San Diego Symphony’s Third Annual January Festival “It’s About Time: A Festival of Rhythm. Sound. And Place.” Will Move Beyond Concert Hall To Connect Community

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In the span of 30 days, festival will include over 25 events hosted by 13 partners.

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In January 2018, the San Diego Symphony will hold its third annual festival and will explore the world of rhythm, sound and place through percussion in a month-long celebration entitled “It’s About Time,” which is curated by percussionist, conductor, author and University of California San Diego professor Steven Schick. Working with several of San Diego’s performing arts organizations, the festival is about the myriad of ways percussion music connects us to the world and to nature. Planning is underway for the festival to move beyond the concert hall including an outdoor performance at the US/Mexico border of John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit.

“This festival is about the rich world of rhythm and the way we hear musical time. It’s about listening to the sounds of the outside world, to our own heartbeats, to noises of contemporary life. It’s about time in the 21st century,” said Schick. “Over 30 exciting days, our festival will show our guests through over 25 performances, installations, conversations and encounters, demonstrating how sound can convey emotion and deepen the connections among us all and how it binds us to one another. We’ll get to show our guests what a fertile and interconnected web of musical partners—musicians, audiences, and institutions—that span all of San Diego.”

It’s About Time: A Festival of Rhythm. Sound. And Place. starts on January 11 and runs through February 11, 2018. The Symphony’s first concert of the festival is January 13 with Puerto Rico-born American composer Roberto Sierra’s percussion concerto, Con Madera, Metal, y Cuero, a Caribbean mash-up of rhythm and energy in which festival curator Schick will perform on an array of percussion instruments stretching across the front of the stage. Audiences will have a chance to admire the excellent percussion section of the San Diego Symphony consisting of Gregory Cohen, Ryan DiLisi, Erin Douglas Dowrey and Andrew Watkins, on full display in Rimsky-Korsakov’s lively Capriccio espagnol. Also on the stage of Copley Symphony Hall will be a rare performance of Toru Takemitsu’s glorious From me flows what you call Time, for five solo percussionists and large orchestra—an essay of transcendental beauty, featuring percussion instruments from five continents.

Planning is underway to perform a concert on January 27, where the festival will move beyond the confines of the concert hall in an outdoor performance of John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit, at the US/Mexico border for a US/Mexican bi-national percussion group of more than 50 players. Each will perform on its own side of the border wall, using the international language of sound to reflect a landscape of beautiful sounds, fascinating cultures and close neighbors. The piece will reveal not just the sonic landscape of the border, but also qualities of its cultural and social topography.

“Collaborating with Steve to develop “It’s About Time” has been a tremendous experience. I am eager for audiences in San Diego and beyond to experience the wide range of works being presented and how at the core of it all is the tension between our desire to control time and the fact that we are controlled by it,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “Also at the heart of this festival is the expression of connectedness, so what an honor and opportunity it is to bring together so many of the performing arts organizations in San Diego for the first time in decades.”

Festival partners include local organizations ArtPower at UC San Diego, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, Fresh Sound, Helen Edison Lecture Series, kallisti ensemble, La Jolla Music Society, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, Lux Boreal Dance Company, red fish blue fish, San Diego Opera, Stuart Collection and UC San Diego Music Department.

“The January Festival was created to engage the local community while also making San Diego a destination for out of town visitors. During “It’s About Time” we’ve designed a phenomenal weekend, January 25-28, where we have multiple performances happening around town and at the border making it the perfect time for a trip to San Diego,” added Gilmer.

The weekend’s performances include:

  •     PERCUSSION LOVEFEST presented by Fresh Sound, January 25 at 7:30 p.m.
  •     STORIES IN TIME presented by the San Diego Symphony, January 26 at 8 p.m. and January 28 at 2 p.m.
  •     MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES, BY ASTOR PIAZZOLLA presented by the San Diego Opera, January 26 at 7 p.m., January 27 at 7 and 10 p.m., and January 28 at 2 p.m.
  •     INUKSUIT – A CROSS-BORDER PRESENTATION by the San Diego Symphony including percussionists from Mexico, January 27 at 1 p.m.
  •     THE ROOTS OF RHYTHM presented by the San Diego Symphony, Jazz @ the Jacobs, January 27 at 8 p.m.
  •     THE RITE OF SPRING AT THE MUSIC BOX presented by the San Diego Symphony, January 27 at 10 p.m.

Festival events include drop-in concerts, informal conversations, hands-on experiments, and up-close encounters with artists throughout the month. In addition to the formal programming being offered in concerts throughout the festival, emphasis will be placed on community engagement activities that celebrate percussion throughout San Diego, including free activities for the community. The San Diego Symphony looks forward to exploring both the diversity and similarity of this instrument family through drum circles, craft workshops, and performances in community venues.

Three “Percussion Love Fests,” hosted at Bread & Salt, will showcase a display of local percussion talent, rising stars and established legends, from jazz and rock drummers to Brazilian, African and Latin percussionists. For an immersive, “surround-sound” experience, audiences will be offered a rare performance of Michael Pisaro’s Asleep, Forest, Melody, Path. Over 50 performers will engage the audience in an immersive sound environment including six field recordings made throughout San Diego County. The entire festival lineup with details on each partner’s programming, plus an interactive map, can be found at

Tickets are currently on sale for San Diego Symphony performances. Other ticket information can be found at each partner organization’s website. For more festival information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the box office at 619.235.0804. Guests may also visit the San Diego Symphony Jacobs Music Center Copley Symphony Hall box office at 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101.


PERCUSSION LOVEFEST presented by Fresh Sound
Thursdays, January 11, 18, and 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Bread and Salt
$20/$10 Students

San Diego surfs on waves of rhythm! As an international city, its percussionists are as varied as its citizens. Join us for three special Thursday events at Bread and Salt as Bonnie Wright’s Fresh Sound series showcases local percussion talent from jazz drummers to symphonic musicians to old-style marching music; from Brazil to Africa to the Americas. It’s going to be a Percussion Lovefest! Curated by Duncan Moore and Steven Schick.

FASCINATING RHYTHM presented by the San Diego Symphony
January 13 at 8 p.m. and January 14 at 2 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at the Jacobs Music Center
$20 - $98

“It’s About Time” opens with a program of works suffused with orchestral color and rhythm. Hector Berlioz’s boisterous Roman Carnival contains the Italian saltarello dance at its core. Serge Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 bristles with energy, often driven by inexorable “tick-tocks” coming from the percussion section. Guest soloist and festival curator Steven Schick will be at the center of a virtual menagerie of wood, metal and skin in Roberto Sierra’s Percussion Concerto.

PERCUSSION: A LISTENER’S GUIDE presented by the San Diego Symphony
January 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at the Jacobs Music Center

World percussion traditions might be millennia old, but the big bang that started percussion chamber music in the concert hall was much more recent. In 1931, Edgard Varèse—recently arrived immigrant, inveterate experimenter and the godfather of modern percussion music—composed his 6-minute long Ionisation. Nothing was ever the same again! We’ll start with Ionisation and then lead you on a tour of rhythm, sound and energy in works by Carlos Chavez, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Iannis Xenakis and Steve Reich. The percussionists of the San Diego Symphony join forces with the UC San Diego’s own cutting-edge percussion group, red fish blue fish.

STUART COLLECTION AUDIO TOUR presented by Stuart Collection, Guided by Steven Schick
January 20 at 11 a.m.
Conrad Prebys Music Center, UC San Diego

Join Steven Schick and the Stuart Collection’s Mary Beebe in a walking discussion of the sounds of the Stuart Collection. From Terry Allen’s “Silent Tree” to the Sun God to works by Robert Irwin and finally John Luther Adams, let’s find out what sculpture sounds like. The final stop on the tour will be John Luther Adams’s 2017 installation “The Wind Garden,” an interactive sound environment that reacts to the topography and weather of its site in the Theatre District at UC San Diego.

CHARLES MINGUS: TIJUANA MOODS presented by UC San Diego Helen Edison Lecture Series
January 20 at 2 p.m.
Morgan Auditorium at San Diego Central Library
Free, pre-register online at

Join “It’s About Time” festival curator Steven Schick for a discussion of the legacy of African-American composer Charles Mingus and his historic “Tijuana Moods” project, which will be performed on January 22 on the Athenaeum Jazz series. Panelists will include alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, one of the most longstanding members of Charles Mingus’ band; Anthony Davis, noted composer, pianist, improviser, and UC San Diego professor of Music; and others tba. Event is presented with grant support from the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY presented by La Jolla Music Society
January 20 at 8 p.m.
Spreckels Theatre
$20 - $75

Combine the fluid grace of Paul Taylor Dance Company and the kinetic energy of percussion music performed by red fish blue fish and you get an unforgettable evening of sounds and sights. “Cloven Kingdom,” a signature work of the Taylor Company features Malloy Miller’s Prelude for Percussion, an early work for percussion ensemble. See the company perform the entire work with recorded music. Then after intermission, red fish blue fish joins the dancers for a version with live performers!

PLACES IN TIME presented by the San Diego Symphony
January 20 at 8 p.m. and January 21 at 2 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center
$20 - $98

Rhythms of Italian music pervade this concert as our “It’s About Time” festival continues. Gioacchino Rossini’s French opera about the Swiss fighting Austrian oppression was transformed into the signature music of American pop culture icon The Lone Ranger due to its perfectly propulsive, “Hi-Ho Silver!” beat. Giuseppe Martucci provides a perfect sample of Italian night music, and Ottorino Respighi gloriously tramps ghost legions down the Appian Way in The Pines of Rome. Italian conductor Jader Bignamini leads the program.

MINGUS DYNASTY: TIJUANA MOODS presented by Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
January 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Auditorium at TSRI
$35 general, $30 member
Tickets and information:

A seminal figure in 20th century American music, Charles Mingus is considered alongside Duke Ellington as one of the most important composers in jazz history. The Mingus Dynasty band, comprised of seven leading jazz artists from New York City, performs a revival of Charles Mingus' historic 1957 album "Tijuana Moods." Mingus’ music documents his lively impressions of our neighboring city of Tijuana. While based most of his career in New York City, Mingus was born along the border in Nogales, Arizona, and was raised in Watts in Los Angeles. So this music reflects Mingus’ early roots and his profound connection with our region. Event is presented with grant support from the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with support from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego.

STORIES IN TIME presented by the San Diego Symphony
January 26 at 8 p.m. and January 28 at 2 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center
$20 - $98

When Heraclitus said, “Everything flows; nothing stays,” he may have had this concert in mind. Two very different views of time dominate this music. In the first, we try to control time. This is the world of clocks, machines, and iPhones; it is driven, rhythmic, and sometimes frantic. In the other view, we are controlled: by the ageless rhythms of nature, of rivers and tides, of the phases of the moon. The urban landscape of Bartok and the auto factory of Missy Mazzoli represent the former. The latter can be heard in the ethereal stream of Toru Takemitsu’s From me flows what you call Time and the timeless children’s tales of Ravel’s gentle suite from Mother Goose. From Heraclitus again: “Eternity is a child playing.”

MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES, BY ASTOR PIAZZOLLA presented by the San Diego Opera
January 26 at 7 p.m. (sold out); January 27 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and January 28 at 2 p.m. (sold out)
Lyceum Theater
$35 - $160

The sensual pulse of Argentine tango sets the stage for this surreal and captivating work by composer Ástor Piazzolla and librettist Horacio Ferrer. Filled with the passionate pulse of the tango and Buenos Aires itself, Maria de Buenos Aires grips you from the first note and will not let go.

January 27 at 1 p.m.
U.S./Mexico border, Exact Location TBA

Premiered in the Canadian Rockies, John Luther Adams’s outdoor masterpiece, Inuksuit—scored for between 9 and 99 percussionists—is a mirror of the landscape in which it is performed. We’ll play the piece at the US/Mexico border and hope to reveal not just the sonic landscape of the border, but also qualities of its cultural and social topography. A bi-national group of Mexican and American percussionists, each performing on its own side of the border wall, will use the international language of sound to reflect a landscape of beautiful sounds, fascinating cultures and close neighbors. Based on the stone sentinels built by Inuit people of the circumpolar Arctic, Inuksuit reminds us that the climate is changing, the ice retreating and the seas rising.

THE ROOTS OF RHYTHM presented by the San Diego Symphony, Jazz @ the Jacobs
January 27 at 8 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center
$25 - $68

This concert will explore the origins and evolution of the various rhythmic styles that made their way from all over the world to America, becoming part of the modern jazz idiom. John Santos, one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today (as both musician and historian), will survey jazz’s “root system” by way of his remarkable personal collection of percussion instruments in performance with several special guests. *San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear as part of this concert.

THE RITE OF SPRING AT THE MUSIC BOX presented by the San Diego Symphony
January 27 at 10 p.m.
The Music Box

Le Sacre du Printemps exploded with a torrent of rhythm, color; choreography and energy, capturing, more than any other piece of music, the energy and anima of the brand-new 20th century. In an arrangement by Cliff Colnot for 12 players, we’ll explore this riotous piece in a special multi-media presentation.

ROLAND AUZET presented by ArtPower at UC San Diego
January 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Mandeville Auditorium, UC San Diego
$15 - $25

French composer, percussionist, and theater director Roland Auzet defines himself as a stage writer. Auzet’s new work, I never listened, no sound without love, starts with a car on an empty stage, but he quickly fills the room with so much more. Employing gesture, movement, and drumming he answers fundamental questions about human nature, solitude, power, knowledge, strength, virtuosity, and doubt. Through his inventive percussion and visuals, poetry and music will emerge and create magic and illusion that are sure to dazzle the audience. Sponsors are Phyllis and Daniel Epstein.

LUIS URREA presented by UC San Diego Helen Edison Lecture Series
February 1 at 7 p.m.
San Diego Central Library, Morgan Auditorium
Free, pre-register online at

Hailed by NPR as a "master storyteller with a rock and roll heart," Luis Urrea is a prolific writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 16 books, including The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Into The Beautiful North. Join “It’s About Time” curator Steven Schick for a conversation with Luis Urrea about his life and work and their collaboration on a new version of Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat with texts from Urrea’s writings.

MICHAEL PISARO’S asleep, forest, melody, path presented by UC San Diego Department of Music
February 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Mandeville Auditorium, UC San Diego
$15.50 general, students free

Michael Pisaro’s “asleep, forest, melody, path” is a rich and resonant work scored for 6 field recordings—made in six specially chosen sites in San Diego—a large ensemble of instrumentalists and two soloists. A work of both great intimacy and extraordinary emotional and sonic power “asleep, forest, melody, path,” sketches a sonic portrait of our city and the people who call it home. Percussionist Greg Stuart returns to UC San Diego to lead the music and joins violinist Erik Carlson as soloist.

February 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Mandeville Auditorium, UC San Diego
$15.50 general, students free

We celebrate the centennial of Stravinsky’s masterpiece L’Histoire du Soldat with a new setting featuring texts by the extraordinary writer Luis Urrea, the cutting-edge Tijuana dance collective, Lux Boreal, and UC San Diego’s dynamic new flute professor Wilfrido Terrazas. Music from 100 years ago along with text, dance, and improvised music from today, combine to explore real-life problems and joys of Mexicans and Americans as they cross the international border between San Diego and the United States.

CROSS WINDS presented by La Jolla Symphony and Chorus
February 10 at 7:30 p.m. and February 11 at 2:00 p.m.
Mandeville Auditorium, UC San Diego

It has been a tough few years in France – a time of strong crosswinds from every direction. Paris-based composer, circus artist and percussionist Roland Auzet fights back in a new theatrical percussion concerto written for and co-commissioned by Fiona Digney. Improvisation and notions of strength, power, virtuosity, gesture, and isolation will be explored and expressed to create a percussion concerto like no other. The work calls into question the conventional idea of what it means to be a percussionist, narrator, dancer, and actor, utilizing traditional percussion instruments, ‘found’ instruments such as chairs and other everyday objects, and multimedia technology (Go-Pro cameras). This concerto is being written specifically for Fiona Digney to showcase the strength, subtlety, artistry, and virtuosity of one of the new wave of experimental percussionists. The program begins with Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Steven Schick will be conducting.

Pre-concert lecture: One hour before concert times, given by the conductor

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. 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

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Carrie Jones
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