2015 Season Announcement

Mona Baroudi | 415.615.2735 | mona.baroudi@sbcglobal.net
Scott Horton | 510-735-9200 | bluescott260@hotmail.com


Music Director and Conductor Marin Alsop leads another spectacular season featuring twelve composers in residence, one world premiere, three US premieres and seven West Coast premieres

SANTA CRUZ, CA—April 14, 2015—The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, America’s longest running festival dedicated to new music for orchestra, is pleased to announce programming for its 53rd season, August 7-16, 2015.

Boasting some of the best beaches in California, one of the country’s oldest wine regions, and a vibrant, eclectic art and dining scene, Santa Cruz is a destination in itself. For over five decades, some of the world’s top contemporary composers have flocked to this charming seaside town to share their compositions with a dedicated orchestra and an enthusiastic, eager audience. Led by Music Director & Conductor Marin Alsop, the Cabrillo Festival is a preeminent force in new music, both nationally and internationally and has become “a summer mecca for musicians and a premier musical destination for audiences” (San Jose Mercury News).

This year the Cabrillo Festival takes audiences on a journey across the globe – presenting composers and soloists from the US, China, Mexico, England, Scotland, Canada and Norway – in a spectacular season featuring one world premiere, three US premieres and seven West Coast premieres.

The twelve composers-in-residence are Mason Bates, Sebastian Currier, Charles Halka, Ana Lara, Hannah Lash, David T. Little, Huang Ruo, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, Jonathan Newman, Sean Shepherd and Nathaniel Stookey. Also on the program are works by Philip Glass, James MacMillan, Christopher Rouse and Joby Talbot.

The Festival’s roster of guest artists this year includes Colin Currie (percussion), Tim Fain (violin), Matt Haimovitz (cello), Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet), The Kronos QuartetNathaniel Stookey (narrator) and Wu Wei (sheng).

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.

HAUNTED TOPOGRAPHY – Friday, August 7, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Maestra Marin Alsop kicks off the Festival’s Opening Night with a diverse program featuring one US premiere and one West Coast premiere. “One of the most imaginative young composers” on the scene (The New Yorker), David T. Little’s dramatic music draws upon his experience as a rock drummer, and fuses classical and popular idioms to powerful effect. His Haunted Topography was inspired by the story of a woman whose son was killed in the Vietnam War. Only after she was shown a map of where her son had been killed was she able to begin the process of healing. Of this work Little says, “It is a simple story, of course, but it says a lot about the nature of grief, of mortality and of the peculiarities of each individual’s needs while engaging with the healing process.”

Scottish Composer James MacMillan teams up with percussion virtuoso Colin Currie for the US Premiere of Percussion Concerto No. 2. Co-commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival, Percussion Concerto No. 2 comes more than 20 years after MacMillan composed Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, the most performed work in the genre. Percussion Concerto No. 2 focuses on metal percussion (including the recently invented aluphone which bridges the gap between vibraphone and bells). Of this work London’s Financial Times wrote “The cacophony of the first section, with hyperactive percussion solo and police siren wailing in the orchestra, feels like standing at a busy junction in New York at rush hour. The music quietens and there is a touching passage for percussionist and solo viola, before the concerto steams up to a typically explosive ending.”

The recent recipient of the Heinz Medal in Arts and Humanities, Mason Bates writes music that fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. Tonight’s program rounds out with Alsop conducting the West Coast Premiere of Bates’ Anthology of Fantastic Zoology, a surreal symphonic suite that brings to life the strange and wonderful creatures from the book by magical realist Jorge Luis Borges.

YELLOW EARTH – Saturday, August 8, 8pm, Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Works by Sebastian Currier, Huang Ruo, Jonathan Newman and Joby Talbot comprise Saturday evening’s concert at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

The US premiere of Grawemeyer Award-winning composer Sebastian Currier‘s Quanta explores the inscrutable nature of Chinese characters. Currier describes Quanta as a “sonic analogue to a series of Chinese characters, but from an outsider’s point of view. That is, they exhibit energy, gesture, form and emotion, but not meaning per se.” The Guardian (UK) celebrated Quanta as “a succession of vivid, fluidly-drawn, gestures. Each has its own intrinsic mood, sometimes almost theatrical, with the piece’s macro-structure gradually animating and increasing in tension before winding back down.”

Composer Huang Ruo’s vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz. The West Coast premiere of Ruo’s concerto The Color Yellow showcases the sheng, an ancient Chinese mouth-blown free reed instrument. Performing as soloist is Chinese-born Wu Wei, considered to be the world’s leading avant-garde sheng player.

“If the system isn’t working anymore, then do what Guy Fawkes tried and go anarchist: Blow it all up, and start again,” writes composer Jonathan Newman of his work, Blow it Up, Start Again. Newman’s compositions often incorporate styles of pop, blues, jazz, folk, and funk into otherwise classical models. Blow it Up, Start Again, is “riotously funky” (Chicago Tribune) and includes element of funk and dub-step.

The program rounds out with English composer Joby Talbot’s explosive Chroma, a work originally commissioned by Wayne McGregor at the Royal Ballet in London, who choreographed a new dance to it. Chroma comprises seven pieces of music – four of the works are Talbot’s original music and three are Talbot’s own orchestral arrangements of three tracks originally by The White Stripes.

Free Family Concert: The Composer is Dead – Sunday, August 9, 1pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
The Cabrillo Festival reprises Nathaniel Stookey’s delightful whodunit The Composer is Dead at this year’s annual Free Family Concert on Sunday, August 9 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. After participating in the wildly popular Tour of the Orchestra, which invites kids to meet the orchestra’s different instruments and players, Maestra Alsop will lead the orchestra through Stookey’s celebrated murder mystery about the killing of a composer. Like Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Stookey’s The Composer is Dead is intended to introduce young audiences to the instruments in the orchestra, though with a [delicious thread of irony elevating the narrative. A work for narrator and orchestra, The Composer is Dead features a libretto written by children’s author Lemony Snicket (San Francisco-based writer Daniel Handler).

IN THE BLUE ROOM with the Kronos Quartet – Sunday, August 9, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

The San Francisco-based Grammy winning Kronos Quartet returns to the Cabrillo Festival for In the Blue Room, an intimate concert of works by composers Terry Riley, Mark Applebaum, Aleksander Kościów, Nathaniel Stookey, Laurie Anderson and Mary Kouyoumdjian.

WISH YOU WERE HERE – Saturday, August 15, 8pm – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

Four composers under the age of 35 and veteran composer Philip Glass offer up the works in tonight’s concert, which features one world premiere and four West Coast premieres.

Maestra Marin Alsop opens the concert the world premiere of Eating Flowers by Hannah Lash, a young composer who began studying music at the age of four, certain she wanted to “grow up” to be a composer. Lash’s new work was commissioned by the Festival and sponsored by the Pacific Harmony Foundation, established by renowned composer John Adams and his wife, photographer Deborah O’Grady.

Receiving its West Coast premiere tonight, River Rouge Transfiguration by Missy Mazzoli was inspired by a 1927 photograph of Ford’s River Rouge plant near Detroit. Mazzoli, the recipient of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards and a Fulbright Grant, cites her key influences as minimalism, 19th-century Romanticism, techno and indie rock. “This is music about the transformation of grit and noise into something massive, resonant and unexpected,” says Mazzoli.

Also receiving its West Coast premiere is Blue Blazes by Sean Shepherdan “exciting composer of the new American generation” (New York Times). Blue Blazes is an eight-minute piece showcasing all the areas of the orchestra, allowing different sections to be featured in a sequence, ultimately weaving in a “noble fanfare” and concluding with a “wild, distracted, self-satisfied romp.”

Prolific and eclectic, Nico Muhly has written a wide range of work for soloists, ensembles, and organizations. Alsop directs the Festival Orchestra in the West Coast premiere of Muhly’s atmospheric Wish You Were Here, a work that pays homage to Colin McPhee, one of the first western musicologists to study Balinese gamelan, as well as to two great illustrators: Carl Barks and Hergé.

The program culminates with the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, featuring acclaimed soloists Tim Fain (violin) and Matt Haimovitz (cello). Originally composed for Nederlands Dance Theater, this work’s marked feature is its structure –its two soloists perform with the orchestra and, in a series of four duets, without.

ANGELES DE LUZ: Music at the Mission – Sunday, August 16, 4pm and 7:30pm – Mission San Juan Bautista

The Cabrillo Festival culminates on Sunday, August 16 with two very special concerts at the Mission San Juan Bautista, the 15th of the California Missions, founded in 1797 and nicknamed the “Mission of Music.” Alsop leads the Festival Orchestra in works by Christopher RouseJames MacMillanCharles Halka and Ana Lara.

Pulitzer-winning Christopher Rouse’s Supplica (meaning supplication in Italian) is described by the composer as a companion piece to his Fourth Symphony, a major work completed in 2013. Supplica is “a somber and serious work…prayerful, hopeful, earnest, but tinged with darkness and dissonance and agitation (Orange County Register).

Receiving its US premiere is James MacMillan’s Epiclesis, a musical meditation on the mystery of the Eucharist and the idea of transformation of materials. Epiclesis features Norwegian trumpet soloist Tine Thing Helseth, one of the leading trumpet soloists of her generation. “…MacMillan writes brilliantly for brass. The trumpet is not used as a bravura expressionist, more as a virtuoso communicator,” wrote The Scotsman.

Charles Halka’s works draw on a diverse range of musical styles and are often inspired by language, visual imagery, movement and the human experience. Halka presents the West Coast premiere of Impact – “an eight-minute work for large orchestra that explores an aural gesture best described as a heavy thud.”

The Cabrillo Festival culminates with Angeles de llama y hielo (Angels of Flame and Ice) by Mexican composer Ana Lara. The Artistic director and the founder of Mexico’s International Festival Música y Escena, Lara has been celebrated as a “major and original voice (Orange County Register). Angels of Flame and Ice is inspired by four poems by the Mexican writer Francisco Serrano – with each movement representing a certain angel: the angels of light, darkness, dusk and twilight.


August 2-16, 2015
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music presents its 53rd season.


Festival tickets range from $30-$59 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 16.


Sunday, August 2, 7pm: Open Rehearsals Begin
Open rehearsals continue through August 14, schedule available online

Friday, August 7, 8pm: Haunted Topography
David T. Little: 
Haunted Topography
James MacMillan
: Percussion Concerto No. 2 (Colin Currie, percussion) (US Premiere | Festival Co-Commission)
Mason Bates: Anthology of Fantastic Zoology  (West Coast premiere)

Saturday, August 8, 8pm: Yellow Earth
Sebastian Currier: Quanta (US Premiere)
Huang Ruo: The Color Yellow, (Wu Wei, sheng) (West Coast premiere)
Jonathan Newman: 
Blow it up start again
Joby Talbot: Chroma 

Sunday, August 9: 1pm: Free Family Concert
Nathaniel Stookey: 
The Composer is Dead (Nathaniel Stookey, narrator)

Sunday, August 9, 8pm: In the Blue Room with Kronos Quartet

Saturday, August 15, 8pm: Wish You Were Here
Hannah Lash: Eating Flowers (World Premiere | Festival Commission)
Missy Mazzoli: River Rouge Transfiguration (West Coast Premiere)
Sean Shepherd: Blue Blazes (West Coast premiere)
Nico Muhly: Wish You Were Here (West Coast premiere)
Philip Glass: Double Concerto for Violin and Cello (Tim Fain, violin, Matt Haimovitz, cello) (West Coast premiere)

Sunday, August 16, 4pm and 7:30pm, ANGELES DE LUZ: MUSIC AT THE MISSION
Christopher Rouse: Supplica 
James MacMillan: Epiclesis (Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet) (US Premiere)
Charles Halka: Impact (West Coast premiere)
Ana Lara: Angeles de llama y hielo (Angels of Flame and Ice)

All performances except for Music at the Mission take place at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz. Music at the Mission takes place at Mission San Juan Bautista, 406 2nd Street, San Juan Bautista.


One World Premiere
Hannah Lash: 
Eating Flowers (Festival Commission)

Three US Premieres
James MacMillan
: Percussion Concerto No. 2 (Colin Currie, percussion) (Festival Co-Commission)
Sebastian Currier: Quanta
James MacMillan: Epiclesis (Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet)
Seven West Coast Premieres
Mason Bates: 
Anthology of Fantastic Zoology 
Huang Ruo: The Color Yellow, (Wu Wei, sheng)
Missy Mazzoli: River Rouge Transfiguration
Sean Shepherd: Blue Blazes
Nico Muhly: Wish You Were Here
Philip Glass: Double Concerto for Violin and Cello (Tim Fain, violin, Matt Haimovitz, cello)
Charles Halka: Impact 

12 Composers-in-Residence
Mason Bates
Sebastian Currier
Charles Halka
Ana Lara
Hannah Lash
David Little
Huang Ruo
Missy Mazzoli
Nico Muhly
Jonathan Newman
Sean Shepherd
Nathaniel Stookey

Guest Artists
Colin Currie (percussion)
Tim Fain (violin)
Matt Haimovitz (cello)
Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet)
Kronos Quartet
Nathaniel Stookey (narrator)
Wu Wei (sheng)


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