Following a decision made by its board of directors in April to suspend operations pending further developments, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra has elected to disband permanently as of August 1. The Chamber Orchestra’s delightful Tuesday evenings at the Lobero will be sorely missed by a devoted audience. Founded in 1978 by conducting student Jeffrey Evans, the group began as a community orchestra. That changed with the arrival in 1983 of maestro Heiichiro Ohyama in the position of music director. Ohyama, an accomplished violist as well as an outstanding conductor, brought the orchestra into the limelight with a long list of distinguished soloists and a roster of top players from up and down the coast.
In addition to presenting concerts featuring such renowned musicians as Alessio Bax, Jerome Lowenthal, Yefim Bronfman, and Carter Brey, the orchestra served as an important step for its concertmasters Sheryl Staples and Michelle Kim, who now serve as principal associate concertmaster and assistant concertmaster, respectively, with the New York Philharmonic.