Downey Symphony making history at Jan. 23 concert

DOWNEY – The Downey Symphony will make musical history at its concert on Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Downey Theatre—and the audience will be part of it as well.  

The orchestra will perform the world premiere of Bryan Kostors’ “To the Dust” and in fact commissioned the creation by the young composer.  

Kostors lives in Owens Valley, and his piece is a musical response to the diversion of water from the Valley to Los Angeles more than a century ago.  That diversion created an environmental disaster, leaving Owens Lake an alkali flat with punishing dust storms.
Court-ordered mitigation efforts are under way, but the Valley has never recovered.  Despite El Niño, the work’s theme is highly relevant, given the persisting drought. 

Kostors has also created a video that will accompany the music, making this an unusual and powerful multimedia event. For information and a trailer, see  

The concert showcases the orchestra’s string section. Also on the program are Mozart’s perennial favorite “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” (“A Little Nightmusic”), the English composer Gustav Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suite” (named after the Anglican Cathedral in London), and the Czech composer Anton Dvořak’s beautifully melodic “Serenade for Strings.”  

Maestra Sharon Lavery will give a free talk about the evening’s program at 7:15 pm.
Under Maestra Lavery, the Symphony has been committed to performing new music. 

“Symphonic music is not only a great tradition but a living art,” says Lavery, “and we want our audience to have the chance to hear new music as well as familiar favorites.”  

The Spanish composer Oscar Navaro’s “Downey Overture,” written for the orchestra and given its premiere in 2011, has since been performed widely in Europe and the United States. It will be performed at the April 9 concert, along with the West Coast premiere of his new “Concerto for Clarinet.”  

Last season, the orchestra performed the premiere of the string orchestra version of Kostors’ “Five Variations on Loss and Isolations,” which was received with enthusiastic applause.  

As usual, in partnership with the Downey Arts Coalition, Pat Gil and E. J. Ball have organized an exhibit of work by artists local and far flung on the theme, “Tempest: A Storm of Light, Nature, and the Human Condition.”  More than 20 artists will participate and works can be purchased. 

The Theatre’s doors open at 6:30 p.m. so that patrons can enjoy refreshments and view the art before the performance as well as at intermission. 

In addition, renowned local poet Frank Kearns has written a poem for this concert titled “Night Music.” It will be on a poster in the lobby and in the printed program as well.  

Larry Lewis, President of the Downey Symphonic Society, notes that “the Symphony’s concerts are increasingly providing a center where all the arts can come together and offer patrons a live and memorable experience.”

Good seats are still available.  Tickets are $30 or $35; students with ID $10.  The Box Office at 8435 Firestone Blvd. is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Tickets may also be ordered by phone at (562) 904-7230 or online at Free parking adjacent to Theatre.