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, which was premiered by Texas State University at San Marcos in 2016.

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

 


Michael DiGiacinto, Music Director 2014-2018

Conductor, composer, and pianist Michael DiGiacinto was the Music Director of the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose and is Associate Music Director of the Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale. Previously, he was the Music Director of the Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theater at San Jose State University.

In addition to conducting much of the standard repertoire for orchestra, Mr. DiGiacinto has conducted over 100 premieres for various ensembles, ranging from chamber ensembles to orchestras and choirs. As a pianist and a vocalist performing in various ensembles, he has premiered many more new works. As a composer, Mr. DiGiacinto's music has been heard in venues throughout the United States and Europe as well as on NPR and PBS. He has participated in festivals in Fontainebleau, France and Kiev, Ukraine where his music was well received.

As a collaborative pianist, Michael DiGiacinto has performed with various ensembles including regional and state honor choirs in California, Virginia, and New York as well as collegiate choirs at New York University, Hofstra University, and San Jose State University, and chamber ensembles. While living in New York, he was also a staff accompanist with Francisco Núñez and the Young People's Chorus of New York City.

A tireless advocate for arts education, Mr. DiGiacinto is an active member of the National Association for Music Education and has been involved with numerous efforts to bring music to schools and communities in need. Through the Outreach Department at Manhattan School of Music, he coordinated programs including group lessons and presentations on the orchestra, opera, and jazz at schools where arts programs are chronically underfunded or do not exist. Mr. DiGiacinto has also been active in bringing arts programs to refugee communities in the West Bank, Palestine.

Michael DiGiacinto has served on the faculties of San Jose State University, Hofstra University, and the Manhattan School of Music. He received his Bachelors degree in Music Education from New York University and his Masters degree in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music where he is also a doctoral candidate. His principal composition teachers were Nils Vigeland, Richard Danielpour, and Marc-Antonio Consoli.