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 45 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 have awarded three partial college scholarships to music majors that recently graduated from local Coachella Valley High schools and will match scholarships for approximately 32 outstanding music students. We wish them a productive and enjoyable time at Idyllwild’s 2019 Summer Arts Music Program. This year the Friends expanded the scholarship program to include Arrowbear Music Camp and Montecito Music Festival. 

Youth Activity:

Youth Activities again this season, in partnership with The McCallum Theatre Education Department, 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 fifth year supporting this vital outreach to valley students.

The Palm Springs Friends of Philharmonic Board of Directors has 19 members and we are grateful for their generous contributions of time, expertise and dedication that continues to make this all possible.


Mr.  Gary Schahet, President
Mrs. Lucinda Schissler , Vice-President, Artist Selection
Mr.  John Shevlin, Vice-President, Subscriptions
Mr. Paul Symons, Vice-President, Concert Arrangements
Mrs. Anne Holland, Recording Secretary
Mr. Henry Freund, Treasurer
Mr. Larry Pitts, Budget & Finance
Mr. Norman Gorin, Historian Records
Mrs. Joseph Darr, Program Books
Mr.  Kenneth A. Turner, Parliamentarian
Mrs. Barbara Fremont, Public Relations
Mr. Dean Kauffman, Scholarships
Mrs. Roberta Holland, Co-Chair Social
Mrs. Gloria Scoby, Co-Chair Social
Mrs. Carol S. Lewis, Youth Activity


Mr. Robert E. Armstrong
Mrs. Joseph Darr
Mrs. Barbara Fremont
Mr. Henry L. Freund
Mr. Norman Gorin
Ms. Bernice Greene
Mrs. Roberta Holland
Mrs. S. Emil Holland
Mr. Dean Kauffman
Dr.  David B. Ko
Mrs. Carol S. Lewis
Mr. Larry Pitts
Mr. Gary Schahet
Mrs. Lucinda Schissler
Mrs. Gloria Scoby
Mr. John Shevlin
Mr. Joseph H. Stein, Jr.
Mr. Paul M. Symons
Mr. Kenneth A. Turner

Directors Emeritus
Mrs. Dorothy Goldstein
Mrs. Jeane Hilb
Mrs. Zachary Pitts
Mr. Robert Rose
Mrs. Gloria Rosen
Mrs. Eleanor Sidenfaden
Mrs. Lynn Zimmer

Executive Director – Christine Samons

Executive Director Emeritus – Sandy Lewis

Administrative Assistant – Tonia Hutton