A trip down the yellow brick road

Symphony holding first LGBT night, ‘Oz’ is theme

By Dave Fidlin

Thoughts of the symphony might conjure up images of formal attire and an all-around buttoned-up atmosphere for some, but with special events that include performances alongside screenings of such disparate films as “Star Trek” and “Home Alone,” the San Diego Symphony has been trying to broaden its fan base in recent years.

The Symphony will perform alongside “The Wizard of Oz” for an LGBT audience (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.)

In mid-April, the local symphony will enter yet another new chapter in its storied existence, as it holds a first LGBT-themed night that will coincide with a performance around “The Wizard of Oz,” the 1939 classic film headlined by actress Judy Garland.

Courtney Koscheka, marketing manager with the San Diego Symphony, said the LGBT night was borne out of a desire to have a truly inclusive organization that appeals to persons from all walks of life.

“We want everybody coming to the symphony and feeling welcome here,” Koscheka said.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the LGBT community to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ concert and film,”added Martha Gilmer, CEO of the San Diego Symphony. “The combination of a great film, a wonderful orchestra and a post-concert party promises a fun evening.”

In broader terms, Gilmer said the movie nights, where symphony members literally perform music scores during the actual screening of a film, serves as “a perfect way for those who have never attended one of our concerts to discover one of San Diego’s hidden gems.”

(Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.)

Koscheka said a screening of “The Wizard of Oz,” long a crowd-pleaser within the LGBT community, was a logical first step for the San Diego Symphony to show its support.

In the yellow brick road ahead, Koscheka said the goal within the symphony is to have additional events geared specifically toward the LGBT community.

“We’d like to make it a regular thing,” she said.

The film screening and concert, slated for 8 p.m. Saturday, April 15, will have a number of added extras incorporated into the LGBT night, Koscheka said.

(Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.)

A costume contest will precede the show at 7 p.m., and participants are being invited to dress up as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Glinda the Good Witch of the North, or any of the other iconic characters that are steeped in pop culture. The contest is open to everyone — including persons with or without a ticket to the actual show.

Once the film and concert end, at about 10 p.m., the symphony’s lower lobby area will be transformed into an after-party scene with a DJ and bar. The Snake Oil Cocktail Company is among the local businesses on hand.

In addition to the milestone LGBT programs, Koscheka hinted other film screenings will be on the horizon. The symphony has been performing renditions alongside all of the “Harry Potter” films and has also provided scores for special Comic-Con events.

“This comes as a surprise to people sometimes, but we’re exposed to classical music all the time,” Koscheka said. “You just don’t realize it because you’re so focused on the movie.”

For information on the upcoming “Wizard of Oz” LGBT event, visit the San Diego Symphony’s website,, or call 619-235-0804. Persons using the promo code TOTO will save $10 on tickets for this specific performance.

—Dave Fidlin is a freelance journalist with a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at

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