Double Concerto in California Symphony's BRAHMS FEST Concerts to Feature Returning Bay Area Stars

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Double Concerto in California Symphony's BRAHMS FEST Concerts to Feature Returning Bay Area Stars

A pair of Bay Area rising talents take center stage with the California Symphony in BRAHMS FEST, February 1 & 2, at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek.

Alina Kobialka, violin, and Oliver Herbert, cello, are the featured artists for Brahms' Double Concerto in this all-Brahms program. 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: Kobialka was Concertmaster and Herbert was Principal Cello during Cabrera's tenure. Both are past winners of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra's Concerto Competition, Kobialka in 2011, at age 13, and Herbert in 2013 at age 15. Both have gone on to perform at San Francisco Symphony's Soundbox series, as well as with other orchestras across the country.

On performing the technically challenging Concerto for Violin and Cello, Kobialka says: "Preparing for a double concerto requires sensitivity towards the other soloist as well as the orchestra. The violin and cello play interweaving melodies and harmonies... In a solo concerto, I project fully to ensure I am heard above the orchestra, but in this piece, I have to be aware of the balance between the violin and cello, and when it is appropriate for me to project or to play less."

"The Brahms is a piece with a very broad scope and landscape," says Herbert. "There are many moments where both instruments become one, and also moments where each instrument stands alone to project a distinct character. The combination of those two elements is what makes the Brahms so exciting to work on."

Kobialka first performed with the California Symphony in 2015, while this is Herbert's debut appearance with the orchestra.

"Donato was a huge part of my musical development, and I am so excited to make music with him again!"-Alina Kobialka, violin

This will be the first time that Music Director Donato Cabrera conducts Brahms' Symphony No. 3, which was hailed at its premiere as "Brahms' Eroica," after Beethoven's own much loved third symphony.

"Almost every symphony that's popularly programmed by orchestras ends with a big, crashing crescendo, however the Brahms Symphony No. 3 is rather unique in that it ends quietly," says Cabrera. "It also features some of the most gorgeous, lush melodies ever written."

Brahms' popular, toe-tapping Hungarian Dances No. 5 and 6 round out the all-Brahms celebration.

Part of the newly-expanded 2019/20 season, BRAHMS FEST is offered over two dates, Saturday, February 1 at 8 PM, and Sunday, February 2 at 4 PM. Music Director Donato Cabrera hosts a free, 30-minute pre-concert conversation with soloists Kobialka and Herbert one hour before each performance. Concerts take place at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

Tickets start at $44 and $20 for students aged 25 and under, and 3-concert season packages are available from $99. For a limited time and subject to availability, premium seats are $33 each when all three remaining Saturday performances in the 2019/20 season are purchased as a package. For details and to purchase tickets, call the Lesher Center Box Office at 925.943.7469 or visit the California Symphony's website at

The California Symphony, entering 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 of 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.

The mission of the California Symphony is to enhance the lives of those it serves in Contra Costa County and the extended San Francisco Bay Area by performing the full range of orchestral repertoire of the highest quality with special attention to the work of American composers, presenting talented young performers in their first professional concert appearances, featuring performances by world class artists, and providing education outreach programs for the children and adults of our community.

Founded in 1986 under founding Music Director Barry Jekowsky, our vision is to make classical music relevant to those we serve, bringing in new audiences along the way, and ultimately more fully living up to our name across the state of California.

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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 Filarmónica 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 Ătash 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.

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