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Residency activities and world premiere of a new work by Viet Cuong, his first during a three-year residency with California Symphony



The California Symphony is thrilled to announce the selection of Viet Cuong as its next Young American Composer-in-Residence (YACR) for a three-year period beginning with the 2020/21 season.  The YACR program offers emerging composers unprecedented opportunities to create, rehearse, premiere, and record three major orchestral compositions.

In each year of the residency, Viet Cuong will collaborate with Music Director Donato Cabrera and the Orchestra to compose a new work, while also developing his craft through in-depth engagement with a professional orchestra —getting instantaneous feedback from Maestro and the musicians during workshops and rehearsals, with the opportunity to revise and refine the work prior to its public performance.

Young American Composer-in-Residence Program

The YACR program is unique among composer-in-residence programs because its three-year duration allows deep relationships to develop among the composer, music director, and musicians, and allows the composer to gain useful insights into how an orchestra functions.  According to Katherine Balch, whose YACR tenure will conclude this spring, “So often when you work with an orchestra as a composer, it’s just one or two rehearsals, then the show, and you’re done interacting with that organization. But the California Symphony gives a chance to a young artist to invest in and be invested in by a community. To me this type of synergy and opportunity for dialogue is what makes the artistic process more meaningful for everyone.”

The works created by the composer increase in complexity with each season.  In the first year, the composer writes an overture approximately ten minutes long; for the second year the composer writes a concerto featuring the instrument of his/her choice; and the final composition is a full-length orchestral work, 30-40 minutes long.  Each work receives its world premiere during a concert as part of the California’s subscription series at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

The 2020/21 Season

Throughout the 2020/21 season, Mr. Cuong is scheduled for quarterly conferences with Maestro Cabrera as he develops his first piece for the Symphony.  His first visit to Walnut Creek will take place in January 2021  for a workshop with the Orchestra, which will be recorded so he can further develop and refine his composition over the following months. After final rehearsals in May, the world premiere of the piece will be performed during the Symphony’s final subscription concerts at the Lesher Center for the Arts, May 15 and 16, 2021. We anticipate an audience of close to 800 people for each performance.

During his visits to Walnut Creek, Mr. Cuong will get to know Orchestra musicians, participate in media interviews and donor meetings, and meet local students, including those participating in Sound Minds, California Symphony’s music education program for at-risk students.  In previous years, the school visits have proven to be inspiring for both the composer and students, who are eager to learn about the composing process and the life of a professional composer.  Participating students will also be invited to attend the world premiere performance at the Lesher Center.

Project Media

Electric Aroma (a most disagreeable noise)
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Features: Viet Cuong

Work for chamber orchestra composed by Viet Cuong, California Symphony Young American Composer-in-Residence 2020-2023. Performed by Alarm Will Sound, Alan Pierson, conductor

Artifacts – Katherine Balch
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World premiere of Katherine Balch’s Artifacts, a violin concerto composed during her second year as Young American Composer-in-Residence (2017-2020). Performed by California Symphony on May 5, 2019 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA.

Start and End Dates



Walnut Creek, California

Project Created By

Walnut Creek, California
The California Symphony, now in its seventh season under the leadership of Music Director Donato Cabrera, is distinguished for its concert programs that combine symphonic classics alongside American repertoire and works by living composers, for bringing music to people in new and unconventional settings.  Over the last four years, the California Symphony’s audience has nearly…

In Collaboration With

Washington, District Of Columbia


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