Brooklyn Basin
The new performance area at Brooklyn Basin

Update: On Aug. 16, 2021, Oakland Symphony announced that Morgan has had to withdraw from the season’s opening SummerStage concerts because after seven years of being on the donor waiting list, and undergoing kidney transplant surgery in May, he developed an infection requiring hospitalization. He has been admitted to the Kaiser ICU. Messages to him may be sent through his Facebook page.

The four-performance series will proceed as scheduled, with guest conductor John Kendall Bailey leading the Thursday concert. Currently music director of the Mozart to Mendelssohn Orchestra, Bailey held positions as principal conductor of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra and guest conductor of the Oakland Symphony.

The Oakland Symphony has announced their first-ever summer series of concerts. The free outdoor concerts at Brooklyn Basin (9th Avenue Terminal – 288 9th Avenue, Oakland) are scheduled for consecutive Thursdays, beginning August 19. A surprise addition to the orchestra’s season, they are a way to perform for audiences without negotiating the ever-fluid health advisories for indoor venues and events.

Brooklyn Basin, a redevelopment project that has been in the works for 18 years and is midway through the planned build, is a former industrial site on 64 acres of waterfront that is slated to include, when finished, 3,000 apartments, retail shopping, 30 acres of parks, public waterfront access, and space for cultural events. Most recently completed is Township Commons, a park that opened in November, 2020, adjacent to the restored 9th Avenue Terminal Building.

As Andrew Gilbert reports in Oaklandside, the SummerStage concerts are still something of a local secret and were conceived by Corinne Kinczel, an Oakland native who opened Rocky’s Brooklyn Basin as a market and to-go restaurant, but then realized that the adjacent open space would be perfect for live performances. When the pandemic eased and concerts began this summer, Oakland Symphony Executive Director Mieko Hatano suggested a site-specific concert series featuring the orchestra.

Michael Morgan
Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan | 

Oakland Symphony is planning four concerts in the revitalized area, beginning on Aug, 19, when Music Director Michael Morgan leads 35 players in The Barber of Seville Overture, Beethoven’s First Symphony, and a symphony by Joseph Bologne. The following Thursday, the orchestra’s brass ensemble will play a set including music by Giovanni Gabrieli, Beethoven, Adolphus Hailstork, Joan Tower, and Jonathan Ring’s new fanfare salute to environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

Soprano Shawnette Sulker joins the orchestra on Sept. 2 for Villa Lobos’s Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, while the winds play serenades by Mozart and Dvorak, and the series concludes on Sept. 9 with works by youthful geniuses — the First Symphony by Felix Mendelssohn, written when he was 15, and Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, written at the advanced age of 18.

All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and are free to the public. No reservations are required and admittance to concerts is first-come first-served. There are about 150 socially distanced seats and there is parking in the area.

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