Donato Cabrera

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Donato Cabrera
Born Pasadena, California, United States
Occupation(s) Musician, Conductor
Years active 1997 -

Donato Cabrera is an American conductor with an active international career. He is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and was the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2009-2016.

Education and early career[edit]

Cabrera was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and Reno, Nevada. He then studied at the University of Nevada, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and the Manhattan School of Music. He made his professional debut with the Reno Chamber Orchestra in 1997 and in 1998 made his European debut conducting the Zwei Groschen Oper Summer Festival productions of The Barber of Seville and Rigoletto. In 2002 he received a Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship from the Vienna Philharmonic.

While based in New York, Cabrera served as the Music Director for the Manhattan School of Music's Opera Scenes program (2001/2002) and conducted their community outreach performances. He also conducted their Philharmonia and the Juilliard School orchestra as well as serving as an assistant conductor to Zdenek Macal at the New Jersey Symphony where Cabrera went on to work as cover conductor for the symphony's subscription series and Guest Conductor for its education and outreach Concerts until 2006.[1] He concurrently had various guest conducting engagements including concerts for the Music Academy of the West in 2003 and the Norwalk Youth Symphony Orchestra and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in 2004.

Cabrera co-founded ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) with cellist Clarice Jensen and publicist Christina Jensen in 2004 and was the ensemble's Music Director for its inaugural season, conducting works by John Adams, Jacob Druckman, Donald Martino, Frederic Rzewski, and Elliott Carter.[2] He also worked as an assistant to James Conlon at the 2004 Spoleto Festival and the 2005 Ravinia Festival. He made his house debut at Portland Opera in December 2005 conducting The Rape of Lucretia.[3]

2006 to the present[edit]

Cabrera joined San Francisco Opera in the 2005/2006 season as an Associate Conductor preparing the casts and conducting the initial rehearsals of several productions including the world premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic and remained there until 2008. He made his conducting debut at SFO in May 2006 for the company's Opera in the Gardens concert and went on to conduct performances of Die Fledermaus (October 2006), Don Giovanni (June 2007), Die Zauberflöte (October 2007), and Tannhäuser (October 2007).[4] In March 2008, he made his debut with Berkeley Opera conducting a production of L'elisir d'amore.[5] The following autumn, he was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera as an assistant and cover conductor for a new production of Doctor Atomic.

Cabrera's symphonic conducting career continued in parallel with his work as an opera conductor. In the spring of 2008, he conducted a workshop of Brahms's Symphony No. 1 with the San Francisco Conservatory and was reengaged in the 2008/2009 season to lead further workshops of the core orchestral repertoire. 2008 also saw his South American debut when he conducted Madama Butterfly with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Concepción in Chile. In 2009, he made his debut with the San Francisco Ballet. Also, 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. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in April 2009 when he conducted the orchestra with 24 hours notice, in a program of Mozart's Symphony No. 38 and Overture to Le nozze di Figaro and Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.[6] In 2016, he led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in performances with Grammy Award-winning singer Lila Downs.

In September 2009 he joined the San Francisco Symphony staff as the Resident Conductor and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. In December of that year he also made his debut with the San Francisco Ballet, conducting The Nutcracker and became one of few conductors who have conducted performances for all three of San Francisco's major musical institutions. During the 2010-2011 season he conducted the San Francisco Symphony in the Dia de los Muertos Family Concert as well as selected Concerts for Kids, Adventures in Music and Music for Families concerts. In 2013, Cabrera was appointed Music Director of the California Symphony and in May 2014 he was appointed Music Director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic.


  1. ^ Midgette, Anne (23 May 2005). "A Conductor's Late Entrance and the Woes That Ensued". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  2. ^ Smith, Steve (3 June 2008). "Continuing education: ACME bones up on post-rock basics with Wordless Music at the Whitney". Time Out. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  3. ^ Allen, Angela (9 December 2005). "Intimate interpretation - Portland Opera stages 'Rape of Lucretia'". The Columbian. Retrieved 7 March 2012 (subscription required).
  4. ^ San Francisco Opera performance archives. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  5. ^ Gereben, Janos (18 March 2008). "For the Love of Donizetti" San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  6. ^ Kosman, Joshua (18 April 2009). "S.F. Symphony wings it, flies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 7 March 2012.

External links[edit]