38 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY April 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com MUSIC Music Director and Conductor Jayce Ogren is used to black-tie. On March 16, however, he greeted an audience at the Sunset Center and realized about half of the crowd was dressed in glitzy sequins. The sparkly-clad concertgoers mixed with some in formal wear, the former probably still sweaty from dancing to the Bee Gees. That’s right—disco. They had just come from a pre-party in Studio 105 in the Sunset Center, celebrating women-owned businesses with a disco DJ. Pairing a disco pre-party with the elegance of the symphony is one of the many ideas that Monterey Symphony President and CEO Nicola Reilly hatched for the now 6-year-old annual event, Women’s Night Out. But Reilly’s ideas don’t stop there. She’s celebrating seven years as the administrative head of the organization. When she arrived, the nonprofit lacked press, money and partnerships. While turning that around, she also kept the ship afloat during the pandemic with continued innovations, like the Carmel balcony sessions to keep musicians performing. All of it took hard work of community engagement to make the Symphony what it is today: Financially stable, full of vibrant concert series and, simply put, cool to experience. “Engagement needs to work both ways—it needs to be a conversation, a handshake,” Reilly says. One of the ways that she’s enshrined that engagement is in the Symphony’s “Love Letter” series, which Reilly and her team launched as a thank you from the organization to the community. “We felt that throughout Covid, the love we received from Carmel was really important for us to reciprocate,” Reilly explains. The “Love Letter” series will hold its fourth iteration this year, called “Love Letter to Hollywood (Volume 2)” featuring a playlist of iconic themes from classic and modern films. “It’s just stuff you want to hear,” Reilly says, “like you want to sit at Forest Theater, have a glass of wine and hear a full symphony orchestra play the opening to Jurassic Park and imagine being eaten.” Reilly admits that the challenges that have faced her team are not unique among arts organizations. But the keystone to her is seeing creativity as the economic driver—echoing the intent behind pieces you’d hear. “We are not afraid of change and we are not afraid of evolution,” she says. DANIEL DREIFUSS Conducting Change Monterey Symphony’s Nicola Reilly goes beyond formal orchestral concerts with fun events celebrating community. By Sloan Campi Nicola Reilly is classically trained as a violinist and has been running the nonprofit Monterey Symphony since 2016. CAN YOU SOLVE THE MYSTERY BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT? Follow the rabbit. Rob the bank. Travel through time to save the world....and many more. A 60 minute adventure, 9 rooms to choose from each with a different theme. Great for birthdays or special events. Kid friendly. All locations surrounded by great local restaurants. 3 MONTEREY LOCATIONS 765 Wave St, Ste A2 • 599 Lighthouse Ave and Oscar’s Playground 685 Cannery Row (Third Floor) 831.241.6616 BOOK TODAY! Escaperoom831.com Oscar’s Playground Voted Monterey County’s Best New Business ’23 831-625-8106 • carmel plaza • ocean & junipero • khakisofcarmel.com TRUNK SHOW this weekend sat-sun (april 5-6) featuring stylist: Michael Sestak exclusively at Khakis exclusively at Khakis made in italy