The San Diego Symphony performed its first concert on December 6, 1910. In the 100-plus years since its inception, the San Diego Symphony has become one of the leading orchestras in the United States, and was designated a Tier 1 Orchestra by the League of American Orchestras in 2010. It is committed to providing musical experiences of superior quality for the greater San Diego community and beyond. Through a rich mixture of innovative and educational programming designed to appeal to all ages and cultures, the Symphony makes music an integral part of the cultural and intellectual fabric of Southern California, valued by and relevant to all its residents. Recently the San Diego Symphony celebrated our 100th anniversary, the first California orchestra to reach this milestone. (Note: though the Articles of Incorporation for the San Diego Symphony were completed March 28, 1928, the history of the Symphony as a performing entity begins in 1910.)
The Symphony offers wide range of concert experiences and performs over 100 concerts each year. The San Diego Symphony's indoor performances include the Jacobs Masterworks series with music director Jahja Ling, offering traditional classical repertoire and featuring such guest artists as Horacio Gutierrez, Joshua Bell, Lang Lang and Gil Shaham; the City Lights series, featuring new principal pops conductor Bill Conti and popular guest artists such as Jennifer Holliday, Michael Feinstein, Peter Cetera, Bill Conti, Kenny G and Brian Stokes Mitchell ; the Family Festival, featuring family-friendly concerts; and Symphony Exposé, a fascinating series of concerts that examine classical works from entertaining and thought-provoking angles.
Each summer, from July through September, the Symphony presents an outdoor Summer Pops season at Embarcadero Marina Park South, mixing classical favorites and pop music in a festive, outdoor atmosphere on San Diego’s picturesque waterfront, all under the baton of Matthew Garbutt, principal Summer Pops conductor. Recent Summer Pops guest artists have included Frankie Valli, Chris Botti, Aaron Neville, LeAnn Rimes, Neil Sedaka, Roberta Flack, Kool & The Gang, Frank Sinatra Jr., Dionne Warwick, Wynonna and Burt Bacharach.
Historic Copley Symphony Hall, home of the San Diego Symphony, is regarded as one of the finest classical music venues on the West Coast. Originally built in 1929 as The Fox Theatre, a premiere movie house, this lush movie palace style hall became the property of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association in 1984. The beauty and majesty of this historic hall has added to the stature and artistic growth of San Diego Symphony.
Many renowned conductors have held the position of music director of San Diego Symphony, including Earl Bernard Murray, David Atherton and Yoav Talmi. Robert Shaw was music director of the Symphony from 1953-1958. In 1983, San Diego Symphony’s then composer-in-residence, Bernard Rands, won the Pulitzer Prize, furthering the outstanding reputation of San Diego Symphony. In 1992, the Symphony commemorated the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ landing with a televised concert in Mexico’s Chichen Itza ruins. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, labor and cash flow problems led to several season stoppages and even to bankruptcy. Late in the 1990’s, however, the orchestra recovered and, with the aid of significant gifts, began playing under the leadership of the former assistant conductor, Jung Ho Pak. In 1998 the Symphony revived with a tour of the west coast with Andrea Bocelli.