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Behind ECHO

Sam Ersan: A Patron of the Arts

In the early 1960s, while The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were competing for the hearts and minds of teenagers everywhere, Sam Ersan was bugging his parents for money to attend classical music concerts. Today, Mr. Ersan sees all the performances he wants, attending more than 170 concerts a year, from the Bay Area to San Diego County, where he now lives.

He doesn’t just listen to music. He is a major benefactor who has helped transform the chamber music landscape in San Diego County. In addition to supporting several classical music organizations – including the Pacific Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the La Jolla Music Society, the Philharmonic Society, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Art Power, and Mainly Mozart – Ersan founded two musical groups: The Camera Lucida piano quartet in 2008, and the Myriad Trio (flute, harp and viola) also in 2008.

And now he is embarking on a new venture: the ECHO Chamber Music Series at Cuyamaca College. Mr. Ersan has booked internationally acclaimed artists to perform right here in our theatre for less than the price of a standard movie ticket!

“Classical music vibrates me to a higher state of consciousness,” saidMr. Ersan, who also financially backs the Meccore String Quartet, theModigliani String Quartet, the Smetana Trio, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, along with several individual musicians including Augustin Hadelich and Conrad Tao. “I like to feast from the music buffet all the time; we are fortunate to have a massive buffet of inspiring works from Monteverdi to John Adams.”

The founder and CEO of Spectrum Detention Services, Mr. Ersan was born to diplomat parents and grew up in Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Geneva. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering and worked as a hydrogeologist before moving to the United States in 1979 for graduate studies. But classical music is his true love.

“During the past 15 years, classical music has become the major activity in my life, surpassing even the time I spend managing my company,” said the Vice Chairman of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s Board of Directors.

The biggest perk of being a donor? It affords him an opportunity to meet the musicians he so admires. And he invests in the arts philanthropically with the hope of encouraging more people to listen to classical music. “I would like to emphasize the importance of arts, nature and music in our busy industrial lives,” says Mr. Ersan. “In order to be balanced and keep your spirits high, take nature hikes and attend concerts on an ongoing basis.”

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