“Santa Cruz Symphony delivers stunning rendition of Vivaldi, Holst”

"There was a buzz in the air … The might and vitality which Stewart brought out of the orchestra was just outrageous - in a fantastic way!"
"Highly successful … Something to behold … Took my breath away … It was all incredibly stunning."
"Regular patrons of the Santa Cruz Symphony and first-timers alike came away knowing that they would be back for more in this spectacular 60th anniversary season."
-Santa Cruz Sentinel

"To sum up this concert in one word would be quite impossible, however, I believe “brilliant” would lead one in the correct direction!"
"The orchestra’s reputation under Stewart has spread like wildfire."
"Stewart paid meticulous attention to detail, in particular to dynamics and the precise articulation. The result was a most compelling performance."
"Bravo Maestro and orchestra for a spectacular opening concert!"
-Peninsula Reviews

"The spine-tingling music and resounding applause from the Symphony performances are no doubt still reverberating around the walls of the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and Watsonville Mello Center."
"Music Director and Conductor Daniel Stewart’s multiple gifts as a musical leader are visible in his dedication to engaging with local artists as well as musicians of international renown."
"The Music of the Spheres production was a thrilling reminder of how lucky we are to have such phenomenal musical talent in our community, and what we can look forward to in the months ahead."
"The Santa Cruz Symphony brought these iconic scores to life in refreshing ways … an otherworldly experience that brought our attention upwards to “the Spheres”."
-Local Santa Cruz

Boston Ballet featured in the Huffington Post

Yuja Wang plays Beethoven and Brahms with the Santa Cruz Symphony

San Francisco Classical Voice

Nothing short of miraculous. The sheer excitement of witnessing such extraordinary musicmaking was an experience to be remembered.

The Queen of the Piano…The energy and excitement would not have been any less if Taylor Swift were about to appear.

She teased with subtle rubato and ritardando, challenging the orchestra to come along, but Stewart was always attentive to her signals, delivering harmonious support from the orchestra. 

As if the two concerti weren’t enough, Yuja responded to the audience’s fervor by performing three encores. The audience sighed, and was left mesmerized beyond what any pop queen could achieve.



Local Santa Cruz

Through their intimate involvement with their art, Yuja, Stewart, and the orchestral musicians drew us in to an unforgettable musical experience.

The audience was riveted and the anticipation was palpable.  At the end of each captivating movement, there was an audible sound of people remembering to breathe again.

The packed houses and thunderous audience ovations confirm Yuja’s status as one of this century’s most phenomenal artists; her collaboration with SCS verifies our orchestra’s superb commitment to bringing world-renowned artistry to local stages.

The orchestra was in complete attunement with Yuja’s range of creative expression. Maestro Stewart navigated the musicians in a graceful narrative that captured the poetic essence of Beethoven and Brahms. Yuja and Stewart’s instinctual understanding of the varied tempos and character within each composition made the music flow and come to life. 

Cause for celebration. Yuja’s playfulness during her multiple encores was a bright conclusion to such a powerful show.



Peninsula Reviews

Perfection was achieved. Rare, innovative programming, performed with brilliance, BRAVO!

Yuja Wang’s playing of this concerto displayed a flawless sense of the music’s ebb, flow and surge with exquisitely tapered phrasing. 

Intense attention to detail on the part of both Stewart and Yuja Wang.

Impressive emotional abandon, tempered at times by eloquent restraint of tone and dynamics — all perfectly coordinated under the baton of Stewart. 

Yuja demonstrated a sense of natural, refined technique that produced lavish color and subtle nuances.

Both the orchestra and soloist displayed ferocious temperament, brilliant virtuosity and poetic soul. The intensity of Yuja’s octave passages was simple awesome.

Both Maestro Stewart and Yuja Wang are impressive musical talents.


Daniel Stewart Makes a Statement with ‘Yuja II’

Acclaim for Verdi's Requiem with the Santa Cruz Symphony

Peninsula Reviews:

"Profoundly moving… Monumental and compelling throughout the 90-minute performance!"

"Stewart maintained an uncompromisingly close rapport with the soloists, orchestra and chorus throughout the concert. Directing from memory without a score, Stewart’s eye contact and gestures reflected his in-depth understanding of Verdi’s compositional intentions."

"Stewart guided and balanced with dynamic clarity the liturgical and operatic elements that followed the serenity of the opening moments — drawing our attention beyond any doubt to Verdi’s central conflict between terror and consolation."

"Stewart understood the musical, dynamic contrast between the pleas of post-mortal redemption and terrifying horror of Judgment Day."

"Maestro Danny Stewart was inspiring, and brought compelling emotional depth to the Santa Cruz Symphony, Chorus and soloists. They rose to an extraordinary artistic level high above their usual excellent playing."

"Bravo Maestro, orchestra, chorus and soloists for truly a monumental performance!"


Local Santa Cruz:

"Performed with superior technical skill and passionate conviction. The emotional intensity and majestic serenity of Verdi’s composition was powerfully expressed."

"Guided by Maestro Daniel Stewart’s commanding stage presence, the operatic, choral, and orchestral voices were consistently balanced and in harmony with each other."

"Stewart’s understanding of Requiem’s theatricality was apparent in his precise direction of each rhythmic contrast."

"The Symphony orchestra, Cabrillo Chorus, and guest soloists supported each other in service to Verdi’s music, making the profound quality of Requiem palpable."

"Stewart, the singers, and musicians conveyed the spiritual meaning and depth of mood."

"SCS performances go beyond entertainment to create an experience of music that is compelling and accessible to a modern audience."

"What makes the Santa Cruz Symphony so widely respected is how brilliantly it interprets on the modern stage."


Performing Arts Monterey Bay:

"Hair-raising stuff that shook the very foundations of the Mello concert hall."

"The choice of Michelle Bradley, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Stuart Neill and Peixin Chen, all with major operatic experience, was inspired. Their voices soared over the orchestra to fill the hall."

"The orchestra, for its part, was acutely responsive to conductor Stewart’s fully-memorized, finely shaped and dynamically presented vision."

"Not only one of my all-time favorite performances, but a highly memorable one as well. Daniel Stewart, his solo quartet, Cheryl Anderson’s Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus and the Santa Cruz Symphony itself have given me a fresh new impression that I will cherish."

Santa Cruz Sentinel:

"People around me were literally jumping out of their seats"

"One of the strengths of Daniel Stewart’s leadership of the Santa Cruz Symphony since he took over as music director three years ago is the high caliber of artists he has brought to the town. Last weekend was no exception. With four outstanding soloists, two of whom herald from the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist development program, a program for which Stewart had the honor of being its first conductor, the Symphony’s performance of Verdi’s “Requiem” was impressive. Their projection combined with the keen ear of Stewart that not a note of their solos and ensembles was lost amidst the rich orchestration."


Yuja Wang Returns to Santa Cruz for Surprise Encore Concerts

For Immediate Release—Santa Cruz, Calif. Santa Cruz Symphony Music Director, Daniel Stewart announced at the March 25 & 26 “Fratres” concerts that Yuja Wang will be returning to Santa Cruz County for a surprise set of encore concerts on June 24 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and June 25 at the Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts in Watsonville.

“Following the rapturous reception to Yuja Wang's debut with the Santa Cruz Symphony this past February, it is a unique honor to look forward to presenting her for the second time this season, in a pair of surprise encore concerts. After having brought the final concertos of both Prokofiev and Brahms for our previous concerts, we thought it would be fun to program the first concertos of both Beethoven and Brahms for our next concerts together,” states Music Director Daniel Stewart. “Where else in the world could one hope to hear Yuja Wang perform four piano concertos in four months?”

It is a distinct tribute to her working relationship with Stewart that she is returning so quickly to perform with him and the Santa Cruz Symphony again.

“Under Stewart’s inspired guidance, Yuja and the orchestra created a musical conversation within the challenging concertos that left a lasting impression of symphonic harmony,” said Fleur Williams of Local Santa Cruz of their first concerts in February.
“Yuja Wang is one of those incredible pianists...with the ability to set the keyboard on fire with her technical capacity and musical prowess to master a nearly impossible work while displaying a depth of understanding and an effortless virtuosity,” said Joe Sekon of PeninsulaReviews.com. “She demonstrated these skills in Sunday’s concert where she was perfectly matched with Maestro Stewart’s keen ear and direction.

San Francisco Classical Voice agrees. “The orchestra under Stewart’s baton was crisp, energetic, and tightly wound. Yuja matched this quality with ease. The result was an enjoyable performance of a spiky concerto.”

For those who have yet to see Yuja Wang live in concert, this is an opportunity to hear, as the Washington Post describes her, “quite simply, the most uncannnily gifted pianist in the concert world today."

Tickets go on sale at noon Wednesday March 29 online at SantaCruzTickets.com, at the Civic Box Office at 307 Church Street in Santa Cruz or by calling the box office at (831) 420-5260.



Local Santa Cruz

"The Santa Cruz Symphony Uplifts Us Again"

"The Santa Cruz Symphony has once again done what it does best: commemorating world-famous scores and composers from the past, spotlighting distinguished contemporary musicians, and bringing audiences to the edge of their seats."

"As with all of their classical concerts, the performances highlighted remarkable technical ability, creative ingenuity, and compelling stage presence."

"The Symphony’s choices in material and artists define what makes classical music the rich art form that captivates and uplifts audiences."

"A slow, gradual crescendo emphasized how moments of pause hold as much power as movement, and had listeners spellbound."

Peninsula reviews

"The audience was once again treated to Director Daniel Stewart’s innovative programming."

"Most impressive was the control of dynamics performed in all three works."

"This performance exemplified the kind of subtle control of dynamics more commonly found in commercially-produced recordings than in live performances! On this very point alone the Santa Cruz Symphony has risen to yet another important level."

"The overall effect was superb — it was a new sound experience in precise control employing minimal motion that created a floating and surreal almost mystical sonority. Very well executed!"

"Bursts of orchestral energy reinforced the idea with impressive, contrasting dynamics shaping the contours of the ideas Schubert had composed."

"The cryptic references to the previous movements were masterfully combined by Stewart with fine orchestral precision and impressive tonal balance to its very conclusion. This concert was unique and thoroughly enjoyed by the overwhelming applause!"


Performing Arts Monterey Bay

"Daniel Stewart and the strings of his Santa Cruz Symphony gave one of their best shows. I don’t remember when this ensemble of violins, violas, cello and basses sounded better."

"Stewart demonstrated commitment to and skill in preserving the character of the string quartet itself, modulating the dynamics accordingly. Likewise was the musicians’ response to his subtle phrasing and molding of the nearly 45-minute score that is notorious for undoing less than the most-seasoned ensembles who take it on. The range of dynamics ran from fortissimo to pianissimo, back and forth, as well as the ‘mezzos’ in between."

Santa Cruz Sentinel


"The rich string sound was magical."

"When Stewart broke the news that Wang would be returning to Santa Cruz in late June in an additional concert to the regular season his news was greeted with rapturous applause from the audience who were thrilled at the prospect."

"Santa Cruz Symphony: Yuja Wang Triumphs"

Local Santa Cruz:
Yuja’s detailed expression and rhythmic precision beautifully matched Maestro Daniel Stewart’s sensitivity for mood and timing. Under Stewart’s inspired guidance, Yuja and the orchestra created a musical conversation within the challenging concertos that left a lasting impression of symphonic harmony

Peninsula Reviews
Orchestral balance was superbly supportive and imaginative. Well done orchestra, Yuja Wang and Maestro Stewart for yet another unforgettable musical experience!

Performing Arts Monterey Bay
Stewart was animated and boldly in charge on the podium. His orchestra measured up to great effect but also felt the weight of the piece.

SF Classical Voice
The orchestra under Stewart’s baton was crisp, energetic, and tightly wound. Yuja matched this quality with ease. The result was an enjoyable performance of a spiky concerto.


Acclaim for Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Santa Cruz Symphony

Local Santa Cruz:
-"The Symphony’s production of the opera was a musical triumph"
-"Last weekend’s performances received waves of laughter and wholehearted standing ovations from an audience spanning all backgrounds and ages. With the Santa Cruz Symphony providing such electrifying presentations, it’s clear why"
-"The soloists, Stewart, and the Santa Cruz Symphony managed the musical and theatrical mechanisms with extraordinary style, skill, and ease. Under Stewart’s guiding hand, the orchestra had a natural swing and closely timed collaboration with the singers."

Santa Cruz Sentinel:
-"The three hour show was rapturously received by a full house."
-"Where else could you find so many New York Metropolitan Opera soloists performing together on stage in one place?"
-"Stewart did an admirable job working to keep a splendid balance between the singers and the instrumentalists"

Peninsula Reviews:
-"The Santa Cruz Symphony under the direction of conductor Daniel Stewart presented a thrilling performance of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia to a sold out audience"
-"Quite obviously the time and work spent in NY with the Metropolitan Opera has paid huge dividends for Maestro Stewart. His experience in opera was quite evident as he bobbed and weaved through the melodic lines while the orchestra created crisp, clean entries and wonderful dynamic balance."
-"The all-star cast assembled for this exciting performance included Ginger Costa-Jackson as Rosina, Victor Ryan Robertson as Count Almaviva, John Michael Moore as Figaro, Steven Condy as Dr. Bartolo, Ryan Speedo Green as Don Basilio, Susanne Mentzer as Berta, and Hadleigh Adams as Fiorello. Special kudos were deserved by stage director David Paul and choral director Cheryl Anderson"

Performing Arts Monterey Bay:
-"A superb presentation….Excellent throughout….Brilliant….Well-controlled and a delight to watch…..Both well-played and well-sung….Very impressive"
-"This performance left me very pleased. To hear such a quality Barber was an unexpected thrill. "
-"I would hope that the Santa Cruz Symphony will continue in future to venture into this kind of opera production. To present an opera as I saw it, with top young singers, imaginative staging and full orchestra, fulfills a need. It will keep opera alive and well"


"Maestro Danny Stewart opened the Symphony’s 59th Season to a sold out, enthusiastic audience"

"The performance was brilliant…a thunderous standing ovation in appreciation of this monumental performance."

"A well-constructed program, executed with profound thought and precision."



2015-2016 Santa Cruz Symphony Season Opening Concert Reviews

Symphony displays glorious diversity in sound - Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz Symphony, March 22 - Performing Arts Monterey Bay