South Valley Symphony


The South Valley Symphony (SVS) is an important cultural asset in the community and a significant musical resource for the communities’ schools.

For most adult musicians a community orchestra, or band, is their only option to continue playing the instruments they learned over the course of their childhood years. For music students in middle or high school, a community orchestra offers additional opportunity to learn from seasoned players and broaden their skills by performing with a full orchestra before a live audience.

All are motivated by their passion for music.  All are committed to the many hours of work it requires to advance their abilities. They want to give their time and their talent to support each other so that the best possible concert performances can be given to South Valley Symphony audiences.

Orchestra Members and Concert Programs

About 40 musicians are regular members of the SVS orchestra. Many are music teachers; some learned an instrument in school and took it up in later years when they had more time; many work full time and others are retired. Some play with other community orchestras and bands or volunteer their time to work with the music teachers in our local schools. All are volunteers and receive no reimbursement. The orchestra rehearses for 6-8 weeks prior to each concert and currently rehearsals are held in Solorsano Middle School in Gilroy. Musicians wishing to join the orchestra are always welcome at rehearsals and information about attending and who to contact is available on the SVS web site.

Despite its name, South Valley Symphony performs a wide range of music including symphonies and other classical pieces, film scores, choral works and jazz. The musical repertoire is chosen by the SVS Music Director & Conductor with input from orchestra members and the SVS Board of Directors. Four concerts are performed during the season which begins in October and ends in May. Three concerts are performed in Gavilan College Theater and one in the church of Mission San Juan Bautista.  There is one General Admission price for adults and no charge is made for children or college students.

The third concert of the season always includes a winner from the Navaroli Young Musicians Competition which is an annual event for children in Grades 8 – 12. Auditions are held in January at the home of one of the orchestra musicians. A qualified music student living or studying in the South Santa Clara Valley prepares the first movement of a concerto or similar piece and performs it before three judges and a small audience. The environment is supportive and friendly and intended to set a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere for the youngsters to perform. Each student receives a written assessment of their performance and the winner – or winners – will perform with the SVS Orchestra at the upcoming March concert.


South Valley Symphony concerts and operations are primarily funded by ticket sales, individual contributions and donations from local businesses. Additional funding comes from corporate matching contributions, program advertising and grants. The Symphony is a 501 (c)(3) corporation with annual expenditures of $55K – $60K. Expenses include the Music Directors & Conductor’s salary; guest and solo artists; advertising and promotional mailings; music purchase, rental and management; additional players; programs and tickets; insurance and other professional expenses.

A Look to the Future

South Valley Symphony is actively working with the area schools to bring more young people to concerts and receive credit for attending. Musicians frequently go into the classroom to give Master classes or other assistance in the regular curriculum. In October 2016 students will be invited to sit in with the orchestra during a dress rehearsal and in 2017 the Navaroli Competition will add more categories to enable public school students learning brass and wind instruments to participate. The objective is to give these students similar opportunities to perform with the orchestra as is currently given to students studying string instruments. (Gilroy and Morgan Hill Schools, with the exception of Jackson Academy, do not teach string instruments).

In June 2016 South Valley Symphony will sponsor a community band, Pacific Brass Band, at a “Picnic in the Park” to be held at Guglielmo Winery. Later in the summer the Symphony will again sponsor Porchfest Gilroy, a free event to encourage musicians to perform on front porches or lawns for the benefit of residents.

South Valley Symphony was started by a few musicians in 1974 and is considered by many as a “jewel” in the community. It is the only symphony orchestra south of San Jose and serves constituents in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Martin, Hollister and San Juan Bautista. Musicians participate from further afield including Watsonville, Monterey, Santa Cruz and the South Bay Peninsula. The quality of our music is evidenced by audience members who come from all over the Bay area. The Symphony organization is very grateful to be able to perform in a theater with seating for 350, and for the support given by to it Gavilan College. The Symphony Board is actively looking to  broaden its concert appeal in the coming seasons and believes the South Valley Symphony will continue to thrive and benefit all residents in the communities of the South Valley.