Donato Cabrera, Music Director

Donato Cabrera

Donato Cabrera is the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Music Director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. He works closely with SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and conducts the San Francisco Symphony in the annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert as well as the Concerts for Kids and 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. 

Cabrera made his San Francisco Symphony debut in April 2009 when he conducted the Orchestra with 24 hours notice in a program that included Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 and Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  In March 2012 he conducted 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 American Mavericks Festival.  From 2005 to 2008, Cabrera was Associate Conductor of San Francisco Opera, where he prepared the cast and conducted the first rehearsals for the world premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic as well as conducting performances of Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, Tannhäuser, and The Magic Flute.  In December 2009, he made his debut with the San Francisco Ballet, conducting performances of The Nutcracker.

During the 2011-12 season Cabrera made his debut conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Orquesta Clásica de Santa Cecilia in Madrid, immediately being reengaged for the 2012-13 season.  He also debuted with the California Symphony, conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for their 25th Anniversary Season Finale, and will also return for their 2012-13 season.  Cabrera was also a guest conductor for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and The Bay Brass.  During the 2010-11 season he made his Carnegie Hall and Cal Performances debuts, conducting the world premiere of Mark Grey’s Ătash Sorushan.  In 2009, Cabrera stepped in on short notice for the acclaimed British composer/conductor/pianist, Thomas Adés, conducting the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  In 2008 he made his South American debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Concepción in Chile and returns regularly to conduct both symphonic and operatic repertoire.

In 2002, Cabrera was a Herbert von Karajan conducting fellow at the Salzburg Festival.  He has also served as assistant conductor at the Ravinia, Spoleto (Italy), and Aspen Music Festivals, and as resident conductor at the Music Academy of the West.  He has also been an assistant conductor for productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.  

A champion of new music, Cabrera is a co-founder of the New York based American Contemporary Music Ensemble, which is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st Centuries, primarily the work of American composers.  He is dedicated to music education and has worked with members of the young artist programs of the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Portland Opera. Cabrera has also been a frequent conductor of Young People’s Concerts of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

In February 2010, Cabrera was recognized as a Luminary by the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area.  In March 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 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.

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Jason Pyszkowski
Youth Orchestra Manager
(415) 503-5350
yo@sfsymphony.org