What's Happening at the Symphony

UT Feature: Year in preview: 2015 in Classical Music

It's a time of transition for San Diego musical organizations. 

This review was featured on the UT San Diego and written by James Chute. 

It’s a time of change for San Diego’s classical music organizations. Whether embracing new priorities, new leadership or new opportunities, the city’s key musical institutions are in transition. Here are five to watch in 2015:

Mainly Mozart

Mainly Mozart’s new music director, Michael Francis, officially begins his tenure in 2015, and his presence should be transformational for the 26-year-old organization. As Francis demonstrated when guest-conducting the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra in 2014, he knows how to conduct and communicate. His appointment was especially welcomed by the musicians, who embraced the British-born conductor and performed with him at a high level.

While Mainly Mozart founder David Atherton, who left the orchestra in 2013 after 25 years, had defused the organization’s Mozart focus, Francis aims to bring that focus back. And while Atherton seemed to have little interest in Mainly Mozart’s other offerings, including chamber music and a youth orchestra, Francis aspires to make sure everything is working together.

Look for him to give the organization, and his individual concerts, a welcome coherence.

San Diego Symphony

The symphony’s new CEO, Martha Gilmer, has been engaged in a “getting to know you” process since she arrived in early October, talking with donors, community leaders, board members and musicians. She’s the sort of leader who is always listening, but expect her in 2015 to start making her vision for the orchestra a reality.

With the impending departure of Jahja Ling in 2017, she and the board have the opportunity to find a music director who can be a partner in transforming the symphony into a more vibrant, forward-looking organization and solidify its commitment to the community.

Gilmer’s fingerprints will be all over the programming and the list of guest conductors the orchestra announces for its 2015-16 Masterworks season. There will undoubtedly be changes in the orchestra education and outreach programs as well, aspects of an orchestra’s mission in which Gilmer excelled while vice president of artistic planning and audience outreach at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


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