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Announcing Conductor Donato Cabrera 2021-2022 Concert Season

Continues as Music Director of California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic

Guest Conductor of Opera San José and Monterey Symphony

Conductor Donato Cabrera’s 2021-2022 season is his ninth with the California Symphony and eighth with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. As Music Director of both orchestras, Cabrera’s programming showcases a personalized and integrated vision, highlighting diversity and celebrating the return to live performances. California Symphony’s new season furthers its promise to present innovative programming, exciting guest artists, and music by living composers, women, and composers of color including Jessie Montgomery, Marianna Martines, Katherine Balch, George Walker, and Viet Cuong. For Las Vegas Philharmonic’s new season, Cabrera has selected a season that includes all of Beethoven’s Symphonies interwoven with contemporary works by female composers including Anna Clyne, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli, Jessie Montgomery, and Caroline Shaw.

In addition to his engagements with California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic, Cabrera will guest conduct Opera San José in its season-opening production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri, available to stream online September 30 – October 31, 2021. Additionally, Cabrera will perform as guest conductor and Music Director candidate with Monterey Symphony on February 19 and 20, 2022, presenting Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5; Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 (with cellist Julian Schwarz); and Alone Together, a new work by the Monterey Symphony’s composer-in-residence, John Christopher Wineglass.

“The programming I have chosen for both the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic reflects upon and acknowledges the reality that our communities have been without live music for well over a year and a half,” says Cabrera. “I have planned seasons of music that acknowledge what we missed, but also look to the future. While the music from the standard orchestral repertoire will give us an opportunity for reflection and teach us to be a community again, the music of many diverse contemporary composers will give us hope for the future and remind us that classical music is a living, breathing art form, full of new and beautiful sounds, just waiting for us to hear them for the first time!”

Other season highlights include the introduction of cellist Joshua Roman as the Artist-in-Residence at the Las Vegas Philharmonic, as well as a world premiere performance in May 2022 of a new work by Juan Pablo Contreras, a co-commission led by the Las Vegas Philharmonic through New Music USA’s Amplifying Voices, supported by the Sphinx Venture Fund. California Symphony presents two world premieres by composers in its Young American Composer-in-Residence program. The final commission by Katherine Balch (who held the position from 2017-2020) will premiere in March 2022 (rescheduled from Spring 2020). The second commission by the current Composer-in-Residence, Viet Cuong, will be premiered in May 2022.

Donato Cabrera’s 2021-2022 California Symphony Schedule

All performances take place at Lesher Center for the Arts (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, CA). Tickets are on sale at or through the Lesher Center Box Office by phone (925.943.7469) or in person.

Tickets include a free, 30-minute pre-concert talk starting one hour before each performance.

Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 7:30pm & Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 4pm

Emperor – A joyous and soul-soothing start to the season


Marianna Martines: Sinfonia

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor) – Adam Golka, piano

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5

Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 7:30pm & Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 4pm

Four Seasons – A seasonal celebration of all things strings


Walker: Lyric for Strings

Vivaldi: The Four SeasonsAlexi Kenney, violin

Jessie Montgomery: Starburst

Schubert: Death and the Maiden (arr. Mahler)

Saturday, January 29, 2022 at 7:30pm & Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 4pm

Take Flight – Selections inspired by our fine feathered friends


Vaughan Williams: The Lark AscendingJennifer Cho, violin

Haydn: Symphony No. 83 (“The Hen”)

Sibelius: Swan of Tuonela

Dvořák: Symphony No. 8

Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 7:30pm & Sunday, March 27, 2022 at 4pm

French Impressions – Vive la differénce! Music with French connections both old and new


Thomas Adès: Three Studies from Couperin

Katherine Balch: Illuminate (World Premiere) Kelly Guerra, mezzo-soprano; Molly Netter, soprano; Alexandra Smither, soprano

Debussy: Danse (orch. Ravel)

Ravel: Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)

Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 7:30pm & Sunday, May 15, 2022 at 4pm

Epic Finale – Go big and go home


Viet Cuong: World Premiere

Elgar: Cello Concerto – Nathan Chan, cello

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5

Donato Cabrera’s 2021-2022 Las Vegas Philharmonic Schedule

All performances take place at The Smith Center (61 Symphony Park Avenue, Las Vegas, NV).

Tickets are on sale at or through the Smith Center Box Office by phone (702.749.2000) or in person.

Donato Cabrera and special guests will host pre-concert conversations one hour prior to each performance in Reynolds Hall to discuss the works to be performed and the history behind the music.

Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 7:30pm



Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man

Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104 – Joshua Roman, cello

Joan Tower: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 7:30pm

Beethoven Triple Concerto


Missy Mazzoli: These Worlds In Us

Beethoven: Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op.56 – Tessa Lark, violin; Joshua Roman, cello; David Fung, piano

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op.21

Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 2pm & 7:30pm

Very Vegas Holiday

Information: and

Keith Thompson, host

Travis Cloer, vocals

Vita Corimbi, vocals

Clint Holmes, vocals

Michelle Johnson, vocals

The season will shine merry and bright when the talented performers from Very Vegas Showcase hosted by Keith Thompson, return to sing classic seasonal favorites and local originals with our symphony orchestra in a holiday spectacular like no other!

Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 7:30pm

Cabrera Conducts Beethoven No. 6 & 8 and Shaw


Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op.93

Caroline Shaw: Entr’acte

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op.68

Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 7:30pm

Cabrera Conducts Beethoven No. 4 & 5 and Montgomery


Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op.60

Jessie Montgomery: Strum

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op.67

Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 7:30pm

Cabrera Conducts Beethoven No. 3 and Frank


Gabriela Lena Frank: Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op.55

Saturday, April 16, 2022 at 7:30pm

Cabrera Conducts Beethoven No. 2 & 7 and Clyne


Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op.36

Anna Clyne: Stride

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op.92

Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 7:30pm

Contreras Premiere & Beethoven No. 9 Finale


Juan Pablo Contreras: Premiere

A co-commission led by the Las Vegas Philharmonic through New Music USA’s Amplifying Voices, supported by the Sphinx Venture Fund

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op.125


Las Vegas Master Singers – Joseph Svendsen, director

Felicia Moore, soprano

Kelly O’Connor, alto

Nicholas Phan, tenor

Kevin Deas, bass

Donato Cabrera’s 2021-2022 Guest Appearances

Opera San José

Friday, September 30 - Sunday, October 31, 2021 – streaming online only


Rimsky-Korsakov: Mozart and Salieri

Monterey Symphony

Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 20, 2022 at 3pm


John Christopher Wineglass: Alone Together

Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 107 – Julian Schwarz, cello

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

About Donato Cabrera: Donato Cabrera is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. He served as the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2009-2016. Cabrera is one of only a handful of conductors in history who has conducted performances with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet. Cabrera is dedicated to adventurous programming, living composers, and digital innovation. He is keenly focused on outreach and engagement, and programming that reflects the communities he is serving.

Since Cabrera's appointment as Music Director in 2013 of the California Symphony, the organization has redefined what it means to be an orchestra in the 21st Century. Under Cabrera’s baton, the California Symphony has reached new artistic heights by implementing innovative programming that emphasizes welcoming newcomers and loyalists alike, building on its reputation for championing music by living composers, and committing to programming music by women and people of color. Cabrera also oversees the selection process of the California Symphony’s celebrated Young American Composer-in-Residence program, through which the orchestra has supported the burgeoning careers of composers including Mason Bates, Kevin Puts, Katherine Balch, and the current Composer-in-Residence, Viet Cuong. In September 2020, California Symphony launched a landmark collaboration with USC Radio Group (KUSC in Los Angeles and KDFC in San Francisco) to broadcast a series of archival performances of programs featuring works by past Composers-in-Residence.

Cabrera has greatly changed the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s concert experience by expanding the scope and breadth of its orchestral concerts, hosting engaging and lively pre-concert conversations with guest artists and composers, and by creating the Spotlight Concert series that features the musicians of the Las Vegas Philharmonic in intimate chamber music performances. With a commitment to programming works by living composers, Cabrera recently led one of the premiere performances of Philip Glass’ newest piano concerto, co-commissioned by the Las Vegas Philharmonic and composed for Simone Dinnerstein; began and ended the 2019-2020 season with works by Anna Clyne and Gabriela Lena Frank and has celebrated the incredible Las Vegas talent pool with the creation of the Very Vegas Showcase, performing songs and works written by local performers.

In 2020, Cabrera implemented many new digital initiatives, reflecting his vision of breaking down barriers between the audience and the performer and staying engaged with audiences during the Coronavirus pandemic. MusicWise - Conversations about Art and Culture with Donato Cabrera is a series presented on Facebook Live and YouTube Live featuring interviews with engaging artists and civic leaders who influence and shape the cultural landscape. The Music Plays On is a series on Cabrera’s blog, featuring commentary and analysis on his favorite performances and recordings along with YouTube clips.

Cabrera also launched an online chamber series with both the Las Vegas Philharmonic and California Symphony. The Las Vegas Philharmonic adapted its Spotlight Series to a digital livestream format, presented at The Space in Las Vegas. The Spotlight Series features members of the orchestra in their favorite pieces for small ensembles, and the stories behind the music and the inspiration they’ve provided. California Symphony produced Poetry in Motion, a series of three virtual concerts inspired by poetry. It was filmed in collaboration with Mercury Soul, a San Francisco Bay Area collective of musicians, dancers, visual artists, DJs and videographers, one of whose co-founders is Grammy-winning composer Mason Bates.

Cabrera is equally at home in the world of opera, frequently conducting productions in the United States and abroad. He was the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Opera from 2005-2008, working on over 18 productions and conducting multiple performances. Cabrera has also been an assistant conductor for productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ravinia Festival, Festival di Spoleto, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Music Academy of the West. Since 2008, he has frequently conducted productions ranging from Mozart to Puccini in Concepción, Chile. In 2021 he made his debut with Opera San José conducting Rimsky Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri in an innovative digital production to be streamed online.

Donato Cabrera is continuously championing contemporary music and living composers. He made his Carnegie Hall debut leading the world premiere of Mark Grey’s Ătash Sorushan with soprano, Jessica Rivera, and led members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Jonny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood as part of the CSO’s MusicNOW series. He also led the San Francisco Symphony Chorus with organist Paul Jacobs in the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission, subsequently conducting it in Carnegie Hall. Cabrera co-founded the New York-based American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), which is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. He conducted ACME in the world premiere of the all-live version of Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 for three string quartets and tape at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, and led performances of Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's Drone Mass with ACME and Theatre of Voices at Duke Performances and the Big Ears Festival.

Deeply committed to diversity and education through the arts, Cabrera evaluates the scope, breadth, and content of the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic’s music education programs. California Symphony’s Sound Minds program has achieved national attention for its El Sistema-inspired approach and has a proven track record in impacting the lives and improving the test scores of hundreds of K-6 children in San Pablo’s Downer Elementary School. Annually reaching over 20,000 Title I fourth graders of the Clark County School District, Cabrera has completely reshaped Las Vegas Philharmonic’s Youth Concert Series to be a curriculum-based concert experience, while also integrating a hands-on, complimentary experience with the Discovery Museum, Las Vegas.

Also an advocate of adult education, Cabrera helped create and shape the California Symphony’s program Fresh Look: The Symphony Exposed, a weekly lecture series at the Walnut Creek Library that helps to explain the music and composers in an approachable, yet in depth way. It moved online in July 2020 and attracted more than four times the number of households who attended the inaugural classes in person in 2018. During his tenure at the San Francisco Symphony Cabrera also helped create and conduct, Play Out Davies!, a project that welcomed amateur musicians of any level and of all ages, to be coached by a member of the San Francisco Symphony, and to play on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall with Cabrera conducting.

As Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, Cabrera worked closely with its Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and frequently conducted the orchestra in a variety of concerts, including all of the education and family concerts, reaching over 70,000 children throughout the Bay Area every year. During his seven seasons as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, Cabrera upheld the orchestra’s reputation for outstanding artistry at home and abroad. He took the group on two European tours, winning an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of American Music on Foreign Tours, and receiving critical acclaim for a live recording from the Berlin Philharmonie of Mahler's Symphony No. 1.

In recent seasons, Cabrera has made impressive debuts with the National Symphony’s KC Jukebox at the Kennedy Center, Louisville Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, Philharmonic Orchestra of the Staatstheater Cottbus, Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río, Orquesta Sinfónica Concepción, Nevada Ballet Theatre, New West Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, and the Reno Philharmonic. In 2016, he led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in performances with Grammy Award-winning singer Lila Downs.

Awards and fellowships include a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship at the Salzburg Festival and conducting the Nashville Symphony in the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. Donato Cabrera was recognized by the Consulate-General of Mexico in San Francisco as a Luminary of the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee, for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area.

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