Previewing the Downey Symphony's upcoming concert

DOWNEY -“We’re playing your song!”  That’s the message Don Marshall, President of the Downey Symphony, wants to share with everybody.  The Symphony launches its new season at the Downey Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 21, and Marshall says it’s a show you won’t want to miss for many reasons.

Carolyn Osborn will perform a violin solo at the Downey Symphony's Oct. 21 concert at the Downey Theatre.

Carolyn Osborn will perform a violin solo at the Downey Symphony's Oct. 21 concert at the Downey Theatre.

“First, we’re presenting three knock-your-socks off pieces by the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák,” Marshall notes.  “A suite of toe-tapping “Slavonic Dances” will be followed by his aptly titled “Romance for Violin and Orchestra.”  

The concert concludes with his “Symphony no. 8,” a lyrical and powerfully moving piece.
There are other reasons this concert will be memorable, Marshall said. Carolyn Osborn, long-time concertmaster of the Orchestra, will perform the violin solo. 

“She’s a virtuoso musician known and loved by our audience,” Joyce Osborn, a Board member, observed, “including generations of kids for whom she’s performed as one of the founders of the Symphony’s Music in the Schools Program.”

Dvořák has a special place in the hearts of Americans, since he lived in the United States from 1892 to 1895. His music is often inspired by the rhythms and melodies of folk and popular music, and he urged American composers to draw on their own native sources and fuse them with the traditions of orchestral music to create their own distinctive American music.  

On top of that, partnering with the Downey Arts Coalition, there will be an exhibit of work by local artists in the Theatre lobby on the theme “Music: The Art of Sound.” 

Doors open at 6:30 pm so that everyone can enjoy the art and mingle and meet friends both before the concert and also while enjoying refreshments at intermission.

Music Director Sharon Lavery will give a talk on the evening’s music at 7:15 pm, and the concert begins at 8 pm.

Tickets are $35 or $30, depending on seating area; students are only $10 and parking is free and adjacent to the Theatre.  Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at (562-861-8211 or in person (Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and beginning at 6:30 on the evening of the concert at the Downey Theatre Box Office. 

Mexican fiesta raising funds for Downey Symphony


The legendary hospitality of Old California comes to life at the Downey Symphony Garden Party on Sunday, Sept. 24, at the Rio Hondo Event Center.

You will enjoy the irresistible sound of a mariachi band alternating with the elegant beauty of a classical guitar; the aroma of delicious Mexican cuisine; and the cheerful sound of friends talking, laughing, and enjoying a favorite libation. There’ll also be the drama of a drawing as well as a live auction for exciting items.  

But there’s more than fun at this Gran Fiesta.  The money raised supports the crown jewel in Downey’s cultural heritage, the Downey Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony presents three concerts of great music in the Downey Theatre and a free concert in the Park each year.  

Our concert evenings are joyful experiences, with an exhibit of work by local artists, refreshments available, and a chance to meet our brilliant Music Director Sharon Lavery and Orchestra members after the concert.

Funds raised at the Garden Party support our outreach to Downey children. We provide full concerts at the Theatre fall and spring just for them and a quintet of musicians who visit schools and introduce children to the basics of music and also perform special pieces for their enjoyment.  Community support keeps this great Downey institution continuing and flourishing.

Downey is our Symphony family, and we warmly welcome you to our hacienda to celebrate our City’s rich and diverse culture.  Come dressed in bright, festive colors!  

Tickets are $75. The fiesta starts at 3 p.m. at the Rio Hondo Event Center. For information and tickets, call Pat Gil at (562) 879-3029.  

And don’t forget that tickets for our 59th season, opening Oct. 21, are now available from the Downey Theatre Box Office.  

Contributed by the Downey Symphony.


Downey Symphony to perform free concert

DOWNEY – The Downey Symphony will present its annual free concert in Furman Park at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26, under the baton of music director Sharon Lavery. 

Downey Symphony music director Sharon Lavery. Photo by Joan Anderson,

Downey Symphony music director Sharon Lavery. Photo by Joan Anderson,

The concert will open with familiar tunes from Broadway and film musicals, including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miz,” “The Sound of Music” and “American Tail.” 

Joining the orchestra will be soprano Rachael Lorenzetti. She grew up in Downey and served for 10 years as cantor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. 

A graduate of Cal State Fullerton, she works as a costume designer for various theaters while she pursues a singing career.  For more information and videos of her singing, see

The orchestra will then play its traditional offering of patriotic music, including anthems of the various armed services, as well as “America the Beautiful” and Sousa marches. 

During the final number, children will be invited to come to the stage and help Maestra Lavery conduct the orchestra. 

The Downey Symphony, which launches its 59th season in October, is a professional orchestra of trained, career musicians. The summer concert is made possible by a major contribution from a friend of the Symphony, who is offering this event in memory of a beloved animal companion, who passed away recently. 

Support also comes from the City of Downey, which sponsors concerts on Wednesdays throughout the summer.

Information will be available at the concert about the Symphony’s upcoming season as well as its Garden Party, a major fund-raising event in September. The Garden Party presents an afternoon of good music, good food, and auction items under the theme “Mi Hacienda” on Sunday, Sept. 24. 

Downey residents can take pride in this very special cultural asset, and the community’s support is vital to the Symphony’s continuation.    

For final concert of 2016-17 season, Downey Symphony turns to Beethoven

Benjamin Lash, a talented 26-year-old cellist, will perform at the April 8 concert at the Downey Theatre.

Benjamin Lash, a talented 26-year-old cellist, will perform at the April 8 concert at the Downey Theatre.

DOWNEY – Beethoven’s mighty “Symphony no. 5,” a brilliant young cellist, and a complimentary champagne reception will make for a memorable end-of-season concert by the Downey Symphony on April 8 at the Downey Theatre.  

Rounding out the evening are Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” (the familiar “Lone Ranger” theme) and an orchestral version of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” conducted by this year’s baton winner, Downey resident Terry Wright.  

The opening rhythm of Beethoven’s 5th—short, short, short, long; short, short, short, long—happen to be the same as the Morse code for the letter “V.”  In World War II, that stood for “Victory,” and the symphony became the unofficial anthem of the Allies.  Even people who have never been to a classical concert recognize and love this music.  

Benjamin Lash, a 26-year-old Chicago native, began playing cello at the age of 6.  By his teen years, he had already won many competitions and performed various cello concertos.  He came to Los Angeles to study with a great cello teacher at the Colburn School and is now finishing a doctorate at USC.  

Lash loves the cello because “it has so many possibilities, a huge range of pitch but also various musical colors.”  

He’ll be playing Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.”  He notes that the piece starts with “a charming theme, and then Tchaikovsky finds unique different musical characters for each variation, showing off the cello’s range beautifully.” 

Lash plays a cello made in Italy around 1850 that has a rich and resonant tone.  He aims to pursue a career with many sides—performing, teaching, playing in ensembles as well as solo.  He’ll also be performing at the annual concert for all Downey fifth graders, which takes place on April 5.

Terry Wright is a long-time Downey resident who won the auction for the baton at last April’s concert. Working with Music Director Sharon Lavery, she chose an orchestral version of on section of Bach’s renowned cantata, with its very beautiful peaceful and lyrical melody.  

The Symphony will once again auction the baton at this concert, so patrons should come ready to be inspired by Terry Wright and make their own bid to conduct the orchestra next April.

The Symphony is also celebrating Maestra Lavery’s 10th season conducting the orchestra.  She ranks among the best local conductors and has brought great music to thousands of adults and children in Downey.  The audience will be invited to raise a toast to her and to congratulate the orchestra at a complimentary champagne reception in the Theatre patio following the concert.

With the Downey Arts Coalition, the Symphony also organizes an exhibit of work by local artists at each concert.  The theme for this show is “Earth Recycled,” and artists will feature recycled materials.  

Doors open at 6:30 pm.  Maestra Lavery will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15 pm. The concert begins at 8 pm.  

Tickets are $35 or $30 depending on seating section and are available at or by calling the Theatre Box Office at (562) 861-8211 or in person (open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and beginning at 6:30 pm Saturday).  

Free parking adjacent to the Theatre at Firestone and Brookshire Ave.

Tickets still available to symphony concert Saturday

DOWNEY – This Saturday at the Downey Theatre, the Downey Symphonic Society presents violinist Michelle Tseng, baritone Anthony Moreno, and pianist Robert Blake, performing a variety of pieces by European, Latin, and American composers.  

Doors open at 6:30 pm for “Dreamscapes,” an art exhibit in the Theatre lobby. Pre-concert talk at 7:15 pm. The concert begins at 8 pm.

Tickets are $35 or $30 depending on seating section and are available at or by calling the Theatre Box Office at (562) 861-8211 or in person (open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and at 6:30 p.m. Saturday). 

Free parking adjacent to the Theatre.

Downey Symphony again combines music and art

DOWNEY – The Downey Symphonic Society brings audiences first-rate performances of the world’s most beautiful music. But it adds something extra: an art show in the Downey Theatre lobby that rounds out a memorable evening. 

“There is something about the combination of music and art that is really satisfying,” says Pat Gil. She is on the Board of both the Symphonic Society and the Downey Arts Coalition and has led the partnership that creates the art exhibit. 

She adds,  “Some 20 local and regional artists will have work on display for enjoyment, and if a patron is so inclined, for sale.”

The performance and art show are Saturday, Jan. 28. The theme of the exhibit is “Dreamscapes.”  

Doors open at 6:30 pm, so patrons can view the art and set the mood for the three brilliant musicians who will be performing at 8 p.m.  Violinist Michelle Tseng, baritone Anthony Moreno, and pianist Robert Blake will present a variety of short pieces by renowned composers like Debussy and Rachmaninoff as well as pieces by Spanish and Latin American composers Ravel, Ginastera, Granados, and Piazzolla, rounding out the evening with songs by American composers.  

Robert Blake offers a pre-concert talk at 7:15 pm.  

This mask by sculptor Gail Glikmann will be one of several pieces of art displayed before the Downey Symphony concert on Jan. 28.

This mask by sculptor Gail Glikmann will be one of several pieces of art displayed before the Downey Symphony concert on Jan. 28.

Among the highlights of the exhibit will be exquisite mixed media masks by figurative sculptor Gail Glikmann as well as a mosaic “Time of My Life” by Downey artist Lindsay Yost. 

The Downey exhibit draws artists from across Southern California, such as Jennifer Jones, an academic and practical counselor from Camarillo, who will share three pieces of her insightful and whimsical artwork.  

“Our artists have been very supportive of the Symphony, and we are glad to benefit from their inspiring creativity,” observed E. J. Ball, one of the exhibition organizers.  

Tickets to the concert and art show are $30 or $35, depending on seating section, and can be purchased at, by calling the Downey Theatre at (562) 861-8211 or in person at the theater box office.

Paris-themed garden party raising funds for Downey Symphony

DOWNEY -- Paris comes to Downey on Sept. 18, and you don’t even have to leave town.  

The Downey Symphonic Society’s annual garden party on the theme “An Afternoon in Paris” begins at 3 p.m. in the Rio Hondo Event Center. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served on the patio, followed by a dinner.  

Entertainment will be provided by Alison Bjorkedal, a Grammy Award-winning harpist. Also performing are local singer Abigail Hernandez with piano player Vahan Bznuni. Symphony-goers will remember Bjorkedal’s performance of music by the great French composer Debussy in an earlier season.  

Live and silent auction items will be available, including Paris-inspired baskets of wine and treats, Symphony tickets, gift cards, jewelry, theater tickets, fine works by local artists, dinner with Music Director Sharon Lavery before an orchestra rehearsal, and more.  

Pat Gil, the Symphony Board member in charge of organizing the event, remarked, “The Garden Party just keeps getting better every year. It’s a great afternoon with enchanting music, a delicious meal, and a chance to meet and chat with supporters of the Downey Symphony.”  

She encourages everyone to “get into the spirit — dress in French-inspired colors, be chic in Chanel or Dior, wear your French beret, or simply come dressed for an afternoon in Paris.”

Tickets are $75 per person, and proceeds benefit the Downey Symphony and its Music in the Schools program.  For tickets, contact Pat Gil at