76% of California Symphony Musicians Favor this Program in our New Season

Wonder what the musicians think of the music in our new 2017–18 LARGER THAN LIFE season? Well so did we, and so we asked them.

In a poll of California Symphony musicians this summer, an astonishing 76% indicated a preference for our season opener, LYRICAL DREAMS, a program that includes pieces either written about or inspired by dreams: Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, YTTE (Yield to Total Elation by Bay Area composer Nathaniel Stookey, and Mahler’s Symphony №4.

Perhaps it’s in part a proximity effect (enthusiasm for the next program they’ll be working on?) but some of the comments we got revealed a deep affinity for the works — especially the Mahler, and most notably from members of the string section.

In their own words…

Christina Knudson (violin): “I’m excited to play Mahler. I think his music can be appreciated at many different stages in life. It’s been a long time and I feel like I’m a wiser and more experienced person now. I am looking forward to performing his music again at this stage in my life.”

Andy Butler (bass): “Mahler Symphony #4. This was the first Mahler symphony I ever played, and it was with the SF Youth Orchestra when I was 19. It was such an amazing composition and the unison string writing was so fantastic!”

Daria D’Andrea (violin): “It is too hard to pick one piece. I can’t wait to play Mahler 4 because of the scope of the work, and the depth of themes of life and death to get immersed in. The Barber Knoxville is exquisite, I’m looking forward especially to that.”

David Steele (violin): “Mahler 4. I have very fond memories of performing that in college. Can’t wait to perform it again.”

Monica Daniel-Barker (flute): “Mahler is always delicious and the Barber is certainly a treat to perform.”

Concertmaster Jennifer Cho (violin): “Barber Knoxville Summer of 1915. Such a mesmerizing piece.”

Julie Feldman (cello): “Mahler 4 — emotional, dark, and enlightening at the same time.”

Marcel Gemperli (viola): “Mahler’s 4th Symphony is a masterpiece, showing a more innocent and idealistic side of the composer in comparison to his darker and more melodramatic symphonies. It is one of my favorites!”

Laura Reynolds (oboe): “Mahler 4. I am a Mahler geek, can hardly hear and/or play enough Mahler in a live concert hall.”

Patricia Minet (violin): “Mahler 4 because it has been over 15 years since the California Symphony performed Mahler.”

Stephen Zielinski (clarinet): “Barber’s Knoxville is one of my all-time favorites.”

Laurien Jones (violin): “Mahler Sym. №4. It is meaningful to perform a Symphony of substance that gives to others as it gives to me. It is exhilarating to perform.”

Betsy London (viola): “Mahler 4…. great viola solos !!!”

Robert Hoexter (cello): “Definitely Mahler 4. We seldom play Mahler, and it is always so immersive and rewarding.”

Our season opener LYRICAL DREAMS takes place Sunday, September 24 at 4pm, at Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

· Donato Cabrera, conductor

· Maria Valdes, soprano


· Barber — Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

· Stookey — YTTE (Yield To Total Elation)

· Mahler — Symphony №4


Music Director Donato Cabrera gives a pre-concert talk, free to ticket holders, offering insights about the music, beginning one hour before the performance at 3 pm. Cabrera will be joined on stage by soprano Maria Valdes, Bay Area Composer Nathaniel Stookey, and Grammy-award nominated sound engineer and inventor Oliver DiCicco.


Tickets are $42 to $72 and $20 for students and are available by calling 925.943.SHOW and online at californiasymphony.org.

Season ticket packages are also on sale for as little as $99 — just $33 per concert — including the new Saturday night series.


A Lemony Snicket Holiday — Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 4PM and 8PM

Pastoral Beethoven — Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 8PM & Sunday, January 21 at 4PM

Mozart Requiem — Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8PM & Sunday, March 18 at 4PM

Something Old, Something New — Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 4PM


The California Symphony, now in its fifth season under the leadership of Music Director Donato Cabrera, is a world-class, professional orchestra based in Walnut Creek, in the heart of the San Francisco East Bay since 1990. Our vibrant concert series is renowned for featuring classics alongside American repertoire and works by living composers. The Orchestra is comprised of musicians who have performed with the orchestras of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and others, and many of its musicians have been performing with the California Symphony for nearly all its existence.

Outside of the concert hall, the symphony actively supports music education for social change through its El Sistema-inspired Sound Minds program at Downer Elementary School in San Pablo, CA. The initiative brings intensive music instruction and academic enrichment to Contra Costa County schoolchildren for free, in an area where 94% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program.

We also host the highly competitive Young American Composer-in-Residence program, which this year welcomes its first female composer, Katherine Balch.

California Symphony has launched the careers of some of today’s most-performed soloists and composers, including violinists Sarah Chang and Anne Akiko Meyers, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and composers such as Mason Bates, Christopher Theofanidis, and Kevin Puts. The Orchestra performs at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

For more information, please visit californiasymphony.org.


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