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Pasadena's First Orchestra
Pasadena's First Symphony
The Pasadena Symphony was founded in 1928 as the Pasadena Civic Orchestra by Conductor Reginald Bland. The original orchestra members were all volunteer musicians, most of whom were students of Maestro Bland.The annual operating budget was a meager $3,500, all of which was funded by the City of Pasadena. The symphony presented its first concert on April 29, 1929. The music was regarded as fine and community support was spirited.


Reiginald BlandDr. Richard Lert
Reginald BlandDr. Richard Lert
In 1936, Dr. Richard Lert was appointed Music Director and Conductor. Dr. Lert was one of several important German conductors who came to the United States to conduct when the political environment in Europe became untenable. During his 36-year directorship, Dr. Lert distinguished himself as one of the most important conducting teachers in America, and in 1964, he received the Gold Baton Award from the American Symphony Orchestra League for his work with young conductors. Under Lert, the Symphony became a founding member of the Los Angeles Symphony League in 1955, and was recognized with Metropolitan Status by the American Symphony Orchestra League in 1968. During his tenure, the organization became known as The Pasadena Symphony Association.

Pasadena Symphony  - 1940
The Pasadena Symphony - 1940

Extraordinary progress was achieved under the direction of Daniel Lewis who served as Music Director and Conductor between 1972 and 1984.
Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis
During this period, the organization's reputation for excellence was firmly established. Under his leadership, several national awards were won, including five American Society of Composers and Publishers awards for adventuresome programming. In addition, the Symphony caught the attention of prominent local music critic, Martin Bernheimer, who began touting the Symphony's artistic and programming excellence. Lewis' tenure also marks the founding of the Symphony's longest-running education program, the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra.

In 1984, Jorge Mester, one of America's most respected and talented conductors was selected as The Pasadena Symphony's fourth music director. Prior to joining the Symphony, Mester served as music director for the Louisville Symphony for twelve years and as music director of the Aspen Music Festival for twenty-one years. In his term on the podium, his talents and abilities have succeeded in bringing added luster to one of Pasadena's finest cultural assets.
Jorge Mester
Jorge Mester
The organization has grown in many areas: the number of concerts in the season has increased to eight education programs have been improved and expanded under the leadership of noted educator Jerri Price who serves as the Symphony's first-ever Education Director; and the size of the audience has developed impressively. Under Mester's leadership, the Symphony recorded its first CD in 1994, consisting of works by Strauss and Saint-SaŽns. It was deemed "world-class" by the national music press. The orchestra's second CD features Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps and the "Symphonic Dances" of Rachmaninoff. As The Pasadena Symphony looks to the future, it enjoys broad and profound respect as an orchestra.

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