Symphony’s season finale to focus on the skies

Photo SB Symphony: Maestro David Cubek will lead the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra in their presentation of “Celestial Sounds” on Saturday, April 13 at the historic California Theatre.
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The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra will close their 2018-19 concert season with a celestially-themed concert to include music from John Williams, Maurice Ravel, and Gustav Holst. The conductor for this concert is Maestro David Cubek, the tenth and final talented contender in the Symphony’s two year-long music director search.

Cubek has been the director of the Claremont Concert Orchestra of Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges since 2010. He also serves as Assistant Conductor of the Pasadena Symphony, Conductor of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra Philharmonic, and Conductor of new music ensemble Fonema Consort. In addition to being passionate about conducting and teaching, he is a firm believer in the power of music to foster social change. Mr. Cubek has conducted various ensembles from Venezuela’s admired music education program known as “El Sistema,” including the internationally recognized Teresa Carreño and Simón Bolívar symphony orchestras. He has collaborated with El Sistema inspired programs in the United States such as Youth Orchestra of LA (YOLA), a program committed to providing intensive music training to underserved neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. 

​Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Cubek began private piano and composition lessons at the age of seven before entering the Simón Bolívar Conservatory. In 1999, he moved to Montreal to continue his music education, studying piano and music theory at McGill University and orchestral conducting at the Conservatory of Montreal. Cubek completed his doctoral studies in orchestral conducting at Northwestern University, where he served as assistant and guest conductor of the opera program, and the Chamber and Symphony Orchestras. In addition, he has led ensembles in Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, and Ukraine.

To complete a season characterized by artistic creativity – and including two heavenly premieres and a number of outstanding music industry luminaries – this final concert was designed to take the audience on a journey through three cosmic perspectives while simultaneously shining a light on the out-of-this-world quality of the region’s longest running professional orchestra.

Following the National Anthem, the first half of the concert will open with Sunrise from Maurice Ravel’s 1912 ballet Daphnis et Chloé. Considered by many as France’s greatest composer, Ravel incorporated elements of baroque, neoclassicism, and even jazz into his compositions creating an unmistakable sound, but requiring a skillful balance in performance. Few pieces of music evoke morning more perfectly than his Sunrise movement. Birds trill and carol in the treetops, fresh breezes stir through their branches and the meadows below, and the sun rises over the horizon and bursts forth in a moment of pure orchestral joy to begin what will be an outstanding evening of music.

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Following, audiences will thrill to John Williams’ evocative and sweeping Star Wars Suite, a collection of music from the first trilogy of Star Wars movies: “Star Wars” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), and “Return of the Jedi” (1983).  Williams’ compositions have often been described as a form of neoromanticism, inspired by large-scale orchestral music in the style of Tchaikovsky. At the same time, the popularity of this music, preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, made this particular piece an engaging popular addition to an evening of demanding musical fare. Audiences will enjoy – and even participate in – a visual extension of the music through a Star Wars costume contest following the regular 6:30 p.m. pre-concert lecture.

Shared San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra executive director Dr. Anne Viricel: “Combining the potential of perhaps spending the evening seated next to Chewbaca while experiencing a huge professional orchestra performing music from three amazing orchestral genres is an incredibly exciting way to end our 90th season.”

The second half of the concert will feature The Planets. Written between 1914-1916 by British composer Gustav Holst, The Planets represents all the known planets of the Solar System seen from Earth at the time, and their corresponding astrological character. Wrote the composer for this 1920 premiere, “If any guide to the music is required, the subtitle to each piece will be found sufficient, especially if it be used in the broad sense. For instance, Jupiter brings jollity in the ordinary sense, and also the more ceremonial type of rejoicing associated with religions or national festivities. Saturn brings not only physical decay, but also a vision of fulfillment. Mercury is the symbol of mind.”

The Planets will also feature 12 string musicians from Cal State San Bernardino’s orchestral music department who study under Dr. Lucy Lewis. They include violinists, Joshua Rodriguez-Irons, Juan Ibañez-Sanchez, Susan Felix, Yezenia Cruz, Priscilla Ibarra, and Gaby Ambrosio-Cruz;  violists Adam Arroyo and Haley Lane; cellists Joseph Nava and Glanelle Ejurango; and, bassists Corbin McCasland and Bill Dickson.

In addition, 22 young women from San Bernardino Valley College’s Voci Soli choral group and the Rancho D’Vines under the direction of Julie Edwards-Matanga will lend their ethereal voices to the Venus movement of Holst’s masterpiece. They include sopranos Carol Brandt, Mary Bangcawayan, Megan Keebler, Shelli Bradley, Laura Cross, Nancy Mulligan, Ali Smilgis, Kristi Wood, Alicia Rey Levy, Mariana Mendoza, Alexandra Rey, Gail Skiles, Claudia Mayorga, and Janice Young; and, altos Sandi Adkins, Deena Boyer, Tanya Bryant, Rebecca Ward, Melisa Alcantara, Brittany Dawes, Edna Lomeli, and Julia Vesa.

“Both these local colleges have been incredible supporters of the arts through their academic programming and continued interest in making our concerts readily accessible to their students. Our sincere thanks to the leadership of both institutions for their unwavering support throughout the year,” shared Symphony President DeanMcVay.

Music Director search nears end

Following the April 13 concert, a final decision will be made regarding who will take the reins as Music Director for the San Bernardino Symphony. The organization’s two-year search brought ten outstanding candidates to the stage of the California Theatre.

“It has been a rigorous process, but one which we are certain will result in the best possible decision for the future of our organization,” said Viricel. “In fact, it’s been an embarrassment of riches as we received applications from dozens of highly qualified candidates from throughout the US.”

Following the prescribed methodology of the League of American Orchestras, the Symphony established a conductor search committee inclusive of members of the orchestra, community, industry professionals, board of directors members, and senior staff. The committee determined to obtain candidates through a detailed, formal application process and developed a set of applicant requirements which were communicated through industry publications and individual outreach, including significant outreach by Orchestra musicians.

Dozens of candidates applied, and after considerable deliberation and discussion, the top ten were selected to continue on as a guest conductor. Each candidate was assigned to a concert based upon their area of expertise so each could perform at their highest level and ensure the utmost quality offering for the audience who have been asked to complete surveys at each concert. And, according to Viricel, each was given artistic freedom as to their interpretation of the music and to their style of communication with the audience members who were asked to complete surveys at each performance.

“The audiences have taken this project very seriously which is particularly gratifying as it demonstrates their desire to be active partners in the future of regional arts,” added Viricel. “Through the survey process, they have made their feelings known very strongly, not only about the conductor candidates, but about the venue, artistic programming, and even lighting. We study every survey carefully and this feedback is making us an even better, even more responsive organization. We seriously could not ask for a more engaged community.”

Tickets are available by calling the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra office at (909) 381-5388 or through our website: Student and active military tickets are always $15; all other tickets are available at $30. $45. $55, and $65. Monday through Friday, tickets are also available at the Symphony’s new business office in the Garcia Center for the Arts, 536 W. 11th Street, Suite 1, in San Bernardino.


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