The North State Symphony

Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of a woman.

We’ve all seen magazine opinions about “the best places to live.” While the selection criteria may vary from one study to another, most consider the availability of arts and culture an important quality-of-life indicator. Orchestras—touted by a Rockefeller study as “the longest established, most widely dispersed, and most stable” of American art institutions—are a cultural treasure in any community and our very own North State Symphony (NSS) certainly measures up.

Beethoven believed that “music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of a woman.” Along with fire and tears, orchestras bring joy—they educate our children, nurture our elders, and engage our communities. Our North State Symphony—a union of the Chico Symphony and the Redding Symphony—also gives talented students a chance to perform next to professional musicians.

“Since we brought the Redding and Chico Symphonies together in 2001, I have had one wonderful experience after another, presenting the music I know and love to our great audiences,” says Music Director Kyle Wiley Pickett, a Tehama County resident. “I truly believe we fill a unique niche, since we both entertain and educate on a level of excellence unusual for a rural area anywhere in the United States. It’s my goal to see NSS recognized as one of the finest regional orchestras in the country, and I believe we are well on our way to that goal.” 

The North State Symphony has concerts and events nearly year-round, with a short break in midsummer. Spring events include fundraising dinners and the popular Frugal House fundraiser in June that highlights interior design and decoration. The symphony performs in both Chico and Redding in February, March, and May.

After the summer heat cools, the symphony begins its North State season, accompanied by opening-night parties in September and other gala events. Redding, Red Bluff, and Chico then enjoy special holiday performances in December.

Community engagement is another key element of the symphony’s success. Along with an advisory board composed of Redding, Red Bluff, and Chico community leaders, there are also two volunteer fundraising groups—the Redding League and the Chico Guild.

Keith Herritt, the symphony’s executive director for nearly a decade, says, “It’s been my privilege to manage the North State Symphony for nine years. Working with folks in Chico and Redding to help the orchestra grow, I have been very impressed with the community spirit and resources in the North State. The orchestra has many positive elements helping it succeed. The music director is exceptional in many ways, the audiences are eager and supportive in both Redding and Chico, the musicians are motivated and talented, and the University provides NSS with a bedrock of practical support that is remarkable.”

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Maestro Kyle Wiley Pickett
Maestro Kyle Wiley Pickett