Mission & History

Our mission is to enrich the lives of today’s and tomorrow’s passionate music lovers by connecting them to the genius and innovation of Mozart and the Masters, to world-class musicians and music-making, and to each other.


For twenty-eight years, Mainly Mozart has been a mission-driven organization with one guiding inspiration: Mozart. His music, his mastery, and all that he embodied as a multi-faceted man inspires our mission and vision—and is what sets us apart. Mozart personifies much more than classical music. He exemplifies prodigy, composer, genius, innovator, collaborator—and Mainly Mozart is driven to express these qualities in everything we produce.

Our History

The story of how everything started.

1989

Mainly Mozart Takes the Stage

The first sounds of the all-star Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, under the baton of founding Maestro David Atherton, were heard in 1989. Having been chartered as a non-profit corporation in September, 1988, the first Festival was performed on the outdoor stage of the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. It was received enthusiastically and ever since has been praised by critics for its innovative programming and exceptional performances.
1991

Join the Club (Amadeus)

Club Amadeus is born as Club Twelve-Fifty, with intimate members-only concerts featuring world-class artists in exclusive private residences.
1992

Taking the Binational Stage

Mainly Mozart becomes binational, adding “Mozart Binacional” with concerts and educational programs throughout Baja California. In-school programming is launched with “Living Composers” for elementary school students.
1996

Origin of Spotlight Series

Mainly Mozart is more than just a summer festival. Begun in 1996 at the Neurosciences Institute (now The Auditorium at TSRI), Mainly Mozart’s Spotlight Series features world-class musicians in chamber music concerts during the winter and spring. The chamber music series launched in 1996 with a five-concert piano recital series. (Additional series venues were added in 2006 in Carlsbad and Rancho Santa Fe.)
2001

Mainly Mozart as an Ambassador

Mainly Mozart leads a goodwill tour of the three Californias, commissioned by the Governors of California, Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur, as Mainly Mozart’s “Orchestra of the Californias.”
2006

Know How to Plan Big

Mainly Mozart spearheads the largest North American celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday (and largest arts collaboration in the history of San Diego), enlisting 70 arts organizations in nearly 300 Mozart-themed presentations.
2008

No Place Like Home

The Mainly Mozart Festival makes the newly remodeled Balboa Theatre its permanent summer home. Pianist John Lill thrills a sold-out house by performing all five Beethoven Piano Concerti in a single evening.
2013

Shaping the Future Through Youth and Science

Mainly Mozart introduces three new series; Mozart & the Mind – Exploring the Music Brain Effect, Evolution at The Abbey – Today’s Musical Innovators, and Festival Chamber Players at The Timken Museum. The merger between 25 year-old Young Artists Symphony and Mainly Mozart was completed in May, creating the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra and Youth Orchestra of the Californias (in partnership with Tijuana’s music conservatory). Maestro David Atherton ends his tenure as Music Director of the Mainly Mozart Festival which he founded 25 years earlier, conducting his final season in June.
2015

Picking up the Baton

British conductor Michael Francis raises his baton as the Mainly Mozart Festival’s second-ever Music Director in its 27-year history. Ticket sales for the first season of the dynamic young conductor nearly double.
2016

A New Journey with Michael Francis

Year One of Maestro Francis’s six-year journey launches with “The Prodigy Year: Mozart from 3-17” during the 28th annual Mainly Mozart Festival.