Spotlight: San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony remains one of the premier arts organizations in Southern California, with roots going back over a century. This rich history, coupled with numerous contributions to the community, led to the Symphony being granted acclaimed Tier 1 status by the League of American Orchestras in 2010 — a status only given to world class outfits. Today the Symphony calls Copley Hall in downtown San Diego its home, and every summer offers several Summer Pops performances on an outdoor stage overlooking the Embarcadero Marina. All told, the organization offers some 140 performances each year, including the Jacobs Masterworks series with music director Jahja Ling; the City Lights series, featuring principal pops conductor Bill Conti; the Family Festival series, featuring family-friendly concerts; and Classical Edge, which examines classical music from varying versions and renditions.

Many performances remain for the 2014-2015 season, including Chopin and Dvorak, Nightmare on B Street with Bill Conti, An Evening with Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers, Martinu and Brahms, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, and A Salute to Vienna, to name just a few. Outside of the classically trained orchestra, many of world’s most famous musicians, from all types of genres, routinely play with the Symphony, from heavy metal guitarist/singer Dave Mustaine to renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

To ensure the continuation of such events, in 2002 the Symphony received the largest donation ever given to a Symphony — $120 million donated by philanthropists Joan and Irwin Jacobs. The Symphony returns the favor with community outreach programs that enlighten and entertain everyone from school children to senior citizens. Symphony musicians travel to schools and retirement communities to perform, and conversely the Symphony offers transportation for schools to bring children to Copley Hall. The annual Hot Shots young musician competition recognizes San Diego’s young talent, awarding them a chance to perform with the Orchestra during the season.

This month on October 25 the Symphony will hold its annual Opus Gala, a Rat-Pack “Come Fly With Me”-themed black-tie event honoring the Greatest Generation. The night will raise funds for the Symphony’s programs while featuring some of the world’s most influential composers such as Bernstein, Bizet, and Rachmaninoff. A cocktail hour and elegant dinner will precede a performance featuring the San Diego Symphony and Lola Astanova at the Jacobs Music Center. An after-party rounds out the night up at the University Club featuring live music, games, dancing, and more. Gala chairs are Hélène and George Gould; honorary chairs are Kevin and Katherine Faulconer. (619.235.0800sandiegosymphony.org)