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Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music celebrates Marin Alsop’s 25th Anniversary Season and her final as Music Director and Conductor of the Festival August 5-13, 2016
SANTA CRUZ, CA—March 3, 2016—Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, America’s longest running festival dedicated to new music for orchestra, is pleased to announce programming for its 54th season. The Festival celebrates Music Director and Conductor Marin Alsop’s 25th Anniversary year, and her final with the Cabrillo Festival.
For the last 25 years as conductor, music director, and guiding light of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Marin Alsop has championed new music, nurtured artists and audiences and raised the Festival to international stature. Maestra Alsop concludes her fruitful tenure at Cabrillo with a smashing series of premiere-filled concerts. They feature works by the celebrated and rising young composers – among them John Adams, Christopher Rouse, James MacMillan, Anna Clyne, Mason Bates, Jennifer Higdon and Kevin Puts – whose talents she has fostered during her remarkable Santa Cruz run.
“This is a bittersweet moment for us as we bid farewell to a brilliant, committed and passionate artistic leader,” says Cabrillo Festival Executive Director Ellen Primack. “Marin’s contribution to the Festival has been profound. This season we celebrate her artistic imprint and the musical legacy she leaves behind.”
Among this season’s highlights are several world premieres including a new symphonic ballet by Anna Clyne, choreographed by Kitty McNamee and danced by members of Hysterica Dance Company; Lola Montez Does The Spider Dance by John Adams, commissioned in honor of Marin Alsop by the musicians of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra; a Festival-commissioned work by emerging composer Michael Kropf; and the West Coast premiere of Kevin Puts’ The City.
The eleven composers-in-residence are John Adams, Mason Bates, Anna Clyne, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Michael Kropf, Alexander Miller, Marlos Nobre, Kevin Puts, Christopher Rouse and Gregory Smith. Also on the program are works by Osvaldo Golijov and James MacMillan.
The Festival’s roster of guest artists this year includes Attacca String Quartet, Justin Bruns (violin), The Choral Project (chorus), Hysterica Dance Company led by choreographer Kitty McNamee, Los Angeles Duo (guitarists Donovan Butez and Bryan Fasola), Alicia Olatuja (vocalist), Gregory Smith (narrator) and Alexandra Arrieche (conductor).
In addition to the featured evening concerts, the Festival continues its tradition of hosting open rehearsals, pre-rehearsal talks, and the Conductors/Composers Workshop, a professional training program focusing on the creation and performance of new music.
This year’s evening orchestral concerts are all named in honor of Marin Alsop and the qualities that make her so extraordinary: Power & Devotion, Inspiration & Impact, Courage & Connection, Memory & Meaning.
POWER & DEVOTION – Friday, August 5, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Maestra Alsop’s opening night program includes two works by the eminent American composer Christopher Rouse, whose work The New York Times called “among the most intriguing orchestra music now being written.” The Festival Orchestra performs the West Coast premiere of his Thunderstuck, a rock-infused piece that “reflects my continuing love of the popular music of my younger years,” says the Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning composer, who thinks classical concerts could use a little more lightheartedness and this work “is meant to be engaging and fun.” Oboist Katherine Needleman takes center stage for the West Coast premiere of Rouse’s Oboe Concerto, a work aimed at exploring the full possibilities of the instrument. “Taking full advantage of the instrument’s plangent qualities, the composer sends the oboe on remarkable flights of lyrical breadth (and breath). For all of the dancing moments and skittish flurries, the concerto, framed by slow, muted passages, is most striking for its lyrical heart,” wrote Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun.
The celebrated Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan, a favorite of Alsop’s whose second Percussion Concerto was co-commissioned by the Festival and had its US premiere here last year, has shaped a musical language infused with influences from his Scottish heritage, Catholic faith, social conscience and Celtic folk music, blended with sounds in Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music. The Guardian called him “a composer so confident in his own musical language that he makes it instantly communicative to his listeners.” This year, the Festival Orchestra plays his 2012 work Death of Oscar, a 10-minute tone poem inspired by the ancient Celtic warrior-bard Ossian and the saga of his son Oscar’s death.
The brilliantly inventive London-born composer Anna Clyne, whose acoustic and electro-acoustic music has been commissioned by ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Ballet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – and also played in nightclubs and art spaces around the world – has a zeal for collaborating with choreographers, visual artists and filmmakers. The Festival commissioned and presents the world premiere of Clyne’s RIFT, a five-movement symphonic ballet created in collaboration with choreographer Kitty McNamee and performed by dancers of her Los Angeles troupe, Hysterica Dance Company.
INSPIRATION & IMPACT – Saturday, August 6, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
The renowned composer John Adams, one of America’s preeminent musicians and an artist long associated with the Festival, is involved in three works on tonight’s program. Alsop will conduct the world premiere of Adams’ Lola Montez Does The Spider Dance, a work dedicated to Alsop and commissioned by the musicians of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra to honor Alsop and her 25th and final season in Santa Cruz. Spider Dance is based on a theme from a new opera by John Adams, created as part of his 70th birthday celebrations. It shares the bill with Adams’ 2011 work Absolute Jest, featuring the Attacca String Quartet. It’s an exuberant riff on and celebration of Beethoven’s orchestral music, in which the composer “picks up strands from Beethoven’s work, primarily the scherzo from the Ninth Symphony, and weaves them into a tapestry that is pure Adams,” wrote San Francisco Chronicle critic Joshua Kosman. “The harmonies and textures draw on Adams’ post-minimalist vein, while the thematic materials are Beethoven’s — except that very often the two blur so beguilingly that it’s hard to tell where one stops and the other begins.”
The evening also includes the world premiere of a Festival-commissioned work by Michael Kropf, a gifted young composer who is earning his Master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and who has written for orchestra, chamber groups and string quartets. This commission is part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Pacific Harmony Foundation, established by Adams and his wife, the noted landscape photographer Deborah O’Grady.
This concert concludes with the West Coast premiere of The City, a 2015 orchestral piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, whose work Maestra Alsop has championed from early on. The Festival has showcased Puts’ work often, commissioning and premiering his Flute Concerto in 2013, and in 2007 his Symphony No. 4, which Alsop recorded six years later with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The City was co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony to celebrate the orchestra’s 100th anniversary, and by Carnegie Hall to celebrate its 125th birthday. The Festival joins as a co-commissioner for this West Coast performance. The City is accompanied with film by director James Bartolomeo.
Free Family Concert – Sunday, August 7, 1pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Cabrillo Festival’s annual Free Family Concert this year features another musician with whom Alsop shares a long and productive association, Gregory Smith. He is the multi-talented composer and arranger of scores, songs and themes for television (Star Trek, MSNBC), film (Con Air, Pocahontas II) and Disney theme park productions, as well as the creator of engaging family-friendly concert music that has been performed by major orchestras from Boston to Bonn, Toronto to Hong Kong. Alsop has conducted the world premieres of four family works by Smith here at Cabrillo. Mr. Smith’s Composition, the plum piece he’s narrating for this year’s Free Family Concert, was first presented by Alsop and the Eugene Symphony in 1990. It’s a comic and educational journey into Smith’s fertile mind as he composes, and a favorite for Alsop to conduct. This concert for all ages gets going with Smith’s lively curtain-raiser, Tempus Fugit (Time Flies, in Latin), guest conducted by Alexandra Arrieche. His latest work introduces the instruments to the audience by describing the mode of transportation that brought them to the show. In his clever and inimitable way, Smith covers a lot of ground in three-and-a-half minutes.
IN THE BLUE ROOM: STICKS & REEDS – Sunday, August 7, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
For this year’s “In the Blue Room” recital, Maestra Alsop shines the spotlight on the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and the remarkable players that make it so extraordinary. The Festival’s core performance group, an ensemble of sixty-eight professional musicians, come to Santa Cruz from all over the world. Each is a new music advocate in their own right, and plays an important role in advancing the appreciation of contemporary works at Cabrillo and with their home orchestras across the nation. This evening will feature chamber performances from players in the percussion and oboe sections, interleaved with screenings of two short documentaries by award-winning film maker Sasha Friedlander. The video series introduces moving personal stories and highlights the exceptional commitment, artistic passion, and technical mastery of these Festival Orchestra players. Alsop considers the Festival orchestra players to be “the heroes of our story” and tonight creates an intimate opportunity to meet them and experience their gifts in a chamber music setting.
COURAGE & CONNECTION – Friday, August 12, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
The second weekend of the Cabrillo Festival kicks off with works by Alexander Miller, Jennifer Higdon and Mason Bates.
Longtime assistant principal oboist of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Alexander Miller is a Juilliard-trained performer and self-taught composer whose vital and imaginative music draws on his deep orchestral experience and sources as various as Balinese gamelan music, “Madame Bovary” and the oratory of Rev. Martin Luther, King. Jr. His Scherzo Crypto opens tonight’s program. The San Antonio Express called the work “a wild, nutty, propulsive, intensely rhythmic piece with gobs of brilliant color from riotous percussion and pugilistic brass, though a quiet, mysterious midsection showcases the strings and woodwinds.” The work recalls “the best mid-20th century American symphonists.”
The first time Alsop conducted Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Grammy Award winner Jennifer Higdon’s music was at the Cabrillo Festival in 2001. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. Of that experience Alsop stated in an interview on NPR “Jennifer’s entire approach to music and composition fit into this [Cabrillo’s] philosophy beautifully. Her music is evocative and understandable. Her willingness to communicate with audiences and her openness to musicians’ comments is extremely refreshing.” Higdon, whom the Washington Post called “a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit,” composed the Violin Concerto – for which she won the 2010 Pulitzer – for the brilliant Hilary Hahn, who’d been a student in her 20th century music class at the Curtis Institute of Music. It receives its West Coast premiere on tonight’s program, bringing Cabrillo concertmaster Justin Bruns to center stage as soloist.
The unclassifiable Berkeley composer and electronica musician Mason Bates, now the Kennedy Center’s first ever composer-in-residence, has a long and rich history with Alsop and Cabrillo. Bates performs as guest artist in his work, The B-Sides, a symphony in five movements for orchestra and electronica. San Francisco Chronicle critic Joshua Kosman praised it as “a characteristically colorful and puckish score from a composer whose cheerful disregard for stylistic boundaries is a godsend.” On composing this work, Bates wrote “I had often imagined a suite of concise, off-kilter symphonic pieces that would incorporate the grooves and theatrics of electronica in a highly focused manner. So, like the forgotten bands from the flipside of an old piece of vinyl, The B-Sides offers brief landings on a variety of peculiar planets, unified by a focus on fluorescent orchestral sonorities and the morphing rhythms of electronica.”
MEMORY & MEANING – Saturday, August 13, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Three powerful and vivid works close out this year’s Cabrillo Festival. Kabbalah is a vibrant, fascinating work by the esteemed Brazilian composer, pianist and conductor Marlos Nobre. The composer is “considered by many as the greatest Brazilian musical figure nowadays,” wrote the Buenos Aires Herald. Alsop, who continues her role as Music Director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, includes this work as a reflection of her connection to Brazil and its rich musical culture. Kabbalah’s rhythmic and melodic structures are based on the numerology of the ancient mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah.
“There is a great guiding spirit at Cabrillo – and that is Marin Alsop,” said Grammy-Award winning Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov in an interview. “She chooses music of great variety that expresses very diverse points of view about the world.” Tonight Alsop conducts Golijov’s Oceana, a sweeping work that marries texts by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda with Bach-infused music for a large chorus featuring a boy soprano and two guitarists, the Los Angeles Duo (Donovan Butez and Bryan Fasola). Special guests include vocal soloist Alicia Olatuja, and San Jose’s renowned 54-voice choir, The Choral Project–under the direction of Artistic Director and Founder Daniel Hughes–which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
“My aim in Oceana was the transmutation of passion into geometry. This is, in my mind, the clue to both Bach’s and Neruda’s work,” wrote Golijov, who sought to inspire the feeling of “hearing order, inevitable and full of light: every note in its place, as in Bach, every word in its place, as in Neruda.”
One of America’s most prized and prolific composers, John Corigliano – the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, four Grammy Awards and an Oscar – has written a spectrum of symphonies, concerti, vocal and chamber works in his bountiful career. When Corigliano heard that this was Alsop’s final season at the Cabrillo Festival, he hoped to participate. Alsop will close her final concert at Cabrillo with Corigliano’s powerful and stirring Symphony No. 1, a work she first conducted at Cabrillo in 1993 at Mission San Juan Bautista. That performance remains an indelible memory to both the audience and the musicians. Corigliano’s impassioned response to the AIDS crisis, Symphony No. 1 memorializes the friends and colleagues lost to the devastating disease. It captured the 1991 Grawemeyer Award for Best New Orchestral Composition, and the Chicago Symphony’s recording of the piece won Grammy Awards for both Best New Composition and Best Orchestral Performance. It has been played by over 150 different orchestras worldwide.
“Inspired by the AIDS quilt in which loving remembrances of the dead were stitched together to form a communal fabric,” wrote The New York Times, “Mr. Corigliano’s 43-minute symphony honors his own departed and departing in music that is by turns anguished, hysterical and deeply moving.”
Alsop was inspired to close her final season by remembering the many people who have supported her and the Festival over the past 25 years who are now departed, save for our special memories and their enduring spirits. With this final concert of her farewell season, Alsop invites the audience to join in a collective moment of reflection and celebration.
CABRILLO FESTIVAL CONCERT TICKETS, SCHEDULE & SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
August 5-13, 2016
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music presents its 54rd season, Marin Alsop’s 25th Anniversary season and her last as the Festival Music Director/Conductor
Festival tickets range from $30-$65 with many events free and open to the public. The public may access information on the Festival website at www.cabrillomusic.org or call (831) 426-6966; and people are encouraged to join the mailing list to receive advance notification.
Tickets may be ordered by mail beginning May 4 through the Festival’s Advance Ticket Order Form; and then via phone, walk-up, or on-line through SantaCruzTickets.com beginning June 14.
All concerts will be held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at 307 Church Street in Santa Cruz. There will not be a concert at Mission San Juan Bautista this year.
Friday, August 5, 8pm: POWER & DEVOTION
James MacMillan: Death of Oscar
Christopher Rouse: Oboe Concerto (Katherine Needleman, oboe) (West Coast Premiere)
Christopher Rouse: Thunderstuck (West Coast Premiere)
Anna Clyne*: RIFT symphonic ballet with members of Hysterica Dance Company (World Premiere | Festival Commission)
Saturday, August 6, 8pm: INSPIRATION & IMPACT
John Adams: Lola Montez Does The Spider Dance (World Premiere | Festival Commission)
Commissioned by the musicians of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in honor of Marin Alsop
John Adams: Absolute Jest (Attacca String Quartet)
Michael Kropf: (World Premiere | Festival Commission)
Kevin Puts*: The City with film (West Coast premiere | Festival Commission)
Sunday, August 7: 1pm: Free Family Concert
Greg Smith: Tempus Fugit (Alexandra Arrieche, conductor) (Greg Smith, narrator) (West Coast Premiere)
Greg Smith: Mr. Smith’s Composition (Marin Alsop, conductor) (Greg Smith, narrator)
Sunday, August 7, 8pm: IN THE BLUE ROOM: STICKS & REEDS
Chamber concert featuring performances by principal percussionist Galen Lemmon; Festival oboists Karen Wagner (principal), Paula Engerer, and Alexander Miller with documentary film screenings.
Wednesday, August 10, 6:30pm: MUSIC IN THE MOUNTAINS FUNDRAISER at Nestldown in Los Gatos
Wine and food tastings in a spectacular garden setting, and a chamber music concert featuring performances by guitarists the Los Angeles Duo and Concertmaster Justin Bruns with members of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra.
Friday, August 12, 8pm: COURAGE & CONNECTION
Alexander Miller: Scherzo Crypto
Jennifer Higdon: Violin Concerto (Justin Bruns, violin) (West Coast premiere)
Mason Bates: The B-Sides (Mason Bates, electronica)
Saturday, August 13, 8pm: MEMORY & MEANING
Marlos Nobre: Kabbalah (West Coast Premiere)
Osvaldo Golijov: Oceana (The Choral Project, choir; Alicia Olatuja, vocalist; Los Angeles Duo-guitarists Donovan Butez and Bryan Fasola; Lucas Fedronic, boy soprano)
John Corigliano: Symphony No. 1
3 WORLD PREMIERES
John Adams: Lola Montez Does The Spider Dance (Commissioned by musicians of the Festival Orchestra)
Anna Clyne: RIFT (Festival Commission)
Michael Kropf: TBA (World Premiere | Festival Commission)
6 WEST COAST PREMIERES
Christopher Rouse: Thunderstuck
Christopher Rouse: Oboe Concerto
Greg Smith: Tempus Fugit (Alexandra Arrieche, guest conductor)
Jennifer Higdon: Violin Concerto
Marlos Nobre: Kabbalah
Kevin Puts: The City (Festival Co-commission)
Attacca String Quartet
Justin Bruns (violin)
The Choral Project, Daniel Hughes (artistic director)
Hysterica Dance Company, Kitty McNamee (choreographer)
Los Angeles Duo (guitarists Donovan Butez and Bryan Fasola)
Alicia Olatuja (vocalist)
Lucas Fedronic (boy soprano)
Gregory Smith (narrator)
Alexandra Arrieche (conductor)