From the Executive and Artistic Director
This is my final program book letter to you as director of Cal Performances. At the beginning of August, I will be moving on to my new role as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. An excellent interim leadership team has been announced, and the search for a new director is under way.
It has been an enormous privilege to lead this organization for the past nine years, and this letter provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on memorable performances, as well as several important but less-public aspects to what we do, activities that are central to our work and mission.
Among the most powerful have been master classes of the UC Berkeley Symphony with some of world's great conductors. Valery Gergiev, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Riccardo Muti, among others, have shared their expertise with young student musicians. These inspiring sessions, often held following main- stage performances, have been transformative experiences for the students involved, who often reflect on these occasions, marveling, "only at Berkeley!"" For the conductors, too, the chance to work with intelligent, talented young people from all academic disciplines is part of what attracts such luminaries to our campus.
Another less visible, but central part of what we do is the commissioning of new work. This commitment is written deeply into Cal Performances' DNA. Whether supporting the work of talented faculty composers such as Ed Campion or Cindy Cox, originating Julia Wolfe's forthcoming Fire in Her Mouth and Berkeley graduate Jimmy López's Dreamer, or acting as the catalyst and first commissioner of Mason Bates' The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Mark Morris' Pepperland, and Robert Battle's Awakening—and many more—Cal Performances has helped introduce many significant works to the canon.
I'm pleased that numerous Berkeley professors have worked to integrate our programming into their academic courses, combining the theoretical and practical. Among many high points have been Nicholas Mathew's courses on "Vienna between the World Wars," held in conjunction with the Vienna Philharmonic's 2014 campus residency.
Seemingly coincidental and unpredictable moments also play a role, such as when Esa-Pekka Salonen, fresh from conducting Stravinsky's The Firebird, stopped by a reception of Haas Business School students and delivered an inspiring impromptu talk on leadership.
And then, there were the memorable performances. Einstein on the Beach. Incredible nights at the Greek—Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Gustavo Dudamel launching Berkeley RADICAL, and Yo-Yo Ma performing solo Bach. Mitusko Uchida at Hertz Hall. Robert LePage. The Mariinsky Orchestra and Ballet at Zellerbach. I could go on and on. It gives me great joy to think about the inspirational performances we have enjoyed together. Our amazing Berkeley audiences—informed, passionate, attentive, appreciative—inspire us and the artists we work with. It has been a pleasure and honor to help bring these artistic gems to our community.
At Cal Performances, we always strive to find imaginative ways to celebrate the power of the performing arts, both on stage and off, creating those "only-at-Berkeley" moments for each of us. Therefore, I leave you with one request: please do not take any of this for granted. It takes a community to build and sustain this level of artistic excellence and engagement. So, if you do not already support Cal Performances, please do. I will soon be joining you as loyal patron, as well.
Let me finish by expressing my heartfelt thanks to my extraordinary colleagues on the staff and crew, who create magic every day at Cal Performances, and to our wonderful trustees, who so generously contribute to this work, and are our most passionate advocates.
With all my best and warmest wishes, now and in the future.
Executive and Artistic Director,