Santa Barbara Symphony Volunteer Receives ‘MVP’ Award at Annual Conference

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Mary Jane Cooper, a longtime Santa Barbara Symphony volunteer, was honored with a Most Valuable Player Award at a luncheon held today as part of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras’ (ACSO) annual conference in Los Angeles. Ms. Cooper was recognized for her outstanding efforts on behalf of the Music Van, the Santa Barbara Symphony’s award-winning outreach program for area children.  

“Mary Jane Cooper personifies all the admirable qualities we see in so many of our volunteers – dedication to our community’s youth, a genuine love of music, a warmly engaging personality, and a generosity of spirit. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award,” said Santa Barbara Symphony Executive Director Kevin A. Marvin.

“The ACSO MVP Award honors individuals who are instrumental to an organization’s success. The Santa Barbara Symphony Music Van would not be possible without Mary Jane’s unending efforts to schedule docents and otherwise tackle the program’s many complexities. We are grateful for her extraordinary work, and are very proud to have her as a member of our education team,” said Dr. Amy Williams, director of education and community engagement for the Santa Barbara Symphony.

In operation since 1978, the Santa Barbara Symphony Music Van visits third-grade classrooms in the greater Santa Barbara area between September and December, serving some 2,000 students in more than 40 schools each year. The mobile music classroom enables students to see, learn about, and play a full selection of orchestral instruments. The program is the recipient of a California Teachers Association Gold Award for Outstanding Support of Public Education and a Sally Parker Education Gold Award from the League of American Orchestras.

ACSO created its Most Valuable Player Awards in 1996 to recognize exemplary volunteers, volunteer projects, and volunteer organizations working for California’s symphony orchestras and choruses. A total of nine awards were presented at today’s ceremony, with honorees representing orchestras throughout the state.

The ACSO conference will run through Saturday at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel.

For more information on the Santa Barbara Symphony Music Van, visit

The Santa Barbara Symphony was founded in 1953 on the belief that a special city deserves a special orchestra. Consistently lauded for its unique ability to present brilliant concerts, engage the community, and deliver dynamic music education programs, the organization prizes both innovation and artistic excellence, and is widely recognized as one of the region’s premier cultural institutions. Its award-winning Music Education Center serves more than 8,000 students throughout Santa Barbara County each year. Charismatic Israeli conductor Nir Kabaretti was appointed music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in 2006. For additional information, visit

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