Spanish composer loves Downey Symphony

DOWNEY – Oscar Navarro loves the Downey Symphony. The Spanish composer first heard the orchestra while he was studying at USC. He was so impressed he composed his “Downey Overture” for them, and it received its world premiere in Downey in 2011. Since then, the piece has carried Downey’s name and fame to audiences in London, Valencia, Massachusetts, Texas, and Minnesota.

It headlines the Symphony’s concluding concert of its 56th season on April 5 at 8 p.m. in the Downey Civic Theatre.

The Orchestra has developed a strong connection with Navarro.  They gave his “Noah’s Ark” its American premiere and will be presenting another piece by him next season.  His “Overture,” which links Spain and California in a Latin-American fusion, will find a congenial place in a program Music Director Sharon Lavery chose with an eye to this summer’s World Cup tournament.  With music from soccer powerhouses Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and Italy, the concert will feature spirited rhythms and colorful melodies.  Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia was written for a ballet representing rural and gaucho life and incorporates Argentine folk melodies.  José Pablo Moncayo’s Huapango uses folk melodies from the Veracruz region of Mexico.  Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos’ Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra, which will be performed by the brilliant young saxophonist Christopher Bartz, is a rhythmic and lyrical piece for the seldom-heard soprano saxophone.  Rounding out the program are pieces by Verdi and Rimsky-Korsakoff. Played by a full orchestra, these composers’ outstanding instrumentation will shine.

The concert will be joined with an art exhibit in partnership with the Downey Arts Coalition featuring artworks that engage environmental issues.  It can be seen in the lobby before and after the performance.  Music Director Lavery will interview the soloist Christopher Bartz at 7:15 pm.  Long-time resident Priscilla Winslow, winner of the baton auction last year, will conduct the final pages of Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture.  Finally, a cookies, punch, and champagne reception following the concert will provide an opportunity for patrons to meet the orchestra and congratulate them on the completion of a successful season.  Altogether, the event will provide patrons with an elegant, engaging, and enjoyable evening.

For information go to  Tickets can be ordered online at, by phone at (562) 861-8211, or in person at the box office at 8435 Firestone Boulevard, Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the evening of the performance.

The February concert was sold out, so get tickets early while good seats are still available.



Published: March 20, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 49