Announcing the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music

California Festival: A Celebration of New Music
A Two-Week Statewide Festival Celebrating the Most Innovative and Compelling Music Composed Around the World in the Last Five Years
November 3-19, 2023

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) is proud to be a partner of the California Festival.

On January 31, 2023, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony and San Francisco Symphony announced the launch of the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music. The two-week, statewide festival of music from around the world will showcase today’s most compelling and forward-looking voices in performances of works written within the past five years. The California Festival was conceived by LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen as a festival that highlights the collaborative and innovative spirit that thrives in California. 

The California Festival will take place November 3–19, 2023, and brings together organizations and ensembles from throughout the state of California, including symphony orchestras, chamber music groups, jazz ensembles, choirs and more, all performing new music as part of their broader season programs. Performances will take place in concert halls, educational institutions, auditoriums, clubs and alternative spaces throughout all of California. More than 50 organizations from across the state have already confirmed participation. The full roster of participants will be announced later this year.  

A dedicated website established by the three organizing partner orchestras will highlight the two-week festival’s participating organizations and composers, as well as provide a broader context for new music in California. 

The California Festival will spotlight works written in the last five years that resonate with the curiosity and joyful experimentation that permeate the history of music in California. While the festival will be grounded in live performance, it aims to give a voice to artists from all kinds of media and to invite aesthetic invention and multidisciplinary work, with music at the center of its creation. Each participating organization will curate its own program or project under the festival umbrella, making this massive new survey as eclectic, exciting and kaleidoscopic as it is insightful and thought-provoking. The festival invites multiple points of view to emphasize inclusivity and diversity in all its forms and to create a program that is meaningful to the communities that comprise California and the world at large. 

California is both a home and a source of inspiration for music directors Gustavo Dudamel, Rafael Payare and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In a joint statement, they said: 

“California holds a unique place in music and culture, not just in the United States but in the wider world as well. It brings out the unexpected and illuminates the unseen, moving even the most reserved among us.  

For more than a century, California has been a home for musical experimentation. It is where countless composers came, fleeing war and intolerance, and found stability and freedom of expression that allowed them to transcend the strict artistic boundaries they had constructed for themselves. It is where a film industry founded by outcasts and refugees became a global cultural center, creating a constant demand for ever-more-creative musical compositions that have evolved into a genre in its own right. And it is where American composers are transforming the way music is composed, performed and heard. Today, California—a state with the economic power of a country, the ecological diversity of a continent, and the cultural diversity of the planet—represents a powerful vision for classical music. 

Our three orchestras, in partnership with other arts organizations from throughout this state, have come together to celebrate the sheer magnitude of California’s contributions to classical music and to dream of new ways that we can work together to express our deep appreciation for the environment, communities and technological innovation that make this state so deeply unique.” 

The California Festival is proudly supported by the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), providing outreach to arts organizations in its network, informing them about the Festival, and encouraging them to participate. As of the first public festival announcement on January 31, 2023, approximately half of the participating organizations are members of ACSO. 

“As an arts service organization that is made up of a collective of orchestras and music ensembles, ACSO is thrilled to support and help launch the California Festival. This event creates a space for California orchestras and music organizations to be part of a musical collaboration – to work as a collective to uplift and shine a light on new artistic voices and move our field forward together," said Sarah Weber, ACSO Executive Director.

She continued, "California is an arts-rich state where hundreds of orchestras and music ensembles of every shape and size can be found in nearly every community, big or small. If there was ever a place to embrace and foster the future of new music, California is it.”

 ACSO Board President Elizabeth Shribman said, “It’s wonderful to see so many of ACSO’s member orchestras participating in the California Festival. This statewide initiative is a wonderful opportunity for orchestras across California to come together through an artistic endeavor that reflects the same spirit of collaboration that ACSO seeks to foster across the state. ACSO believes that together, we can have a greater collective impact on our state, and this project will surely bring that conviction to life as many of our member orchestras join forces to showcase new music in California.”

Media Contacts 

ACSO: Sarah Weber, [email protected], 800 495 2276 x1
Los Angeles Philharmonic: Sophie Jefferies,
[email protected], 213 972 3422 
San Diego Symphony Orchestra: Kristen Turner, [email protected], 713 817 3219   
San Francisco Symphony: Taryn Lott, [email protected], 415 503 5476 

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