By KTVU – September 19, 2023
This weekend, the Berkeley Symphony will kick off its 2023-24 chamber series, featuring a diverse series of performances called “American Intersections”. KTVU’s Heather Holmes and Alex Savidge discuss how the series aims to expand the audience’s expectations of what classical music sounds like in our country with Kate Kammeyer, Executive Director of the Berkeley Symphony.
By LOU FANCHER – September 12, 2023
“I’m privileged to program the chamber music series that complements the orchestral series (at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall and Berkeley’s First Presbyterian Church) and solidifies the arc of the season,” Kammeyer says. “The audience is greatly influenced by the art center and the schools being close together and by people going to the park, farmer’s market or shops.
By Stephi Wild July 12, 2023
Berkeley Symphony has announced its 2023-24 Season, led by Music Director Joseph Young, who is now in his fifth season with the historic organization. With four Symphonic Series performances and five Chamber Series performances, Berkeley Symphony will present a range of impactful programming that spans the expansive catalog of orchestral music. The 52nd Season will highlight musings on poetry, literature, light, and art, while converging classic and contemporary scores.
Minorities and timeless tales stepped up in the Berkeley Symphony’s program of June 4 concurrent with Black Music Month. The timely program featured no less than three salient women’s issues and two living composers, the latter in attendance to supplement the interpretations by Music Director Joseph Young.
The first time Joseph Young saw an orchestra was when he was a teenager in South Carolina. He was drawn to the role of the conductor. Joseph is the conductor for the Berkeley Symphony. He’s one of a small number of Black conductors in the country. A 2023 report by the League of American Orchestras found about 6.7% of music conductors are Black.
Joseph says when it comes to diversity he wants his shows to not only be accessible, but relatable.
Girl power: The theme is the strength, courage and resiliency of women as conductor Joseph Young and the Berkeley Symphony close out the season at 4 p.m. Sunday in Zellerbach Hall with a program called “Enduring Stories.” Bay Area actress Leontyne Mbele-Mbong will be on hand to narrate, portraying four archetypal black females for composer Carlos Simon’s “Portrait of a Queen,” transforming from the proud African of the title to a plantation slave, then a woman enduring the strictures of the Jim Crow South and finally a strong, church-going matriarch of the modern era. The program will open with the world premiere of Chinese-born composer Xi Wang’s “Lotus Prayer” and conclude with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”
March 21, 2023
Orchestras are still trying to figure out the best way to integrate jazz into their offerings. The Berkeley Symphony and Music Director Joseph Young, together with the intrepid piano soloist Lara Downes, plunge right in with two works for piano and orchestra, one by Duke Ellington and another based on the music of his longtime associate Billy Strayhorn. Music by Juan Pablo Contreras and Edward Elgar rounds out the program.
By Afton Wooten – JAN 5, 2023
Berkeley Symphony to Present ‘Winter of Love’ Featuring Artistic Director René Mandel & Friends
Florence Price’s violin concerto, composed in 1952, will be played after Brian Nabors’ new piece, commissioned via a program supporting composers of color, on Oct. 16 at Zellerbach Hall.
Michael Zwiebach – October 18, 2022.
Star violinist Rachel Barton Pine wasn’t at the San Francisco Symphony this past weekend. On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16, she was hanging with Berkeley Symphony musicians at Zellerbach Hall, playing Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
Joshua Kosman – June 13, 2022
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and specifically its choral finale with the famed “Ode to Joy,” has always come to us through the German poetry of Friedrich Schiller. It makes sense, too — that was the text around which Beethoven, after long searching, shaped his music.
March 23, 2022
Illustrator Nidhi Chanani had never heard Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” before she received a call from Berkeley Symphony Executive Director René Mandel in January asking if she would be interested in creating a visual accompaniment for the orchestra’s upcoming performance of the piece. But upon learning more about the piece, she recognized it as one that lends itself to visual components and agreed to take on the gig.
Joseph Gold – February 9, 2022
The mood was festive in Zellerbach Hall this past Sunday afternoon. A large and enthusiastic audience cheered the Berkeley Symphony as it embarks on its Golden Jubilee season, exactly two years to the day since its last concert in Zellerbach.
Joseph Gold – November 24, 2021
Stuart Canin’s violin concert on Sunday at Piedmont Center for the Arts brought back beautiful memories. You could almost see the hands of the clock flying backwards. Or maybe time just stood still. I was transported back to the memorable days of my youth, a time when musical artists were complete personalities.
Joshua Kosman – June 4, 2021
Conductor Joseph Young came into our lives suddenly and unexpectedly in 2019, when a last-minute substitute appearance led to his appointment as music director of the Berkeley Symphony. He hadn’t even completed his first season before COVID-19 blew things up.
Michael Zwiebach – February 11, 2020
Berkeley Symphony pulled out the Brahms Symphony No. 1 on Thursday night and, with a large string section leading the way, did a first-rate job with it. But that was clearly not the main story. The focus of the concert, in the centenary year of the passage of the 19th Amendment, was on two works celebrating women and feminism, with the Brahms tacked on because, well, bums in seats.
Joshua Kosman – February 7, 2020
There’s a wonderful flavor to the adolescent voices in composer Mary Kouyoumdjian’s choral piece “Become Who I Am” – a blend of confidence and self-doubt, of anxiety and bravery, that is familiar to anyone who has passed through that precarious stage of life. Behind their simple self-descriptions (age, gender, interests) and their observations about the world, you can detect an entire emotional substratum that is constantly churning.
Paul Hertelendy – February 6, 2020
BERKELEY, CA – The highlight of the Berkeley Symphony program the other night was, astonishingly, the surprise vocal encore running close to 10 minutes in length: The S.F. Girls Chrous singing a near-a-cappella work with mezzo obbligata, “Only in Sleep” by the Australian Eriks Esenvalds. If ever there was proof of the emergence of the creative female, it was in this mellifluous chorus for the girls as led by the SFGC director, Valérie Sainte-Agathe.
Berkeley Symphony Season Opener: Celebrating a New Era
Joseph Young’s appointment last year as the Berkeley Symphony’s new music director came as a delightful surprise to nearly all observers. The conductor hadn’t even been in the running, but one concert as a late replacement for an ailing colleague was all it took to land him the job.
Conductor heads up diverse, premiere-laden 2019-20 season
JAMES AMBROFF-TAHAN – Oct. 22, 2019 12:30 p.m.
Joseph Young, who had an auspicious debut as guest conductor of the Berkeley Symphony under short notice in January, leads the orchestra as its new music director this week as it begins its 49th diverse, premiere-laden season Thursday at Zellerbach Hall.
Conductor Joseph Young, making his first appearance as Berkeley Symphony’s new music director, inaugurates the orchestra’s 2019-20 season Oct. 24. He’ll conduct Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Olly Wilson’s “Shango Memory” and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, with Conrad Tao as soloist. Details: 7 p.m. Oct. 24, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley; $15-$96; 510-841-2800
While rehearsing an opera in Baltimore this past January, Joseph Young received a call from Berkeley Symphony, asking if he would be able to step in as a last-minute substitute conductor. He said yes, and within days had conducted the concert, impressing the players and audience enough to ultimately put him at the top of the list as new Music Director. He’ll be leading his first regular season performance this Thursday night in Zellerbach Hall, with a concert of music by Olly Wilson, Ravel, and Beethoven.