Cal Poly Symphony Opens Season with ‘Music from the New World’ Dec. 3

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cal Poly Symphony will be joined by composer and mandolin soloist Jeff Midkiff for its Fall Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, in Harman Hall in the Performing Arts Center’s Christopher Cohan Center. 

Midkiff will perform his Concerto for Mandolin and Orchestra, “From the Blue Ridge.” Composed on commission in 2011, the concerto draws on the composer’s deep experience in the bluegrass musical tradition and reflects his own roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. 

“The music blends foot-stomping energy with gorgeous melodies and orchestral color. The piece really shows Jeff’s inside knowledge of the orchestra, since he played clarinet professionally in orchestras for years,” said David Arrivée, conductor of the symphony.

Midkiff has performed the concerto across the nation, including a performance with the Boulder Philharmonic as part of the SHIFT Festival at the Kennedy Center. Of the work, he has said “I had struggled to keep the two — orchestra and mandolin — a ‘safe’ distance apart. But I knew I could say something with the mandolin on a symphonic scale. Deep down, I wanted to bring my most natural companion to the orchestra — two seemingly different worlds, together.”

The symphony will also perform Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World,” written in 1893. The composer had accepted an invitation by Jeannette Thurbur to become the artistic director of the National Conservatory of Music in America, located in New York City, and wrote the work during his tenure in the U.S.

He wrote to a friend, “The Americans expect great things of me. I am to show them the way into the Promised Land, the realm of a new, independent art, in short a national style of music!” While Dvořák did draw upon American sources such as spirituals, plantation songs and Native American melodies, he created a masterpiece that never leaves his native Bohemia far behind.

Tickets are $12 and $14 for the public, and $9 and $12 for students. Event parking is sponsored by the PAC. Tickets are available at the Cal Poly Ticket Office between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To order by phone, call SLO-4TIX (756-4849).

The Music Department offers a 10 percent discount to patrons who buy season tickets to four of its events through the Cal Poly Ticket Office; a 15 percent discount is given on tickets to five or more events.

The concert is sponsored by Cal Poly’s Music Department, College of Liberal Arts and Instructionally Related Activities program. For more information, call the Music Department at 805-756-2406 or visit the department’s calendar website at

Jeff Midkiff

Photo information: Guest composer and mandolin soloist Jeff Midkiff will join the Cal Poly Symphony for its Fall Concert on Dec. 3.

Contact: Michele Abba

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