San Diego Symphony Announces Month-Long Festival Celebrating ‘Our American Music’

Share Article

Festival includes five Jacobs Masterworks programs, free concert and community day:Rosanne Cash, Talib Kweli and La Santa Cecilia just added

Throughout the month of January the San Diego Symphony will be exploring various aspects of music made in America and the impact America had, and continues to have, on musical composition and performance. The month-long festival – ‘Our American Music’ – will include concerts, a panel discussion, interactive installations and community events, all delving into the heart of America’s musical voice and influence.

“I am very excited by the breadth and depth of our festival, especially that at the core of it are performances by the San Diego Symphony performing music created by some of our greatest American composers,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “The visiting guest artists, guest speakers, a free concert and the opportunity for San Diegans to create their own San Diego sounds which will come together to create a brand new composition reflecting our diverse and dynamic city. We hope many people will be touched by their experience and come together to celebrate ‘Our American Music’. We all know that music has the power to bring people together, to unite us and to connect us, and we have created this festival in that spirit.”

‘Our American Music’ begins on January 5 with a panel discussion and performance, “What Does It Mean to be an American (Composer)?” This is the second presentation of the Symphony’s new conversation series, ART CONNECTION. The first concert of the month on January 6, Americans and Paris, is part of the Jacobs Masterworks series. The Symphony’s fall season of Jacob’s Masterworks programs initiated the exploration of music made in America by including a piece of music composed by an American as part of every concert.

The festival’s in-depth look at the development and range of American music includes three non-orchestral concerts. Performances by country artist Rosanne Cash, Latin rock band La Santa Cecilia and hip-hop artist Talib Kweli will take place in the middle of the month. Gilbert Castellanos pays homage to some of the greatest West Coast artists with a concert on January 14, BIRTH OF THE COOL: A WEST COAST JAZZ SALUTE. The month-long celebration of ‘Our American Music’ will conclude with four Jacobs Masterworks programs, including concerts featuring Itzhak Perlman and the second Beyond the Score presentation of the season with an in-depth look at Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 2.

To engage the broader community in the festival, the Symphony will be offering a number of no cost events throughout January. A complimentary concert at the Jacobs Music Center on January 7, features the San Diego Symphony conducted by Sameer Patel in a program of musical selections and highlights that will be performed later in the month as part of the festival.

Throughout the month an interactive, public art installation called The San Diego Soundbooth will invite passersby to compose their own short musical arrangements using simple sound mixing software. Each booth will contain recorded sounds of Symphony musicians and percussion rhythms that can be mixed with noises indigenous to the area around that Soundbooth through the click of a button. Each individual’s composition will be different, but will utilize the same set of tools and sounds, a fitting metaphor for the many voices and viewpoints that make up our country and city. This project is a collaboration between the Symphony and David’s Harp Foundation (DHF), a non-profit based in East Village whose mission is to inspire, educate, and engage at-risk and homeless youth to achieve academic success through music education, audio engineering, and multimedia production.

In addition to The San Diego Soundbooth project, the Symphony will be hosting a community day event on January 15, during which local DJ Shammy Dee will integrate samples from the various Soundbooths creations into an entirely new piece. The event will be a celebratory gathering for the entire community featuring music, dance, and activities for all ages.

“At this moment in America’s history much is being written and spoken about who we are as Americans and what our country believes in and stands for. ‘Our American Music’ festival is a way for us to reflect and understand the history of American composers. Some of the featured composers were born in America. Others began life in a different country and culture, and came, as immigrants, to America bringing their unique voice to our country, and absorbing American influences into their compositions. This festival connects all of these composers creating a musical quilt of works and allowing us to hear them side by side, to better understand their similarities and contrasts. Throughout the festival we will hear music inspired by sweeping landscapes and city sounds, simple folk tunes and jazz rhythms, tap dancing and hip-hop. All of this inspires us to ask ourselves the question “What is our American voice?” and how can music inspire and move us at this time in history,” added Gilmer.

*All performances are at the Jacobs Music Hall unless otherwise noted.

JAN 5 – 7:30 p.m.
“What Does It Mean To Be An American (Composer)?” In this historic election season, we’ve faced questions about globalization, diversity, technology and the media, and those issues have influenced how we see ourselves as Americans. What about contemporary American composers? They grapple with the same concerns, complicated the fact their fellow citizens are often indifferent to their efforts. Composers like Charles Ives, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein had a distinctly American voice and a more sympathetic audience. What’s happened to that voice? What’s happened to that audience? Does it mean anything to say you are an American composer beyond your location on Google Maps.

Jim Chute, moderator
Martha Gilmer, CEO, San Diego Symphony Orchestra
Gerard McBurney, creative director of the Beyond the Score series
Andrew Norman, composer
Musicians of the San Diego Symphony

AMERICANS AND PARIS - A Jacobs Masterworks Concert
JAN 6 – 8 p.m. | JAN 8 – 2 p.m.
Andrew Gourlay, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

COPLAND: Billy the Kid Suite
COPLAND: Piano Concerto
ANDREW NORMAN: Suspend (Piano Concerto)
GERSHWIN: An American in Paris

JAN 7 – 8 p.m.
The San Diego Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sameer Patel, performs a concert featuring musical selections that are part of the month-long festival “Our American Music.”

ART OF ÉLAN - A Chamber Music Series Concert at the Jacobs Music Center
JAN 10 – 7:30 p.m.
Steven Schick, conductor and percussion
Musicians of Art of Élan

Program Includes:
STEVE REICH: Clapping Music
HANNAH LASH: Tree Suite for Harp (world premiere of Art of Élan-commissioned work for solo harp)
EVE BEGLARIAN: I will not be sad in this world
AARON COPLAND: Appalachian Spring (Complete Ballet Suite for 13 instruments)

The highly acclaimed classical chamber music collective presents a program of colorful works that were “made in America.” The concert features the world premiere of a work for solo harp written by Hannah Lash, along with works by Eve Beglarian, Steve Reich and the original 1944 version of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring for 13 players, conducted by Steven Schick.

JAN 11 - 7:30 p.m.
La Santa Cecilia started their career by serenading passers by on the embellished corners of Downtown Los Angeles’ Olvera Street. They are a musical phenomenon who play a blend of many forms of music, including cumbia, bossa nova, and boleros, that has won a Grammy, toured from coast to coast, collaborated with Elvis Costello, appeared on Conan, and most recently shared the stage with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones.

JAN 12 - 7:30 p.m.
Singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash’s exciting show celebrates her highly-acclaimed and three time Grammy winning album, The River & the Thread. The River & the Thread (2014, Blue Note Records) is a collection of original songs that connect and re-connect Rosanne to the American South, the place of her birth and the home of her ancestors.

JAN 13 – 7:30 p.m.
After nearly 20 years of releasing mesmerizing music, Talib Kweli stands as one of the worlds most talented and most accomplished Hip Hop artists. Whether working with Mos Def as one-half of Black Star, partnering with producer Hi-Tek for Reflection Eternal, releasing landmark solo material or collaborating with Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Just Blaze, J Dilla, or Madlib, Kweli commands attention by delivering top-tier lyricism, crafting captivating stories and showing the ability to rhyme over virtually any type of instrumental.

JAN 14 – 8 p.m.
Gilbert Castellanos, trumpet
Adam Schroeder, baritone sax
Graham Dechter, guitar
Tamir Hendelman, piano
Chuck Berghofer, bass
Jeff Hamilton, drums

Series curator Gilbert Castellanos celebrates the music that made the “west coast sound,” paying homage to some of the greatest West Coast artists: Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond and that “prince of darkness” himself, Miles Davis. The San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear on this program.

LA/NY - A Jacobs Masterworks Concert
JAN 20 – 8 p.m. | JAN 22 – 2 p.m.
Cristian Măcelaru, conductor
Andrea Overturf, english horn
Micah Wilkinson, trumpet

STRAVINSKY: Symphony in Three Movements
ADAMS: City Noir
COPLAND: Quiet City
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

BERNSTEIN, PERLMAN, HOLLYWOOD -A Jacobs Masterworks Concert
JAN 21 – 8 p.m.
Cristian Măcelaru, conductor
Itzhak Perlman, violin

BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront
KORNGOLD: The Sea Hawk Suite
Arr. JOHN WILLIAMS: Hollywood Scores: "Perlman Plays Hollywood"

In this one-of-a-kind concert, the movies come to Jacobs Masterworks! The concert opens with Leonard Bernstein's brutally vital music from the Oscar-winning masterpiece On the Waterfront and a suite from Eric Wolfgang Korngold's classic swashbuckling score to The Seahawk.

After intermission, Itzhak Perlman takes the stage for an unforgettable selection of Hollywood melodies from Casablanca, Far and Away, Schindler's List and more, all arranged for violin and orchestra by the greatest film composer of them all, John Williams.

JAN 27 – 8 p.m. | JAN 29 – 2 p.m.
James Gaffigan, conductor
Cartier Williams, dancer

HENRY COWELL: Hymn, from Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 2
BARBER: Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
BERNSTEIN: Prelude, Fugue and Riffs
MORTON GOULD: Tap Dance Concerto

This concert offers our most thorough exploration of the American classical music idiom within a single program. From Henry Cowell's evocation of colonial era hymnal music to Samuel Barber's brief but melodically rich, youthfully optimistic Symphony No. 1, from Leonard Bernstein's supremely swinging Prelude, Fugue and Riffs to Morton Gould's highly unorthodox but quintessentially American Tap Dance Concerto, Copley Symphony Hall will be filled with music that is by turns bold and brassy, confident yet introspective. Special treats include California composer Steven Stucky's ecstatic, multilayered Rhapsodies and the great Duke Ellington's Harlem, a symphonic love letter to a neighborhood and culture out to change the world.

JAN 28 – 8 p.m.
A production of The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Gerard McBurney, creative director
James Gaffigan, conductor
IVES: Symphony No. 2

To purchase tickets or for a full listing of this season’s performances, visit

About the San Diego Symphony
Founded in 1910, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra in California and one of the largest and most significant cultural organizations in San Diego. In the years since its inception, the SDSO has become one of the leading orchestras in the United States through its commitment to providing musical experiences of superior quality for the greater San Diego community and beyond. In 2010, the SDSO was designated a Tier 1 Orchestra by the League of American Orchestras.

Led by music director Jahja Ling, the Orchestra performs for over 250,000 people each season, offering a wide variety of programming at its two much loved venues, Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego and the Embarcadero Marina Park South on San Diego Bay. The orchestra’s 82 full-time musicians, graduates of the finest and most celebrated music schools in the United States and abroad, also serve as the orchestra for the San Diego Opera each season, as well as performing at several regional performing arts centers. For over 30 years, the San Diego Symphony has provided comprehensive music education and community engagement programs reaching more than 65,000 students annually and bringing innovative programming to San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods and schools. For more information, visit

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Carrie Jones
+1 (619) 688-5248
Email >