San Luis Obispo Symphony’s Newsletter

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September 2022


Single Ticket Sales!

That time of year is upon us! Opening night is fast approaching and we are so excited to kick off the sensational 2022-2023 season with our first Classics Concert in the Cohen on October, 8, 2022 starting at 7:30 PM at the Performing Arts Center SLO, BEETHOVEN’S SEVENTH, featuring Maestro Andrew Sewell, Concertmaster Emily Lanzone, and soloists Richard Dobeck and Lisa Nauful. Single tickets will go on sale via The PAC on September 9, 2022. Not only will you be able to purchase tickets to each of our five main stage concerts but, New Years Eve POPS tickets will also be availible that day! The Slo Symphony along with featured guest artists Jeans N’ Classics, will play hits by The Beatles as well as other rock and roll hits of the past. It is sure to be a rocking New Year!  You can visit or call them at 805-756-4849 to purchase tickets to all of our upcoming concerts. If you would like to subscribe to the season there is still time! Call our office at 805-356-1438 or visit to learn how


POPS By The Sea

POPS is this weekend! Can you believe it? Time is flying! We can not wait to see you this Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Avila Beach golf resort. Gates open at 2:45 pm and the concert begins at 4:00 pm. General admission tickets are still available. They are $25 for adults, $15 for children 13-17, and free for anyone 12 and under. You can purchase tickets at the gates but buying tickets ahead of time is the tried and true way to ensure you get a great view of the concert! Visit to reserve your spot for POPS today! 

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Development Committee Event Planning

The Symphony Board Development Committee is hard at work assisting staff in planning upcoming fundraising events for the 2022-2023 season. Currently in the works is a family fun fall event to be held November 5th at The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo’s historic Octagon Barn in San Luis Obispo. This event will include food, games for all ages, and music to support the Youth Symphony. Look for ticketing and event information soon in High Notes,, or via email in the near future.

On February 11th at The Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo we will hold our grand fundraising, gala dinner, with music, dancing, auctions and much more.  We are thrilled to bring this exciting much loved event back after the Covid hiatus! Ticketing and event info also TBA in the near future.  A May event is in the early planning stages; look for updates in the future on all events and concerts.

The symphony development committee, like the board, is a volunteer committee made up of community members. Some of us don’t know a sharp from a flat, a bass clef from a treble clef, but we are committed to the symphony because of the value it brings to our county. As you know, ticket sales do not even come close to covering the cost of concerts, even with sold out houses. Our task, like that of all non-profits, is to seek alternate forms of funding to keep the symphony viable.

If you are interested in working on the committee, or joining the board, or as an office or event volunteer we welcome your support and friendship. Please contact Tess Duffy at [email protected]

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Staff Notes

Toireasa-Anne (Tess) Duffy, Marketing and Communications Manager

Tess is clear that she does not want to be defined by any one aspect or time of her life, but views her life as a compilation of experiences that brought her here to find a new happy place in San Luis Obispo.

She is a bit of an 80’s Goth child who can sing entire Broadway musicals for you. Her childhood dream was to perform in Broadway musicals, but as a self described “klutz” who can’t dance, the dream faded. She grew up in Dubuque, Iowa “and had the luck to be a nerdy theatre and choir kid” in a liberal family who adored all kinds of music. She was heavily influenced by her parents love of folk music (“they had thousands of records”) so much so that Tess has a tattoo of Woodie Guthrie, as well as one of a Tupac Shakur quote, and a baseball tattoo to honor her grandfather who was a minor league player.

Tess realized that her elementary school, high school, and college were all just four blocks apart. She said, “Iowa was a great place to be from and a great place to leave.” So, at 21 she moved to Venice Beach, California where, as a vocalist, she started her own band Friends in Low Places, that performed a mix of hard rock, country, swing, and punk. The band had a residency at O’Brien’s in Santa Monica. Tess loved the music scene in Southern California that “was supportive of women in rock.”

Trey Duffy was a neighbor, “an obnoxious guy, a surfer, not my type, kind of a Star Wars dork.” They married in 2017 after he proposed in “cheesy” fashion in front of the castle at Disneyland while the “Circle of Life” played in the background. They moved several times in southern California to be near his work as a computer developer-engineer and Chief Technical Officer. They had two children Finneas (Finn) now four and a half, named after a character in the John Knowles book A Separate Peace, and Ada now two and a half, named after Ada Lovelace, the mathematician known for her work on Charles Babbage’s mechanical computer. Tess said, “I loved being a stay at home mom. It was a job I could be passionate about.”

Grief is not a stranger to Tess. When she was 20 she was a passenger in a car accident and was thrown through the windshield. She spent months recovering. In February of 2021, her husband Trey passed away. In the same month her father and a nephew also unexpectedly passed away of unrelated causes. She soon moved to San Luis Obispo to be near Trey’s father and step mother, and this year her mother moved to the same neighborhood as Tess and her children.

Every night she wondered what the next day would bring, what was going to define this new Tess, as she said, “You go through this unbelievable amount of grief . . .  I am a musician, a daughter, I was a wife…I’m normally a happy person. Now I’m a single mother and a widow. What will define me now? I have my kids, my dogs, my family, and Dolly Parton . . . so many amazing things in this world that make life so worthwhile! You just have to keep pushing forward!”

Tess has created a new and fulfilling life in San Luis. She has worked for the symphony for 18 months where she creates marketing materials, promotes concerts and events, manages and writes for High Notes, develops sponsorships, plans events, manages the symphony’s social media accounts, sits on the development committee, and countless other tasks large and small. “Working in the arts is my dream job! I love my job!” are two phrases Tess says on a regular basis. She spends her free time with Ada and Finn exposing them to new experiences and travels, and hopes to someday take them to Europe.

Her top song playlist is:

Everybody’s Gotta Live – Love

Cosmic Dancer – T-Rex

Night Moves – Bob Seger

Wild Night – Van Morrison (“you have to have a song to dance to”)

Pretty Good – John Prine

Red Dirt Girl – Emmylou Harris (“you have to have a song to cry to”).

He favorite singer is Bonnie Raitt, and her favorite musicals are West Side Story and Cabaret.

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CLIF’S NOTES – By Clifton Swanson, Member of the Bass Section, and Conductor 1971-1984

Botso Korisheli,  SLO Youth Symphony Founder and So Much More

“I look forward to the next hour, next day, and no plans. I take what comes and absorb it as much as I can, mentally, physically, emotionally, visually, audibly. I drink it up.”  Wachtang (Botso) Korisheli.

One of  San Luis Obispo’s most charismatic figures in the arts, Botso Korisheli will be remembered by many as the founder and conductor of the San Luis Obispo’s Youth Symphony.  But those who knew him for many years were also fascinated by his life story, wide range of interests, devotion to teaching, and influence on so many in so many different ways.

Botso was remarkable because he forged his own destiny out of sheer tenacity and determination.  No wonder he was one of those chosen by Sky Bergman for her film “Lives Well Lived.” Born in 1921 (although he wasn’t actually sure of the year) in Georgia, Russia, Botso witnessed the arrest and execution of his father by Joseph Stalin who accused his father, an actor, as an “enemy of the state.” Subsequently, Botso was drafted into the Soviet Army to fight Germany at the Second World War, was captured and forced to be a translator for the other side. At the end of the war he emigrated to the United States where he studied at the California School of the Arts, received a bachelor’s degree in music at UC Santa Barbara, and much later completed a doctorate at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

Botso moved to Morro Bay in 1957 to teach music at Morro Bay Elementary School. With the support of the principal, he established what he proudly called his “conservatory.” At 7:00 every morning, before the school day began, he opened up the band room and coached his students on the fundamentals of each instrument, music excerpts, difficult passages and etudes. Cellist Nancy Nagano (flutist at the time) describes how students couldn’t wait to get there even at that hour; it was the highlight of their day. According to Nancy, as each student achieved an assigned level their name was placed on the chalk board, and they eventually earned a “reward” which was often to accompany him on his International Harvester Scout with a winch to retrieve rocks from the ocean or off-road sites for his next sculpture. Being around Botso was always an adventure.

Out of his program came an amazing group of students including a family of cousins: Nancy Nagano (cellist), Joan Nagano (pianist), and Kent Nagano (conductor). Even though not all of his students went into music professionally, Botso made an indelible impact on their lives as was reflected in responses to his obituary in 2015 when countless former students responded with their love of the man and what he taught them about life and living.

In 1965 Botso decided that San Luis Obispo should have a youth symphony. Beginning with a volunteer group of parents, the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony soon flourished with an impressive repertoire, student and professional soloists, and strong community support. In 1977 the Youth Symphony traveled to Guatemala to perform concerts. This was reciprocated when the Guatemala Youth Symphony came to San Luis Obispo. After his retirement Botso continued to teach at his home in Morro Bay until the day he passed away at the age of 93.

Many musicians (and audiences) will remember the “Haus Konzerts” that Botso organized every year. His home, which he built with assistance from his many friends and even students, was designed so that the studio opened up to a large patio where an audience of up to 50 people could enjoy performances by friends, students, and invited artists. For Botso, the music was part of a much larger picture, the opportunity to come together in friendship and collegiality. If you lingered after a rehearsal you were inevitably invited to participate in a Georgian tradition, a toast using the horn of a deer…the challenge to quaff it in one gulp.

Botso was equally well known as a sculptor. His works are found in many homes and public sites. He was commissioned by the City of Morro Bay to sculpt the “Pelican Family” and to create the giant chessboard (with large moveable pieces) overlooking the harbor. This was followed by the 12-foot sculpture in the center of the roundabout entrance to the city. He was also commissioned by the Cultural Ministry of the Republic of Georgia to sculpt a work as a symbol for Tbilisi, the city of his birth. 

All of this is to barely scratch the surface of this remarkable man, fondly remembered by many and memorialized by his influence and works of art.

Highly recommended films:

Lives Well Lived, directed by Sky Bergman and currently available for rent or purchase on

Botso: the Teacher from Tbilisi: Directed by Tom Walters.  Currently available online for free at : Donation is optional and proceeds support the SLO Youth Symphony.

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High Note Humor

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String Auditions : November 3-5 

contact : [email protected] or visit our website for more information about string auditions

Youth Symphony Auditions :  August 18-20

contact : [email protected] or visit our website for more information about Youth Symphony auditions

The 2022-23 season is sponsored in part by: Wealth Care Lawyer Klaus Gottlieb, John and Rebecca Baer, The Foulke Correa Foundation, FPAC Clifton Swanson Community Access to the PAC Fund, Chevron, The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, City of San Luis Obispo, California MENTOR, Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust, Harvey’s Honey Huts, Susan Polk Insurance

Concert Sponsors: Pat & Ben McAdams, Jim & Beverly Smith, Minke WinklerPrins, Jeff & Melodee Brady, Cricket Handler & Jerry Boots , Peggy Lance Little in Honor of Luba Staller, Len Jarrott, Martha Michalojko Kettelkamp & Richard Andrews, Mary & Tom Tanner, & Melinda Avila

Media Sponsors: KCBX Public Radio, Estero Bay News, & KSBY

Symphonic Forays Sponsors: Paul Severtson, Fred & Rochelle Friedman, Jim Walker, Jill LeMieux, Sandi Sigurdson, & David Slade –  In loving memory of  Michael  Fitzgerald

No-Ties Allowed Sponsors: Paul Severtson, Ann Shaw, Nancy Weber & Roger Vogler, Pamela Dassenko & Thomas Miller, & Dianne & Michael Draze