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San Luis Obispo Symphony
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Orchestra

1954
Symphony is born in the form of the Morro Bay Community Orchestra with a small group of eleven musicians.   (Anniversary years are celebrated from the date of incorporation - 1961.)

1957
The group continues to grow and in this year moves to San Luis Obispo becoming part of the adult education program, changing its name to the San Luis Obispo Community Orchestra.

1961
A group of prominent local arts advocates initiates the incorporation of the San Luis Obispo County Symphony Association to provide an opportunity for talented young artists from the area to perform with a quality community orchestra. The competition now known as The Alice Nelson Music Scholarship Competition is begun and the first winner is featured as a guest soloist.

1965
Cuesta College becomes the sponsor of the Symphony and Dr. Earle Blakeslee, head of the Fine Arts Division becomes its conductor. During Dr. Blakeslees tenure as conductor the San Luis Obispo County Youth Symphony is created. Symphony moves its performances to the newly renovated Cuesta Auditorium.

1967
The first Symphony for Youth is performed inaugurating a tradition of Symphony programs for children.

1969
Dr. Clifton Swanson is hired as Music Director. Dr. Swanson is also a founder of the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. During his thirteen years of leadership the orchestra enjoys substantial artistic growth.

1984
During this year, Symphony's current Music Director, Michael Nowak is hired. A violist and conductor, Michael brings tremendous enthusiasm for contemporary American music to the Symphony.

1985
Urged on by Maestro Nowak, the Symphony initiates a series of music symposia and an extensive Music Education Program that now serves over 5,000 county school children every year.

1992
Symphony commissions and records a compact disc recording of Dr. Craig Russell's Concierto Romntico with Spanish classical guitarist Jos� Mar�a Gallardo del Rey.

1996
Symphony tours Spain featuring Craig Russells composition and Mr. Gallardo del Rey. The Performing Arts Center opens on the Cal Poly campus and the Symphony Season is SOLD-OUT on subscription.

1997
No Ties Allowed! Symphony FREE Dress Rehearsals are born as a response to the continually sold-out series concerts. Individuals and families are welcome to attend dress rehearsals on Saturday afternoons free of charge as part of Symphony's Music Education Outreach.

1998
Symphony enters its 3rd sold-out season at the Performing Arts Center and adds a fifth Series concert to its already impressive musical season.

1999
For the fourth year in a row, the San Luis Obispo Symphony Saturday Series is sold-out on subscription. Dr. Craig Russell is commissioned once again, this time to compose a Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra. A recording is planned for the Spring of 2000.

2000-2001 Season
October 2000
Symphony celebrates its 40th Anniversary Season! Beginning with a gala opening night at the Performing Arts Center and culminating with a performance at Carnegie Hall in April, 2001.

April 25, 2001
The Symphony performs at Carnegie Hall presenting two works by composer Craig Russell and featuring Jos� Mar�a Gallardo del Rey, Guitar soloist and Richard Todd, French Horn soloist. The hall is full and the performance earns two standing ovations!

April 27, 2001
The Symphony encores its successful Carnegie Hall concert program at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

2001-2002 Season
The 41st Anniversary Season opened on October 13, 2001. Highlights this season included a recital performance by Thomas Quasthoff on March 17, 2002.

2002-2003 Season
The Symphony expands its season schedule to include a series of Chamber concerts at the new Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande. Under the artistic direction of 2001 Grammy award winner Kathleen Lenski, Sundays in the Clark premiered November 24 with Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.

July, 2003
Composer Craig Russell's Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra, a San Luis Obispo Symphony CD released in 2000 and premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2001, is re-released on the Naxos Record label. The album is now available at record stores everywhere and at amazon.com.

2003-2004 Season
A series of photographs are taken of Symphony Principal Players by local photographer Karen McLain.  The photos show the players in outdoor settings around San Luis Obispo County.  An exhibit of these photographs is held throughout October and November at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo.

2004-2005 Season
The Symphony celebrates 20 years with Maestro Michael Nowak with a season of "Music & Memories."  An endowment fund is created to honor our dedicated conductor of two decades.

2005-2006 Season
Tour 2006 will take the Symphony to Australia for a performance at the Sydney Opera House in June.

2006-2007 Season
An extensive new Music Education program is launched. Everyday Etudes "brings classical music to the classroom and the classroom to the concert hall" in four San Luis Coastal elementary schools.  "Autumn Apex for Kids" brings another Children's Concert to the Symphony season in the fall.

 
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