Notes of Gratitude: Music for our Military

San Diego is home to a vibrant military community, and the San Diego Symphony deeply appreciates the service and sacrifice of its military service members, veterans, and their families. It is incumbent upon us, as fellow residents of this beautiful city, to show them our unwavering support and appreciation.

The orchestra’s Principal Trumpet, Chris Smith, is a decorated veteran of the Marine Corps and a strong supporter of the United States military. Chris performed for eight years in “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, one of the world’s finest wind ensembles and America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization, and he is always thrilled to connect with the military community in the greater San Diego area as a member of the San Diego Symphony.

Chris shares that, “Active-duty military personnel are frequently transferred from base to base and city to city over the course of their careers; however, though they may only be in a particular community for a short period of time, they are integral parts to the communities in which they are living. I would hope that, as word spreads within the military community about the San Diego Symphony’s commitment to honoring our military personnel, it will be one more thing to look forward to, being stationed here in San Diego.”

Last year, we welcomed retired Captain Timothy Barelli of the U.S. Coast Guard (Sector San Diego) to our Board of Directors, and since then, Tim has played a crucial role in expanding our military community engagement, ensuring that they can experience live music performances year-round. By partnering with organizations that support service members, veterans, and their families, the San Diego Symphony brings these communities together to experience the power of live performance.

For more than a decade, the San Diego Symphony has supported its military community with the gift of music. This year, with help from our military partners that support service members, veterans, and their families and donors, the San Diego Symphony will distribute 3,500 free tickets—an 80% increase from last year—to concerts throughout its 23–24 season. Our ability to increase the number of tickets and opportunities is only possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. It is an honor to bring these communities together through their shared love of music and to highlight the positive impact they have on our region.

“It would be my hope that… music-loving veterans and active-duty service members will find a welcome home here with the San Diego Symphony.”

-Chris Smith, San Diego Symphony Orchestra Principal Trumpet, Military Veteran


*If you wish to show appreciation to our military members and their families, make a gift today and unlock the magic of music. Your contribution will directly go to the funding of free  tickets for military and veteran families throughout the year, providing many with their first experience of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park™ and the San Diego Symphony. To donate, click here or contact Jen Nicolai, Director of Advancement Campaign and Major Gifts at or at (619) 615-3901.

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