With its distinctive integration of student, volunteer, and professional musicians, the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus is an ensemble whose motto could easily be “for the community, by the community.” La Jolla originated from humble beginnings in 1954 when Peter Nicoloff—a Bulgarian conductor and musical refugee fleeing censorship in Communist Revolution-era China—cobbled together a modest group of local amateur musicians known as the La Jolla Civic Orchestra.
The orchestra would later be incorporated into the University of California-San Diego burgeoning music department in the 1960s, simultaneously joined by the 60-person La Jolla Symphony Chorus. Under the direction of UCSD faculty member Thomas Nee, the artistically rejuvenated, newly renamed La Jolla Civic-University Symphony Orchestra, grew to a 100-player ensemble with a creative drive to perform rarely-heard new music.
Nee’s 31-year tenure at the helm ended in 1998, but La Jolla remains committed to what it calls “uncommon music,” programming works like the world premiere of Jeff Nevin’s Concerto for Mariachi and Orchestra and a multimedia re-imagining of Alexander Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire” (a symphonic work featuring the infrequently used “color organ”) alongside canonical works by composers like Beethoven and Mahler.
Dress rehearsals are free and open to the public each Friday before weekend performances; pre-concert lectures begin one hour before each performance and are also free of charge. La Jolla’s multi-faceted engagement with its audience also includes educational outreach to students in San Diego County, as well as the cultivation of emerging young musicians through its annual Young Artists Competition for instrumentalists and vocalists and its Thomas Nee Commission for graduate composition students.
- Public Transportation: Very Good (a 1-minute walk from buses 30, 41, 101, 150, 201, and 921 at Gilman Dr./Myers Dr.)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: 6 shows per season with two performances of each
- Ticket Prices: $29 adults; $26 seniors; 15 students (w/ID)
- Subscriptions: 6-concert season subscriptions are $147 for adults, $127 for seniors, and $55 for students. Subscriber benefits include up to 30% over single-ticket prices; ability to reserve the best seats; easy ticket exchange; and invitations to special events.