Santa Rosa, Calif., March 14, 2023 – Luther Burbank Center for the Arts (LBC) and the Santa Rosa Symphony announced they have narrowed their search for the new principal Pops conductor to replace Michael Berkowitz, who retires this year. They also announced details for the 2023-24 season, including a patron participation process that will help inform the final decision for the next conductor.
Season ticket packages for the 18th Symphony Pops include all four concerts and pre-concert talks and will begin to go on sale March 17, 2023. Individual concert tickets will go on sale August 22, 2023.
After a national search and preliminary review of nine acclaimed conductors, the Santa Rosa Symphony and LBC selected four accomplished candidates to be considered for the next principal pops conductor. They include Sean O’Loughlin, currently Principal Pops Conductor of Symphoria, in Syracuse, NY, and Principal Pops Conductor of Victoria (Canada) Symphony Pops, veteran Broadway Director Todd Ellison; Troy Quinn, Music Director of the Owensboro Symphony in Kentucky and the Venice Symphony in Florida; and Ernest Richardson, Principal Pops Conductor of the Omaha Symphony.
Patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy and evaluate the four conductors, each of whom will command the podium at one of four Pops concerts in the 2023-24 season. Following each concert, patrons will receive a survey, allowing them to give feedback to the selection committee, made up of Santa Rosa Symphony and LBC programming experts. The committee will consider patrons’ feedback, along with results of orchestra surveys and interviews of each candidate, before making a final recommendation to the symphony’s Board of Directors. A final decision is expected by May, 2024.
“Our Pops Series reputation has garnered the interest of four talented Pops conductors,” said Alan Silow, President and CEO of the Santa Rosa Symphony, who also is retiring this year. “It won’t be an easy choice, but it will reflect the collective spirit of a discerning orchestra and highly engaged community of Pops patrons.”
The 18th Symphony Pops season will feature a vibrant program of popular classics, starting in October with Unforgettable – The Great American Songbook, with Sean O’Loughlin conducting and vocalists Julia Goodwin and Nick Ziobro, both America’s Got Talent finalists, performing the timeless classics. In December, Holiday Pops program will feature conductor Todd Ellison, vocalist Shannon Rugani, the CA Redwood Chorale, and Roustabout Theater, performing the holiday selections. Highlights will include a singing Santa Claus, a dance troupe, and an audience sing-along. At A Night at the Oscars in February, 2024, conductor Troy Quinn will command the podium, with instrumental soloist Eric Rigler on the penny whistle, tin whistle, and Irish pipes. All selections are the original orchestral arrangements and/or suites that were composed for the films. All were either nominated for or won an Academy Award. The season finishes with Ernest Richardson conducting Disco Inferno: A ‘70s Celebration, featuring disco classics as well as hits by Abba, the Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, and more. Pre-show discussions are scheduled one hour prior to each show.
Season ticket prices range from $111 to $272. Single tickets range from $37 to $90. Tickets and information are available online at lutherburbankcenter.org, by phone at 707-546-3600, or at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts Box Office, 50 Mark West Springs Road in Santa Rosa.
About the Santa Rosa Symphony
The Santa Rosa Symphony is the third-oldest professional orchestra in California, and the largest regional symphony north of Los Angeles. It inspires and engages the residents of our region with the finest musical performances and educational programs while maintaining its core values of organizational strength, innovative programming, fiscal responsibility, comprehensive music education and community service to more than 100,000 people annually. Michael Berkowitz has been SRS principal Pops Conductor since 2008 and Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Symphony’s fifth music director in its 94 years, began his tenure in 2018.
About Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is home to world-class performances, nationally recognized education programs, contemporary visual art, and many popular events. The Arts Center is located in the heart of the Sonoma wine country and ranked among California’s top performing arts presenters. Together with its resident companies, the Center presents more than 230 performances in music, dance, theater, renowned speakers, and comedy; provides education programs serving more than 50,000 children and adults; and hosts more than 1,000 community events a year. Owned and operated by the Luther Burbank Memorial Foundation, the Center relies on charitable community donations to achieve its mission – to enrich, educate, and entertain.
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2023-24 Symphony Pops Series
Unforgettable – The Great American Songbook
Sunday, October 15, 2023
Sean O’Loughlin, conductor – Julia Goodwin and Nick Ziobra, vocalists (America’s Got Talent finalists)
With nods to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and more, America’s Got Talent finalists Julia Goodwin and Nick Ziobro reimagine the timeless classics of the Great American Songbook and make them come alive. From Come Fly with Me to Fascinating Rhythm and everything in between, these songs will keep the audience smiling and dancing for a truly Unforgettable experience.
Sunday, December 10, 2023
Todd Ellison, conductor – Shannon Rugani, vocalist, Roustabout Theater, CA Redwood Chorale
Beloved holiday selections for orchestra, chorus, vocals, and dance, featuring Roustabout Theater and California Redwood Chorale. Highlights will include a singing Santa Claus, a dance troupe, and an audience sing-along.
A Night at the Oscars
Sunday, February 4, 2023
Troy Quinn, conductor – Eric Rigler, instrumental soloist on penny whistle, tin whistle and Irish pipes
Encore Audience Interactive Finale: Audience chooses for the encore either John Williams’ Main Title or Imperial March from Star Wars
Unique for most Oscar concerts, the program selections all were either nominated for or won an Academy Award. All are the original orchestral arrangements and/or suites that were composed for the films. It will include the Mancini End Credits as well as the original 1976 Gonna Fly Now from Bill Conti. Also joining the program, the world famous piper, Eric Rigler, who originated the pipe playing on both Titanic with Celine Dion and Braveheart.
Disco Inferno: A ’70s Celebration
Sunday, April 21, 2023
Ernest Richardson, conductor – four vocalists from Spot-On Entertainment
Disco was the sound of the 70s and it still has the power to get us “movin’ and groovin’.” Travel back to the days when “Rocky” was a box-office smash, Donna Summer was the queen of the air waves, and Beethoven had his first top-40 hit. Patrons will celebrate those disco days and boogie nights with a cast of New York’s top performers singing and dancing to the decade’s super-hits. The evening will start and end with disco classics, with ’70s hits by Abba, the Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, and more in between.