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California Symphony Auditions 7 Conductors

Seven will wield the baton and try to qualify to become the new music director.

The California Symphony in 2012-13 will audition seven renowned conductors as it chooses a new music director to lead the orchestra.

Each conductor has selected pieces that will showcase musical chops and artistic version, according to a news release from the California Symphony, based at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. The season runs from Sept. 30 through May 4-5, 2013.

The symphony has been without a music director for two seasons, relying on guest conductors, some of whom return for auditions this year. The symphony's board of directors abruptly fired founder and Music Director Barry Jekowsky in October 2010.

The following information is from the California Symphony:

Seven internationally-renowned conductors, all having led major orchestras throughout the world, will audition for the position by leading the California Symphony in programs that showcase music’s most beloved and enduring works, including short pieces, concertos and symphonies by the masters -- Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Berlioz, Sibelius, Prokofiev -- and contemporary artists Gershwin, Porter, Lowe and Adams. The symphony’s innovative Young Composer in Residence D.J. Sparr will also offer up another world premiere.
 
The seven concerts take place at the Lesher Center for Arts in Walnut Creek on September 30, October 18, December 23, January 20, February 12, March 3, and May 4 and 5.
 
For his concert, each conductor has selected pieces that will delight audiences and showcase his musical chops and unique artistic vision. Some concerts also feature soloists who have emerged as rising stars in 21st century music: pianists Gregory Taboloff and Haochen Zhang, soprano Sarah Jane McMahon, clarinet player David Singer and violinist Caroline Goulding.
 
The symphony has been without a music director for the past two seasons, relying on the talents of guest conductors, several who are among this season’s finalists for the top job.
 
During the 2011-12 season, the symphony refined its focus as the Walnut Creek-based orchestra that brings audiences closer to the music they love in the more intimate setting of the Lesher Center’s 785-seat Hofmann Theatre. This focus and the stellar performances of the guest conductors, soloists and orchestra musicians during the 2011-12 season garnered the symphony some of the best reviews and most enthusiastic audiences of its quarter-century history. This success prompted the orchestra to add three concerts to its program for 2012-13. Two of these concerts are more accessible, constructed around the themes of Halloween and Valentine’s Day. The third is a holiday concert that will take place in December, after the symphony scored an audience hit with its first ever holiday concert in December 2011.

The Lesher Center for the Arts is located at 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.  Single tickets start at $35, and season subscriptions start at $130.  For tickets and information, call (925) 943-SHOW (7469) or visit our website.
 
Moody Conducts Rachmaninoff 
Sunday, September 30, 2012 – 4 p.m.
 
ARTISTS:                                            PROGRAM:
California Symphony                        MARQUEZ: Danzon No. 2
Robert Moody, conductor                  RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2
Gregory Taboloff, piano                    SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2
 
Demonstrating his “precise yet fluid and confident leadership” (Mercury News), Robert Moody returns to lead the California Symphony in Sibelius’ powerful Symphony No. 2 and Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto, with pianist Gregory Taboloff making his California Symphony debut.
 
Robert Moody serves as music director for the Winston-Salem Symphony in North Carolina; artistic director for the Arizona Musicfest since 2007; and music director for the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine. Moody is a frequent guest conductor with orchestras across the United States and has conducted many of the world’s top classical artists in concert, including Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.

Composer and pianist Gregory Taboloff made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 27 and received critical acclaim from the New York Times for his “irrepressible energy.” While he has represented the United States at international competitions, including the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, he is no stranger to East Bay stages. He debuted his Piano Concerto No. 1 (“The Russian”) at the Lesher Center for the Arts in 2000, prompting the Contra Costa Times to report that “bravos” greeted the world premiere before “a wildly enthusiastic audience.” He also was a soloist with the Oakland Symphony and gave a command performance for the United Kingdom’s former Prime Minister Edward Heath at the Blackhawk Country Club in Danville.
 
The Sounds in the Night   
Thursday, October 18, 2012 – 7:30 p.m.
          
ARTISTS:                                            PROGRAM:
California Symphony                    FALLA: Ritual Fire Dance
David Commanday, conductor       WILLIAMS: Suite from Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone
                                                GOUNOD: Funeral March of a Marionette
WAGNER: Wotan’s Farewell and Fire Music from Die Walkure
                                                SAINT-SAENS: Danse Macabre
                                                STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite
                                                                                  
Known for his dynamic performances and ability to connect with audiences, David Commanday leads an exploration of the mysterious and mystifying sounds of the night in this concert that showcases the musical thrills of Saint-Saens, Stravinsky, Wagner and Williams.
 
David Commanday has conducted orchestras around the world, including the National Symphony, Israel Philharmonic and American Symphony. He also is founding artistic director and conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra, which the Peoria Journal Star praised as having a “big city feel, but a small-town heart." He graduated summa cum laude with degrees in music and psychology from Harvard University, where he has held faculty positions. As a cello student at Tanglewood, he performed under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, and Aaron Copland; their influence inspired him to become a conductor.
 
A Toast to the Holidays
Sunday, December 23, 2012 – 7:30 p.m.
 
ARTISTS:                                                        PROGRAM:
California Symphony                                    Favorite Holiday selections
Michael Butterman, conductor                   
Sarah Jane McMahon, Soprano
Chorus          
                      
One of the symphony’s most popular concerts ever, the annual holiday concert returns to allow audiences to celebrate this time of year with a magical evening of music and good cheer.
 
Michael Butterman, in demand as a guest conductor all over the country, is in his sixth season as music director for the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and for the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, and is in his 12th season as principal conductor for education and outreach for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the first position of its kind in the United States. The Shreveport Times recently praised Butterman’s “successful risk-taking,” while the Daily Camera said “Michael Butterman was clearly No. 1 on the classical-music scene in Boulder.”
 
Sarah Jane McMahon has been praised for her “golden sound” and “sparkling stage presence” by Opera News. She recently sang a gala concert opposite Placido Domingo, made her debut with the San Francisco Symphony and the Munich Philharmonic, is a frequent guest artist at the New York City Opera and is in demand by companies around the world.
 
Mozart and Tchaikovsky 
Sunday, January 20, 2013 – 4 p.m.
 
ARTISTS:                                                        PROGRAM:
California Symphony                         JALBERT: Les Espaces Infinis
Sean Newhouse, conductor               MOZART: Clarinet Concerto
David Singer, clarinet                        TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5
 
 
Called “a real dazzler” by the New York Times, conductor Sean Newhouse leads the symphony in Tchaikovsky’s monumental Fifth Symphony with the enduring beauty of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto as its complement.
 
Sean Newhouse, assistant conductor for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has led orchestras around the world. In the 2011-12 season, he made his French debut with the Orchestra Philharmonique de Nice, while also conducting the Phoenix Symphony, the Hilton Head Symphony and CityMusic Cleveland. Winner of the Aspen Conducting Prize, he was also one of six conductors chosen from across the United States to participate in the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, organized by the League of American Orchestras and hosted by the Louisiana Philharmonic.

David Singer’s career as one of the most highly respected clarinetists in the United States has been established through performances and recordings as principal clarinetist of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, frequent guest appearances with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, two separate performances at the White House and performances and recordings with some of the greatest musicians of our time, including Yehudi Menuhin, Rudolf Serkin, Yo Yo Ma and Pinchas Zukerman. He has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including two Grammy Award winners.
 
The Sounds of Love          
Tuesday, February 12 – 7:30 p.m.
 
ARTISTS:                                            PROGRAM:
California Symphony                      BERNSTEIN: Selections from West Side Story
Alastair Willis, conductor              BIZET: Selections from Carmen
                                                OFFENBACH: Barcarole from Tales of Hoffmann
                                                PORTER: I Love Paris
                                                LOWE: Suite from Gigi
                                                 GERSHWIN: American in Paris
 
Grammy-nominated conductor Alastair Willis returns to lead the California Symphony in a celebration of love with all its passion and drama, as found in the music of West Side Story, Carmen, Cole Porter and Gershwin.
 
A frequent guest conductor for the San Francisco Symphony, Alastair Willis is also music director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and has conducted for most of the major symphonies in America, as well as important companies throughout Europe and South America. In May 2002, Yo Yo Ma personally asked Willis to be the conductor for several performances of his Silk Road Project residency presented by the Seattle Symphony and has since re-invited him to be a regular conductor for him and this project all over the world.
 
Cabrera Conducts Beethoven     
Sunday, March 3 – 4 p.m.
 
ARTISTS:                                                        PROGRAM:
California Symphony                        ADAMS: Lollapalooza
Donato Cabrera, conductor               BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4
Haochen Zhang, piano                      PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5
 
 The San Francisco Symphony’s Donato Cabrera returns to conduct Van Cliburn competition winner Haochen Zhang in Beethoven’s incomparable Piano Concerto No. 4, and finishes with Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, a tribute to the enduring human spirit.     

As resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, Donato Cabrera works closely with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and frequently conducts the symphony throughout the year. A champion of music education, he is also music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. For the American Mavericks Festival in March 2012, Cabrera conducted the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in the world premiere of “Mass Transmission” by Mason Bates, California Symphony’s Young Composer in Residence from 2007—2010.

As associate conductor of the San Francisco Opera, he was the rehearsal and cover director for the Metropolitan Opera production and DVD of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, which won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.
Just 22, Haochen Zhang’s resume features numerous international awards and experiences performing in top music venues. Zhang started playing piano at age 3. At age 5, he dazzled a Shanghai Concert Hall audience with his interpretation of Bach, Mozart and Haydn; at 6, he successfully performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. In June 2009, at age 19, he won the Gold Medal in the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the first Asian to win such an honor and one of the youngest gold medalists in the history of this competition. Since then, he has toured the world, giving recitals and performing with such acclaimed orchestras as the San Francisco Symphony, the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. He is regarded for his perfect technique as well as his rich imagination and sensitive lyricism.

               
Treviño and the Fantastique!     
Saturday, May 4 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 5 – 4 p.m.
          
ARTISTS:                                                        PROGRAM:
California Symphony                        SPARR: World Premiere
Robert Treviño, conductor                BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto
Caroline Goulding, violin                   BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique
 
“A talented young conductor” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer), conductor Robert Treviño brings the symphony’s season to a close with renowned virtuoso Caroline Goulding performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and the fantastically powerful Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. The concert begins with the world premiere of a work by Young American Composer-in-Residence, D. J. Sparr.
 
In addition to his work with the California Symphony, Robert Treviño, an emerging force in the international music scene, marks his second season as associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. His past symphonic and instrumental work includes numerous engagements with orchestras, festivals, and ensembles across North America, Europe, and Asia including the orchestras in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Charlotte, Memphis, and Chicago, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra.

Violinist Caroline Goulding has performed as a soloist with some of North America’s premiere orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, National Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, the Cleveland Pops and the Cincinnati Pops. Lauded by Grammapone for her "impressive technical polish and musical maturity,” Gould was awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2011. In 2009, she received a Grammy nomination for her debut recording. In addition to performing with the California Symphony, her 2012-2013 season includes debuts in Germany, Japan and China
 
D. J. Sparr, winding up his two-year residency with the California Symphony, is a prolific American composer and guitarist trained in a striking variety of musical styles. He has performed with the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini, Eastman’s “Musica Nova” Contemporary Music Ensemble, pop bands and as a studio musician. Sparr’s music has been performed, premiered and commissioned by various ensembles, ranging from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras to the Dayton Philharmonic to eighth blackbird, a Grammy Award-winning quintet.
 
WHERE: Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.
TICKETS: Single tickets start at $35, and season subscriptions start at $130.  For tickets and information, call (925) 943-SHOW (7469) or visit our website at www.californiasymphony.org

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