In addition to serving as concertmaster for the Susanville Symphony, Carol Fontana is the director and instructor for both the Susanville Youth Orchestra and the Academy of Music.
“The music academy and the youth orchestra are exciting parts of our organization and provide more ways for the community to get involved,” Fontana says. “Our audience and patrons are already an integral part of the Susanville Symphony. The music academy adds to that by giving young musicians and young at heart musicians the chance to begin an instrument or pick up an instrument they might have set aside years ago. They can move from academy lessons to the Youth Orchestra and eventually into a chair in the Susanville Symphony.” Fontana has been deeply involved in the Lassen County music community since she arrived in 1981 to become the first music program coordinator for the Lassen County Office of Education. She taught classroom music and band in seven schools ranging from Ravendale’s one-room schoolhouse to larger schools in the Honey Lake Valley. She currently teaches music at Long Valley Charter School in Doyle and is a private teacher for their Susanville site as well.
She founded and directed the "Roop Street Strings", a Susanville student orchestra, before enthusiastically joining the Susanville Symphony as it grew from a Lassen College class. Fontana’s passion for music and teaching runs deep. She grew up in a musical household in Delaware, where her mother taught piano and performed in community and church productions. She played in the Wilmington Music School orchestra and won a chair in the all state orchestra during her junior and senior high school years.
She performed in the Shasta Symphony at Shasta College and the Chico Symphony at California State University, Chico, (prior to the formation of the North State Symphony) and in the Tulare County Symphony while teaching public school music in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
“Seeing the joy that music brings to people just fills my heart,” Fontana says. “I feel it when a seven-year-old first plays through ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ and when a retired mom takes up an instrument for the first time and ends up performing with the Youth Orchestra. I am thrilled to see my former students and those of other county music instructors take their chairs in the symphony and rise to the challenge of performing increasingly difficult music. These students are so justifiably proud, and I am honored to have been a part of their accomplishment.
“There is a thrill in performing music with others that is like nothing else, and the support of our audience is overwhelming,” she continues. “It is with great pride that I perform with and represent our Susanville Symphony. They are an amazing group of musicians. I want everyone to experience the special joy that our musicians, audience and students have built together.”