A Message from Music Director Donato Cabrera

Donato Cabrera

A Message from Music Director Donato Cabrera

You’re the reason we play | learn | celebrate | connect

Dear Friend,

At the California Symphony, we believe in the power of music to unite and uplift—to make us feel like we’re a part of something bigger, and to connect to our wider community—and we’re so honored to partner with you in this endeavor. Connections is the theme of the 2019/20 season, and to me, the word perfectly sums up the deep links that together we are forging both on-stage and off.

Local Impact and National Reach

Whether you’re new to the California Symphony or whether you’ve been a supporter for all 33 years to date, you may have noticed that we do things a little differently here. Whether it’s promoting concerts in Spanish to better serve our Hispanic residents, or writing program notes in plain English rather than obscure, technical jargon, we’re making the Symphony a more welcoming, inclusive place that’s accessible and inviting to everyone in our community.

And it’s working! This season we’re adding two more Saturday evening performances to meet growing demand. Our orchestra’s amazing success story continues to make headlines from coast to coast, with journalists sent to Walnut Creek to discover our “secret sauce” and learn how their local orchestras can replicate what we have collectively created here. And I can tell you, that’s a great feeling which should make all of us on-stage and off—including you—feel so proud.

Boosting Emerging Artists and Connecting Local Talent

Inside the concert hall, together we continue our mission to showcase and launch some of the best and brightest, up-and-coming soloists and composers. Guest artists this season include homegrown Bay Area talents Annie Wu (flute), Oliver Herbert (cello), Anna Kobialka (violin), and Alexi Kenney (violin). I’ve known all these delightful performers since they were in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and I’ve closely followed their careers through the years.

We are looking for our next Young American Composer-in-Residence as Katherine Balch completes her tenure with a third and final world premiere in March. This gem of a young composer program has launched the careers of alumni like Grammy-winning composer Mason Bates and Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts. I can’t wait to see who is next!

Connections Through Music Education

Isaac joins big sister Shaila in Sound Minds this year

For siblings like Isaac and Shaila, who receive intensive music lessons through the California Symphony’s Sound Minds music education program near Richmond, CA, music provides a sense of belonging and pride, and a way to connect to a wider world whose opportunities often pass by this economically-challenged local community. It’s also a pathway to academic success and a brighter future, with Sound Minds students testing in math and reading proficiency at rates up to +180% higher than students not in the program.

Now in its eighth year at Downer Elementary School, Sound Minds is the foundation of a burgeoning arts scene at the school. (There’s even a mariachi band at the school now!) The children here don’t remember a time before music lessons were offered free of charge to any student, but alumni like Angelee and Daniela do. Now in high school, they see how this program is transforming their community, and they pay it forward by mentoring current Sound Minds students and by performing side-by-side in concerts to inspire the younger kids.


Connections Matching Campaign

Amplify Your Connection and Double Your Impact

I’m so proud of the California Symphony’s journey so far, and I’m excited as I look ahead to the future. As we embark on this new season, I invite you to amplify your California Symphony connections when you donate during the fall CONNECTIONS MATCHING CHALLENGE—the largest fundraising campaign of the year, underpinning the 2019/20 season of concerts, music education, and community engagement initiatives.

When you donate, you make possible a season of incredible performances. You put smiles on the faces of young student musicians in an at-risk community, you boost emerging artists and composers, and you bring together our diverse community through the shared language and love of music.

And thanks to a generous matching challenge, your impact is doubled, with all gifts matched dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000 through October 31.

Your gift will make a difference in so many lives and bring joy to thousands of people right here in the Bay Area. Please give online today, or call the office at 925.280.2490 for assistance.


Donato Cabrera, Music Director

P.S. All gifts are matched during the fall CONNECTIONS MATCHING CAMPAIGN.  Your impact is doubled when you give by October 31, 2019.

The California Symphony is a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donate online or call the office at 925.280.2490 for assistance.

Support Now

  • Checks from Donor Advised Funds gladly accepted.
  • If you are at least 70 1/2, you can make a distribution to the Symphony from your IRA.
  • For gifts of stock, contact your financial advisor to arrange a transfer to the Symphony’s account at LPL Financial Act # 17680316 DTC# 0075.

Your gift is matched when you give by October 31, 2019.