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The vagabond years of the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale draw to a close with its first performance in its new home Thursday night at the new Grossmont College Performing and Visual Arts Center (PVAC).


The 70-member orchestra and 40-member choral ensemble composed of students, teachers and musicians from the community have played since the ‘80s off campus, first at the former East County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon until 2009, then the First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon, Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Spring Valley and St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Lemon Grove.


The program, which begins at 7:30 p.m., includes separate performances of the symphony’s brass and percussion, woodwind and string ensembles; the Master Chorale; and a multimedia performance of the chamber orchestra. In pre-pandemic times, the ensembles performed as one large orchestra, but because of Grossmont College’s COVID-19 protocols limiting the numbers of people in one room, Thursday’s performance will be broken up with each ensemble giving its own mini-concert.


“This 390-seat venue has been a part of the original blueprint for Grossmont College from the earliest years,” said music director Randall Tweed, who has been at GSO’s helm for 35 years. “It has been a long, arduous road. This new facility is a huge step up and being able to return for in-person rehearsals, even with social distancing and masking, has been great.”


 GSO’s concert season for the rest of the year includes performances on Oct. 28, Dec. 2, and Dec. 10.

Tweed said he is looking forward to the completion of PVAC as a performance venue with the arrival in the spring of concert acoustical shells, which will improve sound clarity for performers and audiences by projecting concert acoustics.


“Each shell is about 6 feet wide and 24 feet tall and they are placed to create an arc behind the musicians,” Tweed said.


With the acoustical improvements and the eventual end of pandemic protocols, Tweed is excited about inviting high school ensembles to PVAC and putting on major music festivals.


“By fall of next year, we will be a beacon for East County arts,” he said, adding that plans are in place to make Nutcracker performances partnering the GSO and the San Diego Ballet an annual winter tradition starting in 2022.


Tickets for Thursday’s GSO performance 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.


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.