About Us

The objectives of this organization shall be to bring a series of classical music concerts annually to the Coachella Valley and generally to promote an interest in classical music. In order to accomplish this goal, the Friends may provide scholarships, equipment or other assistance to promising young musicians and assist financially for other nonprofit organizations with similar goals.

Our first concert took place in 1974 but work and plans began in 1973 when a small group of desert music-lovers arranged for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Zubin Mehta conducting to perform a guest concert at the Palm Springs High School in 1974. That small group of forward-thinking people has grown into a successful non-profit organization. Concerts continued to be performed at the High School until 1988 when the Friends gratefully took up residence at the newly constructed McCallum Theatre. It is with great pride that we list the Orchestras and concert artists who have performed the world’s greatest music for our audience. During these 43 years our stage has been graced with 76 world class orchestra’s and their renowned conductors and soloists. Of the 21 American Orchestras, in addition to the Los Angeles Philharmonic who have made over 53 appearances here our stage has been graced by the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony. Nineteen International Orchestras including; the Israel Philharmonic, Royal Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and the Russian National Orchestra. Over 60 different conductors have appeared; Zubin Mehta has appeared here twelve times, Andre Previn four times, Vladimir Ashkenazy has been here three times, Kurt Masur twice, Seiji Ozawa, Daniel Barenboim, Daniele Gatti and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Eighty orchestral soloists and instrumental recitalists including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Yefim Bronfman, Joshua Bell, Midori, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang, Daniil Trifonov have all performed locally.

Youth Scholarship Program

The Palm Springs Friends of Philharmonic’s involvement in the desert community extends beyond the six performances each season. Part of our mission is to promote education and classical music for the children of the Coachella Valley. Scholarships started in 1975 with students auditioning for cash awards. We partially financed a talented cellist, a graduate of Julliard for several years. We sponsored a Music Mobile that toured various schools with musical instruments for the students to see and hold. Instruments were played and their use in a symphony orchestra was explained. Our next move was to underwrite the top audition winners sending them to Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, which is now an annual event. Idyllwild School of Arts joins the Palm Springs Friends in awarding two weeks summer school for piano, winds, strings, brass, and percussion. This program is available to music students in the Coachella Valley and as a result, many Coachella Valley students have attended the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. Many of the recipients who studied at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program have gone on to college to major in music.

This season the Friends will match scholarships for approximately 25 outstanding music students.  We wish them a productive and enjoyable time at Idyllwild’s 2017 Summer Arts Music Program.

Youth Activity for the 2016 Season:

Youth Activities again this season, in partnership with the McCallum Theatre Institute, will be presentations of the “Field Trip Series” for school age children performed at the McCallum Theater starting in November and ending in April. The arts education programs of the McCallum Theatre Institute touch and help shape the lives of thousands of school children and teachers throughout the Coachella Valley. Activities of the Institute encourage young people to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world, by experiencing live performing works of art and learning from professional artists in workshops and in the classroom. This will be the Friend’s eighth year supporting this vital outreach to valley students.


The Palm Springs Friends of Philharmonic Board of Directors has 20 members and we are grateful for their generous contributions of time, expertise and dedication that continues to make this all possible.


Mr. Larry Pitts, President

Mr. Robert E. Armstrong, Vice-President, Artist Selection

Mr. John Shevlin, Vice-President, Subscriptions

Mr. Paul Symons, Vice-President, Concert Arrangements

Mr. Henry Freund, Treasurer

Mrs. Anne Holland, Recording Secretary

Mrs. Lucinda Schissler, Immediate Past President

Mr. Gary Schahet, Parliamentarian

Mr. Robert E. Armstrong
Mrs. Joseph Darr
Mrs. Barbara Fremont
Mr. Henry L. Freund
Mr. Marshall M. Gelfand
Mrs. Dorothy Goldstein
Mr. Norman Gorin
Mrs. Ann Heavey
Mrs. Roberta Holland
Mrs. Anne M. Holland
Mr. Dean Kauffman
Mrs. Carol Lewis
Mr. Larry Pitts
Mrs. Gloria Rosen
Mr. Gary Schahet
Mrs. Lucinda Schissler
Mr. John Shevlin
Mr. Joseph H. Stein, Jr.
Mr. Paul M. Symons
Mr. Kenneth A. Turner
Mr. Erich Vollmer

Directors Emeritus
Jeane Hilb
Barbara Pitts
Robert Rose
Eleanor Sidenfaden
Lynn Zimmer

Executive Director – Christine Samons

Executive Director Emeritus – Sandy Lewis

Administrative Assistant – Tonia Hutton