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Donato Cabrera

Donato Cabrera Conducting.webp

Conducting the Music of Mexico


Donato Cabrera's commitment to expanding classical repertoire is one of the things that drives his desire to bring Mexican Classical Music to more and more audiences. 

Join Maestro Cabrera as he explains the role of the conductor in bringing music to life.


Donato Cabrera is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. 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.


Since Cabrera's appointment as Music Director in 2013 of the California Symphony, the organization has redefined what it means to be an orchestra in the 21st Century. Under Cabrera’s baton, the California Symphony has reached new artistic heights by implementing innovative programming that emphasizes welcoming newcomers and loyalists alike, building on its reputation for championing music by living composers, and committing to programming music by women and people of color.  Cabrera also oversees the selection process of the California Symphony’s celebrated Young American Composer-in-Residence program, through which the orchestra has supported the burgeoning careers of composers including Mason Bates, Kevin Puts, Katherine Balch, and the current Composer-in-Residence, Viet Cuong. In September 2020, California Symphony launched a landmark collaboration with USC Radio Group (KUSC in Los Angeles and KDFC in San Francisco) to broadcast a series of archival performances of programs featuring works by past Composers-in-Residence.

Cabrera has greatly changed the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s concert experience by expanding the scope and breadth of its orchestral concerts, hosting engaging and lively pre-concert conversations with guest artists and composers, and by creating the Spotlight Concert series that features the musicians of the Las Vegas Philharmonic in intimate chamber music performances. With a commitment to programming works by living composers, Cabrera recently led one of the premiere performances of Philip Glass’ newest piano concerto, co-commissioned by the Las Vegas Philharmonic and composed for Simone Dinnerstein; began and ended the 2019-2020 season with works by Anna Clyne and Gabriela Lena Frank and has celebrated the incredible Las Vegas talent pool with the creation of the Very Vegas Showcase, performing songs and works written by local performers. 


In the 2020-2021 season, Cabrera will continue to work with California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic to give performances in a reimagined way that will keep musicians and audiences safe, keeping alive the vibrant, exciting, high quality music experiences during COVID-19 restrictions. All scheduled events for 2020 will be presented online, while plans for 2021 will be announced in advance of the scheduled performance dates.


In March 2020, Cabrera launched two new online projects as a commitment to remain engaged and connected with the audiences of California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic during the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as with friends and colleagues worldwide.  MusicWise - Conversations about Art and Culture with Donato Cabrera is a weekly series presented on Facebook Live and YouTube Live featuring interviews with engaging artists and civic leaders who influence and shape the cultural landscape. The Music Plays On is a series on Cabrera’s blog, featuring commentary and analysis on his favorite performances and recordings along with YouTube clips.


Deeply committed to diversity and education through the arts, Cabrera evaluates the scope, breadth, and content of the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic’s music education programs. California Symphony’s Sound Minds program has achieved national attention for its El Sistema-inspired approach and has a proven track record in impacting the lives and improving the test scores of hundreds of K-6 children in San Pablo’s Downer Elementary School.  Annually reaching over 20,000 Title I fourth graders of the Clark County School District, Cabrera has completely reshaped Las Vegas Philharmonic’s Youth Concert Series to be a curriculum-based concert experience, while also integrating a hands-on, complimentary experience with the Discovery Museum, Las Vegas. 


Also an advocate of adult education, Cabrera helped create and shape the California Symphony’s program Fresh Look: The Symphony Exposed, a weekly lecture series at the Walnut Creek Library that helps to explain the music and composers in an approachable, yet in depth way. It moved online in July 2020 and attracted more than four times the number of households who attended the inaugural classes in person in 2018. During his tenure at the San Francisco Symphony Cabrera also helped create and conduct, Play Out Davies!, a project that welcomed amateur musicians of any level and of all ages, to be coached by a member of the San Francisco Symphony, and to play on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall with Cabrera conducting.

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