Artistic and Music Director

Donato Cabrera

Mexican-American conductor Donato Cabrera is the Artistic and Music Director of the California Symphony. He 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. Cabrera is one of only a handful of conductors in history who has conducted performances with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet. He is dedicated to adventurous programming, a leading advocate for living composers and digital innovation, and is keenly focused on outreach, engagement, and programming that reflects the communities he is serving. Cabrera co-founded the New York-based American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), which is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Cabrera has made debuts with the Chicago, London, National, and New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, Philharmonic Orchestra of the Staatstheater Cottbus, Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río, Orquesta Sinfónica Concepción, Hartford Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, Nevada Ballet Theatre, New West Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, Monterey Symphony, and the Reno Philharmonic. In his Carnegie Hall debut, Cabrera led the world premiere of Mark Grey’s Ătash Sorushan with soprano Jessica Rivera.

Deeply committed to diversity and education through the arts, Cabrera evaluates the scope, breadth, and content of the California Symphony’s music education programs, including its nationally recognized Sound Minds program and adult-education oriented Fresh Look: The Symphony Exposed weekly summer lecture series. As Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, Cabrera worked closely with its then Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, and frequently conducted the orchestra in a variety of concerts, including all of the education and family concerts, reaching over 70,000 children throughout the Bay Area every year.

Cabrera is equally at home in the world of opera, frequently conducting productions in the United States and abroad. He was the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Opera from 2005-2008 and has also been an assistant conductor for productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ravinia Festival, Festival di Spoleto, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Music Academy of the West. Since 2008, he has frequently conducted productions in Concepción, Chile. In 2021 he made his debut with Opera San José and in spring 2023, Cabrera appeared with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music conducting Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul.

Awards and fellowships include a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship at the Salzburg Festival and conducting the Nashville Symphony in the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. Cabrera was recognized by the Consulate-General of Mexico in San Francisco for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area.

For more information, visit

Tall and energetic, he's a passionate, heart-on-the-sleeve conductor, with eclectic musical tastes and a wealth of experience.”

Mercury News