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Nov 9 - Dec 31, 2023

Monterey County Pops!


The Monterey County Pops! is a professional orchestra dedicated to presenting pops and patriotic music -- as well as education programs for youth – free of charge. We are dedicated to expanding access to high quality music programs throughout Monterey County. Today, our board members are especially determined to serve the growing needs of middle school and high school students in Salinas/Salinas Valley communities by providing small group mentoring with our music educators, concerts at their schools featuring the students performing side by side with their mentors and our whole orchestra, and a welcoming environment for the families and the whole community.

The Big Idea

Our Big Idea is to continue to improve and expand our Salinas Valley Music Education Initiative. This year, our goal is to serve at least 1200 students and their families at 10 schools. Each residency features intensive small group mentoring by members of our orchestra, culminating in an evening performance featuring students performing with the orchestra – free of charge to everyone. Dr. Christensen begins by identifying the starting points for the students in terms of proficiency and repertoire. He recruits music educators who work with the students in small groups -- according to instrument -- to improve technique, musical literacy, and capacity to perform under pressure. Our board helps showcase the talent of youth in each community, provide a welcoming environment and share the excitement of the program. Our partners and parents consistently report that our program develops the confidence, skills and perspective that helps their students succeed.

As Music Teacher at Greenfield High School, I have consistently seen the Monterey County Pops! create amazing, eye-opening experiences for my students for the past 5 years. Previously, our high school was not typically a place where families felt welcome, but I've seen more families attending concerts every year -- thanks to the Pops. Orchestra members do an outstanding job giving clinics to the students on their primary instruments. This type of attention is much needed for my students. The conductor, Carl Christensen, is very sensitive to the audience 's needs - speaking mostly in Spanish. The Pops selects music that caters to the taste of our population, creating a bigger draw every year. A very important element is feeding the kids before the concert, which the Pops also provides. This outreach is what our community needs for us to continue to create a cohesive environment.

- Matt Huot