Holiday Concerts Announced for Christmas Week in Walnut Creek

Holiday Concerts Announced for Christmas Week in Walnut CreekThe California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera ring in the holiday season with two special performances of A LEMONY SNICKET HOLIDAY on Saturday, December 23 2017 at 4PM and 8PM at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek. The program features an audience sing-along, selections from the Nutcracker, Sleigh Ride, and modern narrated orchestral classic The Composer is Dead. Tickets also include free, family-friendly activities in the lobby starting an hour before the show.

"Composer" is a word which here means "a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play." This is called composing.

But last night, the Composer was not muttering. He was not humming. He was not moving, or even breathing.
This is called decomposing.

The Composer is Dead by Bay Area composer Nathaniel Stookey, with text by famed children's author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events), is a modern classic in the style of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. The composition was originally commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and premiered in 2006, with Snicket himself as the narrator.

In the piece, the composer is dead and someone in the orchestra is guilty! The Inspector-Broadway star and Tony nominee Manoel Felciano-tries to solve the mystery and in the process of the interrogation, he uncovers the sounds and characteristics of various instruments in the orchestra. In addition to being a great introduction for those new to the symphony, Snicket's witty wordplay and inside jokes make the piece fun for audiences of all ages.

"Perhaps the murderer is lurking in the woodwinds! Where were you last night, woodwinds?"

"We were doing bird imitations," said the Flutes, the shiniest and highest pitched of the woodwinds. "It seems like that's all we ever do. Whenever the orchestra needs a bird, there we are."

The program also includes selections from the Nutcracker, Strauss Sr's rousing Radetzky March (with the audience clapping the beat), plus an audience sing-along (Deck the Hall, Silent Night and Jingle Bells), with lyrics provided in the free program book-so you can tell your "fa's" from your "la, la, la's."

The fun starts in the Lesher Center lobby an hour before the show:

  • Drop by the musical instrument petting zoo to touch, hold, and even try playing the different instruments in the orchestra.
  • Take pictures on the conductor's podium on the lobby.
  • Collect a set of free musical instrument cards to help the Inspector identify suspects in The Composer is Dead.
  • Hot cocoa will be available for purchase in the lobby, along with a selection of adult beverages for grown ups.

Saturday, December 23 at 4:00PM and 8:00PM at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

Family activities in the lobby begin one hour earlier, at 3:00PM and 7:00PM.

California Symphony's Holiday Concerts: A LEMONY SNICKET HOLIDAY
Donato Cabrera, conductor California Symphony
Manoel Felciano, narrator

Anderson - A Christmas Festival
Tchaikovsky - Selections from The Nutcracker: Overture Miniature, March, Russian Dance, Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance, Dance of the Reed Flutes, Waltz of the Flowers, Waltz of the Snowflakes
Strauss, Sr. - Radetzky March, Opus 228
Stookey - The Composer is Dead, with text by Lemony Snicket; Manoel Felciano, narrator
Various - Audience Sing-Along: Deck the Hall, Silent Night, Jingle Bells
Anderson - Sleigh Ride

Tickets for the concerts are priced at $42-$72, and $20 for students, subject to change. Tickets are available through or by calling the Lesher Center for the Arts at 925-943-7469.

ABOUT Manoel Felciano, NARRATOR

Manoel Felciano is an American actor-singer best known for his Tony-nominated performance as Tobias Ragg in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd with Patti LuPone. Rolling Stone raved that he is "possessed of an angel's voice" and the New York Times hailed his "forceful magnetism." Born in San Francisco of Swiss and Portuguese heritage, Felciano made his professional debut at age 10 in the San Francisco Opera's Carmen starring Placido Domingo. He received his BA from Yale University and his MFA from New York University, and has appeared in many productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theaters across the country, as well as in TV and Film. His voice can be heard on numerous recordings and commercials. Earlier this year he concluded the Broadway run of Amelie starring Hamilton's Philippa Soo.

He has performed with the San Francisco, Marin, Oakland, and Sun Valley Symphonies, and is currently on the faculty at Columbia University. He has known Nathaniel Stookey, who wrote the music for The Composer is Dead, since the second grade.


The California Symphony, now in its fifth season under the leadership of Music Director Donato Cabrera, is a world-class, professional orchestra based in Walnut Creek, in the heart of the San Francisco East Bay since 1990. Our vibrant concert series is renowned for featuring classics alongside American repertoire and works by living composers. The Orchestra is comprised of musicians who have performed with the orchestras of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and others, and many of its musicians have been performing with the California Symphony for nearly all its existence.

Outside of the concert hall, the symphony actively supports music education 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 Contra Costa County schoolchildren for free, in an area where 94% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program. We also host the highly competitive Young American Composer-in-Residence program, which this year welcomes its first female composer, Katherine Balch. California Symphony has launched the careers of some of today's most-performed soloists and composers, including violinists Sarah Chang and Anne Akiko Meyers, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and composers such as Mason Bates, Christopher Theofanidis, and Kevin Puts. The Orchestra performs at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

For more information, please visit


Donato Cabrera is 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 season.

Since Cabrera's appointment as Music Director of the California Symphony, the organization has been reinvigorated, with its expanded concerts, dramatically increased ticket sales, and innovative programming, the California Symphony and Cabrera are redefining what it means to be an orchestra in the 21st Century. Under Cabrera's leadership, The Las Vegas Philharmonic has also enjoyed a dramatic increase in ticket sales and an engagement with the community never before seen in Southern Nevada.

Over the last couple of seasons, Cabrera has made impressive debuts with the National Symphony's KC Jukebox at the Kennedy Center, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, New West Symphony, Sinfonica de Oaxaca, and the Orquestra Filarmonica de Boca del Rio. In 2016, he led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in performances with Grammy Award-winning singer Lila Downs. Cabrera co-founded the New York-based American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), and recently led performances of Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson's Drone Mass with ACME and Theatre of Voices at Duke Performances and the Big Ears Festival.

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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