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Orchestrating a Successful Season

October 06, 1994|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

Kicking off its 49th season, the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra takes center stage Sunday evening with a free concert featuring pieces by Mozart, Verdi and Villa-Lobos' "Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra," with soloist Douglas Masek.

Allen Robert Gross, conductor and musical director and a music professor at Occidental College, said he is excited about the selections for his fourth season with the orchestra.

"One of the things about our repertoire is that we try to give a mixture of standard repertoire and new music," Gross said. "(We perform) pieces that will entertain the audience."

Season highlights will include a performance by 17-year-old flutist Gregory Jefferson on Dec. 11 and cello soloist John Walz on April 30. On March 12, the symphony will also present Mahler's Symphony No. 5, a piece rarely performed by community orchestras because of its difficulty, Gross said.

Over the years, the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1945 by a group of film studio musicians, has grown into one of Southern California's most respected community orchestras. The orchestra is made up of professional and semiprofessional musicians who donate their time.

"We have top-of-the-line musicians who stand up to the best players in the world," Gross said. "What is interesting is that this turns out to be a real community of musicians. It is a unique interplay between the dedicated amateurs and accomplished professionals."

Although the musicians only meet a few times to rehearse before each concert, they work hard to produce polished performances. They also hope that their love of classical music and the arts can be shared with members of the community.

"We are attempting to reach out to the community," said Sheila Wells, president of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra Assn. "We encourage parents to come with their children. . . . It could be a dual learning experience."

The Santa Monica Symphony performs Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 4th and Main streets. Free admission. Information: (310) 996-3260 .

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