Anna Clyne.

Maestro M?celaru leads the Festival Orchestra in the US premiere of Liguria by acclaimed Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi. The composer's vivid, ten-minute tone poem was inspired by her visit to five idyllic fishing villages in northwest Italy. The music calls forth images of sunny landscapes, rugged cliffs, and clear nights basking in starlight.

American composer John Corigliano's scores, now numbering over one hundred, have won him the Pulitzer Prize, five Grammy Awards, the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and an Oscar. The Festival celebrates the venerable composer's 80th Birthday by honoring his request: to present his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (which celebrates its 50th Anniversary!). Featuring renowned pianist Philip Edward Fisher, this is a powerful, virtuosic and theatrical work in four sharply contrasted movements.

Receiving its West Coast premiere is a new orchestral work by Sean Shepherd, co-commissioned with the Grand Teton Music Festival. An"exciting composer of the new American generation" (New York Times), Shepherd has earned wide acclaim and commissions from major ensembles and performers across the US and Europe.

The program also includes the world premiere of a Festival-commissioned work by Korean-American composer and Fulbright scholar Peter Shin. The composer's music explores matters of national identity, social belonging, and other contemporary issues. This commission is part of an ongoing series designed to identify the next generation of talent sponsored by the Pacific Harmony Foundation, established by celebrated composer John Adams and his wife, the noted landscape photographer Deborah O'Grady.

The evening concludes with Anna Clyne's Abstractions, a suite of five movements, each inspired by a piece of contemporary artwork from five visual artists: Sara VanDerBeek, Julie Mehretu, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ellsworth Kelly, and Brice Marden. Of writing this work the London-born composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music says, "In drawing inspiration from these artworks, I have tried to capture the feelings or imagery that they evoke, the concept of the work, or the process adopted by the artists."

Of Other Worlds, Sunday, August 12, 7pm

Closing night transports audiences to an otherworldly universe, exploring the earth's crust, the solar system, and modern cosmology.Four West Coast premieres, by composers Pierre Jalbert, Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli and Michael Gandolfi, conclude the 2018 Cabrillo Festival.

"The American composer Pierre Jalbert writes music of considerable elegance," wrote Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Festival presents the West Coast premiere of Pierre Jalbert's In Terra, a piece inspired by the music Jalbert has written for his colleagues at Rice University over the last two decades. Jalbert explains, "The idea of layers of history also conjured the various epochs and layers within the earth's crust and the sometimes slow, sometimes violent changes that take place over time. These layers are represented musically by various motives in the piece that are stacked upon each other towards the end of the work."

Prolific and eclectic, Nico Muhly has written a wide range of work for both classical and pop musicians - collaborating with artists as diverse as singer Björk and choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Muhly's song cycle, Impossible Things, receives its West Coast premiere under the baton of Maestro M?celaru. Impossible Things is a setting of poems by C.P. Cavafy in Daniel Mendelsohn's translation, featuring two extraordinary guests artists: tenor Nicholas Phan and violinist Justin Bruns. "The piece inevitably recalls Britten's magisterial cycles, most of all the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. But Muhly has found his own musical language, a lyricism underpinned by subtle tension, and it achieves uncanny alignment with the lights and shadows of Cavafy's poetry." (The New Yorker)

Also receiving its West Coast premiere is Sinfonia (For Orbiting Spheres) by Missy Mazzoli.Mazzoli, the recipient of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards and a Fulbright Grant, cites her key influences as minimalism, 19th-century Romanticism, techno and indie rock. She describes her mesmerizing Sinfonia as music "in the shape of the solar system." Sinfonia, weaves and coils itself in a sequence of pulsing loops, and was celebrated as a "highlight" of the BBC Proms season by UK's Independent.

Maestro M?celaru closes out the Festival season with the first part of Boston based-composer Michael Gandolfi's sweeping, Grammy Award-nominated work, Garden of Cosmic Speculation. The piecetakes its inspiration from a sprawling sculptural garden, inspired by science and mathematics, by American architect Charles Jencks in the hills of Scotland. Gandolfi's intention has always been that this piece would continue to evolve, making it an ideal way to end another Festival season.



Festival tickets range from $30-$65 with many events free and open to the public. The public may access information on the Festival website at or call (831) 426-6966; and people are encouraged to join the mailing list to receive advance notification.

Tickets may be ordered by mail beginning May 1 through the Festival's Advance Ticket Order Form; and then via phone, walk-up, or on-line through beginning June 12.


All concerts will be held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at 307 Church Street in Santa Cruz.


Friday, August 3, 8pm: Aural Histories

Huang Ruo: Folksongs for Orchestra

Zosha di Castri: Dear Life (Mary MacKenzie, soprano) (US premiere)

Pande Shahov: Piano Concerto (Simon Trpceski, piano) (World premiere | Festival Commission)

Dan Dediu: Grana (US premiere)

Saturday, August 4, 7pm: After Dixieland

Vivian Fung: Dust Devils (West Coast premiere)

William Bolcom: Concerto for Violin in D (Philippe Quint, violin)

Kristin Kuster: Rain On It (West Coast premiere)

Gabriela Lena Frank: Walkabout, Concerto for Orchestra(West Coast premiere)

Sunday, August 5: 1pm: FREE FAMILY CONCERT

Karim Al-Zand: Parizade and the Singing Tree (World premiere, orchestral version)

Sunday, August 5, 7pm: IN THE BLUE ROOM with Kronos Quartet
Featuring David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Jungin Yang(cello)

Thursday, August 9, 7pm: COMMUNITY NIGHT

Pay-what-you-can community concert featuring works by Michael Daugherty Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer, Andy Akiho, Cristian M?celaru, Francois Rabbath, Thierry De Mey, and Anna Clyne; featuring members of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and Maestro Cristian M?celaru.

Saturday, August 11, 7pm: NOTES FROM A JOURNEY

Andrea Tarrodi: Liguria (US premiere)

John Corigliano: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Philip Edward Fisher, piano)

Sean Shepherd: Title TBA (West Coast premiere | Festival Co-commission)

Peter Shin: Title TBA (World premiere | Festival Commission)

Anna Clyne: Abstractions

Sunday, August 12, 7pm: OF OTHER WORLDS

Pierre Jalbert: In Terra (West Coast premiere)

Nico Muhly: Impossible Things (Nicholas Phan, tenor; Justin Bruns, violin) (West Coast premiere)

Missy Mazzoli: Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) (West Coast premiere)

Michael Gandolfi: Garden of Cosmic Speculation Part 1 (West Coast premiere)


Pande Shahov: Piano Concerto

Peter Shin: Pacific Harmony Foundation Commission

Plus World premiere performance of re-orchestration of Karim Al-Zand's family work.


Zosha di Castri: Dear Life

Dan Dediu: Grana

Andrea Tarrodi: Liguria


Sean Shepherd: co-commission with Grand Teton Music Festival

Vivian Fung: Dust Devils

Kristin Kuster: Rain On It

Gabriela Lena Frank: Walkabout, Concerto for Orchestra

Pierre Jalbert: In Terra

Nico Muhly: Impossible Things

Missy Mazzoli: Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)

Michael Gandolfi: Garden of Cosmic Speculation Part 1


Karim Al-Zand

William Bolcom

Anna Clyne

John Corigliano

Dan Dediu

Zosha di Castri

Gabriela Lena Frank

Vivian Fung

Michael Gandolfi

Pierre Jalbert

Kristin Kuster

Missy Mazzoli

Huang Ruo

Pande Shahov

Sean Shepherd

Peter Shin

Andrea Tarrodi


Simon Trpceski, piano

Mary MacKenzie, soprano

Philippe Quint, violin

Kronos Quartet

Philip Edward Fisher, piano

Nicholas Phan, Tenor

Justin Bruns, violin

Cristian M?celaru at the Cabrillo Festival, Photo by rr jones

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