Our Story

About the Project

Your Song, Your Story: A Musical Tapestry of and for San Diego, is a two-year audience engagement initiative that departs from the San Diego Symphony’s traditional approach to community engagement by inviting residents of historically underserved neighborhoods to participate in the creation and performance of art. Music, stories and dance were contributed by people of all ages and backgrounds. These contributions were made via various forms of media technology at community sites and festivals including camcorders and cell phone videos. Individuals were encouraged to submit their recordings directly onto our website. Over 320 submissions were then considered for inclusion in an original orchestral piece and 18 submissions were chosen. The final work is a multi-media piece that will be performed for the public free of charge. Performances of the new work are planned for an audience of at least 5,000 people, including 2,000 at Copley Symphony Hall in July, 2014. CLICK HERE for performance dates and times.

(CLICK HERE for a recent story about composer Bill Conti and Your Song, Your Story on KPBS-FM! And CLICK HERE for the full 15 minute interview!)

In order to engage community members to participate in the co-creation of the Your Song, Your Story original composition, the San Diego Symphony sent small ensembles of its musicians to community sites in ethnically diverse communities. They have been performing in ensembles, introducing the project, and providing opportunities for community members to record their songs, stories and dances. The videography team composed of our professional videographer and a team of volunteers also attended and videotaped performances, stories, and captured video footage at community festivals during the months between March and August 2013. Check out fun community engagement event videos HERE.

The performance of the Your Song, Your Story composition will be 24 minutes long and will be held in three community venues as free block parties starting in July 2014. The performances will include the San Diego Symphony, performers from San Diego’s diverse communities and an eight minute video presentation. CLICK HERE for performance dates and times.

Now is your chance to help us shape this unique multi-media musical masterpiece and join us for this collaborative event!

From the San Diego Symphony CEO

Welcome to the Your Song, Your Story website! The San Diego Symphony was very pleased and honored to receive a grant from the prestigious James Irvine Foundation, allowing us to implement the Your Song, Your Story project.  This project is extremely important to our mission as one of San Diego County’s leading arts organizations because it will engage thousands of people and many grassroots organizations in our community in the actual creation and performance of a work of musical art. Through Your Song, Your Story, the symphony will examine and redefine its relationship with the whole community by creating new avenues of communication between the San Diego Symphony’s current stakeholders and new audiences. We look forward to observing how this project can transform our traditional “outreach” from a one-way, orchestra-centered dynamic to a mutually beneficial, multi-faceted conversation.  The success of the Your Song, Your Story project will help realize our mission to be recognized as one of the finest orchestras of the world while at the same time a major contributor to the quality of life in the San Diego region. We welcome and strongly encourage your participation in this unique project to create art we can all feel pride in.

Visit the San Diego Symphony website

Your Song, Your Story is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation, a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. The Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on three program areas: Arts, California Democracy and Youth. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1.3 billion in grants to more than 3,500 nonprofit organizations throughout California. With about $1.6 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $65 million in 2011 for the people of California.

Community Partners

The work of the Your Song Your Story Project is being guided by a Project Committee that is composed of two groups, the Community Advisory and the Academic Advisory. Members of these committees are:

Community Advisory

Akayya Atule – Faculty, Southwestern College, African Drummer

Dr. Noori Barka, President, Chaldean American Institute

Jose Cruz, Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Council on Literacy

Sarai Godoy, Social Worker, S.T.E.P.S. Social Services for Low Income Housing Developments

Lee Ann Kim, Executive Director, Pacific Arts Movement

Doug Luffborough, Executive Director, Turning the Hearts Center

Bill Protzman, Leader, San Diego Veterans Coalition

Ram Seshan, Treasurer, San Diego Indian American Society

Abel Silvas, Native American Storyteller

Carolyn Riley, Attorney, Elder Law

William Virchis, Member, San Diego Foundation, Arts Catalyst Committee

Academic Advisory 

Jonathan Fohrman, Ethnomusicologist and Dean, Mesa College

Dr. Brain Goldfarb, Media and Communications, UCSD

Dr. David Harnish, Ethnomusicologist USD

Dr. Jeff Nevin, Musicologist, Southwestern College