Dr. Greg Magie – Music Director

Dr. Magie is the founder of Symphony of the Vines, which began in 2010. After moving to the area, he recognized a need in north San Luis Obispo County for a professional  symphony and chamber orchestra. Today, Symphony of the Vines has the reputation for presenting artistically compelling and musically engaging performances.

A pianist and horn player, Dr. Magie discovered his true calling while in high school playing for the Herbert Blomstedt Conductor’s Institute. He went on to earn performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music, University of Redlands, and UCLA, and studied conducting with Jon Robertson, Marin Alsop, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier, Neil Varon, and choral conducting with Donald Neuen.

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Dr. Magie made his conducting debut with the Redlands Symphony in 1995 and was later appointed associate conductor. He has conducted the Rochester Philharmonic, Port Angeles Symphony, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Pasadena Lyric Opera, Arrowbear Music Camp Orchestra, and led the orchestras at Houghton College, San Francisco State University, Pomona College and Graceland University. Opera experience includes conducting productions with the Pasadena Lyric Opera, UCLA, Houghton College, San Francisco State and University of Redlands.

Dr. Magie was director of the Pasadena Lyric Opera Chorus, Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church Choir, and the Chancel Choir at First Presbyterian in SLO.

Michael Whitson – Executive Director

We are excited to announce that Michael Whitson is joining Symphony of the Vines as Executive Director. Michael has an extensive background as a performer, teacher and organizational manager.

He has shared the stage with the likes of Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Blake Shelton, Itzahk Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, as well as many other artists and groups. He is a regular studio musician, having performed on numerous movie scores such as “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Despicable Me”, and “LEGO Movie”. He has also recorded for many current television series such as “Empire”, “Once Upon a Time”, and “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”. Michael performs with local orchestras and ensembles, including the Los Angeles Opera.

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A passionate educator as well, Michael serves as the faculty violist at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, as a Los Angeles Philharmonic Teaching Artist, and he maintains his own private studio.

In addition, Michael is the founder and director of the Pacific Crest Music Festival in Dunsmuir, California. This festival is celebrating their seventh season this summer.

Growing up in the Bay Area, his first studies were with his parents who were also active performers and teachers. He was awarded a full scholarship to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Paul Hersh. He then completed his graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma where he was a member of the university’s graduate string quartet.

Along with his love for music, Michael is a passionate fly-fisherman, hiker, and sports fan.

Board of Directors


Ellen Greenman, President

Rich Ward, Secretary and Treasurer


Dr. Valerie Berg-Johansen
Student Spotlight and Educational Outreach Coordinator

James Brescia, ED. D., Superintendent
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education

Steve Peterson

Karen Willer


Robin Smith
Marketing Director and Social Media Manager

Hilary Clark
Off-the-Vines Chamber Season Coordinator
Student Spotlight Coordinator

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