Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts
60th Anniversary highlights include the return to in-person concerts with three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie’s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States.
SANTA CRUZ, CA—March 14, 2022—The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, America’s longest running festivafcabl of new orchestral music, celebrates its 60th Anniversary season with a return to a live, in-person concert season after two years of virtual orchestra and multi-disciplinary explorations. The Festival’s 60th anniversary season runs July 24 – August 7, 2022, with a program of timely, topical, and thought-provoking new works.
Led by 2020 Grammy Award-winning Music Director and Conductor Cristian Măcelaru, the Cabrillo Festival is all about “music of our time, for our time.” The Festival is proud to offer composers a haven to present contemporary music that speaks to the world around us, bringing together a community of diverse artists and audiences to experience the creative process together. While this year’s Festival reflects on the deep divisions in our nation and environmental threats, it is also infused with hope for change, transformation, and peace. The 60th anniversary season includes works by twelve American composers–nine of whom will be in residence, a stunning roster of soloists, three world premiere commissions, and seven West Coast premieres.
This year’s nine composers in residence are Stacy Garrop, John Harbison, Jake Heggie, Scott Ordway, Paola Prestini, Kevin Puts, Iván Enrique Rodríguez, Andrea Reinkemeyer, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. Works by composers Gabriela Lena Frank, Jessie Montgomery and Christopher Rouse will also be featured.
Guest artists include Roomful of Teeth (vocal band); Lara Downes (piano); Katherine Needleman (oboe); Mark DeChiazza (filmmaker); Sasha Cooke (mezzo-soprano); Benjamin Beilman (violin); and Thaïs Chernyavski (youth violin).
“Our hearts are full of joy, anticipation, and optimism to return to making incredible music together again in Santa Cruz, and to finally reuniting with Festival audiences,” said Music Director Cristi Măcelaru.
“This season is a long-awaited return to the stage,” explains Ellen Primack, Cabrillo Festival Executive Director. “The past two years have strengthened our sense of purpose, and connection to our community and to our mission. It will be an epic homecoming and a 60th anniversary celebration to remember.”
Among this year’s highlights are the much-anticipated live orchestral premieres of two works first adapted for the Cabrillo Festival’s Virtual Orchestra during the pandemic, now coming to full realization in a live concert setting. On Opening Night, Friday, July 29, Gabriela Lena Frank’s Contested Eden—presented in 2021 as a dance piece filmed in the Santa Cruz Mountains CZU fire zone—will be performed as a purely orchestral experience, with Frank’s complex orchestration fully revealed.
The Festival’s closing night, Sunday, August 7 will offer composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheers’ INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope—the culmination of an expansive Bay Area collaboration commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz––as the full orchestral version, after also receiving its initial premiere in 2021 as a virtual experience.
Also on Opening Night is the world premiere of Santa Cruz native Scott Ordway’s new 40-minute multimedia work with text based on more than 200 crowdsourced stories of wildfire and drought in California. Accompanied by documentary photography by the composer, The End of Rain features the remarkable vocal octet Roomful of Teeth. Jessie Montgomery’s Soul Force represents “a voice that struggles to be heard beyond the shackles of oppression” and Iván Enrique Rodríguez’s A Metaphor for Power reflects upon our ideals of equality in America, as seen through the personal lens of the composer’s Latinx experience.
The Festival also includes two works commemorating women’s suffrage and the centenary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – Stacy Garrop’s The Battle for the Ballot, commissioned by the Festival and first realized as part of the 2020 Virtual Season; and Paola Prestini’s Let Me See the Sun, featuring pianist Lara Downes of NPR’s Amplify. The Festival will also present a posthumous tribute to beloved composer and longtime Cabrillo friend, Christopher Rouse, who died in September 2019.
As well as the featured evening concerts, the Festival continues its tradition of hosting Open Rehearsals, Meet the Composers and other talks, and the Conductors/Composers Workshop professional training program (focused on the creation, performance and promotion of new music). The 2022 season will offer some virtual online content and will follow Covid-19 public health and safety guidelines, including requiring proof of full vaccination for all audiences, staff, and artists.
The End of Rain – Friday, July 29, 8pm
The Opening Night concert of the Festival’s 60th anniversary season includes two world premiere commissions and the west coast premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s powerful Soul Force. The composer states, “Soul Force is a one-movement symphonic work which attempts to portray the notion of a voice that struggles to be heard beyond the shackles of oppression. The music takes on the form of a march which begins with a single voice and gains mass as it rises to a triumphant goal.” The title is drawn from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the piece draws on elements of popular African-American musical styles such as big-band jazz, funk, hip-hop and R+B.
Considered one of the 35 most significant women composers in history (Washington Post 2017), composer/pianist Gabriela Lena Frank was born in Berkeley, California and commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival in 2021 to write a work that reflects on wildfires and climate crisis. Frank’s Contested Eden proved a very personal and compelling journey. The work is composed of an original secular psalm, Canto para California, that forms an intimate lyrical first movement performed by string quartet, followed by a second movement centered around the concept of in extremis, Latin for “in extreme circumstances,” performed by the full orchestra.
Santa Cruz-born composer and multimedia artist Scott Ordway collected stories from more than 200 members of the public who shared their individual experiences of wildfire and drought. These stories and words have been translated into a musical form “in an attempt to better understand how we feel about our evolving relationship to place, home, and security in a changing world.” The End of Rain is a 40-minute multimedia work written for the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, accompanied by documentary photography by Ordway, and receiving its world premiere performance tonight in Santa Cruz.
Let Me See the Sun – Saturday, July 30, 7pm
Composer Iván Enrique Rodríguez composes works focusing on social justice and activism and incorporating his Puerto Rican musical heritage. Maestro Măcelaru leads the Festival Orchestra in the West Coast premiere of Rodríguez’ A Metaphor for Power which reflects upon our ideals of equality in America, as seen through the personal lens of the composer’s Latinx experience.
Celebrated Chicago-based composer Stacy Garrop’s music is centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling. The Battle of Ballot was commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival in 2020 to commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage in America and features spoken narration incorporating the words of seven prominent Black and white suffragists. It receives its West Coast premiere performance tonight, after its spectacular virtual realization during the 2020 Season.
A second work celebrates voting rights and the passage of the 19th Amendment: Paola Prestini’s piano concerto Let Me See the Sun, which features trailblazing pianist Lara Downes. Prestini is hailed by the New York Times as an “imaginative composer,” as Let Me See the Sun demonstrates with an infusion of folk music, virtuosity, harsh dissonance, and vocal simplicity. The concerto is about the human impulse to remain hopeful, and what it means to struggle towards clarity and light. The work is structured as a dialogue between piano and orchestra, at times contentious and at times unified.
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison is an 84-year old American master who has yet to be featured at Cabrillo Festival—until now. Harbison’s music is “rich with lyrical outpourings” (New York Times) that are filtered through his “rigorously crafted language” (Strings Magazine). The Great Gatsby Suite—adapted from his opera, based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald—abounds in cakewalks, ragtime and jazz, and is scored for orchestra, including saxophones and banjo. Composed in 2007 the work receives its West Coast premiere tonight, with Harbison in residence.
Roomful of Teeth in Concert – Sunday, July 31, 7pm
Grammy Award-winning octet and self-described “vocal band,” Roomful of Teeth is dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from vocal traditions the world over, the ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and forges a boundless new repertoire through ongoing commissioning. “Experimentation may be this group’s calling card, but its essence is pure joy.” (Boston Globe) After receiving a hero’s welcome at the 2019 Cabrillo Festival, Roomful of Teeth return with their unique blend of playful warmth, wicked humor, vocal mastery, and wild experimentation.
Moonlight – Saturday, August 6, 7pm
The music of American composer Andrea Reinkemeyer has been described as “hauntingly melodic and fun, dancing and almost running its way forward” (Fanfare Magazine). It explores the interplay of visual metaphors, nature, and sound to create lush textures against churning rhythmic figures. Her piece, Water Sings Fire draws inspiration from Leigh Bardugo’s eponymous short story, a feminist origin myth to the Hans Christian Andersen classic, The Little Mermaid, in which themes of ambition and betrayal are explored allegorically through Ulla’s transformation from obscure mermaid to tempestuous sea witch.
Cabrillo Festival veteran and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts will be in residence for the West Coast premiere of his Second Oboe Concerto: Moonlight. This concerto was inspired by the Academy award-winning film Moonlight, and written for oboist Katherine Needleman, who performs with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. Puts writes, “the piece was written in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, during a time of great upheaval and division in the country and—for me—a profound feeling of disillusionment. I floundered for several months, searching for inspiration until the discovery of the 2016 film Moonlight. I found it exquisitely made, and the film’s demonstration of tolerance and compassion in the midst of a tough environment stayed with me for some time, giving me cause for hope.”
Dubbed “one of the decade’s more gifted, up-and-coming modern classical composers” (Pitchfork), Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative. Her single-movement orchestral work Hiraeth, which features an original film by Mark DeChiazza, receives its West Coast premiere at Cabrillo. ‘Hiraeth’ is a Welsh word, loosely translated as homesickness tinged with longing for the lost or departed, or for a home you can no longer return to. The music is deeply emotional, affected by Snider’s loss of her father as she was composing.
Violins of Hope – Sunday, August 7, 7pm
The evening begins with a powerful and profound Festival commission: the full orchestral version of Guggenheim Fellow Jake Heggie’s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope, with texts by Gene Scheer, and featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman as guest artists. Written in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope is a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. This powerful work is based on the stories told by musicologist and author James A. Grymes in his book Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour. The work is inspired by the Violins of Hope collection—instruments that were played by Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust and subsequently recovered and meticulously restored by Israeli violinmakers Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein.
Concluding the evening is a posthumous tribute to a beloved friend to Cabrillo and Festival favorite: Pulitzer-prize winning composer Christopher Rouse. In his prolific career, Rouse created a body of work perhaps unequaled in its emotional intensity. The New York Times called it “some of the most anguished, most memorable music around.” Tonight Măcelaru leads the Festival Orchestra in Rouse’s final work, Symphony No. 6. Notable for its dark, expressive sound world, Symphony No. 6 was Rouse’s only four-movement symphony. Rouse wrote of composing this work, “Now I hope to have lived a full enough life to have something to say that is worth perhaps a little of my listeners’ time. To live one’s life is, it sometimes seems, to spend all of one’s time on a rollercoaster as we try adapting to the sudden, unexpected changes of direction our ‘amusement park ride’ subjects us. (Sometimes those changes aren’t always very ‘amusing.’) Nonetheless, it is the very unpredictability of life that makes it so wonderful.”
CABRILLO FESTIVAL TICKETS, SCHEDULE & SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Festival tickets range from $30-$75 for individual concerts and $310-350 for full subscriptions. Many events are free and open to the public. The public may access information on the Festival website at cabrillomusic.org or call (831) 426-6966; and are encouraged to join the mailing list to receive updates.
Full Subscriptions may be ordered online, by phone (831-420-5260) or in person at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium Box Office, 307 Church Street beginning May 4; Single Tickets may be purchased beginning June 1. The Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday, 12 to 4pm, and during events.
All events will be held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at 307 Church Street in Downtown Santa Cruz.
The 60th Anniversary Season
Friday, July 29, 2022, 8pm – The End of Rain
Jessie Montgomery: Soul Force (WCP)
Gabriela Lena Frank: Contested Eden (WP | Festival Commission)
Scott Ordway: The End of Rain (multimedia; Roomful of Teeth, vocal ensemble) (WP | Festival Commission)
Saturday, July 30, 2022, 7pm – Let Me See the Sun
Iván Enrique Rodríguez: A Metaphor for Power (WCP)
Stacy Garrop: The Battle for the Ballot (WCP | Festival Commission) (Texts from seven suffragists; Narrator TBA)
Paola Prestini: Let Me See the Sun (Lara Downes, piano)
John Harbison: The Great Gatsby Suite (WCP)
Sunday, July 31, 2022, 7pm – Roomful of Teeth in Concert
Featuring Grammy Award-winners Roomful of Teeth
Saturday, August 6, 2022, 7pm – Moonlight
Andrea Reinkemeyer: Water Sings Fire
Kevin Puts: Second Oboe Concerto: Moonlight (Katherine Needleman, oboe) (WCP)
Sarah Kirkland Snider: Hiraeth (with film by Mark DeChiazza) (WCP)
Sunday, August 7, 2022, 7pm – Violins of Hope
Jake Heggie: INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope
Texts by Gene Scheer (Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Benjamin Beilman, violin; Thais Chernyavsky, youth violin) (Orchestral WP | Festival Commission-orchestral version)
Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 6 (WCP)
3 WORLD PREMIERES (WP)
Gabriela Lena Frank: Contested Eden (Festival Commission)
Jake Heggie: INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope, orchestral version
(Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Benjamin Beilman, violin) (Festival Commission, orchestral version)
Scott Ordway: The End of Rain, multimedia (Roomful of Teeth, vocal ensemble) (Festival Commission)
7 WEST COAST PREMIERES (WCP)
Stacy Garrop: The Battle for the Ballot (Text from seven suffragists; with narrator TBA)
John Harbison: The Great Gatsby Suite
Jessie Montgomery: Soul Force (full orchestral version)
Iván Enrique Rodríguez: A Metaphor for Power
Kevin Puts: Second Oboe Concerto: Moonlight (Katherine Needleman, oboe)
Sarah Kirkland Snider: Hiraeth (with film by Mark DeChiazza)
Chris Rouse: Symphony No. 6
12 FEATURED COMPOSERS
9 COMPOSERS IN RESIDENCE*
Iván Enrique Rodríguez
Sarah Kirkland Snider
(*confirmed as of 3/15/22)
Benjamin Beilman, violin
Thais Chernyavsky, youth violin
Sasha Cooke, mezzo soprano
Mark DeChiazza, film
Lara Downes, piano
Katherine Needleman, oboe
Roomful of Teeth, vocal ensemble