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Folsom Symphony, Creating Music for the Community

Nov 30, 2015 09:13AM ● Published by David Norby

L to R: Phong Mach, Anson Wong, Jennifer Keck, Peter Jaffe, Francesca Anderson, Megan Deems and Jill Dowlat

Currently in their 12th season, the Folsom Symphony continues to bring spectacular, live classical music to the local region. Since 2004, the organization has pioneered within the community, educating youth and adults alike about symphonic music through various concerts, programs and events, including a free performance at the El Dorado Hills Town Center. 

This year, under the leadership of Musical Director and Conductor Peter Jaffe, the symphony also produced their first low-cost, family-focused concert at the Harris Center, which concentrated on introducing new people to the nonprofit orchestra. Complete with an instrument “petting zoo” after the show, where kids could play instruments and take pictures, the event was both fun and educational for the entire family. 

“It’s self-fulfilling playing in a high-caliber orchestra,” says Anson Wong, vice president of business and orchestra management. “Jaffe is an excellent conductor and works well with the orchestra, as well as the audience—they really appreciate his style of music and sense of humor.” Wong, also a violinist in the symphony and one of the founding members, attributes fund-raising efforts, community support, and offering a great musical experience as critical components to the success of the symphony. Mostly a volunteer organization, the musicians participate because they love it. The concerts aren’t able to survive on ticket sales alone, however, and the symphony receives the majority of donations at their annual gala, held in the fall each year.

“We’d also like to expand our reach into the community,” says Wong. “Even though we’ve been here 11 years, it’s always interesting to hear people come and say, ‘I’ve never heard about you before, but I’m so glad I came!’” On December 5-6, the symphony will perform their annual holiday concert, Bianco Natale, featuring festive favorites such as “Silent Night” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” plus excerpts from The Nutcracker and the movie Frozen, all enhanced with great Italian opera by renowned tenor Pasquale Esposito. Recently featured on PBS’ special Pasquale Esposito Celebrates Enrico Caruso, the star will perform cherished vignettes from popular operas such as La Boheme and Turandot. the show will even feature a Christmas sing-along, where the entire audience is encouraged to participate.  

“The music always has to come first, and what’s wonderful is music never has a ceiling,” Jaffe says. “We’re filled with people of superior talent and dedication, a beloved and enthusiastic audience, and the ability to build bonds within the community.”

The Folsom Symphony is gearing up for even more community engagement throughout the 2015/16 season and into the future, and hopes to continue sharing their joy of symphonic music—both to the seasoned ear and to people who have never heard classical music before. “You cannot duplicate the experience of a live performance—it’s just magical and compelling,” Jaffe says. “To see all of these wonderful hearts, minds and souls coming together, producing something larger than the sum of its parts, that’s synergy in motion. You never forget a trip to the concert hall—it’s an inspiring thing to see and hear.”

by Heather L. Becker. Photo by Dante Fontana.

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