Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra

Celebrating the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra History

A Santa Barbara Tradition since 1978

The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra mission is to add to the cultural vitality of the community through compelling musical experiences that are distinguished by their intimacy, their artistic excellence, and their creativity and which foster the preservation of this enduring art form. 

Founded in 1978 by Jeffrey Evans, a conducting student, the Chamber Orchestra had humble beginnings as a community orchestra performing in coffee houses and libraries, working its way to the Natural History Museum where we now hold an annual chamber music concert. After five years, Mr. Evans left the area to get his Ph.D. At that time our current Music Director, Heiichiro Ohyama took over and the direction of the Orchestra changed dramatically. Under Maestro Ohyama, the Chamber Orchestra has become an orchestra of professional musicians. Maestro Ohyama’s conducting and programming gifts have led the Chamber Orchestra to be known among many as the best artistic organization in Santa Barbara.

The level of musicianship held by our musicians and conductor is apparent in the number of world-renowned soloists the Chamber Orchestra has hosted over the years, many of whom return again and again due to the great artistic experience they have with the Chamber Orchestra. Critically acclaimed pianists such as Alessio Bax, Tong Il Han, Wu Han, Jerome Lowenthal, David Golub, Yefim Bronfman and André Michel Schub, violinists Cho-Liang Lin, Mark Kaplan, and Kyoko Takezawa, and cellists Lyn Harrell, Gary Hoffman, and Carter Brey have graced the Lobero stage as guest soloist with the Chamber Orchestra. 

Many Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra musicians have gone on to other exciting musical endeavors. Sheryl Staples, Associate Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic is a former SBCO Concertmaster. Michelle Kim, who replaced Sheryl Staples’ position as SBCO Concertmaster, is now the Associate Assistant Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.  Current and past SBCO musicians also perform with the LA Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Pacific Symphony, and Santa Barbara Symphony.

The Chamber Orchestra continues to offer the community musically engaging experiences, with its subscription series at the Lobero Theatre and other venues, October through May. 


"Long after the curtains are drawn and the performance has ended, the experience lives with you and continues to inform your daily life. Seeing a fine performance can change your perspective on the world."
- Michael Towbes, Santa Barbara Philanthropist

Performance Venue

University Club of Santa Barbara

University Club of Santa Barbara. 1332 Santa Barbara Street, Santa Barbara, 93101. Google Directions ►