Michael Morgan 

As the Oakland Symphony revives from the pandemic and the 30th anniversary season of Michael Morgan as music director (that’s five years more than even Michael Tilson Thomas’s exceptional SF Symphony tenure) arrives, they all have much to celebrate.

A post from Morgan on Facebook prompted me to ask if he wants to talk about his recent successful kidney transplant, and he responded, revealing what he had gone through for seven years while performing his work without a break:

“It was quite a long time coming and the excellent team at UCSF could not have been better. I am very happy to be done with the seven years of home dialysis. I would encourage everyone to be an organ donor.”

Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan

How did he get through the months of the pandemic? “I like having time for things I don’t normally do, such as play piano.” Did he have musical earworms during the time? “My earworms tend to be from popular music and then from the ’50s and ’60s. If there are any classical pieces in my head, they are there because I’m about to do them or need to reconsider them.”

The season will start Oct. 15, marking Morgan’s anniversary, and run through May 20, 2022. It will be the orchestra’s first concert since Jan. 24, 2020. Morgan will lead the orchestra in a program of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (“Turkish”), with Natasha Makhijani as soloist, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.

The Nov. 19, concert leads with the world premiere of a work by Jack Perla, Florence Price’s Piano Concerto with Lara Downes, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 4.

Oakland Symphony’s annual “Let Us Break Together” concert on Dec. 12 (at 4 p.m.) will celebrate the music of Ray Charles and B.B. King.

Amy Beach’s Gaelic Symphony and Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road anchor the Jan. 21, 2022, choral concert with the Oakland Symphony Chorus, Lynne Morrow, director. 

Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen curates the Playlist program on Feb. 12, 2022.

Debbie Allen is curator of the Feb. 12 Playlist concert, following in the footsteps of such curators as W. Kamau Bell and Dolores Huerta. Allen, a three-time Emmy winner and 2021 Kennedy Center honoree, has also transformed the lives of California’s most disenfranchised youth with the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles.

“Having long admired Ms. Allen, I will be thrilled to share a stage with her. Her life continues to be a force for good and she does just the sort of giving back we should all strive to do,” says Morgan.

On March 4, with the participation of guitarist Meng Su and the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, directed by Eric Tuan, the concert will include Rodrigo’s, Concierto de Aranjuez, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Respighi’s The Fountains of Rome.

March 25 features double bass players Aaron Olguin in Andrés Martín’s Bass Concerto No. 1, along with Robert Fuchs’s 1876 Serenade No. 2 (“Lost Romantic”), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”).

Verdi’s mighty Requiem closes the Oakland Symphony season on May 20, with the participation of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, Lynne Morrow, director.

For ticket information, about the MUSE Education programs and activities, see OaklandSymphony.org.