In March 1958, a group of local musicians placed an ad in the Santa Cruz Sentinel calling for symphony orchestra members. What started as a small gathering of six quickly grew to a group of seventy musicians. After only ten rehearsals, the group presented their first concert at the Civic Auditorium, receiving a standing ovation from the attending 2,000 people. Since its successful debut, the Santa Cruz Symphony has continued to expand the breadth of audience and evolve the scope of its highly acclaimed programs. Under the current leadership of internationally renowned Maestro Daniel Stewart, the organization is preparing to open a dynamic 2016-2017 season the first weekend in October.
The Symphony performs ten classical concerts from October through May, held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and the J. Mello Center in Watsonville. It represents the best of traditional and the boldest of modern orchestra music, and showcases regional and international guest artists. The organization makes music accessible to a wide crowd and reaches audiences of all ages by also including benefit concerts, a reduced-admission Family Concert, free school-trip concerts, and Classical Music Classrooms, an in-class music listening program.
The organization continues to be praised throughout California and developed by the artistic excellence and energy of Maestro Stewart. Stewart is entering his third year as Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony. He has received high honors in the classical music industry for his work, including the Aspen Music Festival’s James Conlon Conducting Prize. Stewart apprenticed with James Levine, the legendary pianist, conductor, and music director for the Metropolitan Opera, who appointed Stewart conductor under the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Since then, Stewart has conducted the Saint Louis Symphony, the New World Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hessischer Rundfunk Orchester, and the Frankfurt Opern und Museumschaft Orchestra. In addition to being recognized for conducting and coaching, Stewart’s own musical compositions have been performed with the Santa Cruz Symphony and at the Aspen Music Festival, the Tribeca New Music Festival, and the Verbier Festival. He has been a principal violist for prestigious ensembles, performed as an orchestral musician, and toured in over 40 countries.
With Stewart leading since 2013, the orchestra continues to highlight some of the most distinguished musicians from the Monterey and San Francisco Bay Areas. The upcoming season features world-renowned soloists, competition prizewinning virtuosos, and principal vocalists from the Metropolitan Opera. This year the Symphony will be presenting their first ever Concert-Opera with one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. To celebrate current events, concerts will include politically themed programs – the season opens with Vox Populi, a performance of Bernstein, Beethoven, Mollicone, and Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, and will conclude with Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, a passionate prayer for peace.
The Santa Cruz Symphony also extends the inspiration of music by collaborating with other cultural community outreach programs. Partners include the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony, the Cabrillo Symphonic Orchestra, the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, and the Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band.
The community is invited to a Free Open Rehearsal on September 30, 2016 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 7:30-10:00 pm.
To celebrate the Santa Cruz Symphony’s opening concert on Saturday October 1, 2016, there will be a street party in front of the Civic at 5:30pm, with jazz band Groove Service and food by Margaritaville.
Visit the Santa Cruz Symphony website to purchase single or season tickets for 2016-2017.