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Cabrillo Festival Percussion

Cabrillo Festival Percussion Players

Galen Lemmon, principal

Current residence:
San Jose, CA

First played with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in: 2000

Born in: Pleasanton, CA

When not at Cabrillo Festival, I am: Director of Percussion Studies @ San Jose State University

Favorite piece performed at Cabrillo: Avner Dorfman's Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!

Galen-LemmonPrincipal Percussionist with Symphony Silicon Valley, Music Director of the U Music Percussion Program based in Fremont, CA
Soloist with the Cabrillo Orchestra in 2009.  Soloist with Symphony Silicon Valley in 2011.  Performed many solos with SJSU Wind Ensemble and Orchestra

Jim Kassis

Current residence: Oakland CA

First played with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in: 2002


Rieko Koyama

Current residence: Takarazuka, Japan

First played with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in: 2005


Ward Spangler

Current residence:
Oakland CA

First played with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in: 1983

Born in: Berkeley CA

When not at Cabrillo Festival, I am: Principal Percussion in the Berkeley Symphony and Oakland East Bay Symphony.  Section player with The Marin Symphony.  Freelance all over the Bay Area. I also play percussion with "Daniel Popsicle" which is led by Dan Plonse

My favorite piece performed at Cabrillo: Gorgon by Christopher Rouse

Ward-SpanglerWard Spangler is an active musician throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, performing diverse styles of music. He is Principal Percussionist with the Berkeley Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Fremont Symphony, and is a member of the Marin Symphony. Ward is also a member of the Cabrillo Music Festival of Contemporary Music, performing as Principal Percussionist with conductors Dennis Russell Davies, John Adams, and Marin Alsop. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, California Symphony, and the Santa Rosa Symphony. In 1981, he performed Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and since then has performed with many other ensembles, including the Arch Ensemble for Experimental Music, Composers, Inc., Earplay, New Music Works, and his own group, the Manufacturing of Humidifiers. In 2001, he performed the world premiere of David Sheinfeld’s Different Worlds of Sound, a piece for solo percussion and orchestra that was written for him, with the Berkeley Symphony. In 2002, he gave the U.S. premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Allegro ma non troppo for solo percussion and electronic tape in Berkeley, repeating the performance in 2004 at the Ojai Festival and again in 2005 in Berlin at the Philharmonie. He also performed Water Concerto by Tan Dun with the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2008 under the direction of Michael Morgan. Ward received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music at California State University, Hayward, where he studied with Jack Van Geem (Principal Percussionist with the San Francisco Symphony), Jerome Neff, and Danny Montoro.


Steve Hearn, Principal

Current residence:
Lakewood CO

First played with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in: 2002



Emily Wong, Principal

Current residence:
Yorktown Heights NY

First played with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in: 1976


It's odd to look back and realize I was almost a “baby” when I started playing the Festival. At the time, I was the youngest member at 21. How different the 70s were from the 2010s. And I wonder if we have become more, or less, tolerant? Or have we just learned what we truly love?

I learned how to "prepare" a piano with nuts and bolts, paper, and various objects between and on top of the strings. We played outdoor concerts that were like "happenings,” and we were "streaked" during one of our more formal indoor concerts. I watched audiences listen to music by John Cage composed through chance–a random order of notes played by four different orchestras simultaneously–and I was impressed at how willing our listeners were to open their minds to something so life-changing. It certainly changed my life. I saw then the potential to affect our lives through music, whether in building a tolerance for the unusual and unexpected, or in building communities.

The music became bigger and more passionate over the years. One of my most unforgettable moments was being so moved by the troubling yet inspiring story of Joan of Arc portrayed in Carl Dreyer’s silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. It was set to music for live orchestra by Richard Einhorn, and Marin was required to synchronize precisely with the timing of the film. About 40 minutes into the performance I suddenly noticed one of the violinists lean over and call my name, "Emily, Marin is trying to get your attention!" I looked up to see Marin desperately waving at me to play the very important tolling bells, and my crucial moment was quickly passing! These were the actual bells from Joan of Arc's town which had been recorded to be played by a keyboard. Thankfully, despite a distracted bell toller, Marin was able to skillfully keep us on track with the film. Since then I have been able to redeem myself with pieces like the virtuosic Concerto for Orchestra by Aaron Jay Kernis, by having actually played all of the notes (even the ones the composer didn't anticipate the pianist could play!).

So what is it that has drawn me back year after year? There is a sense of discovery–knowing that in the hands of someone like Marin, and before that Dennis Russell Davies, the Festival will be an adventure, sometimes thrilling, perhaps moving, or really off-the-wall. But always new and something worth talking about.

I must add that it's an ingenious side benefit (albeit born out of necessity) to have local residents host musicians. It brings us together both inside and outside of the concert hall, where we can discuss all of the new offerings of music. Did we like a piece, love it, hate it? It is through those conversations and shared experiences that I, among many others, have built lifelong friendships, for which I am eternally grateful.




All photos on the Percussion page by: r.r. jones