Donato Cabrera

Resident Conductor, San Francisco Symphony
Wattis Foundation Music Director,
San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra

Donato Cabrera has been the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) since 2009. He works closely with SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and frequently conducts the San Francisco Symphony throughout the year, including the annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert, as well as the Concerts for Kids, Adventures in Music, and Music for Families concerts, which annually draw more than 60,000 young people and their families from throughout the Bay Area to Davies Symphony Hall.  In 2012, Cabrera led the San Francisco Symphony Chorus with Paul Jacobs on organ in the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission, subsequently conducting it with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City in Carnegie Hall for the SF Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival. Cabrera made his San Francisco Symphony debut in April 2009 when he conducted the Orchestra with 24 hours’ notice.

The 2013-14 season marks Donato Cabrera's fifth season as Music Director of the SFSYO. In 2012, Cabrera led the SFSYO on their eighth European tour.  For a series of six performances—including appearances at the Berlin Philharmonie, Munich Philharmonie, Rheingau Music Festival in Wiesbaden, International Festival d’Echternach in Luxembourg, Regensburg and Salzburg—the Orchestra won a 2011-12 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of American music on foreign tours. From this tour, a live recording from the SFSYO’s critically acclaimed Berlin Philharmonie performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 is now available on SFS Media.

In the 2013-14 season Cabrera will lead the SFSYO in three subscription concerts on November 17, March 16, and May 18, as well as in the annual holiday performances of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, this season with narrator John Lithgow, on December 14 at Davies Symphony Hall.

In 2013, Cabrera was appointed Music Director of the California Symphony and of the New Hampshire Music Festival. At the California Symphony, Cabrera is committed to featuring music by American composers, supporting young artists in the early stages of their careers, and commissioning world premieres from talented resident composers. Cabrera’s first season as Music Director of the New Hampshire Music Festival in summer 2013 expanded the festival’s orchestral and chamber concerts, and reestablished the Festival’s family concert series. In 2011 Cabrera became the tenth Music Director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in the 2013-14 season.

A champion of new music, Donato Cabrera was a co-founder of the New York based American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), which is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily the work of American composers. In September 2012 he conducted ACME in the world premiere of the all-live version of Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 for three string quartets and tape at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. He made his Carnegie Hall and Cal Performances debuts conducting the world and California premieres, respectively, of Mark Grey’s Ătash Sorushan. In April 2010, Cabrera stepped in on short notice for the acclaimed British composer/conductor/pianist Thomas Adès to conduct the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

In 2002, Cabrera was a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellow at the Salzburg Festival. He has served as assistant conductor at the Ravinia, Spoleto (Italy), and Aspen Music Festivals, and as resident conductor at the Music Academy of the West. Cabrera has also been an assistant conductor for productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. From 2005 to 2008, he was Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Opera and in 2009, he made his debut with the San Francisco Ballet. In 2009, Cabrera was asked to be one of eight participants in the 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, leading the Nashville Symphony over two days in a variety of works. Cabrera was the rehearsal and cover conductor for the Metropolitan Opera production and DVD release of Doctor Atomic, which won the 2012 Grammy® Award for Best Opera Recording.

In 2010, he was recognized by the Consulate-General of Mexico in San Francisco as a Luminary of the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee, for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area.  He holds degrees from the University of Nevada and the University of Illinois and has also pursued graduate studies in conducting at Indiana University and the Manhattan School of Music.


To view a PDF of Donato Cabrera's biography, click here.

(August 2013)