Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra

This is one concert you will not want to miss. First time to an opera? This is a perfect opportunity to hear incredible singing blending with a superb orchestra. You may recognize parts of this program since it was used in popular cartoons such as Bugs Bunny. Do you know the story behind the music? Read on…

By Jerome Kleinsasser


Gioachino Rossini (1815)
1792 -1868

When Rossini’s Barber of Seville premiered in Rome in February of 1816 it bore the clumsy title Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution. This was necessitated by the fact that composer Giovanni Paisiello had already in 1782 claimed the more familiar title in his immensely popular version of the Beaumarchais Figaro story. Such was the celebrity of Paisiello’s Barber that Rossini was compelled to assure prospective producers and listeners that his setting was entirely new. It was only a few months later, in June, following the demise of Signor Paisiello that Rossini was free to use the title we know today.

The 24-year old composer’s notoriety was widespread as he already had a catalog of no less than 15 operas and a slew of sacred music to his credit, thus his demands to cast some of the finest singers of the day in his new opera were met. The celebrated Spanish tenor, Manuel Garcia, appeared as the titular Almaviva, while the part of Figaro was fashioned for Luigi Zamboni, a family friend of the composer.

Success came quickly and the opera took flight becoming instantly admired wherever it went. Its enthusiasts were legion, including none other than Beethoven, who, in their solitary meeting, allegedly instructed the composer to “Be sure to write more Barbers.” Within two years major productions appeared in London, Paris, Berlin and St. Petersburg. A few years later it became the first opera to be sung in Italian in New York City. Still later, in 1883, the Metropolitan Opera mounted it in the company’s very first season. The Met has since performed it nearly 500 times, as its popularity has never waned.

Eminent Spanish Baritone Manuel Garcia created the role of Almaviva

The immense popularity of Rossini’s Barber signaled the rise of “Bel Canto” style Italian opera, espoused shortly and carried forward by the likes of Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti, leading eventually to the Italian master, Giuseppe Verdi. This style of opera is melodically centered and calculated to display the beauty of a well-produced human voice. It demands complete control in all ranges and in long phrases, often including a melodic flourish for emphasis or effect.

Rossini had composed the opera’s famous overture three years earlier, intending it for his largely forgotten opera Aureliano in Palmira. Operatic overtures at that time were frequently substituted indiscriminately from one opera to another, but when presented with the Barber, this one stuck. The overture has since become subjected to many uses in popular culture, most famously in Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny cartoons.

The plot’s origins lie in Pierre Beaumarchais’ popular Figaro stories, one of which, set by Mozart, had entered the canon thirty years earlier. Rossini used a text by the poet Cesare Sterbini, who lived in his home while fashioning the libretto.

The young Count Almaviva, new to the town of Seville, has become beguiled by Rosina, the prettiest and richest girl in town. Disguised as an impoverished student (a character type found in numerous operas) and known to Rosina as her beloved “Lindoro,” we hear him singing an ardent serenade in her honor outside her window. Figaro, a barber and jack of all social trades, happens by and introduces himself. In a duet with Almaviva, Figaro offers his services as a go-between.

Rosina lives in a house as a ward of the aging and decrepit Doctor Bartolo, who plans to marry her. With an eye toward her considerable fortune, Bartolo holds Rosina virtually captive, disallowing any personal relationships.

We meet Don Basilio, a cleric who is also Rosina’s music teacher, but seems more interested in generating gossip and rumors than music. Figaro’s first ploy is to have Almaviva acquire entry to the house in the guise of a military officer, but that idea flops. His next ruse is to have the Count disguise himself as a substitute for the allegedly ill Basilio. This too fails when the real Basilio appears.

The Doctor, hoping to move matters forward with Rosina, shows her a fabricated letter purportedly as evidence of Almaviva’s duplicity. Dejected, Rosina consents to marry Bartolo, and the action is momentarily suspended due to an orchestral storm (another common feature of operas of the time).

Figaro and Almaviva finally gain entry into the house where the Count confesses his love for Rosina and proposes marriage. Misunderstandings are happily resolved and she accepts his proposal. Even Bartolo is convinced to go along with the solution on the condition that he will share her fortune. All concludes with great joy and goodwill.

The BSO has invited Tomasz Golka to conduct the February 14th concert at Rabobank Theater. Mr. Golka is the third of six candidates vying to become Bakersfield’s next conductor. The February concert is our opera style concert utilizing very talented artists from the Los Angeles area. This high-powered concert will invigorate the community as it unfolds highlights from “The Barber of Seville”. You can listen to clips of the music by clicking here.

More on Tomasz Golka…

Since winning 1st Prize at the 2003 Eduardo Mata International Conducting Competition, conductor and composer Tomasz Golka has appeared with orchestras in North and South America and Europe to great critical acclaim.

Since May 2014 Golka is Chief Conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia (Colombian National Symphony) in Bogotá.

Additionally, after serving as Music Director from 2010 to 2014, he currently holds the title of Principal Conductor of Riverside County Philharmonic, an extraordinary, virtuoso orchestra made up of the best freelance musicians from the Los Angeles area.

_DSC35011He has served as Cover Conductor for Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra.

In the 2014-15 Season Golka returns to the California Symphony and will also guest conduct the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Bakersfield Symphony, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río. He also returns in the 2015-16 season to the Suffolk County Festival Orchestra.

Recent guest conducting appearances include Warsaw Philharmonic, Baden-Baden Philharmonic, and Fort Worth Symphony.

He has toured Mexico several times, appearing with virtually all of the country’s top orchestras, including those of UNAM, Xalapa, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, and Yucatán. In the United States, Golka has appeared with the symphony orchestras of Seattle, Louisville, Buffalo, Charleston, Florida West Coast, and Spoleto Festival USA. He made his European debut conducting Sinfonia Varsovia in Warsaw’s National Symphony Hall in 2004.

Golka has appeared with a number of world-class soloists, including Susan Graham, Alisa Weilerstein, Gary Hoffman, Inon Barnatan, Miriam Fried, Yuval Yaron, and his pianist-brother Adam Golka, with whom he most recently performed all five Piano Concerti of Beethoven in two sold-out evenings.

In addition to his career as a conductor, Golka is himself an accomplished composer. His most recent composition for violin and orchestra, entitled “The Transit of Venus”, received its world premiere in October 2014 by the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bohuslav Rattay with Richard Biaggini as soloist. Additionally, he has himself conducted some of his own orchestral works with California Symphony, Lubbock Symphony, Williamsport Symphony, and the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Orchestra.

Formerly Music Director of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra from 2007 to 2012, Golka presided over a period in that orchestra’s history acknowledged as one consisting of the highest musical standards, fiscal prosperity, and great ticket sales. During his tenure with the Lubbock Symphony, the orchestra added an additional sixth weekend of concerts to their previous five-concert Classical subscription series and a new chamber music series, on which he appeared as conductor and violinist. He also created the position of Composer-in-residence, which saw two world-class composers, Shafer Mahoney and Jude Vaclavik, spend a year each collaborating with the Lubbock Symphony, giving lectures, teaching Texas Tech University students, spending time in the community talking about what it means to be a composer, and presiding over the world premieres of several of each of their works that were commissioned by the thumb__DSC38061Lubbock Symphony.

Golka has been hailed for his creative programming and his unique and bold juxtapositions of the familiar with the unfamiliar. During his time in Lubbock, the orchestra gave seven world premieres, the American premiere of Mieczysław Karłowicz’s 1909 tone poem A Sorrowful Tale, and performed numerous less familiar masterpieces by Lutosławski, Dutilleux, Ligeti, and even Prokofiev (his Second Symphony) as well as several symphonies of Bruckner (performances of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony yielded the highest ticket sales in the orchestra’s history!). As Chief Conductor in Bogotá, he gave the Colombian Premiere of Thomas Adès’s “Asyla”.

Golka has a particular affinity for the works of Bohuslav Martinu, and he frequently programs music by this unjustly neglected composer. The 2014-15 season included Golka conducting Martinu’s 2nd, 4th, and 6th Symphonies, his Overture for orchestra, and his orchestral scherzo Thunderbolt P-47.

Passionate about building new audiences, Golka designed and conducted all of the Lubbock Symphony’s highly-acclaimed Educational Concerts, exposing thousands of youngsters, from fifth to twelfth grade, to orchestral music. Golka is an eloquent speaker and is frequently invited to speak to various community groups about music. His pre-concert lectures are very well attended, and Golka additionally makes a point to always speak from the stage during concerts about the works which are being performed. “I never liked the atmosphere in concerts, where performers just assume that the audience knows everything about a piece simply because it’s famous. Having spent my whole life making music and reading and researching about it, I find new information and new perspectives all the time about works I’ve known my entire life, and I love sharing those with listeners. To me, it’s what brings the music to life and what makes it possible to connect with the audience, and, most importantly, for them to connect with the music”, says Golka.

thumb_golka04Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1975, Golka’s family emigrated to Mexico in 1980 and to the United States in 1982. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is fluent in Polish, English, and Spanish. Golka studied conducting with David Effron at Indiana University and Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar at the Peabody Conservatory. He also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in violin from Rice University. His violin teachers were Sergiu Luca, Kenneth Goldsmith, Marina Yashvili, and Tadeusz Wroński.

As a conducting fellow at the 2006 Tanglewood Music Festival, he worked with James Levine, shared the podium with Bernard Haitink, and conducted a historic performance of Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale with legendary composers Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, and John Harbison as narrators.

As an operatic conductor, his recent credits include La Traviata, Die Fledermaus, as well as Madama Butterfly, which he conducted on tour throughout Chile.

Other past positions held by Golka include Music Director of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra (2008-10), Music Director of the Ball State University Symphony Orchestra (2003-04), and, as violinist, Concertmaster of Spoleto USA Festival Orchestra and the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (1999-2000).

He was a conducting fellow at the Aspen Music Festival in 2002 and has conducted in Master Classes for such distinguished conductors as Yuri Temirkanov and David Zinman.thumb_golka08


BSO NEXT is a donor based endeavor that exposes our local students to live symphonic music by providing them with a free concert experience. Our hope is that such exposure will inspire future musicians and concert-goers and develop the next generation’s appreciation for symphonic orchestra music. Not only is BSO NEXT benefiting several hundred students from our local schools, but the addition of these students has created a palpable vibe of youth and excitement both in the lobby and in the auditorium.

The program is in need of additional donors for the remainder of this season and on a continuing basis thereafter. We invite you to participate in this rare giving opportunity which allows you to directly invest in our local youth, observe the results for yourself, and connect the next generation to the BSO experience. For more information or to become a sponsor, please contact Cynthia Smizer at

Thank you to our BSO NEXT sponsors:

Agstar Services, Inc. * Bill Wright Toyota * Bryan and Kayla Burrow * Chevron * Morgan Clayton/Tel-Tec Securities * Bob Clemenson * Ira and Carole Cohen/USB Financial Services * Jason and Patsy Cohen/USB Financial Services * Peggy Darling * Dr. Vip Dev * Ray and Joan Dezember * Dignity Health * Jay Ericsson/USB Financial Services * Family Motors * Claire Frisch * Terry and Jerri Hearron/Advanced Distribution Co. * Kern Community Foundation * Don C. and Diane S. Lake Family * David Lee/USB Financial Services * Milt and Betty Younger/Milton Younger Law * Ron Nickell * Marjorie Nixon * Pete and Mona Pankey * Pelletier Foundation * Stevens Transportation * Mark Surber/PLCS Plus International, Inc. * Varner Brothers * W. A. Thompson Distributing


Today is national Giving Tuesday celebrating and encouraging our communities to support local nonprofits. Please consider a gift to the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Your tax deductible donation will impact thousands of Kern County adults and children. A small or large gift is greatly appreciated and is a very important part of the BSO since only one third of its revenue comes from ticket sales. The BSO’s mission is to perform great concerts and provide music education to the young people of Kern County. To this end, we have six season concerts, Nutcracker performances, and a plethora of music education programs serving over 12,000 children each year. Having a thriving symphony orchestra in residence says a lot about who we are as a community as it adds character and culture to our City and County. Thank you for considering a gift to the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra.

To give, click on the link below:

YES I want to support the BSO!


The BSO and the Civic Dance Center celebrate the 37th anniversary of their collaboration in presenting the ultimate tale for the holiday season, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet. For youngsters and the young at heart, the scenic favorites are all there, with live orchestral music to make your holiday season complete! Here are some of the details for the December concerts:

Saturday December 13th 1:00pm
Saturday December 13th 7:30pm
Sunday December 14th 1:00pm


Ticket Prices
$35 Adults l $18 Students l $10 Children Under 6

$30 Adults l $15 Students l $10 Children Under 6

$25 Adults l $13 Students l $10 Children Under 6

$20 Adults l $10 Students l $10 Children Under 6

You can purchase tickets at Rabobank box office, or the BSO office.


The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has an exciting Young People’s Concert series (YPC’s) we host at the Rabobank Theater. Elementary students, secondary students, and teachers from across Kern County have enjoyed our programs for more than thirty years. Through our partnerships with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and the Bakersfield City School District we have inspired young people to have a lifetime love for music. The BSO performs three themed concerts a year which are specifically designed for young audiences and meet scholastic standards set by the State of California. This is the perfect way to entertain and educate students at the same time. Here is our program lineup:

This concert is scheduled for the Wednesday prior to the BSO October concert each year. The program introduces the four families of instruments that comprise an orchestra — strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. The program is an interactive experience between the children, the conductor, and the musicians. Music lineup extends from exciting classical music to popular movie themed music. Children begin to realize a lot of the music is recognizable either through movies or through video games. As the orchestra performs the various pieces, the children sit at the edge of their seats as many of them experience an orchestra for the very first time.

DECEMBER 11 & 12, 2014, YPC
Our December YPC features a truncated version of the Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet. The BSO partners with the Civic Dance Center to bring this ballet to life. The ballet includes many young dancers, similar in age to the students in the audience. A couple of the young dancers are chosen before the opening scene or during a scene change to give interviews. They are asked to describe to the audience how they were introduced to ballet, how much time they spend in lessons/practice and how they “juggle” a schedule of their dancing with school and homework. An advantage with this YPC is the experience of live orchestra music in combination with young ballet dancers. The students can see and hear the orchestra in the orchestra pit which creates a full and rich experience and reinforces the lessons learned in discovering the instruments from our October YPC. The students also interact with the full costumed dancers in the aisles of the theater as they exit.

FEBRUARY 11, 2015, YPC
The YPC season ends with Prokiev’s Peter and the Wolf . During this performance the students learn how music can bring to life a story especially strong when combined with dancers. They recognize that the sound of a particular instrument is the voice of Peter and the animals. There is a cross over from music/dance to language as teachers can have their students retell the story told by the ballet and orchestra. This is a popular program every year.


I have been blessed by music and the opportunity for great music making throughout my life. There is no greater feeling and joy for me than sharing these blessings with as many people as possible. I couldn’t be happier to be here tonight with this precious community, especially knowing how closely my artistic purpose aligns with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra’s mission, “to provide the best possible performances of great music for the widest possible audience, and provide musical education for the young people of Kern County.”

I am originally from Costa Rica, and grew up experiencing the transformative power of music. In 1972, the country’s then president, José Figueres Ferrer, made the monumental decision to use music as an instrument of continued peace, making music education for all children a reality and prioritizing the cultural enrichment of all Costa Ricans. From that vision came his famous phrase “Para que tractores sin violines” (Why tractors without violins).

Having personally benefitted from accessible music education and having seen the positive effects of music on the people of my home country, my vision for my tenure with the BSO would not only include innovative artistic leadership and close collaboration with an outstanding group of fellow artists, but it would also give me the opportunity to share my passion for music, music making, and music education with the people of Kern County. Through music, my dream would be to engage with the active spirit of the community, foster mutual respect, and enrich the lives of community members of all ages.

Tonight’s musical delights could not be more exquisite than with these two iconic works of the orchestral repertoire. The Cello Concerto in B Minor Op. 104 by Antonín Dvorak represents one of the composer’s highest accomplishments and remains one of the most important masterpieces of the cello repertoire, due to its creatively wrought musical details, great expressiveness, fine architecture, and technical demands. The Symphony No. 4 in F Minor Op. 36 by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky will take us through a musical journey full of evocative images – fate, drama, darkness, melancholy, hope, light, and triumph.

Let us all – orchestra, soloist, and audience – open our souls and let the magic of music flow around us, unite us, and transform us with its energy.

Thank you for this great privilege, allowing me to collaborate with the outstanding musicians of the BSO and allowing us all to share the great joy of music together.

Alejandro Gutiérrez


We are pleased to announce a master class with world class cellist, Carter Brey. Mr. Brey will join us for the November concert and has agreed to three 25 minute instruction sessions. Applications are now being accepted to be one of three chosen for this honor with Mr. Brey. Apply online and submit your audition video link as well. Click here for the application.




Season Tickets are available for the 2014-2015 season. This will be an exciting season where each one of our concerts will have one of our top six conductor candidates, world class soloists, and our incredible local musicians. We are asking for feedback after each concert to help choose who will be the next conductor.

You can purchase tickets by calling the BSO office at 661-323-7928.


Season Ticket Form 2014-2015




The annual BSO Gala was yet again a wonderful success leaving those who attended loving the beautiful evening. We had approximately 600 people in attendance enjoying the food from Hodel’s, music from the BSO and the Strolling Strings, and delightful friendships. The BSO is very thankful for those who sponsored this event and all those who purchased an opportunity ticket. This is our one fundraiser which allows us to perform great concerts and provide music education for the children of Kern County.
Gala4 Gala5 SS1 Bid Conductor 2 Gala3 Burrow1 Bid Conductor1 Gala1Gala2

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