Cabrillo music festival
July 2019

Cabrillo Festival Family Days Coming Up in Downtown Santa Cruz

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music is coming up in August with something for everyone in the community. This highly respected cultural organization has strived to include more and more free family programming to its already brimming two weeks of activities built around new music for orchestra.

Beginning on Sunday evening, July 28, the downtown Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium becomes the hub of festivities that include free Open Orchestra Rehearsals, conducted by Music Director Cristian Măcelaru.

Cabrillo music festival

 The rehearsals provide a fascinating opportunity to watch the creative process as 70 orchestra musicians, composers-in-residence, and conductor bring the works to life. Visitors are welcome to attend the rehearsals, arriving and departing at their leisure, so long as they’re quiet and respectful of the working environment for these professional musicians. The full schedule is online at, and includes rehearsals in the morning, afternoon, and evening. A great way to introduce curious young people to the orchestra, it is also a luxurious musical escape for parents seeking a break from the hectic pace of family life.

Cabrillo music festival

With the annual Church Street Fair on Saturday and Sunday, August 3 and 4, the Festival has created two full days of educational and artful activities specifically designed for the whole family to enjoy. This popular event takes place on Church Street outside the Civic Auditorium and celebrates Santa Cruz’s vibrant cultural scene with non-stop performances from diverse global traditions. The line-up includes young performers from Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, Raizes Do Brasil, and El Sistema Santa Cruz; plus performances by Desert Dream Dance (Middle East), Tammi Brown (American jazz/blues), Watsonville Taiko (Japan), Flor de Cana (Carribean/Latin), Elie Mabanza (African guitar), and more.

Vendors will fill the tree-lined streets with delicious fare from local food purveyors, vintners and brewers, and the fine art and crafts of regional artists and artisans. Free activities for children include hands-on workshops in the Creativity Tent for Kids, conducted by professional artists and instructors and including a broad range of mediums from printmaking, painting, 3-D sculpture, and a Music Together circle time for the littlest ones.

“Cabrillo Festival seeks to provide enduring inspiration to all members of our community,” said Ellen Primack, Executive Director of the Cabrillo Festival, “and there really is no better way to ignite a young person’s imagination than to introduce them to the arts and the creative process.”


On Sunday, August 4, at 1pm, the Cabrillo Festival will present its annual Free Family Concert. It begins with a rousing percussion demonstration and a guided Tour of the Orchestra that brings kids up-close and personal with the musicians and their instruments, in small groups in and around the Civic Auditorium. When the audience returns to the hall they will see the full orchestra perform É Gol!, a new interactive work by Brazilian composer/vocalist Clarice Assad inspired by Brazilian soccer player Marta Vieira da Silva, considered the best female footballer of all time. The work explores moments of Marta’s life, leading up to a soccer match soundtrack finale as Assad leads the audience to sing along with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Cristian Măcelaru.

The Cabrillo Festival offers some exciting opportunities for older kids and teenagers as well, with the Student Staff Program and this year’s special collaboration with the Young Writer’s Program. The free Student Staff Program welcomes students (age 16-24) to participate in a remarkable free music immersion experience, serving as ushers for Cabrillo Festival concerts, receiving master classes from professional musicians and composers, and composing and performing a concert of their own works. The Young Writers Program will facilitate a free poetry workshop for middle and high schoolers from July 31–August 2 during the Cabrillo Festival, led by Poet-in-Residence Megan Levad and inspired by the subject of justice and the Cabrillo Festival’s premiere of When There Are Nine, based on the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both programs are actively recruiting now, visit to learn more about the Student Staff Program, and for the Poetry Workshop.

From the youngest members of our community, to high school students, to aspiring professional musicians, and to our elder generations, Cabrillo Festival has created programs to engage anyone and everyone at all different levels of participation and involvement. Community members are invited to explore the schedule at or, or to visit the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium for tickets and information.


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