The Santa Monica Symphony has been a major cultural asset for the Southern California Westside community since its debut in 1945 . Its present Music Director, Allen Robert Gross, "has elevated the Orchestra to the echelon of the leading community orchestras in the country." (Culture Spot LA), that attracts music lovers from all parts of the greater Los Angeles area. The orchestra, which consists of some of the best Los Angeles-area professionals, emerging pre-professional musicians, and accomplished volunteer non-professional community musicians, presents four free concerts each season to an audience of 5,000 persons of all ages. Its repertoire of classical and contemporary music provides well-rounded programs of wide appeal.
The Symphony has received prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and recently was one of only sixty-four orchestras in the country to receive a grant under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. It also received funding from the Los Angeles County Music and Performing Arts Commission and private foundations. Its recent concert featuring Tavis Smiley as narrator in Copland's Lincoln Portrait will be broadcast over National Public Radio to a national and international audience.
The Santa Monica Symphony has grown to its present excellence under the batons of six outstanding conductors/music directors: founding conductor Jacques Rachmilovich, composer Arthur Lange, Peter Meremblum, former CBS Symphony director Victor Bay, USC School of Music faculty member Yehuda Gilad, and its current conductor Dr. Allen Robert Gross of the Occidental College Music faculty. Guest soloists are a regular program feature of the symphony season. Among artists performing with the orchestra have been Sydney and Jeanne Weiss, Nathaniel Rosen, Ronald Leonard and such noted composers and guest conductors as Nelson Riddle, Miklos Rosza, David Rose, Alfred Newman, John Green, and Elmer Bernstein. The Santa Monica Symphony also has made multiple recordings and was the first orchestra in the United States to record the First and Second Symphonies of Tchaikovsky. Among its other contributions have been the Young Musicians Concerts which provide performance opportunities for aspiring young musicians.
The Santa Monica Symphony is a member of the Association of California Symphony Orchestra (ACSO), The American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL), and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. This music is sponsored as a public service by the City of Santa Monica and made possible in part by the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division. Instrumental Music for these performances funded in part by the Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Funds as arranged by Local 47 of the American Federation of Musicians, William Peterson, President. These performances are made possible in part through sponsorship of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Music and Performing Arts Commission.