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The Symphony's 91st season, and its first with Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong began with a very well-attended and well-received first Classical Series concert weekend. The Symphony launched its "Ask Francesco" campaign at this concert, inviting attendees to write out a question for the maestro. Answers to some of the questions are provided below, and still others will be answered briefly, from the stage, post performances. And Francesco Lecce-Chong is in the house! The Symphony has been making good use of his presence in the two weeks leading up to the next concert weekend. 

Looking into this month of gratitude, the Symphony has much to be grateful for, not least of which is its marvelous patrons. 

Clef Notes

with Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong

I was so inspired by my first set of concerts as Music Director of your Santa Rosa Symphony! What better way to get started than with the most iconic symphonic work, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, a deeply moving new work to celebrate this amazing community by Paul Dooley and a brilliant guest violinist in Arnaud Sussmann! The orchestra musicians brought intensity, passion and flair to the performance, and I cannot wait to continue our work together.
Our upcoming concert set celebrates the Leonard Bernstein Centennial as we perform his most popular work, the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. I have to admit that I entered this fall not particularly excited to perform this work yet again. Even Bernstein was frustrated that he was known as the "composer of West Side Story" to the detriment of his other incredible works and I've certainly participated in more performances of it than I can list here. However, great works of art exist for a reason and in approaching this piece with a fresh look, I've been reminded of why West Side Story is such an important work of art. In his modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Bernstein brings together several cultures through European dance (classical ballet), American dance (swing) and Latino dance (mambo). Bernstein truly believed that music could change the world and West Side Story was a direct response to the gang violence he experienced in his beloved New York City. With this in mind, I am reinvigorated to bring this piece once again to the stage to celebrate what Bernstein understood: the greatest strength and hope for the human race lies in our diversity.
I look forward to welcoming you back to the Green Music Center and taking another amazing musical journey with you!

Yours truly,
Francesco Lecce-Chong

Superstar guitarist Sharon Isbin and 
Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

"Dancing Across Time"
November 3, 4 & 5

Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor

Multiple Grammy-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin returns to Santa Rosa Symphony to play Heitor Villa-Lobos' monumental Guitar Concerto, inspired by his friendship with Andrés Segovia, with dance rhythms both delicate and patriotic.

In addition to the more than 180 orchestras she has performed with worldwide, Sharon has also performed at the White House for the Obamas, at Ground Zero for the first internationally-televised 9/11 memorial and was featured soloist on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning film "The Departed." She has commissioned and premiered more concerti than any other guitarist and is the winner of Guitar Player's Best Classical Guitarist award. See why on November 3, 4 or 5. 

"Dancing Across Time," also features Zoltán Kodály's Dances of Galánta, which are heavily influenced by Hungarian Gypsy dance music, Franz Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1, which tells the tale of Faust's bedevilment as he sensuously dances with a woman out into the woods, and finally Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Buy Tickets

Take Sharon Isbin's music home!

Multiple titles available 

Enjoy five CDs for only $30 with this boxed set: Sharon Isbin: 5 Classic Albums, which includes the Villa-Lobos Concerto she will be playing at "Dancing Across Time" and two Grammy Award-winning albums. Also available for $20 each are the following titles: 

Alma Epanola: Sharon Isbin & Isabel Leonard (New Release)
Sharon Isbin & Friends: Guitar Passions 
Journey to the New World (with Joan Baez and Mark O'Connor, Grammy Award)
Bach for Guitar/Complete Bach Lute Suites
American Landscapes (Corigliano/Foss/Schwantner concerti)

In addition to all this great music, you can own your own copy of the one-hour documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour (DVD and Blu-ray), winner ASCAP Television Broadcast Award, for $30. 


Don't forget!


Saturday and Monday Classical Series performances begin at

7:30 pm! 


Daylight Savings ends Saturday, November 3!

Clocks turn back an hour. 


Warm welcome for Maestro Lecce-Chong

The Symphony ushered in a new era under the baton of Francesco Lecce-Chong with a celebration to welcome the maestro ahead of his inaugural concert season as music director. This festive fundraiser welcomed 155 guests, with net proceeds of more than $300,000—a record level in the Symphony’s 14-year history of such events—all of which will benefit the Symphony’s music education programs.
President & CEO Alan Silow said, “It was a genuine thrill to welcome our new music director Francesco Lecce-Chong in this meaningful way, and we are so gratified at such generosity from patrons who share his love of the Symphony’s music education programs.”
Following a lively reception in Prelude Restaurant at the Green Music Center, guests enjoyed an intimate recital featuring spellbinding violinist Arnaud Sussmann, accompanied by SRS principal pianist Kymry Esainko, from their seats on the concert stage.
During a post-recital dinner in the Green Music Center lobby, a number of speakers welcomed Francesco, including SRS principal clarinetist Roy Zajac, Board Chairman Jamei Haswell and President & CEO Alan Silow. Francesco himself spoke about his artistic vision for the Symphony, highlighting his deep commitment to music education.
Before this year’s record-setting paddle raise for music education, violinists Juliana Avalos and Litzy Hernandez and cellist Joshua Huerta of Simply Strings, the Symphony’s free after-school music training and social development program for Roseland youth, performed for the guests. Juliana moved attendees with her personal story, sharing the inspiration of being able to pursue music and the opportunities she’s had to expand her involvement in the community through musical performance.
View photo gallery at The Press Democrat

You asked!

Francesco Lecce-Chong answers

You have an interesting last name combination. Share with us how it came about. -Anonymous
My last name reflects my half-Italian (from my mother), half-Chinese (from my father) heritage.
What is your favorite piece to conduct, and why? -Nathan
I'm not sure if there's an exact piece, but I will say that conducting Brahms is the most beautiful feeling. More than any other composer, Brahms' orchestral music experienced from the podium, surrounded by all the instruments and rich harmonies, is a unique sensation.
Hello Francesco, at today’s concert (10/7/18) I felt the orchestra was different (better) especially in the Brahms. I’ve never heard them play in such a collaborative balanced manner with the soloist. My question – who are you focusing on to make it more precise and sensitive? It’s wonderful! -Judy Walker
I'm so glad you felt this! It truly is a group effort and the credit goes to the musicians for bringing that level of musical sensitivity and ensemble. In getting to know the hall, I had to experiment with asking the musicians to play in different ways to create the clarity I wanted, so their flexibility and extra attention to the smallest details are what really made the music come alive!
Can one relate music to sports? How? Example? -Frank Ngo
Funny you should ask because one of my great teachers once compared conducting to football. He said that in rehearsal, my mental mindset had to be like a football coach - deciding on the plays and preparing the team for the game. Then, in the concert, my mindset needed to switch to being the quarterback - leading on the field and adjusting in the moment. That advice has always served me well.
What are your five most inspiring compositions to date? -Shannon
This is constantly shifting for me since I'm always inspired by whatever great work I'm currently studying - but I would say that the most inspiring works for me that I'm conducting this season (2018-2019) would be:
Bernstein: Symphony No. 2 The Age of Anxiety
Mahler: Symphony No. 4
Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy
John Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony
Verdi: Requiem

Meet our musicians

Andy Butler


Santa Rosa Symphony’s Acting Principal Bass Andy Butler’s interest in the bass happened almost by accident. “I was playing piano and trumpet in a middle school rock band. The bass player left his equipment at my house, and one morning I just picked it up and could play all sorts of cool bass lines, like the theme from Barney Miller and Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On.
Andy, who has been with the Symphony for 14 years, especially loves to play Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. “I am extremely grateful that I am able to be a full time orchestral/opera bassist performing regularly with seven orchestras . . . I still love to practice and am continually amazed by the creative process of being a performing artist!”
Over the years he has played upright and electric bass with jazz, funk, bluegrass, blues and klezmer bands. He’s also a teacher and mentor. “What I enjoy most about teaching and mentoring is watching hidden talent emerge from kids who didn't even know they had it!”

Andy is fascinated by space, physics and astronomy. His dad worked at Lockheed. "We talked a lot about the 'mysteries' of the universe, black holes, the paradox of traveling at or near light speed, etc.  We also had a close family friend, Senior Astrophysicist John Mather [2006 Nobel Prize in Physics], who would visit once or twice a year and bring us the latest news from NASA."  Andy's wife is a physicist and his daughter is studying Astrophysics in college. 

Symphony pro tip
Did you know that you can pre-order your drinks before the concert to pick up at intermission? Arrive early to place your order at the concession counter. Pre-paid drinks will be waiting on the left side of concessions. 


Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensembles
November Concerts and more

Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra side-by-side at SRS' "Dancing Across Time" 
Saturday, November 3, 2:00 pm  and 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 4, 3 pm
Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein
Weill Hall, Green Music Center

Young People’s Chamber Orchestra
Sunday, November 4, 7:00 pm
Ariadne meets Frankenstein: Mythology and Monsters 
Phoenix Theater, Petaluma

Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra
Saturday, November 10, 3:00 pm 
New Beginnings 
Weill Hall, Green Music Center

Debut Orchestra and Aspirante Orchestra
Sunday, November 11, 3:00 pm
Stories in Sound
Jackson Theater, Sonoma Country Day School

Tickets for concerts listed above
Advance: $15/adult  $5 / student  $10 / group
At the door: $20 / adult   $10 / student

(707) 546-8742  or

Admission for the recitals and the Seminario Concert listed below is free and no tickets or reservations are required. 

Simply Strings Recital
Friday, November 16, 6:00 pm
Come early and enjoy dinner provided by the Simply Strings Parents Association to benefit the program.
Piner High School Auditorium

Chamber Winds Recital
Saturday, November 17, 3:00 pm  
Musicians from Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra in a concert of chamber music.
First Presbyterian Church of Petaluma 

Seminario Concert
Simply Strings joins the Sonoma State University Orchestra and three other Bay Area 
El Sistema inspired programs
Saturday, November 17, 7:30 pm
Weill Hall, Green Music Center

Adopt a young musician

Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensembles Practice-a-Thon fundraiser concludes on November 11. There's still time to pledge your support of our young musicians. They are raising funds in correspondence to the number of hours they practice. Pull a card off the display in the Weill Hall Lobby at "Dancing Across Time" or call the SRS Music Education Institute at 707-546-7097 x 220 to adopt a young musician.

New Board Member

Mary Chapot

Please welcome Santa Rosa Symphony's newest board member, Mary Chapot. With her fiduciary and musical experience, along with her team spirit and dedication, she will be a great asset to the Symphony moving forward.

Music has always been central to Mary Chapot’s life. In 1984, after finishing her studies in vocal performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Chapot completed a Master’s Degree in Music History at San Francisco State University. She spent many years in the Bay Area, performing with a variety of groups, including the San Francisco Choral Artists, the Pacific Mozart Ensemble and the Baroque Arts Ensemble. Currently, she is very active in her church, The Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Santa Rosa, as a vocal soloist and as a music coordinator responsible for programming service music. In addition to her classical studies, Chapot also enjoys singing jazz, both as soloist and with small ensembles.
Since 2012, Chapot has operated her own business as a private, professional fiduciary. Her job titles have included conservator, trustee and executor, financial power of attorney and health care agent. Chapot recently joined the Trust and Investment Management team at Exchange Bank as a Personal Trust Officer, Assistant Vice President. In her new position, she will continue managing trusts and estates.


Carlton Senior Living is new naming sponsor - 
Symphony Pops Series

Santa Rosa Symphony and Luther Burbank Center for the Arts have announced a partnership with Carlton Senior Living, with them becoming the naming sponsor of the Symphony Pops Series, which recently kicked off its 14th season. The series will now be known as The Carlton Senior Living Symphony Pops Series.
“We are delighted to welcome Carlton Senior Living to our community,” said Alan Silow, President & CEO of the Symphony. “We deeply appreciate their commitment as our naming sponsor for our Symphony Pops Series.”
Carlton Senior Living is an established California-based owner and operator of 11 existing Northern California senior living communities. This new partnership is particularly timely, as Carlton will soon be breaking ground on its newest community just a short walk from the Luther Burbank Center in the Larkfield area, contributing to the rebuilding of a neighborhood so devastated by last year’s fires. The Santa Rosa Carlton community is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020 and will include 134 rental apartments, offering independent living, assisted living and memory care options.
“In all of our communities, our residents are very engaged with their local neighborhoods,” said Dave Coluzzi, President of Carlton Senior Living. “Partnering with the Symphony Pops Series is a natural fit for us. This music genre has a wide audience that includes our future residents, and it is something they can share with friends and family. In addition, supporting the arts and helping to keep LBC a local meeting place is important to us and our future residents. We are excited to be neighbors with this Santa Rosa icon and look forward to getting involved in this community.”
Buy Pops Tickets


Not your ordinary jingle bells!

Symphony League Holiday Concert

On Thursday, December 13, Doug Morton and the Del Sol Band (the group that charmed the League with Beatles Music at Madrona Manor this summer) will take Holiday music to a new celebratory high at the cave of Deerfield Ranch Winery. They’ll take Christmas standards and dress them up with humor, virtuosity and just the right amount of sentimentality. Enjoy Deerfield Ranch wine and an assortment of holiday desserts at intermission.
Thursday, December 13, 2018, 7 pm
Deerfield Ranch Winery (10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood)
$50 General  / $45 League Members

Program Notes

Learn interesting things about the composers and pieces

The Symphony's program notes are a great way to learn more about the works and composers for each concert. You can also learn fun insider news like how Ellen Taffe Zwilich handles the oft-asked question, "What's it like to be the first woman to win the Pulitzer for music composition?" Or what instrument Beethoven added to the standard orchestra instrumentation for his Fifth Symphony. Find the program notes on the SRS website as a printable, color document on the "Dancing Across Time" event page, where you can also view a short video with SRS Musicologist Kayleen Asbo, PhD, offering an in-depth perspective on the composers and the music. 

A new era. Be here from the beginning!

Support the Symphony
Santa Rosa Symphony    
50 Santa Rosa Ave, Suite 410, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Patron Services  54-MUSIC (707) 546-8742  Hours: M-F 9 am-5 pm; W 10:30 am-5 pm

Programs, pricing, dates and artists subject to change.
Orchestra and SRS musician photos by Susan and Neil Silverman Photography unless otherwise noted.

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Santa Rosa Symphony
Administrative Office:
50 Santa Rosa Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Administration: (707) 546-7097

Patron Services Hours: 
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Closed Saturdays & Sundays
Patron Services: (707) 546-8742