Santa Maria Philharmonic Society

Santa Maria Philharmonic Society

PO Box 375, Santa Maria, CA 93456-0375
(805) 925 0412   |  info@santamariaphilharmonic.org

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Meet The Symphony

Maestro Michael Nowak

Mike Nowak pic

Michael Nowak began his music studies in the Rhode Island public school system, where he learned violin, clarinet and tuba. His interest in composition and conducting led him to Indiana University, where he met and became a student of the legendary violist, William Primrose, who inspired him to devote himself to the viola. Nowak has served as Assistant Conductor and violist with the Dallas Symphony, conductor of the Young Musicians Foundation Début Orchestra and the Monterey Chamber Orchestra, and has appeared in guest conducting engagements with the Oregon Mozart Players, the Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and the University of Southern California Chamber Orchestra. As a violist, he was a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with Sir Neville Marriner until 1980. He made his début as a conductor at Carnegie Hall in April 2001 with the San Luis Obispo Symphony.

Mr. Nowak is currently the Director of the newly formed Novo Orchestra in San Luis Obispo County and Music Director of the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society. Maestro Nowak is active as a recording musician and conductor in the motion picture industry. Among the many notable films conducted by Michael Nowak are Academy Award winning Life of Pi, King Kong, Under the Tuscan Sun, Bobby, American Gangster, Disney’s Bedtime Stories and The Kite Runner.  He currently conducts the highly popular ABC show, Once Upon A Time.


Sharon-Cooper2Sharon Cooper, Concertmistress

When Sharon Cooper is not busily involved choreographing bow strokes, or working with Maestro Nowak, her fellow musicians and industrious board members, she is an active freelance violinist throughout central and southern California. Her love affair with the violin began when she was 5 years old and saw her mother, an accomplished pianist, rehearsing with a violinist. She began learning violin shortly thereafter, studied chamber music at San Francisco Conservatory, and holds a BA degree in Music from Stanford University. Her coaches have included Kathleen Lenski, Russell Cantor, David Abel and Jenny Rudin.

Sharon has performed throughout California, Europe and Australia in many recitals, chamber ensembles, and orchestras. She has been featured soloist with numerous orchestras.

In addition to her position in Santa Maria, she is regularly concertmistress of Cabrillo Music Theatre (Thousand Oaks), and the Moorpark Symphony. Sharon can frequently be heard on the soundtrack of Fox TV’s animated features as well as other TV, movie, and diverse musical recordings. 

She lives on the central coast in Ventura with her husband Bob and 2 cats.