Before every regular classical concert, patrons are invited to attend a free pre-concert talk, hosted by a local music professor- Don Adkins at the Civic Auditorium and Ben Negley at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts. These talks help further your understanding of the music before listening to the live performance and are central to the Symphony's mission of providing life-long education opportunities. Dr. Adkins and Dr. Negley explain the unique attributes of the compositions, the composers and the historical context in which the music emerged. Pre-Concert talks start an hour before each concert (6:30 pm at the Civic and 1:00 pm at the Mello), and are free for all ticket holders.
Dr. Don Adkins believes that music is one of the core expressions of our humanity. Don holds a DMA in orchestral conducting, a MM in composition and a BS in music education. He teaches music classes at Cabrillo College, conducts the Cabrillo College Orchestra, and often provides musical direction for musicals in the Santa Cruz area.
Dr. Ben Negley is a musicologist with a focus on American orchestras. He received the Ph.D in Music from UC Santa Cruz in June 2019 with a dissertation on the Ford Foundation's $80 million Program for Symphony Orchestras in the 1960s and 1970s. Ben regularly presents his research at national and local conferences, and his work is published in the Journal of Musicological Research, the Rockefeller Foundation's Research Report Series, and the Bulletin of the Society for American Music.