The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, begun by composer Lou Harrison in the 1960s, had Marin Alsop as its Music Director for the past 25 years. This is the first year with Cristian Măcelaru on the podium, and he says he’s been warmly welcomed by both Santa Cruz audiences as well as the musicians in the opening days of the festival.

There’s more information at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music website.

“One of the many great things that Marin did during her tenure here was to prepare the festival for whatever comes next,” he says. “She did that by putting the focus not on her, but putting the focus on the music, and putting the focus on the idea of presenting something that it’s so unique. Which actually then made for an easier transition. If the focus would have been on her the entire time, that would have been a very difficult transition, but it wasn’t.” Măcelaru has an ambitious program with a few world premieres, including a festival commissioned tribute to Lou Harrison by David Little called The Conjured Life. “I love the fact that we are able to celebrate Lou Harrison in a way that is uniquely ours, which is by bringing a composer that was greatly influenced by him and his works, and then to actually have them comment on Lou Harrison.” There’s also a percussion concerto by Clarice Assad that will be premiered by Evelyn Glennie, and the West Coast premiere of a James Stephenson Violin Concerto written for and played by Jennifer Frautschi. And that’s just this weekend – the festival runs through August 12th.