Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan | Courtesy of SF Symphony

On August 20, the Bay Area and the world learned of the death, at age 61, of Michael Morgan, one of the most visionary conductors of our time and a potent advocate for orchestral music. Though most associated with the Oakland Symphony, which he led for 30 years, his influence was felt throughout the Bay Area, as music director of Festival Opera during its glory years in the aughts, as music director of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, and as the teacher of the SF Conservatory’s graduate conducting class. He was also connected to a variety of youth service and local community organizations. Yesterday, details of his upcoming memorial concert were released. Ticket information below.

Music Director and Conductor Michael Morgan

The concert, on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m., will include musicians and community members from all over the Bay Area. Scheduled performers include:

  • Soprano Hope Briggs, who’ll join Shawnette Sulker and Frederica von Stade and the Oakland Symphony, conducted by Dawn Harms, for the great trio from Der Rosenkavalier
  • Trombonist Isrea Butler
  • Pianist/ producer/ bandleader Kev Choice, who’ll emcee Aïma the Drmr, with Mike Blankenship, keyboard, Dame Drummer, drums, Andrew Levin, guitar, and Marcus Phillips, bass
  • Pianist Lara Downes, who’ll play William Grant Still’s Summerland, and Florence Price’s “Adoration” (with violinist Janine Norpath)
  • Singer/ songwriter/ vocal activist Melanie DeMore, who’ll sing her own “Sending You Light” with pianist Julie Wolf
  • Gateways Brass Collective, which will play a Duke Ellington medley and George Walker’s “Chorale,” from Music for Brass: Sacred and Profane
  • Baritone and artistic director of Festival Opera Zachary Gordin, who will duet with Hope Briggs on MM in Memoriam, an occasional piece written by Oakland author Dan Harder and set to music by composer Richard Marriott, whose Requiem for Ghost Ship premiered at the Oakland Symphony in 2019
  • Great Wall Youth Orchestra with conductor Victor Siu, who perform “Dance of the Yan Tribe”
  • Jazz pianist and composer Tammy L. Hall, who’ll lead her ensemble in her own composition, “Love, Kindness, & ‘Laugh a Little’” with soloist Tiffany Austin
  • Jazz Mafia, directed by Adam Theis, who will join the Symphony, conducted by John Kendall Bailey, in Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam”
  • Dancer/ artistic director Paunika Jones who’ll dance with Oakland Ballet dancer Lawrence Chen, to Graham Lustig’s choreography for “Solace” (Scott Joplin).
  • Terrance Kelly, director of the Oakland Interfiath Gospel Choir, who’ll lead them in his own composition, “Glory”
  •  Dramatic soprano Leberta Lorál
  • Choral director Lynne Morrow, who’ll lead the Oakland Symphony Chorus in Michael Morgan’s arrangement of “Somewhere,” from West Side Story and “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place, from Brahms’s German Requiem
  • Conductor Bryan Nies, who’ll conduct the concert-ending “Make Our Garden Grow,” from Bernstein’s Candide with the orchestra chorus, and the MUSE strings, as well as joining vocalist Jesse Barrettt on Tim Rosser and Charlie Sohne’s “With the Right Music”
  • Violinist Jannina Norpoth, member of the PUBLIQuartet
  • Oakland Youth Orchestra, conducted by their director, Omid Zoufonoun, which will play George Walker’s “Lyric.”
  • Oaktown Jazz Workshops with director Ravi Abcarian, who’ll lead them in Bobby Watson’s “Time Will Tell”
  • Conductor/ composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director of the SF Symphony, who, for the first and perhaps only time, will conduct the Oakland Symphony in “Le jardin féerique” from Maurice Ravel’s Ma mère l’Oye
  • Violinist Mads Tolling
  • Composer/conductor Jaco Wong, who will lead the orchestra and students of the S.F. Conservatory of Music, including violist Sohui Yun in Adolphus Hailstork’s second Romance for Viola and Orchestra
  • Mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade
  • Speakers including union organizer and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, Eric Davis, Courtney Jones, Herbert Smith, and Richard A. White, general manager of Bay Area Rapid Transit

The list tells the tale. The Memorial Concert is free and advance tickets are required from OaklandSymphony.org. Proof of full vaccination is required for admittance. Children under 12 are not permitted. The Oakland Symphony and KDFC 90.3FM in San Francisco will broadcast the Memorial on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 4:00 p.m. PST/7:00 p.m. EST direct from KDFC.com and OaklandSymphony.org.

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