San Diego Symphony 2021 To The Earth Festival. Text reads 'To The Earth: A Day in the Life of the Earth'. Images of birds soaring over mountains, rushing water, and a mountain reflected in a lake in twilight.

June 16 — June 25:
Celebrate A Day In The Life Of Earth

Join us for our FREE virtual festival this June
with music inspired by our beautiful blue planet

Planet Earth is a miraculous place.

San Diegans are especially blessed by the unique beauty of our region, where the ocean, desert and mountains meet, and where two countries share not just a border but also a delicate ecosystem. Our planet offers abundance and sustenance for all human life, but its fragile balance is increasingly threatened.

From June 16 – June 25, join Music Director Rafael Payare and Festival Curator Steven Schick in San Diego Symphony’s week-long festival that celebrates the life-giving magic and wonder of our planet Earth in music, poetry and conversation. Consisting of 3 performances that explore light, water and life, To The Earth showcases the influence of our planet in artistic expression and our shared responsibility to protect and preserve our habitat. Free and open to the public, To The Earth programs will be live-streamed on the San Diego Symphony’s Facebook and Youtube.

Watch Events for FREE at the Links Below

Festival programming

Wednesday, June 16, 6PM PDST

Opening Panel Discussion

Steven Schick, "To The Earth" festival curator
Margaret Renkl, author and columnist
Gabriela Ortiz, composer
Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO, moderator

The life-giving powers of nature have inspired artists for centuries. Fast-forward to today: environmental issues we all face, such as climate change, present new challenges to all inhabitants on the planet. Join musicians and composers from "To the Earth" in exploring how creative artists can tap creative thought to respond to these issues through their art. How can we reimagine our individual contributions and their impact on our shared home?

Latin Grammy®-nominated Gabriela Ortiz is one of the foremost composers in Mexico today. Her music combines high art, folk music and jazz in novel, expressive and personal ways. Her piece Vitrales de ambar (Stained Glasses of Amber) is featured on the June 23 program, "Noon: The Rush of Water".

Our Special Guest Panelist is acclaimed New York Times columnist Margaret Renkl, author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss and the upcoming Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South. (Follow this link to reserve your copy of Ms. Renkl's latest book through Warwick's, America's oldest family-owned and operated bookstore.)

Watch Now for FREE on YouTube

Friday, June 18 | 7:00PM PDST

Morning: Birds and Light

Join Festival Curator Steven Schick and Music Director Rafael Payare in a program that explores birds and light in music and written poetry by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and John Haines. Bird-like flutes from Haydn’s Symphony No. 6 capture the sounds of dawn on a spring day. In Messiaen’s Le merle noir, the short motivic bursts of activity in the cadenzas and the wild grace notes imitate the call and fluttering of the blackbird. The sunshine dances in Missy Mazzoli’s The Sound of Light and John Luther Adams’s songbirdsongs, based on Adams’s studies of actual bird songs, ends the program.

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Wednesday, June 23 | 7:00PM PDST

Noon: The Rush Of Water

Join Festival Curator Steven Schick and Music Director Rafael Payare in a program capturing the essence of life and flexibility of water. The quiet, resilient power of light is captured in poetry by Emily Dickinson and Monica Sanchez Escuer, and Debussy’s Prelude to "The Afternoon of a Faun" conjures the seductive warmth of the sun. Gabriela Ortiz’s shimmering textures shine in Stained Glasses of Amber, a work that follows the journey of a monarch butterfly, migrating from the composer’s native Mexico to Canada. Excerpts from Tan Dun’s shimmering work for percussion ensemble, Water Music, explore the sounds that surround us, if we choose to listen closely. Haydn’s Symphony No. 7, nicknamed “Le Midi” denotes noon, and our concert ends on a clear sunny day.

Watch on June 23 for FREE

Friday, June 25 | 7:00PM PDST

Evening: The Earth Rests

Join Festival Curator Steven Schick and Music Director Rafael Payare in the final segment of the San Diego Symphony’s To the Earth festival. At the end of every day,  the earth rests and so do we.  We begin the program with words of wisdom by Wendell Berry and later hear San Diego's own Gill Sotu, who performs a newly commissioned poem. Osvaldo Golijov’s Mariel captures the moments just before the loss of a beloved friend, and we offer Lili Boulanger’s D'un soir triste (Of a Sad Evening), written shortly before her death at the age of 24. We end with Haydn’s Symphony No. 8, the finale of his programmatic symphonic triptych inspired by the times of day, with an evening thunderstorm. Festival curator and percussionist Steven Schick performs on tuned flowerpots and recites an ancient Greek text in a final ode To the Earth.

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Full Program Details

Upper left: Festival Curator and percussionist Steven Schick

Lower left and upper right: Music Director Rafael Payare leads the orchestra in a recording of “What’s that Sound? First Music from the Shell”

Lower right: San Diego Symphony percussion section and Steven Schick performing Tan Dun’s "Water Music"

TO THE EARTH is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.