California Symphony, Donato Cabrera are so ready to go live

Donato Cabrera can’t wait to get back to in-person performances.

It’s not that the Bay Area-based conductor was on hiatus during the pandemic shutdown. On the contrary, Cabrera was more active than most. When COVID mandates shuttered theaters and concert halls, he applied his skills to a variety of online activities that carried him through.

Still, he says he’s eager to return to the podium — and this month, the wait is over.

Cabrera, the music director of the Walnut Creek-based California Symphony, leads the orchestra at the Lesher Center for the Arts Sept. 18 and 19, in a program featuring Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor,” with Adam Golka as soloist. Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5 and Marianna Martines’ “Sinfonia” complete the lineup.

It’s been a long year away from the concert hall, Cabrera said in a recent interview, adding that he and the California Symphony musicians are ready.

“I’m incredibly excited to get back into the concert hall, and all of my colleagues are so looking forward to making music for people in-person again,” he said. “We’ve done so much streaming over the course of a year and a half, and it’s been a great way of staying engaged. Now, we all think it’s time to get back into the concert hall, in a safe, conscientious way.”

Like many Bay Area artists and musicians, Cabrera, who is also music director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, says the start of the pandemic brought their work to an abrupt close.

Unlike some, though, Cabrera proved adept at creating online content. He launched “MusicWise — Conversations about Art and Culture,” hosting and interviewing contemporary composers and musicians, and “The Music Plays On,” a wide-ranging survey of music he loves. Throughout, he’s been an advocate for music by largely unknown composers, including Martines, the 18th-century Austrian whose music salons were the toast of Vienna.

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Recently, Cabrera returned to conducting with Opera San Jose’s new production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1897 opera, “Mozart and Salieri.” Captured in the company’s state of the art Heiman Digital Media Studio, which was inaugurated last season under general director Khori Dastoor with a production of Jake Heggie’s “Three Decembers,” “Mozart and Salieri” will be available for streaming Sept. 30 on Opera San Jose’s website, with singers Simon Barrad and Sidney Outlaw in the title roles.

Based on a play by Alexander Pushkin, the work is a rarity, says Cabrera.

“It’s one of the 16 operas Rimsky-Korsakov wrote, which is astounding to me; we know so little about his operatic output. It’s mature Rimsky-Korsakov. Right away you can tell you’re dealing with a master composer: the way he wrote for the orchestra, the way he creates the sound world of Mozart’s music vs. Salieri’s. We always credit Stravinsky for the creation of the neo-classical movement, classical sounds in a modern guise, but Rimsky-Korsakov was doing that with this opera 20 or 30 years before Stravinsky.”

Now Cabrera, whose previous posts include resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and music director of the S.F. Symphony Youth Orchestra — …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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