A Concert to Honor Michael Morgan, the Late Oakland Symphony Conductor

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Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony Jan. 19 in a concert curated by W. Kamau Bell.
Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony Jan. 19, 2018 in a concert curated by W. Kamau Bell. (Photo: Courtesy of Oakland Symphony)

The Bay Area’s music community lost a visionary in late August with the passing of Michael Morgan, the longtime music director and conductor of the Oakland Symphony. Morgan led the orchestra for 30 years, and was known for his omnivorous musical tastes, boundary-pushing collaborations and inclusive vision for classical music.

That spirit will certainly be present at the Oct. 19 We Remember Michael tribute concert to the late maestro, who died at age 63 of an infection that followed a successful kidney transplant. It features over three dozen guest musicians and ensembles with a special place in Morgan’s musical universe, including MC and classically trained pianist Kev Choice, jazz vocalist Tiffany Austin, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, civil rights hero Dolores Huerta and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.

Morgan had an ear for cross-pollenating classical music with hip-hop, rock and other popular genres, and a curiosity about overlooked and under-represented composers from history. His passion for making his orchestra accessible to people of different ages and backgrounds was palpable in Oakland Symphony’s programming. True to his inclusive vision, the concert features a number of youth ensembles, including Oaktown Jazz Workshops and Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“His music reflected his beliefs: reverence for the past, attuned to the future, rooted in his adopted home of Oakland,” said Oakland Symphony executive director Mieko Hatano. “His spirit will always guide the enduring future of the Oakland Symphony.”

Tickets for We Remember Michael are free, and there’s currently a waitlist.