Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra

Just a few days before Mother’s Day, the Bakersfield Symphony launched its Mini Concert program in an effort to continue to provide quality music to our community in the midst of cancelled performances and quarantines caused by the pandemic.  We were thrilled to have found a way to incorporate live music into people’s lives, especially in a time when everyone seemed to be starved for human interaction.

Everyone involved, from those who purchased the performances, to those who listened to them (both the intended audience and surprised but happy neighbors), to the musicians themselves, was thrilled, and often deeply moved, by the experience.  We were able to spread a little joy in a time of great worry and uncertainty, and we would like to thank you for being a part of that.  Without your time, interest, and love of your own friends and family, this endeavor would not have been a success.  Thank you!

While this was a not-for-profit endeavor meant to bring joy to our community, many of you chose to make additional donations to the Symphony on top of the fee charged for the concerts.  We cannot thank you enough for your generosity.  In spite of the cancellation of large-scale concerts and the revamping of much of our programming for the upcoming season – in reference to both our concert season and our educational programming – we are working hard to stay relevant and provide quality, shared musical experiences for our community.  Every donation helps us realize this goal.  Once again, thank you for your generous gifts!

Due to the extreme heat of Bakersfield summers, our Mini Concert season has come to an end, but the Bakersfield Symphony is far from being done with its work.  We will be taking the next few weeks to prepare for our upcoming concert season, which boasts programs of fantastic music and showcases local talent.  Our concerts will be streamed online until restrictions are lifted and we are allowed to have large gatherings, and if you watch carefully, you may see your Mini Concert musicians on stage!  We are looking forward to making music together once again, and we hope you will be there to share the experience with us.  Be sure to check our website for updates and watch for our e-newsletter in your inbox.

Two musicians from the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra made a stop by the 17th Place Townhomes on Saturday, April 18th as part of an event the Townhome was holding to make stay at home orders a little more bearable for its residents. The event also included dessert baskets for residents and a chalk artist to brighten the residents’ view of their courtyard sidewalks. The symphony musicians were staged six feet apart and wearing face masks, to adhere to proper social distancing protocol, and residents were encouraged to view the performance from their apartments, but even with these restrictions, the community was able to come “together” for live art and music.

“During these stressful times when many are missing the ability to connect, the opportunity to bring live music to the residents is especially exciting,” said Holly Arnold, executive director of the Bakersfield Symphony. “Studies have shown that music is good for overall well-being and, in addition, this opportunity allows the residents to have a socially distant, but shared experience.”

The symphony hopes to create more socially-distanced performance opportunities while social isolation orders remain in place.

The Bakersfield Symphony is working to be a support to our community in this time of need by creating materials that music teachers can use as they try to navigate the world of distance learning that school closures have necessitated.

Kendra Green, our Director of Education Engagement and former Panama-Buena Vista Union School District music teacher, is busy gathering resources and creating content for our local music teachers and music students to utilize. Check our distance learning page to see an updated list of currently available materials, and be sure to follow us on Facebook to get updates when new material is created.

Friends of the Bakersfield Symphony,

As many of you know, in an effort to support the community and keep our musicians and patrons safe and healthy, the Bakersfield Symphony has already canceled its April 4 concert. Due to the ongoing nature of the dangers brought by the coronavirus to our community, the Bakersfield Symphony, unfortunately, must also cancel its upcoming season concert scheduled for May 9. The Gala, originally scheduled for May 28, has also been postponed. Further updates on the status of the Gala will be forthcoming.

We hope patrons already holding tickets for the April or May concerts may consider donating the cost of their tickets to the Bakersfield Symphony. Any money donated will go toward the operating expenses of the symphony, with a portion of all donations going toward our education programs. Of course, if you ask that your tickets be refunded, we will gladly do so. For any ticket or donation inquiries, please contact our office (

If you would like to make an additional donation to the Bakersfield Symphony to help us manage financially in this uncertain time, please contact the symphony office, or send a check to 1328 34th Street, Suite A, Bakersfield, CA 93301.

The symphony staff is currently working remotely for a majority of our office hours. Email ( will be the best way to communicate quickly with staff who may not be physically present in the office. If you do need to come into the office for any reason, please contact us to set up an appointment first.

The world has changed very quickly. We will do our best to keep you informed of any further changes in our schedule or office availability. In the meantime, we hope you stay safe and healthy during this difficult time, and we look forward to making music with you once this season of isolation is behind us!

Best regards,

Holly Arnold
Executive Director
Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra

Alfredo Rolando Ortiz is an internationally acclaimed harpist, and the Bakersfield Symphony looks forward to hosting the soloist on the upcoming March 7 concert entitled Sound of South America. The concert as a whole features a collection of orchestral music from or inspired by Latin America, bringing in works by Copland, Marquez, Moncayo, and Alfredo Rolando Ortiz himself. The program is sure to be a passionate and exciting example of the emotional breadth and depth that a symphony orchestra can achieve.

Internationally acclaimed by the critics, soloist of the “arpa paraguaya” (Paraguayan harp), a composer, author, educator and recording artist, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz considers his “most important concerts” PLAYING THE HARP IN THE DELIVERY ROOM during the birth of his second daughter, New Year’s Eve, 1980, and also for the birth of a grandson from each one of his two daughters in 2013. 

Alfredo was born in Cuba. When he was eleven years old he immigrated with his family to Venezuela. Four years later he began studying the Venezuelan folk harp with his school friend Fernando Guerrero. A year later he became a pupil of Alberto Romero on the Paraguayan harp. Just two years after his first harp lesson, he began medical school at Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia, began performing professionally and recorded his first album. Music supported his medical studies until graduation. Five years later he moved to the United States to continue studies of Music Therapy. Two years later he married Luz Marina Otero. For eight years from the time of his graduation from medical school, he worked in the medical field as well as a harpist and recording artist, until his wife became pregnant. In order to have time for his growing family, he then decided to dedicate his life only to them and to his first love: the harp. 

With a multicultural repertoire that covers folk, classical and popular music from many countries, as well as his original compositions, Alfredo has performed for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. He has recorded many albums and is the winner of a GOLD RECORD in South America. He has lectured on a variety of subjects at universities, colleges and schools, is the author of several harp music books and articles and his compositions have been performed and recorded by classical and folk harpists in many countries. His“Venezolana for Five Pedal Harps” has become a favorite of harp ensembles around the world. 

His acclaimed “South American Suite for Harp and Orchestra” premiered March 3, 1996. Dr Ortiz was invited to perform his Suite at the World Harp Congress in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1999, with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, having as audience over one thousand classical harpists from around the world. He has also performed his Suite in Venezuela, Guatemala, Brazil, Turkey, New Zealand, Israel and with several orchestras in the United States, among them the New Mexico Symphony, Corona Symphony Orchestra, and the El Paso Symphony. With this last orchestra he recorded his Suite, available in CD.

For more information about Alfredo Rolando Ortiz and his music, visit his website.

The Bakersfield Symphony Gala this year will be held under the stars at CSUB’s outdoor amphitheater on Thursday, May 28th. Cocktail hour starts at 5:30 p.m., with dinner being served at 6:30 p.m. Preparations are under way, and the program is shaping up to be one that will delight and inspire. Join us for an evening of good food, good friends, and good music!

For more information about tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please call the BSO Office at 661-323-7928.

Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) are one way that the BSO gives students from across Kern County an opportunity to be introduced to orchestral music. Our upcoming YPC on January 30 is entitled Musically Speaking: Painting with Music, and boasts a program full of musical stories:

Spring, movement 1 (Vivaldi)

Symphony No. 100, movement 2 (Haydn)

Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov)

Music from Frozen (Christophe Beck)

Tickets are only $3.00 to this event, and while we are out of space for school groups, individuals and families can still purchase tickets. Contact the BSO office (661-323-7928) for more information!

When? Thursday, January 30, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Where? Rabobank Theater

How much? Only $3.00 per person!

Download our pre-concert lesson plans and materials!

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At the upcoming Great Romantics concert on February 1st, the Bakersfield Symphony will be joined by grammy award–winning guitarist Jason Vieaux, who will take us on a musical journey as he performs one of the most exciting and romantic guitar concertos ever written, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. In the second half of the program we will experience the touching and powerful Second Symphony by the brilliant Rachmaninoff.

Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez
Soloist: Jason Vieaux, guitar

Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 2

About Jason Vieaux: Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux, “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists” (Gramophone), is the guitarist that goes beyond the classical. NPR describes Vieaux as “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation.” Among his extensive discography is the 2015 Grammy Award winning album for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Play.

Vieaux has earned a reputation for putting his expressiveness and virtuosity at the service of a remarkably wide range of music, and his schedule of performing, and recording commitments is distinguished throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Jason Vieaux has performed as concerto soloist with over 100 orchestras, including Cleveland, Toronto, Houston, Nashville, San Diego, Buffalo, Auckland Philharmonia, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Recent and upcoming highlights include performances at Caramoor Festival as Artist-in-Residence, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Curtis Presents, Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colon, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, New York’s 92Y, Domaine Forget International Festival, and Carmel Bach Festival, and Ravinia Festival.

He has forged his reputation as a first-rate chamber musician and programmer through performances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bard Music Festival, Music@Menlo, San Francisco Performances, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, Strings Music Festival, Grand Teton, and many others. Chamber music collaborators include the Escher Quartet; Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; violinists Anne Akiko Meyers, Kristin Lee, and Tessa Lark; acclaimed harpist Yolanda Kondonassis; and accordion/bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro.

Vieaux’s passion for new music has fostered premieres of works by Jonathan Leshnoff, Avner Dorman, Jeff Beal, Dan Visconti, David Ludwig, Vivian Fung, José Luis Merlin, Mark Mancina, and more. Jason recently premiered Visconti’s “Living Language” Guitar Concerto with the California Symphony and recorded Leshnoff’s Guitar Concerto live with the Nashville Symphony, released in May 2019 on Naxos.

Vieaux’s latest CD release, Dance (Azica) with the Escher Quartet, includes works by Boccherini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Aaron Jay Kernis. Later this season, he will release a new solo Bach album on Azica. In addition to his Grammy-winning solo release Play, his previous albums include Jeff Beal’s “Six Sixteen” Guitar Concerto with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra (BIS); Infusion (Azica) with accordionist/bandoneonist Julien Labro; Ginastera’s Guitar Sonata, on Ginastera: One Hundred (Oberlin Music) produced by harpist Yolanda Kondonassis; Together (Azica), a duo album with Kondonassis; a recording of Astor Piazzolla’s music with Julien Labro and A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra; Bach: Works for Lute, Vol. 1; Images of Metheny; and Sevilla: The Music of Isaac Albeniz. Vieaux was the first classical musician to be featured on NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk” series.

In 2012, the Jason Vieaux School of Classical Guitar was launched with ArtistWorks Inc., an unprecedented technological interface that provides one-on-one online study with Vieaux for guitar students around the world. In 2011, he co-founded the guitar department at the Curtis Institute of Music, and in 2015 was invited to inaugurate the guitar program at the Eastern Music Festival. Vieaux has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 1997, heading the guitar department since 2001.

Vieaux is affiliated with Philadelphia’s Astral Artists. In 1992 he was awarded the prestigious GFA International Guitar Competition First Prize, the event’s youngest winner ever. He is also honored with a Naumburg Foundation top prize, a Cleveland Institute of Music Distinguished Alumni Award, and a Salon di Virtuosi Career Grant. In 1995, Vieaux was an Artistic Ambassador of the U.S. to Southeast Asia. His primary teachers were Jeremy Sparks and John Holmquist.

Jason Vieaux is represented by Jonathan Wentworth Associates, Ltd and plays a 2013 Gernot Wagner guitar with Augustine strings. For more information, visit


Join the BSO for the Summer Band concerts at Beale Park on June 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th at 8pm!


BSO NEXT started in 2014 as a donor-based endeavor that allows students from all over Kern County to experience live symphonic music. NEXT has benefited thousands of students from local schools and has brought youth and excitement in our audience. This program includes a special pre-concert lecture with our conductor, guest soloists and musicians and a complementary snack at intermission. Recently, we have been able to expand the program to include a hosted dinner and a tour of Bakersfield College or Cal State Bakersfield, all before our concerts. Please click HERE for more information.

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