From classical to Celtic music, Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe celebrates ‘sweet 16th’


This year marks the “sweet 16th” anniversary of the founding of Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe (CCRSF) and, to celebrate, four eclectic concerts are being offered for the 2015/2016 season featuring classical, big band, country rock and Celtic music artists.

The concert series begins Oct. 9 with Canadian vocalists Vivace offering a new take on classical and contemporary music, and on Nov. 20, the Young Irelanders showcasing their singing and dancing skills that fuse old world traditions with modern interpretations.

Spring concerts kick off on March 19, 2016, with pop/jazz vocalist Matt Dusk, who reinterprets songs with a lyrical, full-barreled sound, followed by the final concert on April 29, 2016, featuring country rock artist Savannah Jack, renowned for his tight harmonies and incredible musicianship.

The selection of the musicians takes a dedicated group of volunteers — headed up by Gail Kendall, former program chair and in her fourth year as CCRSF president — who visit an annual summer musical conference in Nashville where the agency, Live On Stage, schedules auditions for an array of world-class artists.

“We watch and listen to about 40 artists do a 15-minute live concert for about 90 community concert groups across the nation,” Kendall explained. From the large group of contenders, four are selected to play for the following CCRSF season.

Everyone self-funds their trip to Nashville, including airfare, hotel and meals. “Frequently even the husbands go along, helping with the concert artist selections and all,” said Kendall.

Their efforts are rewarded with top-ranked professionals being contracted to appear in Rancho Santa Fe.

The track record of CCRSF securing such high caliber artists results in a faithful following. The majority of the audience are season subscribers, said Kendall.

With early-bird subscription, there is a significant saving on ticket prices; that timeframe is now closed. But season tickets are still available for $225, a substantial saving on an individual ticket price of $75 each.

“We have very generous donors who subsidize the ticket prices to keep the concerts within reach of everyone and we have been able to get our top choices for the past several years,” Kendall commented.

Advertising in the concert program also subsidizes the concerts. The deadline for print advertising is Aug. 1. Business card ads cost $100, half page $200, full page $400 and premium full page $500.

The nonprofit organization was founded in 2000 by Rancho Santa Fe residents Tony and Holly Wilson; those initial concerts were held in the Garden Club facility.

Approximately 50 were in the audience then, and CCRSF’s entire year’s budget equaled the fee for one artist or group today.

Back then, concertgoers would bring potluck food and beverages for pre-concert fare. Today Whole Foods caters the refreshments. Now concerts attract an audience of 300-plus, said Kendall. “And since day one, Northern Trust has sponsored the wine; they deserve a huge round of applause,” she added.

As the audience grew, the venue was changed to the Village Presbyterian Church and mostly the Fellowship Hall provides the stage setting.

To kick off this season, however, Vivace, a quartet known for a repertoire that ranges from Celine Dion to Puccini, will perform in the Village Church sanctuary.

“It makes such a beautiful way to open the season, and then we will have a big party in Fellowship Hall,” said Kendall. The capacity for the sanctuary is 500, so more tickets will be available for this event.

CCRSF is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. In the past, tax-deductible donations have funded scholarships for music students and paid for many of the scheduled performers to put on free concerts or provide workshops for local schoolchildren.

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. preceded by a 6:15 p.m. cocktail hour held in the Village Church Fellowship Hall, 6225 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe.

Seats may be reserved for donations of $500 and up. Parking is free for all, with reserved parking for donors of $1,000 and up.

Visit to learn more about the artists, to hear clips of their music, to donate and to buy tickets. Checks may also be mailed to CCRSF, PO Box 2781, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067. For questions, email or call Gail Kendall at 858-248-0892.