Symphony celebrates 60th with night of firsts


Sequoia Symphony plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1; offers $1 tickets in honor of first concert in 1960
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

Steven Lin

VISALIA – Do you remember when going to the symphony cost a buck? No? Me neither. But it wasn’t that long ago. 
That was the price of admission to the first Tulare County Symphony Orchestra (now known as the Sequoia Symphony) concert on April 8, 1960. The concert was held at the Tulare Union High School Auditorium with a finale of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” The concert was directed by the high school’s orchestra conductor, Robert Cole, who helped form the community symphony under the school district’s Adult Education Department on Sept. 22, 1959.  
To encourage new people to attend concerts during its 60th anniversary season, the symphony is offering a limited number of tickets to every concert for only $1. These legacy tickets will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and are limited to availability and location in the theatre. They can only be purchased in person at the symphony office the week of the concert.
To kick off its classic concerts, the orchestra will play first pieces by Beethoven and Brahms at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the Visalia Fox Theatre. Beethoven was a wonderful pianist. His “Piano Concerto No. 1” was first performed in 1800 with himself as soloist and shows his youthful energy. The concerto will be played by Steven Lin, a favorite soloist with the Sequoia Symphony. Brahms “Symphony No. 1” wasn’t composed until his 40s. He felt the weight of Beethoven and didn’t feel he could follow his brilliance. He looked to Beethoven for inspiration, but it took at least 14 years for him to complete the symphony.
The Sequoia Symphony is under the direction of Dr. Bruce Kiesling, who is just the third resident conductor and was the fifth overall in the organization’s history when he was hired on July 1, 2009. Before coming to Tulare County, Kiesling was the resident conductor of the Greensboro Symphony and music director of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina. Kiesling is an accomplished pianist and also composes original music for motion pictures. He then lived in Los Angeles where he worked on films and for five years conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) Program. 
​Under his leadership, there have been numerous “sold-out” concerts. He brought back the annual holiday concerts and established the very popular movie night concerts. Kiesling has a tremendous depth of musical knowledge, is a highly skilled conductor, and has taken the orchestra to the next level.
Tickets are $25-$50 at the symphony office, 208 W. Main Street, Suite D, Visalia, downstairs in Montgomery Square. Student prices are $10. Tickets are also available at 732-8600 or go to