Rufus Wainwright to perform at Berkeley Symphony gala March 30

Rufus Wainwright will perform at Berkeley Symphony’s annual fundraising gala on March 30. Photo: Matthew Welch

Singer songwriter Rufus Wainwright is set to give an intimate solo performance at Berkeley Symphony’s gala this year, which takes place on March 30 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

It’s the 13th annual gala for Berkeley Symphony, an event which usually draws several hundred guests and constitutes the orchestra’s principle fundraiser.

Every year, Berkeley Symphony puts on four main concerts, four chamber music performances, and four family concerts. Although the principle performances take place at Zellerbach Hall, the orchestra is not affiliated with UC Berkeley. In fact it very much belongs to the city, said Audrey Grubb, who, along with her husband DJ Grubb, are co-chairing the gala.

“Berkeley Symphony is an enriching civic organization,” Audrey Grubb said. “”It is known globally because of its unique talents; we work with the public schools to provide music education, access to world-class talent, and commission new classical works from composers all over the world. Berkeley Symphony is a reflection of our community — local, smart, creative and international.”


The Symphony is also known for having a young, brilliant female music director. Joana Carneiro, who was born in Portugal in 1976, became the Symphony’s third music director in January 2009. Carneiro, who recently gave birth to triplets, is sought after on the international stage. Two years ago she made her debut at the English National Opera conducting the world stage premiere of John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and she has conducted orchestras across the world, from Hungary through São Paolo. In a 201o profile by Berkeleyside, Carneiro described Berkeley as a place where people were open to investigation and inquiry. “I think the Berkeley Symphony is a reflection of that spirit – open-minded, where people are open to innovation,” she said.

Thus year’s Berkeley Symphony gala takes place on Thursday March 30 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. Photo: David Weiland

As in previous years, this year’s gala will raise funds to support the Symphony’s nationally recognized Music in the Schools program.

The award-winning program sees the Symphony partner with the Berkeley Unified School District led by conductor and education director Ming Luke. More than 200 in-class sessions are led by Symphony musicians at all eleven BUSD elementary schools each year. Classroom sessions include hands-on music education and curriculum guides for teachers designed to meet state standards for music education. In the middle schools, Berkeley Symphony musicians lead 130 ensemble coaching sessions, 22 master classes, and six ensemble adjudications each year. “Meet the Symphony” and “I’m a Performer!” concerts take place in BUSD elementary schools, providing young musicians opportunities to rehearse and perform side-by-side with Berkeley Symphony. Four annual Family Concerts provide opportunities for students, their families, and community members to experience a Berkeley Symphony concert together. All Music in the Schools programming is provided free of charge for children and their families.

Berkeley Symphony’s next concert at Zellerbach Hall is Remembrance / Shostakovitch. Set to texts by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Shostakovitch’s epic masterpiece offers “a blistering denunciation of anti-Semitism and other social ills.”

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The Berkeley Symphony gala includes a cocktail reception, dinner and desserts, live and silent auctions, and music by the Carla Kaufman Trio as well as the solo performance by Rufus Wainwright. Tickets for the event, which begins at 6:30 pm, with dinner at 8 p.m., start at $375 and are available at Berkeley Symphony’s website, or by phone at 510-841-2800, ext. 1. Deadline for reserving seats is March 15. Berkeleyside is the media sponsor of the Berkeley Symphony gala.