MusicWise with Donato Cabrera

By California Symphony

Last Updated May 26, 2020

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 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. 

Upcoming guests include pianist Maria Radutu on April 14; timpanist David Herbert on April 21; composer Katherine Balch on April 28; violinist Alexi Kenney on May 5; and violist Gerhard Marschner on May 12. More information about each guest is below. 

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

Tune in for your favorite artists

April 14 – 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.
We will talk about her background, past projects and recordings, as well as her entrepreneurial approach and success that is particularly poignant and appropriate for the new reality in which artists are now findings themselves.

April 21 – 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. He is widely considered a leader of cutting-edge solo timpani repertoire, accomplishing many commissions and world premiere performances every year. Herbert has been featured as a guest artist at many of North America’s premier ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony and St. Louis Symphony; with the latter orchestra he made his professional solo debut after winning its young artist competition in 1991. Since then, he has appeared as timpani concerto soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, and the New World Symphony, with which he made his Lincoln Center debut with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

April 28 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. Katherine’s work has been commissioned and performed by the Tokyo, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, and Albany Symphony Orchestras, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the London Sinfonietta, the JACK, Argus, and Aizuri Quartets, International Contemporary Ensemble, wild Up, Contemporaneous, and Concert Artists Guild, among others, in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus (Vienna), and Suntory Hall (Tokyo). Upcoming 2020-2021 season highlights include a new work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series as part of their Carnegie Hall tour, and a song cycle commissioned by the Brooklyn Arts Song Society responding to Schumann’s Dichterliebe. She has just completed her three-year residency as the Young American Composer in Residence for the California Symphony and has worked closely with Donato on all three of her commissions for the orchestra.

May 5 – Watch 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.” Alexi has performed as soloist with the Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbus, Jacksonville, Santa Fe, Portland, California, and Amarillo symphonies, and in recital on Carnegie Hall’s ‘Distinctive Debuts’ series, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, at the Dame Myra Hess Concerts in Chicago, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Jordan Hall in Boston. He is winner of the 2013 Concert Artists Guild Competition and laureate of the 2012 Menuhin Competition. Alexi has been profiled by Strings magazine and the New York Times, written for The Strad, and has been featured on Performance Today, WQXR-NY’s Young Artists Showcase, WFMT-Chicago, and NPR’s From the Top. Alexi has been a soloist with Donato for both the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic and was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra when Donato was its music director.

May 12 – Watch 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. In addition to his orchestral duties, Gerhard Marschner is a highly sought-after soloist and chamber musician. He has toured in Japan, China, Korea, the US and numerous European countries. Among his chamber music partners are Rudolf Buchbinder, Stefan Vladar, Magda Amara, Andrey Baranov, Harriet Krijgh, Midori, Rainer Honeck and many other internationally acclaimed musicians. Donato met Gerhard in 2002 when Donato was awarded a conducting fellowship from the American Austrian Foundation for the 2002 Salzburg Festival.

May 19 – Watch 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. He began his ballet training at age 17 under the guidance of Karen Irvin and earned a scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet School and later with the School of Pennsylvania Ballet. An active member of the dance community, Roy is often invited as a guest instructor and has served on numerous dance panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Princess Grace Foundation. He also served on the 2002 jury of the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria and was a member of the artistic committee for the New York Choreographic Institute. He currently holds the title of Artistic Director Emeritus for Pennsylvania Ballet.

May 26 – MusicWise 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. She oversees seven departments and schools, eight curated gallery spaces, including the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art; six theatre venues, and the UNLV Performing Arts Center. 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. She also holds a certificate of advanced study and A.R.C.M. from the Royal College of Music in London and also studied at The Juilliard School in New York City.

June 2 – Joseph Horowitz, American Culture Historian
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. Horowitz’s ten books — including “Understanding Toscanini: How He Became an American Culture-God and Helped Create a New Audience for Old Music” (a finalist for the 1987 National Book Critics Circle Award) and “Classical Music in America: A History” (named one of the best books of 2005 by The Economist) — offer a detailed history and analysis of American symphonic culture, its achievements, challenges, and prospects for the future.

June 9 – 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. Currently, Lucia has just finished her first PBS concert special which has been airing throughout the US in 2018. This PBS event is an eclectic journey through her many musical influences – from classical to jazz to traditional fiddle music and Americana – all bound together by her trademark emotional vulnerability and technical wizardry.

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