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A veritable cavalcade of Bay Area artists, performers and community leaders, dozens of whom have collaborated with the late Michael Morgan in the past, will gather to honor the revered music director of the Oakland Symphony at a massive “We Remember Michael” free concert at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 in the orchestra’s home venue, the Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway.

In addition to the Oakland Symphony and Chorus, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the Oakland Ballet, participants include such luminaries as Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director of the San Francisco Symphony; mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade; Grammy-winning violinist and composer Mads Tolling; pianist Lara Downes; soprano Hope Briggs; labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta; singer, composer and conductor Terrance Kelly; pianist, composer, producer and bandleader Kev Choice; soprano Shawnette Sulker; composer and jazz bassist Ravi Abcarian and many more.

San Francisco Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen will participate in the tribute to Oakland Symphony’s Michael Morgan. (Photo courtesy Andrew Eccles)

They will be paying homage to Morgan, who died unexpectedly at age 63 on Aug. 20 after an infection set in following a kidney transplant in May. At the helm of the Oakland Symphony for 30 years, he was renowned for integrating his concerns for the community into his work with the orchestra. He also had extensive experience conducting the Festival Opera, the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, the Bear Valley Music Festival and the Gateways Music Festival, as well as serving as guest conductor at most of the major orchestras in the country, including the San Francisco Symphony.

Pianist Lara Downes will also play at the tribute. (Photo courtesy Max Barrett)

The concert program is eclectic, reflecting Morgan’s diverse interests and is billed, at this hour, as being, in keeping with his spirit, “subject to change, improvisation and whimsy.” Salonen will conduct the orchestra in a selection from Ravel’s “Ma mère l’Oye”; von Stade and Sulker will sing from the final trio in Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier”; the Gateways Brass Ensemble will perform a Duke Ellington medley, and there will be music by Leonard Bernstein, Scott Joplin, Nina Simone and many others. 

Although there is no admission price, attendees, who must be 12 years or older, are required to register in advance for tickets at oaklandsymphony.org. Proof of full vaccination is required for entry, and masks must be worn except when eating or drinking in the lobby at intermission.

The concert will be recorded and broadcast at 4 p.m. Oct. 24 through the Oakland Symphony website and radio station KDFC 90.3-FM.

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