Marina Rojas becomes the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra’s new executive director after previous director Joshua Banda steps down
VISALIA – When the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra flew their executive director position, it was music to Marina Rojas’s ears. After years of being a fan of the symphony, she has now become their new executive director.
Rojas reminisced on her very first symphony at Visalia’s Fox Theatre, which she attended on a whim. She entered the historic Fox Theatre, with its marquee glowing with orange and yellow hues, not knowing what to expect. Little did Rojas know, this first-time theater experience would stay with her many years later.
As she sat in the hushed crowd, the lights dimmed, and the spotlight hit the faces of those with musical instruments in hand. As the maestro walked swiftly onto the stage, she said the entire crowd was beaming with anticipation.
“There was this unifying moment where everybody just held their breath, because the show was about to start. That’s what I love about it,” Rojas said. “I think a lot of people assume it’s highbrow, and maybe a little snooty, but that wasn’t it at all. I felt welcomed immediately.”
After the concert, Rojas was sold. She fell in love with the culture and the music of the symphony, and when she had heard about the new director position years later, she knew she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“It’s a great full circle moment. I’ve gone from now attending the symphony to being a part of it. It’s just very humbling, and I’m very excited about it,” Rojas said.
Rojas’s new responsibilities will be geared towards the symphony’s marketing, where she will be connecting with community partners, fundraising and expanding the county’s accessibility to orchestra music.
“We’re gonna have some outreach to local areas, specifically rural areas. We’re hoping to launch some new [initiatives] in the new year,” Rojas said, “I can’t say [what they are] just yet, but we’re hoping to be able to reach more young people, specifically those that don’t normally have access to music that others do.”
This ties into one of Rojas’s main goals, which is to “saturate the area with symphony,” she said. Rojas believes that symphonic music is not limited to a certain demographic, and she wants the rest of the county to know that as well. Instead, it is something for all ages to appreciate. She is looking forward to some of the upcoming concerts, and hopes that there is a wide variety of people in attendance.
Rojas will also be working closely with the musical director Bruce Kiesling, who will be in charge of the coordinating and planning of each showing. She said she is excited to work along Kiesling and handle the marketing side of things, while he handles the concert side. On the other hand, the previous executive director Joshua Banda served for over five years with the symphony, and will now be relocating out of state with his family for a new opportunity.
“We thank Josh for his enthusiasm and vision for the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra, and the exciting programming he helped bring to our community. Under his leadership the symphony experienced tremendous growth, even during the unprecedented challenges of the last few years,” Jennifer Fultz, the president of the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, said in a statement.
Rojas has held roles with organizations such as the Tulare County Association of Realtors, Spirit 88.9 and 100.1, The Visalia Fox Theatre and recently was the director of marketing for the Visalia Rawhide. She brings experience in non-profit work, community relations, social media, marketing and entertainment.
“My heart’s always been in the media and entertainment, especially when it has to do with the Valley,” Rojas said. “So when the opportunity came to be a part of the organization, I just jumped at it. There was no way I was going to pass that up.”
The symphony has four remaining concerts in their 2022-2023 season, the next being “Tchaikovsky’s Last Note” on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at The Visalia Fox Theatre. Tchaikovsky’s heart-on-the-sleeve passion is everywhere in this program, from the virtuosic delights of his violin concerto to the deep power of his final symphony, when he seems to foreshadow his own death only days after the premiere.