San Diego Symphony Celebrates American Music

The San Diego Symphony celebrates American music throughout the month of January

Rapper Talib Kweli Outside
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Calling all San Diegans: American music gets its due throughout the month of January thanks to the San Diego Symphony.

“Our American Music” is a month-long festival that takes over the Jacobs Music Center starting on Jan. 5. It will feature a plethora of events, concerts, interactive installations and panel discussions all focused on the impact and influence of America’s music.

“I am very excited by the breadth and depth of our festival, especially that at the core of it are performances by the San Diego Symphony performing music created by some of our greatest American composers,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO, in a recent press release. “The visiting guest artists, guest speakers, a free concert and the opportunity for San Diegans to create their own San Diego sounds, which will come together to create a brand new composition reflecting our diverse and dynamic city. We hope many people will be touched by their experience and come together to celebrate ‘Our American Music’. We all know that music has the power to bring people together, to unite us and to connect us, and we have created this festival in that spirit.”

It’s that spirit that'll be on display throughout the month of January 2017, starting with a panel discussion and performance of “What Does It Mean to Be an American (Composer)?” The very next day (and on Jan. 8 as well), “Americans and Paris,” a Jacobs Masterworks Concert, will take on works by American composers Aaron Copland, Andrew Norman and George Gershwin. And that’s just the beginning.

The San Diego Symphony, founded in 1910 and the oldest orchestra in California, has tapped into every corner of American music -- with concerts ranging from La Santa Cecilia (Jan. 11), the Grammy-winning cumbia/bossa nova band that got their start on the corners of Los Angeles' Olvera Street; to famed country music singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash (Jan. 12), who’ll be celebrating her three-time Grammy-winning album, “The River & the Thread”; and critically acclaimed hip-hop star Talib Kweli (Jan. 13), who has released landmark solo material as well as collaborations with Mos Def, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, J Dilla and Madlib (among others).

As always, the Symphony will also celebrate our homegrown music scene, with San Diego Music Award-winning jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos leading “Birth of the Cool: A West Coast Jazz Salute” on Jan. 14 -- a tribute to Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and of course, Miles Davis.

Of particular interest is the interactive public art installation dubbed the San Diego Soundbooth (a collaboration between the Symphony and David’s Harp Foundation), which invites patrons to compose their own brief works of music using provided samples and sound-mixing software. Each contributor’s composition will be different, and on Jan. 15, the Symphony will host a free community day event during which DJ Shammy Dee will integrate samples of those Soundbooth compositions into an original, entirely new arrangement. It’ll be something truly fascinating to witness.

“At this moment in America’s history, much is being written and spoken about who we are as Americans and what our country believes in and stands for,” Gilmer continued in the press release. “‘Our American Music’ festival is a way for us to reflect and understand the history of American composers … Throughout the festival we will hear music inspired by sweeping landscapes and city sounds, simple folk tunes and jazz rhythms, tap dancing and hip-hop. All of this inspires us to ask ourselves the question, ‘What is our American voice?’ and how can music inspire and move us at this time in history?”

So go, listen in and experience the greatness of American music with the San Diego Symphony in January -- after all, it’s truly something worth celebrating.

For a complete list of events, concerts, tickets and more information, visit the San Diego Symphony’s website here.

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