The SFCO is the Community performing for the Community FREE of charge!

About the SFCO

The mission of the Santa Fe Community Orchestra is to provide an opportunity for volunteer musicians to perform free orchestra concerts for a broad range of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico audiences, to present free educational programs for audiences of all ages, to engage New Mexico musicians as soloists, to promote the composition and performance of works by New Mexico composers, and to support the musical and cultural life of Santa Fe.

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.

Oliver Prezant was engaged from1999-2023 as the second conductor and music director of the orchestra. Under his leadership Mr. Prezant worked with the orchestra members to greatly expand our community engagement and the breadth of our programs.

William Waag joined the orchestra in 2024 as conductor and music director of the orchestra.  He has held numerous conducting and teaching positions in colleges, public and private institutions.  William’s guest conducting engagements include the Santa Fe Symphony, the Reading Orchestra, and the Albuquerque Philharmonic.  He is a passionate music educator, conducting the Santa Fe Youth Symphony and working as a music educator across Northern New Mexico.

Our current program includes

    • 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.

    • Side by side programs with music students and teachers in the Santa Fe public schools.

    • Informative and entertaining, accessible Educate Your Ear programs with commentary 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 Santa Fe Youth Symphony, the Santa Fe Youth Philharmonic, 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, 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 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.



Co- Founder Jody Ellis
Co-Founder Anne-Lise Cohen