Twenty-five years ago, the Oakland Symphony was an exciting cultural phenomenon in the San Francisco Bay Area. Conducted by a charismatic young African- American, Calvin Simmons, the orchestra was surging in popularity among subscribers and music critics alike. Its showcase home was the gorgeously restored Paramount Theatre, an art deco gem listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The symphony had just won its first award for adventurous programming from the American Society of...

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