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Colleges ready for in-person arts performances

Posted on: Oct 5, 2021 12:00:00 AM
In: District
Arts and Culture
Contact: Della Elliott

After more than a year and a half of performances and presentations over Zoom and YouTube, the arts are returning in person to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

Kicking off Grossmont College’s fall concert series is the Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. performance of the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale, which finally has a venue of its own at the newly opened Grossmont College Performing and Visual Arts Center (PVAC). This, after decades of playing in places such as the former East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) in El Cajon, and several churches throughout East County.

The first musical performance in the 390-seat PVAC includes separate performances of the 70-member symphony’s brass and percussion, woodwind and string ensembles; the 40-member Master Chorale; and a multimedia performance of the Grossmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra. Tickets are $5 for students; $10 for seniors and $15 for general admission.

All Grossmont College music events are reserve seating only by emailing the music office at Tickets will be sold at the door on the day of the event, with only cash and checks accepted.

PVAC is a $44 million facility funded by East County voters through Proposition V, a $398 million bond measure approved in 2012. It serves as an instructional and performance venue for the theater, dance and music programs. It also houses the Hyde Art Gallery.

ECHO Chamber Music

Classical music is also returning to Cuyamaca College, where the East County Harmonics Organization (ECHO) Chamber Music Series launches its third year of performances on 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Samuel M. Ciccati Performing Arts Center. The ECHO Chamber Music Series is underwritten by Sam Ersan, a vice chairman of the San Diego Symphony Board of Directors. Ersan has helped transform the chamber music landscape in San Diego County through his support of classical musical organizations, including the San Diego Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and others. More information about each concert can be found and tickets can be purchased at

Also at the Sam Ciccati Performing Arts Center will be the 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 performance of the Cuyamaca College Choir presenting “One World: In Spirit, Ritual, and Song.” Led by artistic director Jasper Sussman, the choir performance will feature a number of guest soloists with a repertoire including the piece, “Grateful Heart” by Hussein Janmohamed, dedicated to frontline workers and teachers.

In-person rehearsals and performances also return at Cuyamaca College for the Rock, Pop, and Soul Ensemble led by instructor Taylor Smith. The Ensemble will perform U2’s album, “The Joshua Tree,” at the college’s Samuel M. Ciccati Performing Arts Center on Dec. 3. Tickets and details about all Cuyamaca College concerts are available at

At Grossmont College, in addition to the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra performing Oct. 7 and 28, several other music ensembles will be performing this month:

  • Oct. 13: Grossmont Guitar Ensemble directed by Sean Bassett and Fred Benedetti
  • Oct. 20: Grossmont Concert Band directed by Russ Sperling
  • Oct. 21: Grossmont Vocal Jazz Ensemble directed by Melonie Grinnell

November highlights include Grossmont College’s Dance Department’s return with live performances of “Breaking Boundaries,” its annual fall dance concert featuring student dancers in instructor-choreographed performances. Three performances showcasing a variety of dance genres are set for 7:30 p.m. nightly Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 18-20. Tickets are $10 cash, presale only for pod, or clustered seating for social distancing.

Like the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra, until the PVAC opening, the Dance Department has had a nomadic existence with it twice-yearly dance concerts, presented in the ‘80s and ‘90s at ECPAC, then the Joan B. Kroc Theatre in San Diego. Call (619) 644-7766 for additional information.

The lights are also back on at the Grossmont College Stagehouse Theatre where live performances of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” began Sept. 30 and quickly sold out for October engagements. More theater offerings are planned.

December’s events of note include the Cuyamaca and Grossmont Concert Bands’ joint winter concert set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, at PVAC. Music instructor Farhad Bahrami will lead the college’s Middle East Ensemble in a concert set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16. The only ensemble of its kind in San Diego County, the group consists of students in Bahrami’s Music 142 class, which focuses on music ranging from the Moorish kingdoms of Andalusia in Spain, down through Morocco, and across the rim of Africa to the rich music traditions of Afghanistan and Iran. 

COVID-19 protocols are in place for all events, requiring full vaccination or a negative PCR tests within 72 hours of performances, as well as masking and social distancing.


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gc middle eastern music ensembleGrossmont College Middle Eastern Music Ensemble

 cc concert bandCuyamaca College Concert Band rehearsal

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