San Luis Obispo Symphony

Courtesy of the SLO Symphony

The performing arts industry is taking a huge hit during the COVID-19 crisis, without much direction for an eventual reopening.

For many businesses right now, the income is dried up, employees are taking pay cuts and the future remains uncertain as doors stay shut.

In an attempt to light the way for the industry, local arts administrators are taking action. The Central Coast Coalition of Arts Leaders (CCCOAL) recently reached out to the state and San Luis Obispo County health departments with the goal of prioritizing the industry’s reopening.

SLO Symphony

Packed stadiums for sporting events and theater seats filled for live performances are now a thing of the pre-pandemic past. But for the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the music plays on.

For over 50 years, the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Symphony has provided a unique cultural experience and vital music education opportunities to communities throughout the Central Coast. Last year, more than 4,700 people from SLO County and beyond experienced the excitement of a live orchestral music performance by the SLO Symphony.

Photo courtesy of the San Luis Obispo Symphony

The San Luis Obispo Symphony has been searching for a new music director since the winter of 2016. After the Symphony narrowed down a list of 130 candidates, this past season the community met each of the five finalists through interviews, concerts, meetings, dinners and more. The selection process is over, and the new music director is New Zealander Andrew Sewell.

San Luis Obispo Symphony selects new maestro

Jun 13, 2017
Courtesy of the SLO Symphony

The San Luis Obispo Symphony announced the selection of maestro Andrew Sewell as the orchestra’s next music director. 

This season the San Luis Obispo Symphony is auditioning five candidates for the position of music director. Marisa Waddell spoke with each candidate throughout the concert season and audition process from September 2016 through May 2017. In this conversation, Marisa chats with conductor Rei Hotoda about her vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

Photo by Oleg Nanchinkin

This season the San Luis Obispo Symphony is auditioning five candidates for the position of music director. Marisa Waddell will speak with each one through May 2017. In this conversation, she chats with conductor David Handel about his vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

This season, the San Luis Obispo Symphony is auditioning five candidates for the position of music director. Marisa Waddell will speak with each one through May 2017. In this conversation, she chats with conductor Nan Washburn about her vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

This coming season, the San Luis Obispo Symphony will audition five candidates for the position of music director. Marisa Waddell will speak with each one through May 2017. In this conversation, she chats with Maestro José-Luis Novo about his vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

This coming season, the San Luis Obispo Symphony will audition five candidates for the position of music director. Marisa Waddell will speak with each one through May 2017. In this conversation, she chats with Maestro Andrew Sewell about his vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

photo by Kris King

After reviewing 134 candidates, the San Luis Obispo Symphony’s selection committee has announced five finalists for Music Director. Hear about the candidates, the selection process, and what we can expect in the coming year, as the Symphony narrows its choices to one.

San Luis Obispo Symphony

Saturday night, the San Luis Obispo Symphony is welcoming guest conductor, the Music Director of the Reno Philharmonic, Laura Jackson to lead the Classics in the Cohan concert. 

Flickr member Thor Liland Larsen

UPDATE - Thursday, May 9, 2015:

The San Luis Obispo Symphony announced Thursday morning that former conductor Michael Nowak  has declined an invitation to conduct two Classics in the Cohan concerts and the annual children's concert during the upcoming season.

Flickr member Thor Liland Larsen

Musicians with the San Luis Obispo Symphony plan to meet sometime in the coming days to figure out the best path for moving forward. The meeting follows their recent vote of no confidence in response to the current Board of Directors' decision to sever its contract with Conductor Michael Nowak.

Barbara Spencer is a spokesperson for the musicians and said Monday, the manner in which they were alerted to Nowak's departure continues to be a sore spot. The Board sent out a press release before discussing the situation with the orchestra members.

Flickr member Thor Liland Larsen

The former conductor of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Michael Nowak, said on Friday that he did "not step down" as was indicated in a press release by the organization on Thursday.

Nowak spent the past 31 years with the symphony as its Music Director.  He told KCBX that his time with the symphony has been a privilege for him.

Carol Kersten is the Youth Symphony Conductor and has worked closely with Nowak for years. She said he has elevated the quality of the program.

Marisa Waddell chats with Michael Nowak, the music director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, about the orchestra's upcoming "Subscriber's Choice" concert, featuring the Candide Overture by Leonard Bernstein, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland and the "Organ" Symphony No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saens. Hear excerpts from the music, and commentary from Nowak about each work.

The world-famous Red Violin arrived on the Central Coast this week and will remain through the weekend.

Internationally recognized violin virtuoso Elizabeth Pitcairn is the instrument's owner. She's in San Luis Obispo for a series of appearances, including opening night for the San Luis Obispo Symphony on Saturday.

San Luis Obispo Symphony has new Executive Director

Jul 7, 2014
San Luis Obispo Symphony

The San Luis Obispo Symphony has a new Executive Director who joined the orchestra Monday.

Edmund Feingold has held similar positions at Boston Musica Viva, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and most recently the Monterey Symphony.

He takes over for interim Executive Director Maryellen Simkins who has run the organization since the departure of Jim Black in December 2012.

Marisa Waddell and Mike Nowak chat about the conductor's 30th year with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the finale concert of the season, and the symphony's education and youth programs.