About the Santa Fe Community Orchestra

The SFCO provides free concerts, education programs and special events to a wide variety of constituencies in Santa Fe and statewide. Founded in 1982 by Jody Ellis, Anne-Lise Cohen, and a dedicated group of volunteer community musicians and board members, the SFCO engaged Robert Wingert to be the first conductor of the orchestra. Together, they provided concerts and youth education programs to the Santa Fe Community free of charge.

After a year-long search process, Oliver Prezant was engaged in 1999 to be the second conductor and Music Director of the orchestra. Since that time, the SFCO’s program has grown substantially, from three orchestra concerts and one youth concert in 1999, to the current season program, which includes:

  • 5 free orchestral concerts of familiar classics, rarely performed works, accessible new music, and world premieres by NM composers.
  • Performances by professional NM soloists, who are able to perform their "heart's desire" repertoire.
  • 2 Side-by-Side programs with music students and teachers in the Santa Fe public schools.
  • 3 informative, entertaining, accessible Educate Your Ear education programs (two Friday evening programs, and one Sunday concert) with commentary by Music Director Oliver Prezant and musical illustrations by the SFCO, followed by a full performance of the featured work.
  • Creative collaborations with school programs, arts organizations, and NM creative artists, such as the National Dance Institute (NDI), the NM School for the Arts, storyteller Joe Hayes, photographer Steven W. Martin, and the New Mexico Museum of Art.
  • Ongoing support for composers statewide through our New Works by New Mexico Composers series and our biennial Composition Competition, which features a cash prize and a world premiere performance.


All SFCO programs are presented to the public free of charge, which means that families with children, those on a fixed income, and the economically disadvantaged are able to attend.

SFCO performances and readings now engage volunteer musicians and choristers from the Santa Fe area and as far away as Moriarty, Jemez Springs, Montezuma, Taos, Cochiti Lake, Dixon, Los Alamos, Rancho de Albuquerque and Las Vegas, and Taos, NM.

The SFCO receives support from many generous individual donors in the community, as well as foundations, government grants, and the local business community. The SFCO's working Board, volunteer organization (FOCO—Friends of the Community Orchestra), and part-time contract staff provide the necessary support for concert and event production and promotion. Over the years, the administration for the organization has been provided by Board members, and through a recent matching grant, the SFCO is moving to engage professional support in the areas of grant writing and administration. Suggestions from orchestra members and the SFCO’s Board have been a factor in the SFCO’s growth on all levels, and the orchestra is benefitting from improvements in administrative and artistic policies, including improved communication with members, streamlined rehearsal schedules, and careful selection of repertoire.

Through the efforts of its community musicians, volunteers, Board members, and its music director, the SFCO supports New Mexico soloists and composers, public school students, and audience members interested in deepening their understanding of music, and the orchestra has developed a reputation for high-level performances, innovative programming, and a welcoming atmosphere at events.