Latest News

San Luis Obispo, CA  – David Hamilton, President of the San Luis Obispo Symphony Board of Directors, was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award at the Association of California Symphony Orchestras’ (ACSO) Conference in Los Angeles on July 20, 2017.


Paso Pops, the annual Paderewski Festival-sponsored patriotic-themed concert and Independence Day celebration in Paso Robles combining wine, beer, food, family-friendly activities, live music and fireworks will take place on Saturday, July 1 at the Paso Robles Horse Park.  The 2017 “Pops” program has been announced, with an important reminder to those planning to attend that the deadline for ticket purchases is June 29 – unless the event sells out earlier. No day-of tickets will be sold.

Global Search Yields Symphony’s Ninth Conductor

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA --The San Luis Obispo Symphony has a new music director - Maestro Andrew Sewell. This internationally renowned native of New Zealand ushers in a new era for the Symphony. Sewell’s rehearsal work and commanding direction of the orchestra, conducting the popular Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Overture to The Barber of Seville, delighted the audience to standing ovations on Classics Opening Night in October 2016.


John Astaire

John Astaire earned his doctor of music degree in percussion performance from Indiana University. Astaire is originally from California, and obtained his bachelor of arts in music from the Cal Poly in 1998. While at Cal Poly he participated in the Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble. His primary teachers included Gerald Carlyss and Kenneth Watson, under whom he also studied the Hungarian cimbalom. Astaire has been a guest with several musical ensembles across the United States, as well as a performer at the Cimbalom World Association's 2003 World Congress, held at Appenzell, Switzerland.

Ken Hustad

Ken Hustad shares his position of Principal bass in the San Luis Obispo Symphony with Lara Lehmer.  He is also a member of the Mozart Festival Orcehstra and plays with the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria Symphonies, the Cuesta Master Chorale, Pacific Repertory Opera, the SLO Vocal Arts Ensemble, the Cal Poly Baroque Orchestra and the Tolosa Strings Quintet.  In addition to serving as a string coach with the Youth Symphony, he is a bass instructor at both Cuesta College and Cal Poly and plays in several Central Coast jazz groups.

Pamela Sheffler

Pamela Sheffler began violin at the age of 8 and studied with Sharon Holland for 10 years.  A native of San Luis Obispo County, Pamela was a member of the SLO Youth Symphony for 6 years.  In 2009 she won the annual concerto competition and performed the first movement of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto #3 with the concert orchestra.  

Pamela is now pursuing a degree in psychology at Cal Poly.  She is a member of the San Luis Obispo Symphony and is principal second violinist of the Symphony of the Vines.  In addition to classical music, Pamela also performs Middle Eastern music with the Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble and Django-inspired jazz with her band, RedSkunk.

Linda Ashworth

Linda began her musical playing piano and clarinet, adding oboe to her musical passions in the early 80s. While studying oboe with Brenda Schumann-Post, she played with a variety of groups in the SF Bay Area. Chamber music became a passion with the formation of the Vineyard Quintet in 1985. After moving to the Central Coast in 2002, Linda joined the oboe section of the SLO Symphony in the fall of that year, playing English Horn as well as oboe. She also plays with the SummerWinds Quintet, Cuesta Master Chorale, Pacific Repertory Opera, and teaches oboe privately. When not playing music, she teaches genetics part-time at Cal Poly.

Claude Albanese

Claude Albanese taught instrumental music in the public schools of Southern California for thirty-eight years.  He now accepts a limited number of private music students, school aged and adult, that wish to pursue advanced study of musical performance.  For the San Luis Obispo Symphony Association, he coaches the Symphonic Winds. Yearly, for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, he judges and holds clinics for at least sixty school bands and orchestras. Claude and his wife of forty-four years, Rhoda, live in Cambria, close to other members of their family on the Central Coast.

Bruce Knowlton
Symphonic Winds

Bruce Knowlton received his B.A. Degree in Music and a Secondary Teaching Credential from California State University, Northridge. He taught junior high and high school music for ten years: first for the Burbank Unified School District and later for the Guadalupe School District. Bruce holds a California Lifetime Credential in Music Education. For the past 12 years he has operated a cstom furniture manufacturing business with his brother in Grover Beach. Bruce continues to perform with local groups such as the Latin Jazz ensemble, "SLO Mambo", and the "Five Cities Swing Band".

Carol Kersten
Academy String Orchestra & Preparatory Strings

During her musical career, Carol Kersten has been an active teacher and performer.  She is the founding and continuing director of the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony Academy String Orchestra (1979) and Preparatory Strings (1991  She also directs the Shaver Lake Chamber Music Camp in the Sierras each summer.   This five day camp for invited student musicians, organized in 1983, continues to be a source of fun and musical learning.  She also teaches privately in her studio.  Carol Kersten studied violin at CSU Sacramento and the University of Oregon.  She studied violin pedagogy with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in Japan.  Mrs. Kersten performs with the San Luis Obispo Symphony and several chamber groups.  She has held permanent positions with the Sacramento Symphony, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and the Eugene, Oregon, Symphony.  For many years she performed with the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival Orchestra.   This year she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award to Community by the American String Teachers Association.

Nancy Nagano
The Concert Orchestra

Nancy Nagano finished her musical studies in cello performance at the Miskhochschule in Freiburg, Germany. She has played with the Freiburger Theater Orchestra, Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Kobe Chamber Orchestra, and the New Japan Philharmonic. She has also performed solo and chamber music throughout Europe and Japan. For eight years she taught and conducted at the Tokushima Bunri University, where she made her conducting debut (as an alternate for Kent Nagano). This brought her to become the musical director of the Kochi Symphony Orchestra in Japan. Her performances have included Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet with the City Ballet of Tokyo, Opera exerpts from Carmen, La Traviata, La Boheme and several major piano concertos with well- known artists in Japan. At present she conducts the Cal Poly Chamber Orchestra and plays with the San Luis Obispo Symphony.

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