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  • Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 307 Church Street Santa Cruz, CA, 95060 United States (map)

MAY 5/6, 2018

Regarded by many as the greatest of all symphonic/choral masterpieces, we conclude our season with Mahler’s awe-inspiring Symphony No. 2, a work that established his lifelong view of the beauty of the afterlife and resurrection.  The Symphony is 1.5 hours in total. The intermission will occur after the first movement which lasts about 25 minutes.

We continue our long-standing tradition of featuring vocal stars from the Metropolitan Opera, as well as the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus led by Cheryl Anderson.

MAY 5/6, 2018


Mahler - Symphony No. 2 (Listen)

    Gabriella Reyes de Ramirez, Soprano
  Sara Couden, Contralto
  Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus, directed by Cheryl Anderson


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Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez, Soprano

Advancing in the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions—where some of today’s greatest opera singers launched their careers—is a lofty goal for any aspiring opera singer. To alumna Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez (B.M. '16, voice), soprano, it seemed “so far away.” But on March 19, Reyes walked away with the distinction of being one of just nine finalists who performed at the Grand Finals Concert, hosted by opera star Renée Fleming.

“It was so huge,” says Reyes. She admits that the road to the National Council Auditions was long, with much hard work and doubts. But performing “Il est doux, il est bon” from Massenet’s Hérodiade and Florencia’s Act II aria from Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas on the Met stage in New York City made it all worthwhile.

“I always wanted to do it,” Reyes says. At 24, she had several more years of eligibility to enter the auditions, but decided that this was "my coming out year." Reyes went into the competition hoping for the “encouragement” citation (essentially an honorable mention) in the New England region audition in late January. She “was in complete shock” when she realized that she had instead advanced to the national level. Twenty-three singers advanced to the National Council Auditions this year. After two rounds in New York City, six were chosen winners at the grand finals, with three remaining finalists.

Reyes inherited her love of opera from her grandmother, who sang along to Carmen when Reyes was a child in Connecticut. Reyes, whose family has roots in Nicaragua, was intrigued, but had other musical interests. Then she heard a recording of Rosa Ponselle, who sang at the Metropolitan Opera with Enrico Caruso in the early 20th century, and learned that Ponselle had grown up only a few doors down from Reyes’s family home in Meriden, Connecticut.

“Wow,” she thought. “That is what I want to do.”

The path to Boston Conservatory involved years of study and work. Her teacher, Patty Thom, “prepared me not only for my career but also to be the woman I am,” Reyes says. “She is a gem of a person and has a wealth of knowledge.” She also credits Conservatory teachers with helping her learn every aspect of an opera career—from résumé writing, to acting, to how to work with a conductor.

Thom, chair of voice and opera at the Conservatory, says that Reyes’s accomplishment is “gratifying because she worked so hard” both at her studies and at the jobs she held to help pay for school. “She had the perseverance,” Thom says, “to really find what she could become as a performer, and the graciousness to acknowledge those who had helped her.” Thom explains that the Conservatory focuses on performance, giving Reyes and others—such as Matthew Grills (B.M. '10, voice), a Boston Conservatory alumnus who won the National Council Auditions in 2012—a “chance to go to the edge, and see what that feels like, then step back and try again.” The multitude of performance opportunities available to Conservatory students allows them to gain the confidence needed to command a stage such as the Metropolitan Opera. Grills is now with the Munich Opera.

Reyes, who is now pursuing a performance certificate at Boston University, hopes to find a place in a Young Artists Program at a major opera house upon graduation. “Gabriella is the real deal,” says Conservatory director of opera studies Johnathon Pape. “She is a world-class talent, vocally and dramatically, and has so much to offer as a performer. I feel confident that she will go on to a wonderful, international career in opera.”

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Sara Couden, Mezzo Soprano/Contralto

Sara Couden (contralto, mezzo-soprano) has sung with musical organizations around the greater Bay Area, including Berkeley/West Edge Opera (The Voice of Antonia's Mother, Tales of Hoffman; Dryad, Ariadne auf Naxos), Livermore Valley Opera (Mamma Lucia, Cavalleria rusticana), Oakland Opera (Narcissus/Rumsfeld, Agrippina 2000), Lamplighters Theater (Ruth, Pirates of Penzance), Townsend Opera Players (Katisha, The Mikado), Martinez Opera (Belle Voci concert; Berta, Barbiere di Siviglia), North Bay Opera (Gala concert), Danville Role Players Ensemble (Katisha), San Francisco Bach Choir (Bach, Magnificat, and Vivaldi, Gloria), Monterey Symphony (Messiah) and San Jose Symphonic Choir (second alto soloist, Matthaus Passion).  She has been an active performer of new music, playing the role of The Singer in Nicholas Pavkovic's Sredni Vashtar, and Hera in Elliott Encarnacion's Troilus and Achilles.


She graduated with a Masters in Music from the San Francisco Conservatory in June 2011, at which institution she played roles such as the Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas), Bradamante (Alcina), Cornelia (Giulio Cesare), the Principessa (Suor Angelica), and Baba (The Medium).  She will begin her studies toward an Artist Diploma in Early Music at Yale this Fall (2012).


Sara is a member of Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, and will be studying at the Music Academy of the West this Summer (2012), playing the role of Mother Goose in The Rake's Progress.


Sara is a dedicated singer and actress, one who is always attempting to bring the demands of singing and acting, emotion and technique, and interpretation and intuition into the moment of performance.  Other interests include reading, writing, watching her friends perform, finding odd things on the internet, and attempting to learn how to cook.   She studies with Cesar Ulloa.

Earlier Event: May 4
League Preview - Resurrection
Later Event: May 6