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Francesco Lecce-Chong's first concert program as Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony is October 6, 7 and 8, almost exactly a year since he was here as a candidate. For his inaugural season, he will conduct three Classical Series concerts (October, November and January) and the Family concert in April. We look forward to benefiting from Francesco's enthusiasm, talent and energy and know you will, too.

The new era is here! Will you be here from the beginning?


Clef Notes

with Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong

I am delighted to get started on my first season with the Santa Rosa Symphony! Almost exactly a year ago, I spent my first week in this beautiful community – getting to know an orchestra so passionate about giving back to its community and bringing the highest level of artistry to the stage. It did not take long for me to fall in love with it all – the talented orchestra, enthusiastic patrons, dedicated staff and state-of-the-art concert hall among so many things.

My wonderful first week ended early due to the tragic fires and I was devastated to learn so many of the wonderful people I met had lost their homes. However, it has been inspiring to see the resiliency in the community and I am grateful to have an opportunity to be a part of the rebuilding process. For our first concert this season, the orchestra will be performing a work commissioned to commemorate the fires and the courageous response: Paul Dooley’s Sonoma Strong. The work was first performed at a community concert this summer, but for our opening week, I am pairing it with one of the most beloved orchestral works, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. One of the reasons the Fifth has become such an iconic piece in the repertoire is because it tells the most universal story of being human – to struggle, to persevere and to overcome. Whatever we may be going through in life, Beethoven’s music speaks to us in a deeply personal way and I cannot think of a better way to start off our season!

Thank you for being a part of my first season in Santa Rosa and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Yours truly,
Francesco Lecce-Chong


Starting off with a . . .

Bah Bah Bah Bang!

"Passion and Power" October 6, 7 & 8

Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor

The Symphony opens the season with Beethoven's iconic Fifth Symphony. Those four infamous notes, which reach far outside the ranks of classical music lovers, are the composer's expression of fate (in his case the loss of his hearing) knocking at the door. Beethoven wrote the Symphony while struggling with the gradual loss of his hearing. 

Responding to the need for recovery and respite for survivors of the October fires, Santa Rosa Symphony commissioned Sonoma Strong by Paul Dooley, which tells our community's tale of tragedy, loss, strength and resilience.

Arnaud Sussmann joins the orchestra for Brahms' magnificent Violin Concerto in D major. Arnaud Sussmann, an Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient and member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2006, distinguished himself early on with his unique sound, bravura and profound musicianship. He trained at the Conservatoire de Paris and the Juilliard School with Boris Garlitsky and Itzhak Perlman and was Perlman's assistant for two years.

Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Celebration for Orchestra opens the program.  



Arnaud Sussmann CDs
at "Passion and Power"

Enjoy Arnaud Sussmann's virtuosity long after the concert! CDs will be available in the lobby for all "Passion and Power" performances. Johannes Brahms: Sonatas for violin and piano also features Orion Weiss, who played with the Symphony two years ago. These CDs are $20 each. 



Remember, the Saturday and Monday Classical Series performances now begin at

7:30 pm! 


Adopt a young musician

From October 7 to November 11, all Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensembles are holding a Practice-a-Thon fundraiser. Musicians practice as much as possible during this time. Each musician will obtain sponsors to pledge a certain amount of money per hour for every hour the member practices his or her instrument. Call the Education Department at 707-546-7097 x220 to adopt a young musician and become a sponsor.

Remembering the fires of October 2017

It's been nearly a year since life in Sonoma County took a horrible turn, affecting all of us. This month, we will be commemorating the event and the community's resiliency and compassion in the face of the tragic wildfires with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the SRS-commissioned Sonoma Strong at the first concert of the new season on October 6, 7 and 8. Last year, the Symphony responded with a benefit concert that raised $115,000 and gave away tickets to first responders and those who lost their homes, for the remainder of the season. 

Below is a sweet note the Symphony received from one of the recipients of those free tickets (used with permission). 

Dear Symphony Board, Staff and Volunteers,
It is with deep gratitude that we thank you for offering us and other fire survivors free concert tickets. The kindness and generosity of our wonderful community has helped sustain us after the trauma of losing our home of 40 years. Your beautiful music has taken us through a range of emotions from tears to joy and has helped us to heal. Your monthly concerts have provided an anchor and have felt like being offered a warm blanket on a cold winter night. Bless you all for your generosity. We look forward to joining you next season!
With gratitude, 
Al and Susan W

We hope you will join us in October (6-8) to share our tribute. Whether you join us or not, may your October hold confirmations of your strength, resilience and continued faith in human kindness. 


Meet our musicians

Mark Wardlaw

Mark Wardlaw has been second clarinetist and principal saxophonist in the SRS for 34 years. He is a "music junky" with eclectic interests ranging from jazz to classical, and from world music to R&B and more. What many people might find surprising is that he rarely listens to classical music, despite many years of performing, teaching and conducting in that discipline. Mark’s other musical pursuits are mainly in the jazz and theater worlds. He is the Jazz Band Director at SRJC, and for five years he has been in the band at Transcendence Theater (“Broadway Under The Stars”) where he plays saxophones, flute and clarinet. His son Jordan, a saxophonist who has made many appearances with the Santa Rosa Symphony, is also in the band at Transcendence. They will be the guest artists with the Wednesday Night Jazz Band at the Big Easy in Petaluma on October 10th.

Mark and his wife Diane have traveled to 30 countries and all 50 states. They also are "nauseatingly proud" grandparents. Mark’s proudest non-musical accomplishments are the numerous op-eds he has had published over many years in local and national newspapers and magazines, including Time, The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic Traveler


Shared experiences are always richer

Did you know the Symphony has group discounts for the Classical Series concerts? Your group members can save from 15% to 50%, depending on number of members in the group and seat selection. A group can be defined many ways: your club, your coworkers, your clients, your friends, your family, etc. Come to the Santa Rosa Symphony together and save. You can also arrange for a private reception in the Founders Room, priced separately. Call Group Sales Manager Brenda Fox at (707) 546-8742 x210 or email to learn more. 


Good news from SRS Youth Ensembles

Simply Strings includes middle school musicians now! This year, students in grades two through seven receive free instruction in stringed instruments every day after school. Jerome Fleg is now the conductor for the Simply Strings Orchestra, the second level of Simply Strings. 

String Orchestra Workshop has a few new adult members among the three sections of young musicians.

Debut Youth Orchestra musicians are excited to work with conductor Alan Aníbal. In the spring, the 40-member orchestra will again perform in a side-by-side with Napa Valley Youth Symphony in Napa.

Aspirante Youth Orchestra, under conductor Dana Sadava, is planning a mini-tour; details to follow.

Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, directed by Aaron Westman, will perform at the Fountaingrove Lodge on November 1. Their program “Ariadne meets Frankenstein: Mythology and Monsters,” features music by Handel, Locatelli, Hindemith, Mellits and Frank Zappa, and the Haydn Double Concerto in F major for harpsichord, violin and strings with guest harpsichordist Henry Lebedinsky. The concert will be presented to the public on November 4 at 7:00 pm at Phoenix Theater in Petaluma.

Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra musicians began their first season with conductor Bobby Rogers with an intensive weekend retreat in Occidental. They are busy preparing to perform side-by-side with the Santa Rosa Symphony in "Passion and Power," conducted by Francesco Lecce-Chong, on November 3 and 4.

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 "Passion and Power" 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. 

Take me to the Symphony!

The Santa Rosa Symphony provides bus service to Sunday Symphony concerts. No more worrying about driving at night or in inclement weather, or finding a good parking space. And it’s especially convenient for those living in or near Oakmont, Spring Lake Village or central Santa Rosa.
This affordable service will get you to the Green Music Center on time for the pre-concert talks, which you are sure to enjoy. Get the schedule and purchase tickets by calling Patron Services at (707) 546-8742 (not available online).

A new era. Be here from the beginning!

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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Contact Us

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

Patron Services Hours: 
M-F - 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
W – 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Closed Saturdays & Sundays
Patron Services: (707) 546-8742