Now entering its seventeenth season, the Gulf Coast Symphony was founded in 1996 by its current Music Director and conductor Dr. Andrew Kurtz. As the premier community orchestra of Southwest Florida and one of the most dynamic community orchestras in the United States, GCS membership is open to qualified musicians by audition. While the majority of the orchestra members live year-round in the Lee County area, many are seasonal residents, who choose to winter in Lee County in part because of the opportunities that we provide. The orchestra’s October-to-June performance schedule has grown to over a dozen concerts: a series of four symphonic pops concerts at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall; two youth concerts at Barbara B. Mann; a special Holiday performance concert; two free outdoor park concerts in Bonita Springs & Cape Coral; and three classical “ACCESS” concerts (Sanibel & Fort Myers); plus a variety of education run-out performances in various area locations. Last year the Gulf Coast Symphony performed Prokofiev’s beloved Peter & the Wolf throughout Lee County, including some of our most vulnerable communities. Additional outreach and benefit concerts (like our annual performance for the Fort Myers Soup Kitchen benefit), master classes, recitals and presentations have been regularly presented throughout our history.
We are extremely proud of our community focus: to share our love of music with as many people in the Lee County area as possible, in a family-friendly environment as economically feasible as possible. Half of all our performances are free events, and multiple programs exist for the elderly, disadvantaged, or under represented to receive discounted or free tickets to our other concerts as well. In addition to bringing world-class artists to Lee County for performances with the Gulf Coast Symphony, the GCS promotes the careers of distinguished emerging artists by featuring them as soloists in concert and solo recital. Many of these artists participate in the Symphony’s outreach program Musical Gateways, which partners with local schools and the community at large.