About

From the Executive and Artistic Director

Fifty years ago, amid the rollicking and momentous events of spring 1968, Zellerbach Hall opened its doors to the public for the first time. At the end of May, multiple celebrations marked the occasion, and at one memorable concert, the legendary Igor Stravinsky sat in the tiers, there to hear his own works performed by the University Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and a host of guest artists.

Instantly, the cultural life of the Bay Area was transformed as audiences flocked to what was soon recognized as a superb performance venue and a performing arts center of national and international importance. Over the next five decades, the list of performers to appear in Zellerbach would grow to include nearly every major artist appearing before the public.


  • Renowned dance companies like the Mark Morris Dance Group, Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, Joffrey Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and the ensembles of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, and Mikhail Baryshnikov

  • Virtuoso instrumentalists including Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Alicia de Larrocha, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, and Jordi Savall

  • Stellar vocalists like Leontyne Price, Bryn Terfel, Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and Susan Graham

  • Storied orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Saint Petersburg's Mariinsky Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony, performing under esteemed conductors like Lorin Maazel, Andris Nelsons, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev, and Riccardo Muti


Major international theater companies. Master jazz musicians. Brilliant practitioners of chamber, early, and new music. Marcel Marceau. Julie Harris and Gregory Peck. Laurie Anderson, Ravi Shankar, Pete Seeger. Wynton Marsalis. Robert Lepage. Companies and performers from around the world, in programs celebrating the dazzlingly diverse world in which we live.

I am particularly pleased that this 50th anniversary of Zellerbach Hall's opening coincides with the recent announcement of Cal Performances' 2018–19 Season. The arts have always explored issues of consequence, common interest, and concern. But today, I sense a greater desire than usual for performances that are truly relevant—for music, theater, and dance that is not only transformational, but also engages vital issues affecting us locally, nationally, and internationally. This belief profoundly informs Cal Performances' 2018–19 Season, as our powerful Berkeley RADICAL programming initiative addresses two consequential subjects—the idea of home, as expressed through the notion of citizenship; and the importance of securing an equal voice for half of humanity. There is a sense of vulnerability in the world right now, and we feel a responsibility to ask artists to lead the way in helping us navigate our challenging sociocultural moment. (For full details, please pick up a copy of the season brochure, available in the lobby.)

As many of you know, my time of leadership at Cal Performances is now drawing to a close. Later this summer, I will assume my new responsibilities as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. Of course, I look forward to the challenges ahead with anticipation and excitement, but those feelings are tempered with the realization that I will be leaving such a fine organization and this world-class university.

Working with you—and for you—has been both an honor and a joy. The exceptional and diverse international artists who comprise the 2018–19 Season—a schedule packed with beauty, ideas, vision, and brilliant virtuosity—honor values I have supported and encouraged, in collaboration with the extraordinary Cal Performances team, over the past nine years. Please think of this upcoming season as my farewell gift to our inspiring cultural community. With all my best and warmest wishes, now and in the future.


Matías Tarnopolsky
Executive and Artistic Director,
Cal Performances