MusicWise with Donato Cabrera

By California Symphony

Last Updated March 16, 2021

A Donato Cabrera Exclusive 

As part of a continued commitment to promoting engagement and connection with audiences, California Symphony Music Director Donato Cabrera has announced the launch of a new online series, MusicWise – Conversations about Art and Culture with Donato Cabrera.

Cabrera will host MusicWise on select Tuesdays at 1pm PST on Facebook Live, featuring interviews with engaging artists and civic leaders who influence and shape the cultural landscape. With each guest, Cabrera will explore their background and upbringing, and how these touchstones influence their projects and initiatives, past and present. Guests will showcase and share their favorite performances and recordings, as well as responding to selected questions from the Facebook Live audience. 

Follow Cabrera on Facebook to be notified when he goes live at

Tune in for your favorite artists

April 14, 2020 – Watch MusicWise with Maria Radutu Decca Records and classical pianist, Maria Radutu, joins Donato from Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday, April 14. Maria is well-known for her concept albums, breaking style boundaries and designing her programs based on thrilling emotions. She uses storytelling on stage to create a strong bonding to her audience. Maria has been a soloist for both the Las Vegas Philharmonic and California Symphony.

April 21, 2020 Watch MusicWise with David Herbert David Herbert is currently principal timpani of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since July 2013 after being appointed by Music Director Riccardo Muti. Prior to joining the CSO, he served as principal timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), where Donato worked with him for many years, and the New World Symphony.

April 28, 2020 Watch MusicWise with Katherine Balch Katherine Balch writes music that aims to capture the intimacy of existence through sound.  Often influenced by extra-musical arts, sciences, and literature, she seeks a heterogenous yet formally cohesive aesthetic driven by attention to detail, textural lyricism, and playful sonic investigations.

May 5, 2020Watch MusicWise with Alexi Kenney is the recipient of a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant and a 2020 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award,and has been named “a talent to watch” by the New York Times, which also noted his “architect’s eye for structure and space and a tone that ranges from the achingly fragile to full-bodied robustness.”

May 12, 2020Watch MusicWise with Gerhard Marschner Gerhard Marschner won the audition for a tutti position with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra at the age of 19. Three years later in 2007 Gerhard became a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and in the same year he advanced to section leader of the violas. In December 2016, he won the audition for the position of principal violist, which he took up in September 2017.

May 19, 2020Watch MusicWise with Roy Kaiser Artistic Director at Nevada Ballet Roy Kaiser began tap dancing at age four and started his professional dance career by age seven. Together with his four brothers, he performed on television and across the United States, including the 1967 World’s Fair in New York.

May 26, 2020MusicWise with Nancy Uscher, Dean of College of Fine Arts, UNLV Dr. Nancy J. Uscher is Dean of the College of Fine Arts and presidential professor of music. A concert violist, Dr. Uscher earned her bachelor’s degree in music at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, her master’s degree in music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and her Ph.D. from New York University.

June 9, 2020MusicWise with Lucia Micarelli, Violinist and Actress
Born in Queens, New York, Lucia was immersed in the arts by the age of three, diligently practicing dance, piano, and violin. It didn’t take long for Lucia to discover her passion and greatest talent was the violin, which quickly became her main focus.

June 16, 2020MusicWise with Mark Shunock, Mark Shunock is the creator and host of MONDAYS DARK, Vegas’ premiere variety show for a cause. Twice a month he gathers an eclectic cast of guests including musical acts and stars from Hollywood and The Strip for 90 minutes of chat, entertainment and a lot of laughs. Shunock was a former member of the Canadian Hockey League. After his hockey days ended, he spent almost 10 years living in New York City performing on America’s premiere stages.

June 23, 2020MusicWise with Chefs James Trees and Giovanni Mauro, Music and culinary worlds collide when Donato, James and Gio share their craft and their passion for great food and music. Born and raised in Las Vegas, James Trees has had a distinguished culinary career, having worked in five star restaurants and with top chefs including Luke Palladino, Bradley Ogden, and Michael Mina. Trees opened Esther’s Kitchen in 2017 to serve up his own unique blend of elegant Italian comfort food. Chef Giovanni “Gio” Mauro is the owner of Old School Pizzeria in North Las Vegas, an original pizza concept dedicated to Mauro’s “respect for ingredients” philosophy. At Monzú, he presents a unique and authentic pizza experience to Las Vegas, sharing recipes cultivated from his proud Sicilian heritage.

June 30, 2020 MusicWise with Myron Martin, As president and CEO of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Myron Martin brings the world’s most revered and celebrated entertainers to Las Vegas. Throughout his career, he has produced and presented a variety of well-regarded productions including first-run touring attractions and internationally acclaimed performers in music, theater and dance.

July 7, 2020MusicWise with Laura Jackson, Laura Jackson is described by audiences as “passionate, personable, engaging, innovative, charismatic, musical, and effervescent.” Now in her eleventh season as Music Director and Conductor of the Reno Philharmonic, she continues to win praise for her artistry, leadership, innovative programming, and creative community engagement.

July 21, 2020MusicWise with Elise Caluwaerts, Thanks to her versatility and captivating personality, soprano Elise Caluwaerts has grown into a renowned soloist both in Belgium and abroad. Her love for challenging repertoire – ranging from opera to multidisciplinary projects – led to various creations and remarkable collaborations with internationally renowned composers and ensembles.

August 4, 2020MusicWise with Camille Zamora, In collaboration with artists ranging from Plácido Domingo to Sting, Camille has garnered acclaim for her “dramatic and nuanced” (The New York Times) interpretations of repertoire ranging from Mozart to tango. She is known for her “dignity and glowing sound” (The New York Times) in “luminous, transcendently lyrical” performances (Opera News) that “combine gentility and emotional fire” (The Houston Chronicle).

August 11, 2020MusicWise with Charlie Albright, Hailed as “among the most gifted musicians of his generation” with a “dazzling natural keyboard affinity” who “made quite an impression” by the Washington Post, American pianist/composer/improviser Charlie Albright has been praised for his “jaw-dropping technique and virtuosity meshed with a distinctive musicality” by The New York Times, and his “extravagance that had showmanship but never felt cheap” with his “ease and smoothness that refuses to airbrush the music, but animates it from within” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

August 18, 2020MusicWise with Juan Pablo Contreras and Viet Cuong, Juan Pablo Contreras (b. 1987, Guadalajara, Mexico) is a Latin GRAMMY®-nominated composer and Universal Music recording artist who combines Western classical and Mexican folk music in a single soundscape. His works have been performed by major orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the Mexico City and UNAM Philharmonics, and the orchestras of Boca del Río, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Sinaloa, Oaxaca, State of Mexico, and Jalisco in Mexico; the Salta and Córdoba Symphonies in Argentina; the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela; and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra, and the Waco Symphony Orchestra in the United States.

August 25, 2020MusicWise with cellist Nathan Chan, Cellist Nathan Chan discovered his talent for music at an early age through conducting. Before he was two, he could emulate the styles of conductors he saw on music videos such as Seiji Ozawa, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, using a chopstick as a baton.

September 1, 2020MusicWise with cellist Oliver Herbert, Cellist Oliver Herbert performed Brahms Double Concerto with California Symphony back in February. He rejoined Music Director Donato Cabrera for MusicWise to talk about their shared history at the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and Oliver’s newfound passion for merging film and music.

September 8, 2020MusicWise with soprano Monica Yunus, Equally at home in concert, recital or on the operatic stage, Monica Yunus is quickly establishing herself as one of America’s most promising young sopranos. She has been called “especially winning” by The New York Times, and commended for her “rich and sensuous voice [that] was utterly captivating.”

September 15, 2020MusicWise with Matthias Bartolomey of BartolomeyBittman, Donato sits down with cellist Matthias Bartolomey cello of progressive string duo BartolomeyBittman to talk inspiration, composition, and creativity.

September 22, 2020MusicWise with composer Michael Torke, Michael Torke’s music has been commissioned by such orchestras as The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony; by such ballet companies as New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey, and the National Ballet of Canada; by such opera companies as the Metropolitan Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet, and the English National Opera; by such large ensembles as the London Sinfonietta, Lontano, and De Volharding; and such small ensembles as the Smith, Ying, and Amstel Quartets.

September 29, 2020MusicWise with Chef Brian Howard, Throughout his 15-year culinary career in Las Vegas, star Chef Brian Howard earned his stripes working with some of the most popular restaurants on The Strip. He has gained the utmost respect from his colleagues and the city’s most prestigious food writers, including one who referred to Howard as “The Most Ambitious Chef in Las Vegas.” The culinary field is known as a profession of passion, and Howard is a bold example of that premise, having believed since he was 10 years old that cooking is in his blood.

October 6, 2020MusicWise with American Cultural Historian Joseph Horowitz, Joseph Horowitz is an author, concert producer, and teacher. He is one of the most prominent and widely published writers on topics in American music. As an orchestral administrator and advisor, he has been a pioneering force in the development of thematic programming and new concert formats.

October 13, 2020MusicWise with composer Mason Bates, As both a DJ and a composer, Mason Bates has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his former residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or through his club/classical project Mercury Soul, which transforms commercial clubs into exciting hybrid musical events. He has also composed for films, including Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts. 

October 20, 2020MusicWise with violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and featured in the Smithsonian Museum for African-American History, Ms. Hall-Tompkins is a violin soloist entrepreneur who has been acclaimed by the New York Times as “the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive,” for her “tonal mastery” (BBC Music Magazine) and as New York Times “New Yorker of the Year.”

October 27, 2020MusicWise with artist Drue Kataoka, Drue Kataoka is an artist-technologist-activist & CEO of Drue Kataoka Art Studios LLC, serving some of the world’s top collectors in 5 continents & over 30 countries. She creates commissioned artworks in both material art genres such as steel sculpture and painting as well as virtual reality. 

November 17, 2020MusicWise with vocalist and entertainer Clint Holmes Like a painter with a blank canvas, he makes every performance an original. His powerful voice and magnetic stage presence embrace the upbeat side of life. When Clint is on stage, anything can happen, and usually does.

January 2, 2021MusicWise with composer Gabriela Lena Frank Born in Berkeley, California (September, 1972), to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions.

February 16, 2021MusicWise with hornist Jeff Nelsen One of the many Canadian pig-farm-raised magician horn players in the world, Jeff Nelsen has thrilled audiences and mentored students for over twenty years. Probably best known for the eight years he spent touring and recording with Canadian Brass, Jeff has also performed concerti and chamber music on six continents, and in the horn sections of dozens of orchestras including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and the Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Montreal, and St. Louis Symphonies.

March 16, 2021MusicWise with composer 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.

MusicWise – Conversations about Art and Culture with Donato Cabrera takes place on select Tuesdays at 1pm PT on Facebook Live. Follow Cabrera on Facebook to be notified when he goes live at