By November 17, 2021 Read More →



Holiday Pops! with Ali Ewoldt – December 3rd & 4th

Holiday Candlelight Concert – December 21st 

Modesto Symphony Orchestra to offer free tickets to healthcare workers for Holiday Pops concerts

MODESTO, CA – The Modesto Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) holiday concerts offer fun for the entire family. Complete with holiday décor and your favorite carols, the MSO’s holiday concerts have become community favorites. The MSO kicks off its holiday concerts with Holiday Pops! on Friday, December 3rd at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 4th at 2pm. Conducted by Associate Conductor Ryan Murray, this lively and festive concert features Broadway star Ali Ewoldt and the MSO Chorus. The Holiday Candlelight Concert will be held on December 21st at the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. MSO Chorus Director, Daniel R. Afonso Jr., will conduct this traditional holiday concert and St. Stanislaus Church is the perfect setting for a more intimate concert that will also feature the MSO Chorus.

Holiday Pops headliner, Ali Ewoldt, has performed with numerous major American orchestras including the American Pops Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Kaohsiung Symphony, the New York Pops in Carnegie Hall, and The Boston Pops with Maestro Keith Lockhart. On Broadway, Ali has appeared in The King and I, in The Phantom of the Opera as Christine Daaé, and in Les Misérables as Cosette.

“The holiday season is always a special time for the MSO” says Caroline Nickel, President and CEO of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. “This year is extra special for all of us at the MSO as it is also our first time back on stage with our full orchestra since March 2020. We hope that both our Holiday Pops and Holiday Candlelight Concert can bring a little extra warmth, joy, and festiveness to our community.”

The MSO would like to honor our healthcare workers who worked tirelessly to support our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To show gratitude and appreciation for their efforts, the MSO is offering free tickets to local healthcare workers for the December 3rd and 4th Holiday Pops concerts. To participate in this program, please visit and complete the online form.


Friday, December 3, 2021 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 4th, 2021 at 2:00pm

Ryan Murray, conductor

Ali Ewoldt, vocalist

Modesto Symphony Orchestra

Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Daniel R. Afonso Jr., director

Gallo Center for the Arts, Mary Stuart Rogers Theater

1000 I Street, Modesto

Pricing: $19 / 39 / 54 / 71 / 94

Tickets are available online through or through the Gallo Center for the Arts Ticket Office at (209) 338-2100.

Group Prices available: Groups of 10+ receive a 15% discount on tickets. Call (209) 338-5064 for more information.

Gallo Center Ticket Office Hours: Monday through Friday 10:00am-6:00pm / Saturday 12:00pm-6:00pm


RYAN MURRAY’s dynamic conducting, natural musicality, and deeply held passion for the arts have allowed him to steadily build a robust career since his professional debut at the age of just 22. Ryan is currently the Associate Conductor for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and Music Director for the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra; with whom he made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall in 2014. Since his appointment in 2013, Ryan has consistently worked to improve the quality, skill and prominence of the youth orchestra, and now leads an ensemble that features over 60 students from the greater Modesto area. He is also Music Director of Opera Modesto and Artistic Director and Conductor of Music in the Mountains. Ryan is the newly appointed Director of Orchestras and Opera at California State University, Sacramento, and also directs the orchestra at CSU Stanislaus. He previously served as Music Director for Fresno Grand Opera, and as a staff conductor for the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI) and The Opera Academy of California in San Francisco.

Ryan has recently garnered national recognition for his dynamic, compelling performances of contemporary opera and is the current winner of the 2016/17 American Prize in Opera Conducting for his highly lauded production of A Streetcar Named Desire. He was a 2016 semi-finalist for the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music and received honorary mention for the American Prize in Youth Orchestra Conducting. Ryan is also a past winner of the Vienna Philharmonic’s prestigious Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors, and spent the summer in residence alongside the Vienna Philharmonic at the 2014 Salzburg Festival.

Driven by a lifelong passion for learning, Ryan has attended masterclasses and seminars around the world including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music’s Conductors Workshop, the Musikin Aika Summer Festival Masterclass in Finland, the Aurora Chamber Festival in Sweden, the Lucerne Festival Academy’s Conducting Masterclass in Switzerland, and the Eastman School of Music’s Summer Conducting Institute featuring the Rochester Philharmonic. Ryan holds degrees, summa cum laude, in Bassoon Performance and Voice Performance from California State University, Sacramento. Widely praised for his tireless work ethic, natural poise, and impassioned, inspired performances, Ryan continues to connect deeply with orchestras and audiences alike and has proven to be a formidable presence on
the podium.

ALI EWOLDT has appeared as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Cosette in Les Miserables (Broadway, National Tour), The King and I (Broadway, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Maria in West Side Story (National Tour, International Tour) and Luisa in The Fantasticks (Off-Broadway). She has also played Philia in A Funny Thing… (The Muny), Fan in A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre), Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls (Sacramento Music Circus) and Martha Jefferson in 1776 (The Muny).

Ali’s concert/symphony work includes: Feinstein’s 54 Below, Tokyo’s Theatre Orb, Canyon Ranch, Alice Tully Hall, The Town Hall, NY Pops at Carnegie Hall, American Pops Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Kaohsiung Symphony and The Boston Pops with Maestro Keith Lockhart. Her TV/Film credits include The Michael J. Fox ShowYield, Mia and The Cactus. Ali has a BA in psychology from Yale University and is a proud Filipina-American.

CONCERT SPONSORED BY: Beard Land and Investment Co.


Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 8:00 pm

Daniel R. Afonso Jr., conductor

Modesto Symphony Orchestra

Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Daniel R. Afonso Jr., director

Opus Handbell Ensemble, Richard Colla, director

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church

1200 Maze Boulevard, Modesto


Adult: $38 / 58

Youth: $10 / 20

Tickets are available online through or through the Gallo Center for the Arts Ticket Office at (209) 338-2100.

Group Prices available: Groups of 10+ receive a 15% discount on Standard Adult seating. Call (209) 338-5064 for more information.Ticket Office Hours: Monday through Friday 10:00am-6:00pm / Saturday 12:00pm-6:00pm


DANIEL R. AFONSO, JR. has served as conductor of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus since its foundation in 2001 and has prepared several choral works with the ensemble. He is also Coordinator of Vocal and Choral Studies at California State University, Stanislaus. Afonso received a B.M.E. degree from the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI -Rio), a M.M. degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a D.M.A. degree in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. Dr. Afonso is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has studied conducting with Carlos Alberto Figueiredo, Cees Rotteveel, Eph Ehly, and William Hatcher.

Dr. Afonso has performed with choral groups in Brazil, U.S., and Europe, and has previously taught music at the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música, Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI-Rio), and Doane College, Nebraska. In 1988, he won the first prize and the best performance of Villa-Lobos work award at the Concurso Villa-Lobos de Canto Coral, a national choral competition sponsored by the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Afonso is strongly committed to the performance of new music and has commissioned and premiered many new choral works in the last few years, including several of his own works as well as works by young composition students. He had his New York debut in 2012, conducting Mozart’s Requiem with members of the MSO Chorus and students from CSU Stanislaus at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

He is also a composer, arranger, and editor of choral music and has choral works published by earthsongs, Colla Voce, and Alliance Music Publications. He has served as composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Choral Artists (2014-2015) and has also written works for the American Choral Directors Association, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Children’s Choir, and other choral ensembles in the US and abroad. One of his most recent works, La Vai Meu Bem (for youth chorus, piano, and percussion) received its world premiered in April 2019 at Carnegie Hall, in New York City. Afonso has written innumerous arrangements for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, including a new version of The Star-Spangled Banner for chorus and orchestra. Dr. Afonso is widely recognized for his research and performance of Brazilian choral music and continues to frequently present workshops and lectures about the Latin American choral repertoire.

Posted in: community, featured, music

About the Author:

ModestoView features contributors from our community on a regular basis. We enjoy and welcome these honorary ViewCrew members. If you would like to message them, email to