Orchestra History

The Winchester Orchestra was founded in 1999 by its music director and board members. In the late 1960s, West Valley College founded a symphony orchestra under music director George Champion, and later, under the baton of Ross Bergantz. Many community members joined the group at that time, and it evolved into a non-profit group in the early 1980s. Disbanded in 1985, several members of the group joined the new Santa Clara University Orchestra, which was being formed at the time under music director Henry Mollicone. The organization left that university in 1999 and became The Winchester Orchestra, an independent non-profit community orchestra.

Henry Mollicone,
Founder and Conductor Emeritus in Perpetuity

A graduate of the New England Conservatory, Henry Mollicone's one-act operas, commissioned by The Central City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, and The Minnesota Opera, have been performed extensively. The Face on the Barroom Floor, a recipient of the American Composers' Recording Award, is one of America's most oft-performed contemporary operas, and has also been produced in Europe. Emperor Norton was given its New York premiere in January, 2015 at Chelsea Opera on a double bill with The Face on the Barroom Floor, conducted by the composer from the piano. His full-length operas Coyote Tales, Hotel Eden, and Gabriel's Daughter have been premiered respectively at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera San Jose and The Central City Opera, with librettos by Sheldon Harnick, Judith Fein and William Luce. Mr. Mollicone has been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow since 1997, and has served on panels for The National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Mollicone has written works for orchestra, voice, chorus, ballet, and solo voice, as well as music for film, television, and theater, including the Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis). He has worked with several distinguished actors as a conductor, composer, and pianist, including Jean Stapleton, David Ogden Stiers, Tovah Feldshuh, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Angela Lansbury. As music director and founder of The Winchester Orchestra for many years, Mr. Mollicone is now Conductor Emeritus

His works have been performed by many distinguished artists, including JoAnn Falletta, Frederica Von Stade, Amy Burton, Music from Copland House Players, Erie Mills, Maria Spacagna, D'Anna Fortunato and Marnie Breckenridge.

During the 2009-2010 season, his Beatitude Mass ("Mass for the Homeless") has been performed by the Monterey Symphony Chorus, the Bristol Phoenix Choir (England), the Rackham Symphony Choir (Detroit), the Georgetown Chorale (Washington, DC) and the Seattle First Baptist Church Choir (Seattle, WA), raising several thousand dollars for organizations that serve the homeless. The world premiere of his Misa de los Inmigrantes, Mass for the Immigrants, was premiered by the San Jose Symphonic Choir in March 2010. His compositions Misteria, for piano solo, and Flowers of the Soul, a song cycle for soprano solo and piano trio, were given their New England premieres at the Newport Music Festival (Newport, RI), with Metropolitan Opera soprano Teresa Cincione, and concert pianist, Daniel del Pino. Mollicone's one-act opera, The Face on the Barroom Floor will be given several performances at the Central City Opera in Colorado (the work has been performed annually as part of its summer festival since 1978.

Currently Mr. Mollicone is working on a new opera, Lady Bird, with librettist Sheldon Harnick, to be premiered by Texas State University at San Marcos in 2016.

Visit his website: www.henrymollicone.com for more information.