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Mission & History

The Kensington Symphony Orchestra is a community orchestra based in West Contra Costa County.  KSO membership consists of seasoned professionals, committed non-professional musicians, music educators and students from throughout the entire Bay Area. The KSO presents five concert programs per season from September through June at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley in Kensington.

The mission of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra is t
o enrich the lives of the immediate community by presenting high quality performances of symphonic music at affordable prices.

Additionally, the KSO has adopted the following initiatives important to the fulfillment of the core mission:

  • To support, promote and feature local artists as soloists in performance

  • To expand the orchestral repertoire through the performance of new works, particularly by local composers

  • To recognize and foster the development of emerging young talent and to support music education

  • To provide a supportive, stimulating and educational environment which encourages and inspires its membership to strive for the highest possible musical and artistic standards.

The Kensington Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1977 by Robert M. Kissel, its first Music Director and Conductor (1977-1990). It was originally known as the Phoenix Symphony because it arose from the figurative ashes of the first Contra Costa Symphony. A handful of former Contra Costa Symphony players grew to a larger membership moving to their first rehearsal and performance space at the Arlington Community Church in Kensington. Rapidly growing, the KSO moved to the First Unitarian Church on Lawson Road in Kensington, and changed its name to reflect its home venue. In 1979, the KSO was incorporated in Contra Costa County and is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit corporation Lloyd Elliot was music director and conductor from 1990 to 2003. In 2004, after an extensive search, the KSO was pleased to engage its third and current Music Director and Conductor, Geoffrey Gallegos, who has greatly expanded the KSO membership and the scope of its repertoire while elevating the orchestra's artistic and musical standards exponentially.

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