Meet Our People

About the California Symphony

These days in the Bay Area, the California Symphony may be the most forward-looking music organization around.”

– Mercury News

The California Symphony, now in its sixth season under the leadership of Music Director Donato Cabrera, is distinguished by its vibrant concert programs that combine classics alongside American repertoire and works by living composers, and for bringing music to people in new and unconventional settings.

The orchestra includes musicians who perform with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and others, and is based in Walnut Creek at the Lesher Center for the Arts with additional recent performances around the region in Napa Valley, Concord, Oakland, and Berkeley.

And Still Growing

Over the last four years, under the leadership team of Cabrera and Executive Director Aubrey Bergauer, the California Symphony’s audience has nearly doubled and the donor base nearly quadrupled.

Outside of the concert hall, the Symphony actively supports music education as a driver for social change through its El Sistema-inspired Sound Minds program at Downer Elementary School in San Pablo, CA, which brings intensive music instruction and academic enrichment to schoolchildren in an area where 94% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program, at no cost to the students who participate. The Orchestra also hosts the highly competitive Young American Composer-in-Residence program and its current composer, Katherine Balch.  California Symphony has launched the careers of some of today’s most well-known artists, including violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, cellists Alisa Weilerstein and Joshua Roman, pianist Kirill Gerstein and composers such as Mason Bates, Christopher Theofanidis, and Kevin Puts.

Mission & Vision

The mission of the California Symphony is to enhance the lives of those it serves in Contra Costa County and the extended San Francisco Bay Area by performing the full range of orchestral repertoire of the highest quality with special attention to the work of American composers, presenting talented young performers in their first professional concert appearances, featuring performances by world class artists, and providing education outreach programs for the children and adults of our community.

Founded in 1986 under founding Music Director Barry Jekowsky, our vision is to become a 21st-century orchestra, making classical music relevant to those we serve, bringing in new audiences along the way, and ultimately more fully living up to our name across the state of California.