Peninsula Symphony

"In an area such as the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which glories in its wide view of the Pacific and the long view of its own future, it is inevitable that the creative arts should flourish, and that the idea of a locally-sponsored symphony organization should evolve."

Founding Conductor Emeritus Joseph A. Valenti
  • Founded in March 1967 with twelve musicians by Maestro Joseph Valenti, the Symphony grew to 50 musicians before the first concert.
  • Initial venue - Rolling Hills High School Multipurpose Room
  • First concert December 1, 1967
  • Later venues included Palos Verdes High School, for many years Redondo Union High School, and for 25+ seasons at Rolling Hills Covenant Church.
  • Summer concerts, aimed at families, are in the same location as our regular concerts, but we have also held outdoor concerts in locations such as the Rolling Hills High School, Chadwick School and Green Hills Memorial Park. These concerts have been given when funding permitted.
  • Normal orchestra size has been 60 to 80 musicians depending on the music. The largest group occurred February 21, 1981 when 120 musicians performed.
  • During Maestro Valenti's final season, 2007-2008, the Association bestowed upon him the title of Founding Conductor Emeritus.

The search for a new Music Director/Conductor began during the 2006-2007. After a year of application screening, interviews, and reference checking, each of four finalists conducted one of the concerts during 2008-2009. The Search Committee met after the last concert and reviewed the evaluations provided by members of the audience and members of the orchestra. After extended discussions, Gary Berkson was recommended to the Board of Directors. On July 3, 2009, the Peninsula Symphony Board approved the recommendation and named Maestro Berkson as Music Director/Conductor.

Maestro Gary Berkson joined us in 2009 as Music Director/Conductor and retired in 2020. His previous engagement was with the Swedish Royal Ballet and Royal Swedish Opera. He also appeared as Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg opera house "Stora Teatern" where he was also Artistic Advisor. In addition, he served ten years as Head of the Opera Division at the Royal Swedish Opera House.

Maestro Berkson enjoyed great freedom in programming his concerts. The orchestra played a great variety of works. Every year there was at least one American composer, exposure to new and seldom heard composers as well as old favorites.

  • 147 different works with only 1 repeat (Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto)
  • 74 composers from 20 countries: Japan, Mexico, Wales, Nigeria, Venezuela, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, France, Italy, Hungary, USA, Austria, Germany, England, Czechoslovakia, Spain
  • 19 performances by American composers (13% of the repertoire)
  • Top 3 composers: Brahms (10), Mozart (10), Beethoven (9)
  • 60% of the compositions (88 in number) were performed by PSA for the first time
  • Supplemented the orchestra with the youth orchestra, 2 saxophones, guitar, accordion, basset horn, bass trumpet, 2 harps, celesta, jeu de timbres
  • Soloists included women’s chorus, piano trio, wind quartet, harp, guitar, narrator, violin/viola duo, flute, clarinet, mezzo-soprano, baritone, piano duo, violin, viola, cello, piano, bassoon, 2 young actors, pre-recorded whale song

Peninsula Symphony Association 916 Silver Spur Road #303 Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
For information: call 310-544-0320 Tax ID 23-7008895

Bruce Erickson Web Master