The Santa Cruz Symphony was founded in 1958 when a small group of musicians dedicated themselves to the creation of a symphony orchestra for Santa Cruz. Led by violinist Major Matilda Dedrick - along with Dave Owen, Jim and Jo Rogers, Curt Bowman, and Norman Walters, it seemed like a small enough task at the time.

They started by placing an ad in Santa Cruz Sentinel calling for prospective orchestra members. 38 musician showed up at the organizational meeting on March 10, 1958. The group grew quickly to 70. After just ten rehearsal dates, with Detlev Anders of the San Francisco Symphony leading, the orchestra held its first concert on May 27. They played to an enthusiastic Civic Auditorium crowd of 2000. The inaugural performance received a standing ovation halfway through the program. The enthusiastic audience made cash donations on their way out of the auditorium.

Since those early beginnings, the organization has grown to become one of the finest orchestras of its size in California, earning frequent critical acclaim.

"In the most sensational regional orchestra concert I have heard in my four decades as a resident here, Daniel Stewart and the Santa Cruz Symphony finished his second season spectacularly."

-Scott MacClelland,, May 2015