California Symphony Announces Programming For 33rd Season

California Symphony Announces Programming For 33rd Season

Bay Area connections abound in Connections, the California Symphony's 33rd season and its seventh under the baton of Music Director Donato Cabrera in a newly expanded season which Cabrera says is a step up artistically compared with previous seasons.

I feel like this is the first season where we are leading with a fully formed, artistic vision that presents a unique story and coherent point of view, and which pushes forward the organization's identity within the rich landscape of Bay Area orchestras, says Music Director Donato Cabrera. We aren't trying to present a mini version of what a larger orchestra might program, with a holiday program, a pops program, a masterworks concert, etc. says Cabrera. I'm thrilled to present these specifically designed programs for our loyal subscribers and patrons, as well as invite our newer audiences to discover more of what the California Symphony has to offer.

After a recent string of sold out performances at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts, two new Saturday performances are added for 2019-20, expanding the total number of concerts from eight to ten, and offering more options for patrons. The added shows underscore California Symphony's success in retaining loyal subscribers and appealing to new and more diverse audiences under Cabrera's leadership alongside Executive Director Aubrey Bergauer. Bucking the prevailing trends in the industry, California Symphony subscriptions are up 10% over last year, while single tickets sales have increased by 15%. Four years ago, the Symphony performed only four total concerts; in the 2019/20 season, there are ten subscription-series performances.

Continuing the organization's formalized commitment to diversity and to playing music by living composers, 46% of composers on the 2019/20 season are living, female, or composers of color.

The season's title, Connections, was inspired by the many associations with Bay Area artists and composers that are present from the first through to the last concert in the new season.

Season opener ICONIC BEETHOVEN (September 14 & 15, 2019) features one of the best-known and most popular pieces of classical music ever written: the epic Fifth Symphony. Mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway makes her California Symphony debut performing a selection of Leider by Mahler. Calloway also solos in Berkeley-raised Gabriela Lena Frank's La Centinela y la Paloma, which describes artist Frida Kahlo returning as a ghost for one last visit with husband Diego Riviera during the Dia de los Muertos festival. Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus Overture, written for the only full-length ballet Beethoven ever wrote, rounds out the opening concert set.

MOZART AND HIS MENTOR (November 16 & 17, 2019) presents the first ever symphony by the young prodigy, written when he was just eight years old, and the last symphony written by his friend and mentor, Joseph Haydn. Also on the program is a flute concerto by Kevin Puts (California Symphony Composer-in-Residence, 1996-99) performed by Pleasanton native Annie Wu. The concerto was originally commissioned by Bay Area philanthropists Betty and Joe Hirsch and first performed at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz. Wu returns after a stunning first impression (Mercury News) with the orchestra in 2016. Music Director Donato Cabrera says, Her performance was so wonderfully engaging I'm delighted to bring her back again.

BRAHMS FEST (February 1 & 2, 2020) features his Symphony No. 3 plus the Double Concerto with Alina Kobialka, violin, and Oliver Herbert, cello. Before they established themselves as solo artists, both used to play in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra when Music Director Donato Cabrera led the ensemble. Both have gone on to perform at San Francisco Symphony's Soundbox series, as well as with other orchestras across the country. Hungarian Dance No. 5 completes the all-Brahms celebration.

Composer-in-Residence Katherine Balch (2017-20) presents a world premiere alongside Tchaikovsky's much loved Symphony No. 5 in FATE AND FUTURE (March 14 & 15, 2020). Balch's Cantata for Orchestra and Three Voices features Kelly Guerra (mezzo-soprano), Molly Netter (soprano), and Alexandra Smither (soprano). These three artists were hand selected by the composer in a piece that explores French poet Rimbaud's Les Illuminations, with words drawn from the original French and English translation. This will be Balch's third and final year of residency with the California Symphony; her second commission will premiere this May (a concerto for violinist Robyn Bollinger). Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 is his most often-performed and beloved symphony, concluding the program with its recurring melody representing fate.

The 2019-20 season closes with FOUR SEASONS FINALE (May 23 & 24, 2020), with returning violin virtuoso Alexi Kenney at center stage. Kenney played Bruch's Violin Concerto in his 2018 California Symphony debut and here performs Reich's Duet for Two Violins with Strings with Concertmaster Jennifer Cho before leading the orchestra in true baroque style sans conductor in Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Kenney, who was born and raised in Palo Alto, is another graduate of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from Cabrera's time with the group. In 2016 Kenney won the Avery Fisher Prize and has gone on to perform with major ensembles and orchestras around the country. The all-strings finale also includes Walker's Lyric for Strings and P rt's Fratres.

Subscription ticket package prices for the California Symphony's 2019/20 season range from $99 to $288 and are on sale today to renewing subscribers and the general public. Season subscribers can save up to $147 and choose their own season with 3-, 4-, or 5-concert packages, including the Saturday night series. For a limited time, the 5 Saturday concert series may be purchased for as low as $99. For details and to purchase tickets, visit the California Symphony's website at or call 925-280-2490. Individual tickets to 2019/20 California Symphony concerts will go on sale on July 25.

All 2019/20 season performances take place at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

ABOUT CALIFORNIA SYMPHONY The California Symphony, celebrating its 33rd season in 2019/20 and its seventh season under the leadership of Music Director Donato Cabrera, is distinguished by its vibrant concert programs that combine classics alongside American repertoire and works by living composers, and for bringing music to people in new and unconventional settings. The orchestra includes musicians who perform with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and others, and is based in Walnut Creek at the Lesher Center for the Arts with additional recent performances around the region in Napa Valley, Concord, Oakland, and Berkeley.

Outside the concert hall, the Symphony actively supports music education as a driver for social change through its El Sistema-inspired Sound Minds program at Downer Elementary School in San Pablo, CA, which brings intensive music instruction and academic enrichment to schoolchildren in an area where 94% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program, at no cost to the students who participate. The Orchestra also hosts the highly competitive Young American Composer-in-Residence program and its current composer, Katherine Balch. California Symphony has launched the careers of some of today's most well-known artists, including violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, cellists Alisa Weilerstein and Joshua Roman, pianist Kirill Gerstein and composers such as Mason Bates, Christopher Theofanidis, and Kevin Puts.

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