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Revolutionary Music from American Philharmonic


Revolutionary Music from American Philharmonic

by Peter Jaret

The new multi-million dollar Green Music Center at Sonoma State University may have grabbed most of the headlines--and generated more than its share of controversy as well as excitement.  But classical music lovers in the county have another reason to celebrate this fall. For its 13th season, Sonoma County’s all-volunteer orchestra, the American Philharmonic Sonoma County, has taken up residence at another architectural and acoustic gem, the recently restored Santa Rosa High School Auditorium. After a year-long search, the orchestra has also chosen a new music director. 

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Maestro Gamboa has served as associate conductor of the Las Vegas Music Festival, assistant conductor of the Waco Symphony and music director of the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra. He is currently music director of the Powder River Symphony Orchestra in Wyoming. Maestro Gamboa has also appeared as guest conductor with orchestras across the country and around the world. During the APSC music director search, audience members were invited to share their opinion of the distinguished field of finalists. Maestro Gamboa was much admired both for his musicality and his friendly interaction with the audience. 

“American Philharmonic Sonoma County is really unlike almost any other community orchestra that I know,” he says. “Orchestra members volunteer their time and talents, but they play at a professional level, and the orchestra’s commitment to the local community gives their performances a special passion.”  Fluent in both English and Spanish, Gamboa plans to reach out to the Hispanic community by programming some Latin American composers in future seasons.

The orchestra’s winter concert, titled “Russian Revolution,” features works by Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, and a little-heard gem by Liadov. As a special treat, the program will be led by guest conductor Mark Wardlaw, director of instrumental music at Santa Rosa High School and a long-time musician with the Santa Rosa Symphony. He will be joined on stage by local cellist Anne Suda, who recently made her Kennedy Center debut to much acclaim. 

There are other reasons for Sonoma County music lovers to rejoice. The move to SRHS Performing Arts Auditorium allows the orchestra to perform two concerts in each set, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Russian Revolution will be performed on February 23 at 8 PM and February 24 at 2 PM. Reduced ticket prices of just $10 and $15 will help make truly great music-making available to almost everyone in the county. SRHS is home to ArtQuest, a magnet school program for performing arts students. The orchestra is already exploring collaborations that will help inspire the next generation of musicians. 

Tickets for American Philharmonic Sonoma County performances are available online at or by calling 800-838-3006 or at the door..