About our Season Opener Pre-Concert Talk Speakers

We have a blockbuster line up for our pre-concert talk on Sunday. Joining Music Director Donato Cabrera onstage in the Hofmann Theater at the Lesher Center for the Arts at 3PM, one hour before the performance, will be OOVE inventor Oliver DiCicco, composer Nathaniel Stookey, and soprano Maria Valdes. The talk is free to ticket holders of our LYRICAL DREAMS season opener and will also be streamed live via Facebook LIVE. Just go to our Facebook page and click the “Follow” button to receive an alert and watch from wherever you are.

Oliver DiCicco

Oliver DiCicco — creator of the OOVE, a brand new musical instrument that’s featured in Nathaniel Stookey’s YTTE (Yield To Total Elation) — is a multi-talented designer, sculptor, fabricator, scientist, engineer, and musician. He has made San Francisco his base of operations for over thirty years.

Early in his career he was the owner and chief engineer of Mobius Music Recording, a highly respected, state of the art recording facility. His work in the audio field has been recognized by several Grammy nominations, and RIAA gold record awards. His sculptural work focuses primarily on musical instrument sculpture and kinetic sound sculpture.

Check out his other musical instrument designs, including the whimsically named Olivetti, Anenome, and Crawdad at his website.

Nathaniel Stookey

First commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony at age 17, Nathaniel Stookey has collaborated with many of the world’s great orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The National Symphony, The Toronto Symphony, The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and The Hallé Orchestra, where he was composer-in-residence under Kent Nagano.

Stookey’s YTTE (Yield To Total Elation), which originally debuted in April 2016 as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s Sound Box series, makes its West Coast full orchestra version premiere in our season opener concert. The piece was inspired by 1930s architect A.G. Rizzoli’s intricate architectural renderings of friends, imagined as grand and fantastical buildings and stars the OOVE, DiCicco’s new musical instrument, which Stookey will play in performance during our season opener.

Stookey’s The Composer Is Dead, a “whodunit” guide to the orchestra with words by Lemony Snicket, will be featured in our holiday program, A LEMONY SNICKET HOLIDAY. It has been performed by hundreds of orchestras worldwide and is one of the five most performed works of the 21st century.

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Maria Valdes

Soprano Maria Valdes makes her debut with the California Symphony on Sunday, however it’s not the first time that Ms Valdes has worked with Music Director Donato Cabrera. She performed Mahler’s Symphony №4 last September with the Las Vegas Philharmonic under Cabrera’s direction.

A former Adler Fellow and alumna of the San Francisco Opera Merola Program, Ms Valdes also debuts with Opera San José in their 2017–18 season, first as Despina in Cosi fan tutte and later Lisette in La rondine. She is featured soloist for the Mahler and on Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, which she performed with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra last November.

Donato Cabrera

Donato Cabrera is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and 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.

Since Cabrera’s appointment as Music Director of the California Symphony, the organization has been reinvigorated. With its expanded concert series, dramatically increased ticket sales, and innovative programming, the California Symphony and Cabrera are redefining what it means to be and orchestra in the 21st Century.

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’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

Stookey YTTE (Yield To Total Elation)

Mahler Symphony №4

Tickets are available at 925.943.SHOW and LesherCenter.com. Prices start at just $33 per concert.


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 3PM.

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. The talk will also be live-streamed from our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/californiasymphony/


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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