Mainly Mozart’s All-Star Festival Orchestra returns to Rancho Santa Fe


Opening Night and Amadeus Gala Concert to be held June 8.

By Diane Y. Welch

Lovers of classical music are in for a treat this summer as the Mainly Mozart Festival brings the best that live music has to offer to countywide venues and beyond.

Mainly Mozart historically has had strong ties to Rancho Santa Fe, said Nancy Bojanic, executive director and co-founder. “We’ve been doing chamber music in the Ranch for over eight years.”

And with the success of last year’s premier All-Star Festival Orchestra performance at the Village Church Sanctuary it returns this summer and is poised to become an annual event. “We’re thrilled to have this increased commitment to Rancho Santa Fe,” Bojanic said.

The Mainly Mozart All-Star Festival Orchestra Opening Night and Amadeus Gala Concert at the Village Church is scheduled for Saturday, June 8, at 6:30 p.m. (reception and auction at 5 p.m.). Maestro David Atherton, a co-founder, is the conductor. The principal players are Nathan Hughes, oboe; Anthony McGill, clarinet; Whitney Crockett, bassoon; and Julie Landsman, horn. This year marks Atherton’s farewell season, as he is retiring after a 25-year run.

Mozart’s “Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 546” and “Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K. 297b,” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21” comprise the program of Atherton’s final Gala Concert. In a fitting tribute, the event recreates the Festival Orchestra’s premier concert of 1989, which then featured William Preucil and Cynthia Phelps.

Tickets are priced at $55 and $125, with patronage opportunity at $500. There is priority seating and a wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres reception and silent auction at 5 p.m. for the higher ticket price and for patrons, said Jo Ann Kilty, gala chair, who has been assisted by Erin Weidner. Rancho Santa Fe residents and longtime supporters Jere and Joyce Oren are gala honorary chairs, and will be present at the concert.

“There will also be a special intimate meet-and-greet for patrons with these world-class musicians in an after-concert gathering in the library where ports, dessert wines and chocolates will be served,” said Kilty, whose tireless work was praised by Tyler Hewes, associate director, who noted that she has facilitated huge support from generous donors.

Silent auction items include an Omni Hotel/ Padres package; an in-home private recital; a New York travel package; an Old Globe package; a Beverly Hills designer’s custom-made suit; exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunities; and more.

All concert goers will receive champagne and dessert during the intermission which has been extended to 30 minutes.

A high point of the summer season, the Gala Concert is one of Mainly Mozart’s 43 events staged in 44 days, with venues ranging from Tijuana to Carlsbad — a primary location — along with La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe and downtown San Diego.

The Mainly Mozart Festival is now the largest summer classical music festival in Southern California. “And we are very proud that each of the five series — really festivals within the festival — have their own artistic leadership,” said Bojanic.

Alongside the All-Star Festival Orchestra, Anne-Marie McDermott curates the Spotlight Chamber Music; Ken Mullen leads Mozart in the Mind; Donald Thomas leads Chamber Players; and Stephen Prutsman, a composer/pianist from San Francisco, leads Evolution.

On June 21 a one-night-only event will be held at the estate of Valenti International in Rancho Santa Fe. This more intimate concert — with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception —will present Evolution vocalist Bella Stevens with The DeClassified ensemble. The original arrangements of Stephen Prutsman will be featured and the program of “World Dances and Musical Movements” will be showcased.

Over the past 25 years, the Mainly Mozart Festival has grown from a two-week festival to year-round events and has become an organization that is deeply involved in community and education.

As part of its educational outreach, members of the Festival Orchestra will be the teaching faculty for the newly-formed Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra, which recently merged with San Diego Young Artists Symphony, and is collaborating with The New Children’s Museum, and Tijuana’s Centro de Artes Musicales.

But the high point for Mainly Mozart has always been the Gala Concert, one that draws huge support from passionate benefactors.

Hewes asked one such patron, Jere Oren, why he and his wife chose to support this much-loved concert. “Jere replied, ‘The chance to see world-class musicians in an acoustically and visually stunning setting is a moving experience and one that can only be had in Rancho Santa Fe,’” said Hewes.

Tickets for the June 8 second annual performance of the All-Star Festival Orchestra at The Village Church Sanctuary, located at 6225 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, are limited to 500 so reservations should be made soon.

Tickets for the June 21 Evolution at the estate of Valenti International are limited to 100. Call (619) 466 8742 or visit online at

to make a ticket purchase, and for other festival event information.