California Symphony to Perform Unique Program at Bankhead; Expanding Commitment to Livermore

Caroline Goulding
The Independent

The California Symphony returns to Livermore’s Bankhead Theater on Friday, May 3 with guest conductor Robert Treviño leading the orchestra in Berlioz’s powerful Symphonie fantastique and Beethoven’s glorious Violin Concerto featuring renowned virtuoso Caroline Goulding. The concert opens with the world premiere of a new work by the symphony’s Young American Composer-in-Residence D.J. Sparr.

The Symphony’s inaugural Livermore debut in May 2012, at the close of its 25th anniversary season, marked a turning point for the professional orchestra, which is dedicated to bringing world-class music to audiences here in the East Bay.

As the Symphony winds up its current 2012-13 season, it continues to grow its collaboration with arts lovers and community leaders in the Livermore Valley.

Wente Vineyards and Sandia National Laboratories have both signed on to sponsor the symphony’s May 3 concert at the Bankhead Theater, California Symphony Executive Director Walter Collins is proud to announce. This sponsorship allows more of the revenue from ticket sales to support the fall 2013 launch of the symphony’s Sound Minds music and literacy program at a Livermore public elementary school, he said.

“This concert is a further sign of our commitment to the Livermore Valley,” Collins said. “We have been meeting with a variety of community partners who are very enthusiastic about the idea of collaborating with our Sound Minds program to provide music education and reading improvement to Livermore school kids.”

Sound Minds provides intensive music education training and tutoring for two hours, three days per week. Sound Minds will launch at a Livermore elementary school in the fall of 2013.

This concert is significant in other ways, as well (Performances are also scheduled Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5 Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts). It marks a final set of performances by one of seven internationally renowned conductors who have essentially been auditioning for the job of the orchestra’s maestro since the 2012-13 season began in October.

The California Symphony has been without a music conductor since 2010, relying on the talents of guest conductors to lead its concerts the past three years. “The Search is On” has been the theme of the 2012-13 season. Ninety candidates applied for the job, Collins said. After an extensive interview process, seven finalists were selected to design a concert, work with musicians and perform for symphony audiences.

Audiences, including those at the Bankhead, can participate in choosing the symphony’s next permanent music director by filling out a survey on the Symphony’s website after the concert.

The final decision will be made by the symphony’s board of directors later this spring.

Like all seven candidates, Robert Treviño comes to the symphony with an impressive resume. He is the associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. His past symphonic and instrumental work includes numerous engagements with orchestras, festivals, and ensembles across North America, Europe, and Asia, including the orchestras in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Charlotte, Memphis, and Chicago, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra.

Other music director candidates performing this past season have been Robert Moody, David Commanday, Michael Butterman, Sean Newhouse, Alastair Willis and Donato Cabrera.

For the May 3 concert, the symphony presents violinist Caroline Goulding, who has performed as a soloist with some of North America’s premiere orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, National Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, the Cleveland Pops and the Cincinnati Pops. Lauded by Grammophone for her "impressive technical polish and musical maturity,” Gould was awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2011. In 2009, she received a Grammy nomination for her debut recording. In addition to performing with the California Symphony, her 2012-2013 season includes debuts in Germany, Japan and China.

D. J. Sparr will wind up the second year of his three-year residency with the California Symphony by presenting a world premiere of his new work, Violet Bond: Concerto-Overture. Sparr is a prolific American composer and guitarist trained in a striking variety of musical styles. He has performed with the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini and Eastman’s “Musica Nova” Contemporary Music Ensemble. He has also performed in pop bands and as a studio musician. Sparr’s compositions have been performed, premiered and commissioned by various ensembles, ranging from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras to the Dayton Philharmonic to eighth blackbird, a Grammy Award-winning quintet.