"Timeless music performed by
world-renowned musicians." 

Maestro Victor Vener

Only a glimmer in the eye of Maestro Victor Vener in 1996, the Orchestra has grown up to take its rightful place as a leader and innovator in the cultural landscape of Los Angeles County. Timeless music performed by world-renowned musicians deftly led with a passion and energy unique to Maestro Vener is the delightful fare that awaits you at each concert.

 
 

Leader Of The Pack

California Philharmonic Founder and Music Director Dr. Victor Vener possesses the unique vision, energy, experience and passion necessary to create the one-of-a-kind concerts that have set Cal Phil apart from other orchestras for more than 18 years. A man of immense talent and singular purpose, Maestro Vener is committed to creating the perfect balance of the greatest formal classical music with the greatest popular music and then sharing it with an ever-expanding audience. Quite a feat, but one that the Vener has been doing successfully for decades.

 

Throughout his professional career, Dr. Vener, who conducted his first professional performance at 25 years of age, has garnered a well-deserved reputation as a masterful music director, conductor and academic who exudes infectious enthusiasm and wit as he effectively merges entertainment with musical enlightenment. His conducting prowess has taken him around the globe, leading concerts in China, Europe and throughout North America. Among his many distinctions, Vener was awarded the Fromm Fellowship to Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony, the Gold Medal of Special Merit from the Austrian Federal Capitol of Vienna, the Pasadena Arts Council’s Gold Crown Award, California Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence for the City of Pasadena, as well as commendations by the U.S. Congress, California’s State Senate and Assembly and the County of Los Angeles.

Vener has traveled the world studying with some of the greatest conductors of all time such as Herbert Von Karajan and other luminaries. Maestro Vener’s conducting lineage stems back to legendary conductors Arturo Toscanini and Karl Orff, among others. Vener earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from USC. A Pasadena native, Vener has founded numerous high-profile musical institutions and concert series throughout the region, including California Philharmonic, the Pasadena POPS, Chamber Orchestra of Pasadena and the Burbank Symphony. A pioneer in creating outdoor concerts, Vener has established music venues in local destinations including Santa Anita Race Track, the Arboretum, Descanso Gardens, the Rose Bowl and the steps of Pasadena City Hall.

Arguably the “father” of the outdoor (admission charged) park concerts in Los Angeles County, Vener began 26 years ago with the Pasadena Pops, which he founded. The Maestro is also responsible for creating music performance venues at the Pasadena City Hall, Rose Bowl, Descanso Gardens, Burbank Starlight Bowl and the Arboretum. Attracting enthusiastic crowds of 4,000 to 5,000 music lovers per performance, Vener’s Cal Phil is known for its dynamic original concerts, as well as its special guests ranging from classical performing and recording artists to pop sensations.

Dr. Vener has electrified audiences in the United States, Europe and Asia, conducting exciting performances of a wide range of repertoire with his unique blend of outstanding musicianship and personalized audience engagement. Under Maestro’s direction, Cal Phil concerts have become recognized for their high-quality professional performances of music by notable composers from the diverse genres of jazz, pops, Broadway and opera. Also, with a strong commitment to new music and to expanding the symphonic repertoire, the orchestra has presented nine world premieres and four Southern California premieres of orchestral works and three world premieres of chamber works.

Maestro Vener’s personal mission of always including his “Four Essential Elements”—entertainment, enlightenment, education and excitement—in each performance he conducts has led Cal Phil to develop an enthusiastic and loyal following that eagerly awaits each new concert. Audiences are attracted to the exciting and innovative programming and then delighted to find they’re thoroughly entertained. Whether aficionados or novices, everyone is enlightened, educated and informed through Maestro Vener’s engaging talks—joyfully learning something new about the music, instruments, composers, musicians and/or featured artists.

 

 

History & Mission

An Orchestra Like No Other
Eighteen years ago, esteemed Maestro Victor Vener teamed with Southern California leaders and founded the California Philharmonic. Back then, Cal Phil set out on its quest to expand awareness of classical music and increase the interest and support for great music in a fashion that develops wide audience appeal. Along the way, Maestro Vener and his California Philharmonic have garnered many awards, including resolutions passed by the California Legislature State Assembly, recognition from the U.S. Congress and a commendation from the County of Los Angeles.

The California Philharmonic began with a five-concert inaugural season on the beautiful concert lawn of The L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia. After 15 years at the Arboretum, Cal Phil took off for the beautiful infield of historic Santa Anita Race Track. Along the way, Cal Phil acquired a 2nd summer home at the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Currently, the Orchestra presents ten concerts per year in its two different, but equally impressive, venues in Los Angeles County.

To date, Cal Phil, which was voted the 2011 Best Local Non-Profit in Pasadena Weekly’s Best of Pasadena Reader’s Poll, has entertained and enlightened more than 750,000 concert-goers.  In addition to the above-mentioned venues, Cal Phil has performed at the Arboretum, Haugh Performing Arts Center, Irvine Meadows, Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena Civic Auditorium, The Rose Bowl and L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center. An additional six million listeners have heard broadcasts of Cal Phil’s concerts since 1997.

 

Maestro Vener’s personal mission of always including his “Four Essential Elements”—entertainment, enlightenment, education and excitement—in each performance he conducts has led Cal Phil to develop an enthusiastic and loyal following that eagerly awaits each new concert. Audiences are attracted to the exciting and innovative programming and then delighted to find they’re thoroughly entertained. Whether aficionados or novices, everyone is enlightened, educated and informed through Maestro Vener’s engaging talks—joyfully learning something new about the music, instruments, composers, musicians and/or featured artists.

Infield Of Dreams
It is no wonder that over the years, Maestro Vener and Cal Phil have perfected the art of outdoor concerts. Cal Phil has the perfect venue for its acclaimed al fresco concert series—Santa Anita Race Track. Long recognized for bringing the Southland the finest in top tier horse racing, Santa Anita Race Track is now leading the pack among outdoor concert venues. Whether seated at a table or lounging on the spacious lawn deep within the newly renovated plush infield, attendees are surrounded by the region’s most spectacular unobstructed view of the glorious San Gabriel Mountains.

Santa Anita Race Track boasts many amenities that enhance the concert experience, including ample onsite parking, plentiful permanent restrooms, gourmet food options, full bars and a jumbo video screen. The unique space also features corporate BBQ pits for pre-party festivities and pre-concert family-friendly activities such as face painting , a musical instrument petting zoo and a playground for the kids. 

Continuing a Cal Phil at Santa Anita Race Track tradition, concert-goers enjoy live jazz, provided by Pasadena Entertainment prior to each concert. Music lovers also have the opportunity to enjoy the live jazz after hours as they meet the Maestro and featured artists at the post-concert reception.

 

Landmark Destination
Sunday afternoons, Cal Phil brings the orchestra’s unique performance style to Los Angeles’ newest and most recognizable landmark—Walt Disney Concert Hall. Having just finished its eleventh season, Cal Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall has established itself as the concert series of choice for music lovers who value quality performance and an acoustically superb venue.

 

The People’s Orchestra
Throughout the years, Cal Phil has built a strong core of more than 400 active volunteers, many who have been with the orchestra for at least a decade. Cal Phil’s volunteers assist in every aspect of production from working backstage, in the box office, distributing programs and ushering. Since 1997 more than 3400 individual volunteers have logged over 147,500 hours of community service. The large number of youth in Cal Phil’s Volunteer Corps comes from local high schools as well as from groups such as the Junior League, Key Clubs and other service organizations. California Philharmonic also offers leadership positions for its youth volunteers, giving them the supervisory experience that will contribute to their success after high school.  Over the last 18 years, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have awarded more than 100 Presidential Service Award medals honoring our youth volunteers for their community service with Cal Phil.

In the spirit of giving back to the community, Cal Phil regularly donates blocks of tickets to select charities such as the Braille Institute, City of Hope, Grandparents for Parents, Wellness Community, Methodist Hospital and Southern California Presbyterian Homes, among many others. Cal Phil donates and offers subsidized tickets to 75 local charities per year for their annual auctions, as well as to local public and private high school and college students. This past year, Cal Phil has partnered with Second Chance Charitable Foundation, helping provide relief to disaster victims around the globe.

 

More Than The Music
Dedicated to music education, Maestro Vener seeks to incorporate an educational component into each performance. In addition to Vener’s unique presentation during the concert, Talks with the Maestro, a pre-concert exchange between the Maestro and concertgoers, is offered before each performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Maestro Vener imparts insider information about the composers and music featured on each program, as well as insight about music history, the instruments of the orchestra and even the featured artists performing that afternoon. A true dialogue between Maestro and music lovers, these talks rely on audience participation, and questions are welcomed during his presentation.


Through free community outreach events, such as Cal Phil Family Night (a concert and interactive activities for children), Talks with the Maestro and Sounds Fun: Concert Experience for Young Minds (partnering with the Pasadena Unified School District) people of all ages and from all walks of life have enjoyed the opportunity to experience the wonder of live classical music performed by world-renowned musicians.

 

Home Is Where Cal Phil Is
Geographically, the California Philharmonic serves and entertains a diverse population from throughout Southern California, including Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, Arcadia, Altadena, El Monte, San Marino, Sierra Madre, Glendale, Temple City, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Marina del Rey, Orange County, Santa Clarita, the Inland Empire, Calabasas and Manhattan Beach.

The Los Angeles region has a well-deserved reputation as one of the pre-eminent art capitals of the United States and the world, and Maestro Victor Vener and his California Philharmonic are proud to play a significant role as one of this area’s major cultural resources.