Nevada County's Community Orchestra


OLLI Orchestra is devoted to sharing the joy of music-making,

engaging our audience, and enriching the cultural life of our community through artistic expression. 


Professional and novice musicians volunteer

to perform two free concerts per year.


Artsy photo by Amanda Clarence of Laura

Nevada County’s community orchestra celebrated its 40th Anniversary last year. The Sierra Community Symphony was formed in 1978 by William Barnhart and Joseph Andre, Jr., members of the Nevada County Concert Band. There was a need for an orchestra whose members would be part of the local community.


Originally called the Sierra Philharmonic, then the Sierra Community Orchestra, and in 1993, it took the name Sierra Community Symphony. Sierra Musical Arts Association was organized at the beginning of the Symphony's founding and Sierra College became a joint sponsor shortly thereafter.


There were some tough years until the group became part of Sierra College. When the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute—OLLI—granted funds to the college, OLLI Orchestra bloomed.


According to Violinist Natalie Stone, a member of the orchestra from 1997 to 2018, “Finally, we local musicians had rehearsal and performing spaces, a steadfast and talented conductor and a solid financial base.”

Violinist Laura Wagner-Balch

 The musicians that comprise the orchestra vary widely in experience and age. Many are local music teachers; several are professional musicians that perform with InConcert Sierra and Music in the Mountains. Some are teens; a few started taking music lessons after retirement and about ten or so have been orchestra members for roughly 30 years.

  “OLLI is unique among orchestras. We come together in friendship and support,” explained violinist Stone. “Music never leaves your heart. It’s always there.”

OLLI Orchestra performs Leroy Anderson's "Belle of the Ball"

This site, created by volunteers with no official connection to OLLI or Sierra College, seeks to promote the orchestra and offer a method of communication among music fans. OLLI Orchestra is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Sierra College.

For more info about OLLI classes, click here.  

Experience the excitement & beauty of old & new classical music, performed by accomplished musicians who live in your neighborhood.