Donato’s Top 3 Sporting and Musical Highlights

Baseball, football, or basketball?  Bruckner, Mahler, or Brahms..? ‘Tis the season of reflection and list-making. We asked Artistic and Music Director Donato Cabrera to talk us through his top three most memorable sporting moments and California Symphony concerts. Did yours make Donato’s list?

Top 3 Sporting Memories

In reverse order, of course…

3. 1989 Le Tour de France: This nail biter, still the closest contested in TdF history, was what got me hook, line, and sinker into road cycling. Also, Greg Lemond grew up in Reno, [where I lived from age 10 to 25] so it was particularly meaningful.

2. 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix: My uncle had an extra ticket (with pit access) and while I remember it being deafeningly loud, I was able to watch the then great Formula1 racers compete – Alan Jones (he won), Mario Andretti, Gilles Villeneuve, etc.

1. 1980 Alan King Tennis Classic: My grandmother had box seats and she took me that year. This is where and when I saw all of the tennis greats play: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and Vitas Gerulaitus, and more.

Top 3 Conducting Memories

  • Katherine Balch—Illuminate (March 2022): I was very concerned that this premiere would never see the light of day because its original performance date was March 2020. However, we have a real commitment to our Young American Composers-in-Residence and while it was still difficult to re-schedule, the subsequent performances were very special. To date, this is one of the largest commissions from a Resident Composer.
  • Beethoven—Symphony No. 5 (September 2019): I have a very particular view of how Beethoven’s symphonies should sound. In brief, I believe they should sound closer to the soundworld of Mozart and Haydn, rather than Wagner and Brahms. This is a difficult thing to achieve because it takes a willingness to forget all of the music post-Beethoven and real knowledge of the music pre-Beethoven. We did it, though, and the performance was excellent.
  • Vaughan Williams—Symphony No. 5 (September 2021): Returning from the lockdown and performing this particular piece, which served a similar function during the depths of WWII, was an unforgettable experience.

Sport and music—especially when played at an elite, professional level—can be the source of great memories and incredible highs for performers and fans alike. Help make this a year-end campaign one to remember with a donation. Your gift gets us closer to the goal of raising $50,000 by December 31 to support our fabulous professional orchestra and music education programs that uplift and inspire our community. 

Checks (including from Donor-Advised Funds), credit card payments, gifts of appreciated stock, and IRA distributions are all accepted. Donate now or call the office at 925.280.2490 to make a gift, and hear a Mexican wave roar around the office as we take your donation. Thank you!


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