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The Imperial Valley Symphony performs during the first concert of its 48th season on Saturday evening, Nov. 6, inside the Jimmie Canon Performing Arts Theater at Southwest High School in El Centro. | MEGAN JONES PHOTO

Imperial Valley Symphony Kicks Off 48th Season

Members of Public, Musicians Share Their Thoughts on the Night of Symphonic Music, Artistic Opportunity

EL CENTRO — The night was filled with symphonic melodies by the likes of Giuseppe Verdi, Peter Warlock, and R. Vaughan Williams, including one of the night’s more popular pieces, Symphony No. 1 in C by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The Imperial Valley Symphony kicked off its 48th season on Saturday evening, Nov. 6, to an excited audience at the Jimmie Cannon Performing Arts Theater on the campus of Southwest High School in El Centro.

“I think it’s really cool that we have a symphony here and that we have the opportunity to come and listen … I think it’s a privilege to get to listen to a symphony and that’s typically something that you only see in bigger cities,” said El Centro resident Jordan Cochran, who added the Beethoven piece was his favorite of the night. 

Second-year I.V. Symphony conductor, Dr. Matthew Busse, agreed that it is a rarity for a rural county to have its own symphony.

“It’s remarkable that a place like (the Valley), we are so isolated, hours from anywhere, but yet we have a symphony and there are a lot of cities out there that don’t have that, they’d have to go to a major city,” he said.

Busse feels that “the fact that we have (a symphony), people in the Imperial Valley should take pride in that, and they should cherish it and support it, and come out and hear us.”

One thing that stood out to longtime I.V. Symphony supporter Ricardo Jaramillo was that although there were many in attendance, there seemed to be an imbalance between the attendees.

I.V. Symphony performs Verdi’s Overture of “Nabucco.” | MEGAN JONES VIDEO

“There were lots of people tonight, but it was funny that most of them were from an older generation; not many of the younger generation,” he said.

Passing music on from generation to generation is something that Steven Foster, a 15-year I.V. Symphony veteran, addressed when speaking to me about what he feels is special about the group to the Valley.

“I think it adds a (musical) value to the community. That we have live symphonies that incorporate students … that keeps the perpetuation of the music going from generation to generation,” Foster explained.

He added that over 48 seasons, the symphony “continues to get better each year and absolutely elevates the musicianship here in the Valley.”

Second-year symphony member and bassoonist Cole Harmon, who at 14 years old is one of the youngest members of the group, said what drew him to the symphony was this being a small community.

“All the people are kind of connected, engaging with each other, many of whom are high school students,” Cole said of the camaraderie among musicians. 

Because of the relationships between generations and diverse musicians, Cole said he feels the I.V. Symphony is much like a family, and he sees himself as a part of that family for a while, maybe even returning after college.

Before ending the night with a lively performance of Reinhold Glière’s “Russian Sailor’s Dance,” Busse shared the mission and the purpose of the Imperial Valley Symphony and directed supporters and those who would like to support the group to its Facebook page for more information.

The next I.V. Symphony performance will be March 19, 2022.

For more information on the I.V. Symphony, its history, support opportunities, and upcoming events, follow its social media page or contact Dr. Matthew Busse via email at mbusse@mycuhsd.org