Concertmaster Jennifer Cho Leads A Seductive Tango, Paired With Classic Mozart

By: Jan. 02, 2019
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Concertmaster Jennifer Cho Leads A Seductive Tango, Paired With Classic Mozart

The California Symphony kicks off 2019 with two performances of A TANGO WITH MOZART at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8pm and Sunday, Jan. 20 at 4pm. Music Director Donato Cabrera leads a free, 30-minute pre-concert talk for ticketholders, starting an hour before each show.

In selecting the music for this program, Music Director Donato Cabrera explains that all three pieces are a nod to the past: In the case of Le Tombeau de Couperin, each movement was written in remembrance of a friend that Ravel lost during World War I. For Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, these pieces are a reflection of not only Vivaldi's Four Seasons (Piazzolla's Seasons even follow the same structure of movements as Vivaldi - fast/slow/fast) but also are a reflection of the tango and its importance and relationship to the city of Buenos Aires. And the Mozart symphony is the first of his three last symphonies that are influenced by Mozart's fascination with the music of J. S. Bach and the dance forms that were popular during the Baroque era.

Mozart's Symphony No. 39 was written with break-neck speed in June of 1788, right before No. 40 which was delivered in July, and No. 41 his final symphony in August. After the death of his father in 1787, Mozart's correspondence (our primary source of information) becomes sparse, and it is unknown whether the composer lived to hear the work performed before his premature death in 1791 at the age of 35.

Argentinian composer Piazzolla is famous for fusing tango and jazz influences in his compositions. His Four Seasons of Buenos Aires comprises works composed between 1965 and 1970, each evoking a different season, but it was the genius of Russian composer Desyatnikov that pulled it all together as a suite for solo violin with string orchestra and harpsichord, adding in familiar references to Vivaldi's Four Seasons. (And as the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, the arranger even playfully takes elements from Vivaldi's Winter and places them in Piazzolla's Summer.)

For Concertmaster Jennifer Cho, the concert marks a return to center stage with the California Symphony after her solo turn playing Ravel's Tzigane in March 2017. This is her first performance as featured artist since being appointed to the role of Concertmaster in August 2017.

Of the collaboration, Cabrera says: The first time Jenny and I performed together as soloist and conductor was with Piazzolla's Four Seasons. We are both very excited to be returning to this masterpiece and sharing it with our Walnut Creek audience.

Jennifer Cho has a finesse and elegance to her playing, a subtle quality that I love. Music Director Donato Cabrera Of the piece, Cho says: In its beginnings, tango had a lot more machismo and aggressive connotations, but Piazzolla really transformed the genre. His Four Seasons is so sensual and evocative, about give as well as take. It has been really interesting to explore the idea of a tango in the 21st century, especially being a female taking the lead. I can't wait to tango with the California Symphony!"

Born in Glendale, California, Jennifer Cho joined the California Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster in October 2013. She was appointed as Acting Concertmaster by Donato Cabrera for the 2016-17 season, and has been a member of the San Francisco Opera first violin section since 2011. Jennifer began her studies at the age of 7 and decided to pursue a career as a violinist in high school while studying with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Associate Concertmaster Alexander Treger. She attended Crossroads School in Los Angeles before venturing east to The Juilliard School. At Juilliard, Jennifer earned Bachelors and Masters degrees while studying with Stephen Clapp and Robert Mann. For her graduate studies, she was chosen by the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to be a Graduate Scholar. The JKC Foundation financially supported her studies until she graduated with a Master's Degree in 2008.

Jennifer is married to bassist Mark Wallace and lives in Petaluma California with her son, two cats, and five chickens. I'm very excited and honored to play with my colleagues at the California Symphony! I feel really lucky to be part of this group and it's fun to get to play a different role. Jennifer Cho, Concertmaster Diablo Regional Arts Association is the presenting sponsor of the California Symphony's Saturday evening concert series, which includes ALL John Williams in March.

For full program notes for A TANGO WITH MOZART, by Scott Foglesong, please visit our blog.

Foglesong is the Chair of Musicianship and Music Theory at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Contributing Writer and Lecturer for the San Francisco Symphony.

The California Symphony, now entering its sixth 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.

For more information, please visit

Donato Cabrera is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and served as the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2009-2016.

Since Cabrera's appointment as Music Director of the California Symphony in 2013, the organization has reached new artistic heights by implementing innovative programming that emphasizes welcoming newcomers and loyalists alike, building on its reputation for championing music by living composers, and committing to programming music by women and people of color. With a recently extended contract through the 2022-23 season, Cabrera continues to advise and oversee the Symphony's music education programs and community engagement activities. Cabrera has also greatly changed the Las Vegas Philharmonic's concert experience by expanding the scope and breadth of its orchestral concerts. Cabrera has also reenergized the Youth Concert Series by creating an engaging and interactive curriculum-based concert experience.

In recent seasons, Cabrera has made impressive debuts with the National Symphony's KC Jukebox at the Kennedy Center, Louisville Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Orquesta Filarm nica de Jalisco, New West Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, and the Reno Philharmonic. In 2016, he led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in performances with Grammy Award-winning singer Lila Downs. Cabrera made his Carnegie Hall debut leading the world premiere of Mark Grey's tash Sorushan with soprano, Jessica Rivera.

Awards and fellowships include a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship at the Salzburg Festival and conducting the Nashville Symphony in the League of American Orchestra's prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. Donato Cabrera was recognized by the Consulate-General of Mexico in San Francisco as a Luminary of the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee, for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area.