San Diego Symphony’s January Festival features sounds of the future and futures past

Rafael Payare, San Diego Symphony’s new music director
( Courtesy)

San Diego Symphony is revving up for its fourth annual January Festival, a month-long array of events, Jan. 10-27, 2019; which this year is called “Hearing the Future.” It’s curated by Matthew Aucoin, a 2018 winner of the MacArthur “Genius” grant, which honored his gifts for “expanding the potential of vocal and orchestral music to convey emotional, dramatic, and literary meaning.”

“Hearing the Future” begins with the Jan.10 debut of Rafael Payare, the Symphony’s new music director, an internationally renowned conductor who was chosen after a three-year search to replace outgoing director Jahja Ling.

Payare guest-conducted the opening concert in last year’s festival, and impressed everyone with what The San Diego Union-Tribune called his “flamboyant baton.” It won him a four-year contract, officially starting July 1.

Besides four concerts under Payare’s baton, “Hearing the Future” includes classical, jazz, gospel and new music, plus dance performances and a Maori/Viennese puppet opera. Among the venues are La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Hall.


I’ve chosen six events that I thought seemed particularly notable, but you may have different choices. Check and see what you think.

Some of the shadow puppet performers in ‘He Putarino Makutu: a puppet opera’
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6 Picks from ‘Hearing the Future’

1) Payare Conducts Mozart and Tchaikovsky: 8 p.m. Jan. 10. Rafael Payare’s inaugural concert as San Diego Symphony’s new music director includes the overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein — Payare’s wife. Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown San Diego. Tickets: $35-$120. (619) 235-0804.

2) Were You There: 6 p.m. Jan. 13. Billed as a “musical and theatrical meditation,” this event uses African-American spirituals, along with excerpts from the poems of Walt Whitman set to the music of Handel and Matthew Aucoin, to address the continuing history of racial injustice in America. The performer is Davoné Tines, a gospel-influenced, Harvard-and-Juilliard-trained young bass-baritone who has become an international opera star, accompanied here by pianist Michael Schachter. Sandbox, 325 15th St., East Village. Tickets: $40. (619) 235-0804.


3) He Putarino Makutu: A puppet opera: 8 p.m. Jan. 16 and 17. This Maori re-imagining of “The Magic Flute” combines the music of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven with music from Maori composers and a German/Maori libretto. It features singers from New Zealand onstage with local musicians, and shadow puppets onscreen, from the San Diego Guild of Puppetry. Sandbox, 325 15th St., East Village. Tickets: $40. (619) 235- 0804.

4) Sheila Jordan: Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m. 90-year-old jazz legend Sheila Jordan, who has sung with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, will perform with 17-year-old Zion Dyson, a rising star from The Bishop’s School in La Jolla. Double bass player Cameron Brown provides accompaniment. Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. Tickets: $23-$28. (858) 454-5972.

5) Janus: Dancing the Future, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25, 26; 2:30 p.m. Jan 27. This San Diego Dance Theater performance includes a new piece by founder/director Jean Isaacs and a collaboration between Bang-on-a-Can All-Stars co-founder/percussionist Robert Black and choreographer/dancer Katie Stevinson-Nollet, Jean Isaac’s daughter. Saville Theatre, City College, 14th and C, downtown San Diego. Tickets: $15-$40. (619) 225-1803.

6) Generation Next: Hearing the Future of Jazz, 8 p.m. Jan. 26. San Diego trumpet-master Gilbert Castellanos presents trumpeter Josh Evans, vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, pianist Joshua White and some of the gifted young musicians from the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, a non-profit he founded several years ago to “raise up the next generation of jazz.” This concert is also part of the first west-coast edition of the Festival of New Trumpet Music. Copley Symphony Hall, downtown. Tickets: $24-$76. (619) 235-0804.

At La Jolla’s Athenaeum, jazz legend Sheila Jordan (accompanied by bassist Cameron Brown) will share the stage with Zion Dyson, a rising star from The Bishop’s School.
( Courtesy )


Zion Dyson
( Courtesy )

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