"How pleasant to see a traffic jam caused by classical music." "The show was delayed because cars were backed up between the freeway and the [Santa Monica Civic Auditorium's] Fourth Street entrance." So wrote the Santa Monica Outlook last April after our season-ending performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. What a thrill for all of us to have finished our fiftieth anniversary season with such support from the community! So first of all, this is a letter of thanks to all of you who have been attending our concerts in such growing numbers. Although I am sure that not every concert this season will cause a traffic jam around the auditorium (there will be room for all of you, I hope!), we are excited about continuing where we left off and hope to keep presenting concerts that will make you want to make that next trip to the Civic.
Highlights of our season will be Beethoven's Seventh Symphony on our opening concert, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite in December (a special afternoon concert), Mahler's Fourth in March, and Schumann's Fourth in May. We are once again fortunate to have exceptional soloists: trumpeter Zhonghui Dai, who began with us as principal trumpet while studying at USC and who has just been named Principal Trumpet of the newly-reorganized National Symphony Orchestra in Beijing, China, will be our first guest artist of the year. The talented young Cuban violinist Ilmar Gavilan will perform in December, and joining us as soprano soloist in the Mahler is Elissa Johnston, who frequently sings with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera. To close our season we are honored to have Babette Hierholzer as pianist. Ms. Hierholzer, a noted pianist in her native Germany, played the piano in the sound track and doubled for Nastassia Kinski in the film "Spring Symphony." On that program we will also present the "Roethke Preludes" by Donald Crockett, one of southern California's leading composers.
By the way, Santa Monica's musical pride is even reaching across the Atlantic Ocean. In July I led a concert tour by members of the Symphony to the Czech Republic and Hungary, where the audience response to the level of performance by a community orchestra was truly gratifying.
As we embark on our second half-century of Santa Monica Symphony music making, I wish you many musical pleasures in the season ahead.
Allen Robert Gross
Now into his sixth season as Music Director/Conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony, Allen Gross continues to delight the public with enthusiastic and well-prepared performances of a challenging and diverse repertory that embraces the new and the old, the familiar and the unfamiliar. A native New Yorker, he studied with Pierre Monteux, Walter Susskind, Sandor Salgo and Hans Swarowsky, beginning at Queens College and UC/Berkeley before earning his doctorate at Stanford and continuing at the Vienna Music Academy and the American Institute of Orchestra Conducting. From 1972-1978, he directed the Heidelberg Castle Festival, also serving as conductor of the Junges Kammerorchester Heidelberg and in the opera houses of Freiburg and Aachen. Back in the United States, Gross directed the orchestra and opera programs at the University of Louisville before joining the music faculty at Occidental College in 1983 to serve as Director of the Occidental-Caltech Symphony Orchestra. He has since served as Music Director/Conductor of the Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra and the Pasadena Summer Youth Chamber Orchestra and has appeared with the Los Angeles Monday Evening Concerts, the Minnesota Composers Forum, broadcast concerts from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and honors orchestras in California and Nevada. Last Season, Mr. Gross returned from China, where he conducted a concert with the orchestra of the Shenwang Conservatory of Music. This past summer, Mr. Gross traveled with members of the Santa Monica Symphony in the Czech Republic and Hungary where he conducted five successful concerts.