In May 1926, the first concert was performed by the newly created Stockton Symphony – a group of twenty local musicians formed by pharmacist-by-day and orchestra-conductor-by-night Manlio Silva. An Italian immigrant, Silva was an accomplished musician, having graduated from the Conservatory of Chiavari. The musicians gave the Stockton Symphony’s inaugural performance during “Music Week” for the Stockton Musical Club. Five months later, the first complete season opened in October 1926 at the California Theater on Main Street. At that time, tickets sold for 50 cents for adults and 10 cents for children, which helped defray costs.
The Stockton Symphony is the third oldest continuously operating professional orchestra in California, surpassed in longevity only by the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. May 1926 marked the first concert of the newly created Stockton Symphony, formed by brilliant Italian immigrant Manlio Silva, and the orchestra thrived for many years under his baton. Following Silva’s demise in 1958, several conducted the orchestra for short periods, including Horace Brown, Fritz Berens, and Ralph Matesky.
Under the twenty-seven-year tenure of conductor Kyung-Soo Won, the Symphony morphed from a community ensemble to a fully professional orchestra of “metropolitan” status as recognized by the American Symphony Orchestra League. Since 1995 the Stockton Symphony has been conducted by Maestro Peter Jaffe. During his tenure the orchestra has shown continual growth in artistic excellence, introduced and developed vibrant educational programs, and gained national recognition through composer residencies and acclaimed world premieres.