The earliest formal efforts toward orchestra performance in Santa Maria date from 1925, when local musicians would meet at private homes to play their instruments in house concerts. Business leader G. Allan Hancock, himself a cellist, purchased the Santa Maria Valley Railroad and became active in the region. As a member of his staff, Hancock brought William Edson Strobridge to Santa Maria – Strobridge had been the business manager for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Los Angeles, and had also served as manager of the L.A. Symphony Orchestra. With musicians, organizational knowledge, community support, and Hancock’s music library all on hand, the original Community Orchestra of Santa Maria was born.
By 1960, the Santa Maria Symphony was established, and continued for 40 years, using the name Coastal Valleys Symphony for the last few of those years. The current Santa Maria Philharmonic Society stepped into Santa Maria’s symphonic shoes in 2001, gearing up with ensemble performances and Music Van outreach to school children even before the first full season of subscription concerts in 2001-2002. Today’s Santa Maria Philharmonic Society relies on donations, grants, and a generous membership base to support our annual season of subscription concerts and Youth Outreach programs which include introducing third grade children to musical instruments through the Music Van, producing youth-oriented concerts for fourth graders, and presenting a showcase for young musicians.