Community Voices for Scott Ordway Commission

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Cabrillo Festival Invites Community Voices

Cabrillo Festival asks for personal stories of wildfire and drought to inform a new multimedia work by composer Scott Ordway; and invites questions for composers Wynton Marsalis and Tan Dun ahead of May 1 event

Scott OrdwaySANTA CRUZ, CA—April 13, 2021—
The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music has commissioned Santa Cruz-born composer and multimedia artist Scott Ordway to create a new work for orchestra and vocal ensemble. The End of Rain weaves together stories and words from regions of the Western U.S. recently impacted by wildfire and drought. Performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, led by conductor Cristian Măcelaru, and featuring the eight-member, Grammy Award-winning vocal band, Roomful of Teeth, the work is scheduled to premiere during the Festival’s 2022 live performance season.

Of the concept, Ordway says: “In recent years, the western United States has experienced wildfire and drought with catastrophic frequency and intensity. These events force us from our homes, devastate our communities, and destroy forests, farms, ranches, and orchards.

We can see the physical devastation. We can measure its economic impact. But how does it change us internally? How does it alter our fundamental relationship to place? Do we look at the forest in a different way? The sky? Each other? Do we still feel the same way about our homes? What about the crops we grow, the food we eat, the water we drink? Has our collective relationship with the landscape changed? What remains the same? Is it possible to ask a large group of people how they’re feeling and then make some sense out of the answer?”

To collect the words that will form the foundation of the work, Scott Ordway and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music are asking members of the public to share their individual experiences of wildfire and drought. The collected stories and words will be translated into a musical form, as Ordway says, “in an attempt to better understand how we feel about our evolving relationship to place, home, and security in a changing world.” Stories can be shared at until May 15, 2021. The project’s website is presented in both English and Spanish, and welcomes submissions in any language.

This project is the third in a series of Cabrillo Festival commissions reflecting on the wildfires and climate crisis. Executive Director Ellen Primack remarks on its poignant timing, “The End of Rain is especially meaningful as it includes our community’s voices and experiences at a time when it’s still so visceral and potent. When it premieres in 2022 we’ll have the opportunity to gather together for the first time and reflect as a community.”

Cabrillo Festival has also launched a new online discussion series, Composers in Conversation, featuring small groups of composers and Festival Music Director/Conductor Cristian Măcelaru talking about their experiences as creators of new music. Running March-July, featured composers include Karim Al-Zand, Clarice Assad, Anna Clyne, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Huang Ruo, Wynton Marsalis, Missy Mazzoli, Kevin Puts, Iván Enrique Rodríguez, Peter Shin, Carlos Simon, Gabriella Smith, and Tan Dun. Most episodes feature a live Q&A. Each Composers in Conversation session is available for free on-demand streaming at

The End of Rain Creative Team:

Scott Ordway, Composer & Project Director
The music of composer and multimedia artist Scott Ordway (b. 1984, Santa Cruz) has been called “exquisite” by The New York Times, “a marvel” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and “an American response to Sibelius” by The Boston Globe. His work has been performed by ensembles, soloists, and orchestras throughout the United States, in Europe, and in Asia. Scott currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Rutgers University.

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Cristi Măcelaru, Music Director and Conductor
The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, even at a seasoned 59 years old, is all about the new—the here and now of contemporary works for orchestra. To quote Financial Times music critic Allan Ulrich, “…in the surf mecca of Santa Cruz, 75 miles south of San Francisco, the Cabrillo Festival has made the contemporary repertoire sound urgent, indispensable and even sexy.” During the first two weeks of August each year, audiences are joined by both preeminent and emerging composers, an orchestra of dedicated professional musicians, and renowned guest artists from across the globe to give voice to works which are rarely more than a year or two old, and sometimes still wet on the page. The opportunity for composers to work with musicians skilled and enthusiastic about bringing these new works to life, in the beautiful coastal, college-town of Santa Cruz, California, makes this an artistic paradise.

Roomful of Teeth
Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy® winning vocal band dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. By engaging collaboratively with artists, thinkers, and community leaders from around the world, we seek to uplift and amplify voices old and new while creating and performing meaningful and adventurous music. Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, our band was incubated at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts, where we studied with some of the world’s top performers and teachers and commissioned composers who were known for breaking molds. We have learned that the boundaries of the human voice are never what they seem, that rules can be bent, and broken, and perhaps they should be.

Important Links:

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music:

Composer Scott Ordway:

The End of Rain Project:

Roomful of Teeth:

Composers in Conversation:

Cabrillo Festival’s 2021 season will be held virtually, with all events available for free on-demand streaming at  starting July 31. Subscriptions are encouraged to support the Festival. Join the Festival’s mailing list here:


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