San Diego Symphony Orchestra

The San Diego Symphony Orchestra performed its first concert on December 6, 1910, making it the oldest orchestra in the state of California. In the 110-plus years since its inception, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra has become one of the finest orchestras in the United States. 

The San Diego Symphony Orchestra offers a wide range of concert experiences and performs over 120 concerts annually, including the Jacobs Masterworks series of classical concerts. The Orchestra's Music Director is Rafael Payare, who became Music Director in the 2019-20 season. Notable featured guest conductors include Christoph von Dohnanyi, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Cristian Măcelaru and Charles Dutoit as well as today’s emerging conducting talent. In addition, some of the finest guest soloists regularly appear with the orchestra; these include Lang Lang, Pinchas Zukerman, Joyce Yang, Gil Shaham, Yefim Bronfman, Augustin Hadelich and Itzhak Perlman. The Orchestra also performs a wide range of music including film concerts, family concerts and other special presentations. The Symphony comprises 82 full-time musicians.

The home of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra is the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego. Originally built in 1929 as The Fox Theatre movie palace, a premier 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 the orchestra. In 2013 the complex consisting of Copley Symphony Hall, newly renovated lobbies, backstage areas, the Grosvenor Family Musicians’ Center and the Symphony administrative offices were officially named the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center. The hall is in the midst of a major three-year-long renovation and will re-open for concerts in Fall 2024.

Each year, especially during summer, the Orchestra presents an outdoor series of concerts featuring classical favorites and popular programs at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, a vibrant, beautiful outdoor setting on San Diego’s picturesque bayfront. The Orchestra worked closely with the Port of San Diego on creating this permanent public performance park with an outdoor concert venue and community gathering place, opening the facility to the public in Summer 2021 for San Diego’s first post-pandemic concert gatherings. This state-of-the-art stage and park improvement allows the Symphony to elevate its musical presentations and present a wider range of musical performances in a beautiful outdoor setting, activating the park as a year-round community gathering space and creating a landmark attraction for the region.

In October 2013 the SDSO made its acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut conducted by Jahja Ling and featuring piano soloist Lang Lang. Immediately following, the orchestra departed for an 11-day China Friendship Tour with concerts in Beijing, Shanghai and San Diego’s sister city, Yantai. The San Diego Symphony made a return engagement to Carnegie Hall in October 2023, under the direction of Music Director Rafael Payare.