The League's Fall Previews: Connecting with Friends Old and New

The Symphony League kicked off our fall season with two well-attended preview luncheons held the Friday before the concerts. Our wonderful volunteer photographer Kevin Monahan was on hand for both events and captured the warmth and spirit of both events.

Click on the links below to see the full set of Kevin’s photos:

“Fidl Fantazye” Preview: October 5, 2018 at the Elk’s Lodge

“Rites of Spring” Preview: October 26, 2018 at Seascape Golf Club

Previews are your chance to learn about upcoming concerts from maestro Danny Stewart and guest soloists, in person. Guests report that attending previews always enriches their concert experience. Save the dates for the League’s previews slated for the new year! Details to follow on our Previews page:

Friday, January 25, 2019 at 11:30am: The California Grill, Watsonville

Friday, February 22, 2019 at 11:30am: Severino’s, Aptos

Friday, April 5, 2019: The Back Nine, Pasatiempo (time TBD)

Review of "Fidl Fantazye," October 6-7, 2018

Review of "Fidl Fantazye," October 6-7, 2018

Our first concert of the season offered a beautiful variety in three important musical works: Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla, a 2016 composition by Noah Bendix-Blagley called A Klezmer Concerto, and Gustav Mahler’s 4th Symphony, which featured soprano Megui Zhang singing the celestial and final movement of this work. 

Sunday afternoon’s performance at the Mello Auditorium contained so many historical elements of music dating from pre-Christian times to the present, that I felt as though we had been experiencing Music from the Source: from earliest times to the most modern klezmer music, from folk music based in the Jewish tradition to religious music that evolved from the temporal world to the celestial. All of this was performed flawlessly by our orchestra and soloists conducted by Daniel Stewart, who, of course, conducted without a score, so that he could devote his attention to the soloists as well as to every section of the orchestra.  The result was stunningly splendid. 

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A Letter from the League's Board President, Nancy van Natta

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Dear Symphony League members:

Last month I attended the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) conference for the first time.  Among the many things I learned there was that our Symphony League is the envy of Leagues throughout California for the amount of money we raise for our Symphony orchestra.  Last year’s contribution of $109,000 was a truly outstanding result, and we owe ourselves a huge congratulations for a job well done.

Now we need to follow that result with another banner year.  Our goal for 2018-19 is $100,000 and it will take every one of us to reach that goal. I urge you to say “Yes” to a request to volunteer or better yet contact a board member and ask how you can help..

Volunteering for the League has benefitted me in a number of ways:

  • I’ve made wonderful friends and gained a sense of community that I would not otherwise have. 
  • I’ve learned about music and I’ve had the honor of interacting with talented professional musicians. 
  • I’ve learned new skills in marketing, selling, promotion, crafting, events. 
  • I’ve learned to work effectively in groups – a very transferable skill!

Whether you want to run things or just do a small part, I invite you to get involved as I have.  I guarantee you will be challenged and you’ll come away with new skills.  Here’s to a great year ahead!

 Nancy Van Natta  Symphony League President

Nancy Van Natta

Symphony League President


League Presents Record-Breaking Donation to the Symphony at Annual Meeting

League Presents Record-Breaking Donation to the Symphony at Annual Meeting

Symphony League members and guests gathered in June at the Lodge in Montevalle, Scotts Valley for the League’s Annual meeting and Volunteer Recognition to celebrate the important work of the League and to present a check to the Santa Cruz Symphony supporting the wonderful concerts we enjoy each season. A symbolic poster-sized check is presented, anticipating the year’s total, but the final check included some last-minute income. The total was $109,400, the largest donation the League has ever made. The check was presented by Clyde Vaughn, outgoing President of the League Board, to Dorothy Wise, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony.

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Review: "Resurrection" Season Finale Performance

Review: "Resurrection" Season Finale Performance

Our last concert of the season began with accolades for Cheryl Anderson’s recognition by the Santa Cruz Arts Commission as "Artist of the Year."  In addition to this, Cheryl directed the more than 80 voices in this memorable program, devoted to Gustav Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, popularly known as the Resurrection Symphony.  

This large work displayed Mahler’s optimism for a life hereafter, while simultaneously revealing a likely anticipation of his own death, caused by heart disease, in 1911.  Despite his frail health, Mahler was a child prodigy, a star in his own family, and generally charismatic in the field of music throughout his life.  Admired as a great conductor, Mahler was also a poet, setting his own words to music. Toward the end of his life, much of Mahler’s success was owed to his very capable and energetic wife, Alma, who managed to move their entire household twice yearly for four years between Vienna and New York City, where Mahler held contracts with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.  He felt entirely dependent upon the abilities of his wife in all matters concerning his career.  

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"Uptown Hoedown" Gala - A Stomping Good Time for All

The Symphony League's Uptown Hoedown Gala held on March 3rd, 2018 showed just what a community of dedicated music lovers can accomplish when a beautiful venue, a foot-stomping band, great food and drink and an exciting roster of auctioned adventures all come together in one great evening. The Hoedown, with Chair Nancy Van Natta at the helm, was fun for everyone who participated and it raised money in record-setting amounts for League.

The beautiful UCSC Hay Barn with its soaring ceilings and historic ambiance was the perfect venue for the event that began with wine generously donated by Silver Mountain Winery, and an open bar hosted by the League. Guests gathered at long wood tables, beautifully decorated by Mary Ann Hobbs,  for scrumptious food provided by Mary Ann Orr. The award-winning Carolyn Sills band played throughout.   

After dinner auctioneer Rob Slawinsky took over, encouraging guests to bid often and high on once-in-a-lifetime trips and adventures brought together by Eileen Sambrailo. Guests did their part, and the auction raised funds in record-setting amounts for the Symphony and its Music Education programs. 

Generous donations and sponsorships from business owners, restaurants, and individuals throughout Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Symphony community have made this wonderful event possible. The Uptown Hoedown Committee sends a heartfelt thank you to all of those who participated in this fabulous event.