Camino Chronicles Symphony



SAN JOSÉ, CA. — The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, Camino Arts and Symphony Silicon Valley are thrilled to announce the world premiere of a new work for orchestra during the 2020-2021 season. The symphony, commissioned by the Cox Center and Camino Arts from Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz, takes the heritage of El Camino Real as its theme. It is entitled “Camino Chronicles.”

The project also includes a commission of new work for folk ensemble from modern American folk musicians Petie and Michael G. Ronstadt. Their new work will comprise an album of songs also themed on the heritage of El Camino Real. The Ronstadt brothers will also be in residence at San José State to provide master classes in performance.

The joint commission also includes the development of software that combines a recording of “Camino Chronicles,” composer and artist interviews, heritage stories and curriculum into an interactive experience of the music and the history of El Camino Real. The app will be developed and produced by the Cox Center, Camino Arts and Urtext Digital Classics.

Composer Gabriela OrtizLatin Grammy nominated Gabriela Ortiz is one of the foremost composers in Mexico today, and one of the most vibrant musicians emerging in the international scene. Her musical language achieves an extraordinary and expressive synthesis of tradition and the avant-garde; combining high art, folk music and jazz in novel, frequently refined and always personal ways. Her compositions are credited for being both entertaining and immediate as well as profound and sophisticated. Her music has been commissioned and played by prestigious ensembles, soloists and orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa Pekka Salonen, Kroumata and Amadinda percussion ensembles, Kronos quartet, Dawn Upshaw, Sarah Leonard, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Pierre Amoyal, Southwest Chamber Music, Tambuco percussion quartet, The Malmo Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Venezuela, BBC Scottish Symphony, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic among others.

“I’m delighted and honored to give musical expression to this sacred and ancient pathway,” stated Ortiz. “It is a connector of continents, aspirations and livelihood. What better way to express its essence than through music.”

Cox Center Director Nick Taylor said, “John Steinbeck loved symphonic music. He is said to have listened to a recording of his favorite piece, Dvorak’s ‘New World’ symphony, while he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. The Cox Center is thrilled to partner with Camino Arts and Symphony Silicon Valley to inspire the next Steinbeck.”

Ms. Ortiz’s composition will consist of three movements: El Camino in pre-Columbian times; El Camino in the Baroque era; El Camino today.

To learn more about the Camino Chronicles project visit

In operation since 1973, The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies promotes Steinbeck’s goals of empathy and mutual understanding through public programming, free curriculum for teachers, and fellowships for emerging writers.

Camino Arts is a non-profit cultural and heritage initiative created to illuminate the intersection of sustainable communities and artistic endeavor through the unique cadence of a trail called El Camino Real.

Symphony Silicon Valley, founded in 2002, has become the greater South Bay's premiere orchestra and a notable community success story. The Symphony subscription season includes seven program sets of two or three concerts each, plus other programs such as December's Carols in the California, and additional concerts by the Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale. 

Nick Taylor
Director, SJSU Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies
(408) 808-2067