The Sequoia Symphony Orchestra not only has a new name, but also a new executive director.

Joshua Banda, 29, is a Visalia native who can’t imagine a better job or one for which he is more suited.

Banda’s excitement for his new role, which he assumed in early January, was evident during an interview in a downtown Visalia cafe.

“This is a different challenge than what I have taken on before, but it is all the better because of the mission of the Sequoia Symphony,” he said. “I can invest in the community that means so much to me.”

That mission — promoting and fostering professional symphonic music in the area — dovetails with Banda’s own passion for the arts. He played saxophone for 16 years, rounding out his time as a member of the Redwood High School jazz band and marching/ symphonic bands. He also plays bass guitar on a weekly basis as a member of the worship team at Praise Center Church.

“The arts and music have been so important to my life, and I want to help make an impact in a community that I know and love,” Banda said. “It is much more rewarding than what I’m used to.”

Banda is referring to his more than 10 years in the retail sector, specifically as a manager with Target. He balanced a demanding corporate career with an equally demanding pace in college, graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management in three years from Fresno Pacific University. More recently, he held marketing and management positions with Buckman-Mitchell Insurance and FedEx Office in Visalia.

In his duties as executive director of the orchestra, Banda, who succeeds Juliette de Campos, will oversee the organization’s $600,000 annual budget, collaborate with music director Bruce Kiesling, and drive the group’s marketing and fundraising efforts.

“I have always been drawn to leadership roles,” he said. “I like the challenges and the responsibilities. I get a lot out of it.”

At the top of the list is continuing to expand the orchestra’s reach and reputation, the impetus behind the name change that took effect last year. Banda praised de Campos’ role in helping to re-brand the symphony with a name that reflects an entire region versus just Tulare County.

Banda said he was surprised to learn that some people were not aware of the symphony’s 58-year presence in the community. He intends to change that by promoting awareness of the many ways a symphonic orchestra leads to a higher quality of life for residents (such as attracting top professionals to the region). In addition, he will focus on luring new patrons with innovative ways to relate to and experience the music presented by the 80-member orchestra.

To that end, Banda called upon his fellow “Star Wars” enthusiasts from the 501st Legion to assist at the popular “Movie Night: The Music of John Williams” concert held Feb. 10. Composer John Williams is known for scoring music for many popular movies, the “Star Wars” trilogies among them. With a few phone calls, Banda ensured that guests handed their concert tickets to Storm Troopers and that they could mingle during a Red Carpet event with their favorite Star Wars characters. If he weren’t on duty as executive director that evening, Banda would have happily marched through the Fox Theatre wearing his hand-sewn Darth Vader costume, where he tops out as an imposing 6-foot, 7-inch menace.

“My main vision is to create newer, more engaging experiences for our audiences,” he said.

He applauded Kiesling, who has been at the podium for nine years. “We are very fortunate to have Bruce,” he said. “He is a champion of growing and expanding our orchestra, and reaching a new demographic.” Taking on the executive director role will also mean an overdue change of pace for the father of two young daughters, Eden and Genesis. He and wife, Danielle, have been married six years.

“After working retail for 10 years, I feel like I can do anything,” he said with a smile. Banda said he will continue to support another favorite nonprofit — Royal Family Kids Camp. The camp is a week-long experience for Tulare and Kings county children who are in the foster care system. He has been volunteering at the camp for nine years.

“Having worked with so many children over the years, it is easy to see how important music can be,” he said. “To be able to express art in any form gives the children an outlet to experience something that they don’t usually get to do.”

Two concerts remain in the 2017-18 season, dubbed “Gods and Heroes.” On March 10, guest pianist Joana Gonzalez will highlight a program, “Historias con Musica,” featuring Spanish and Mayan music, and the April 22 concert will feature a powerful combination of choirs taking part in Beethoven’s famous “Symphony No. 9.”

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