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About the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony

Launched in 2008, Bay Area Rainbow Symphony™ (BARS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identified (LGBTQ) musicians and composers toward the goal of broad crossover appeal and excellence in the performing arts. BARS is synonymous with excellence and distinction in the performing arts and community building.

Artistic Excellence | BARS’ artistic endeavors ensure its place as an influential force in shaping the next generation of LGBTQ artists and classical enthusiasts and their ability to change perceptions of LGBTQ people. Our dynamic and eclectic programming reflects the LGBTQ community’s passion for entertaining and relevant music.

Community | The power of our mission lies in the power of possibility and community… our goal is to inspire our members to excel and achieve their artistic goals with confidence, pride and creativity. Our LGBTQ Composer & Performing Artist series educates a broad community and provides access to queer-themed and queer-made programming while strengthening the core of the LGBTQ community and building bridges to the mainstream.

Visibility | BARS is more than classical performance; it’s a movement for confidence, visibility and the tenacity to overcome the stigma that LGBTQ arts lack broad appeal. By creating an artistic community striving for both inclusivity and artistic excellence, BARS is becoming an intersection for LGBTQ artists to connect with each other and a wide-range of audiences.

Confident. Classic. Beautiful. This is BARS.

Our Leaders and Directors

BARS Directors

DAWN HARMS | Music Director
Dawn Harms’ very diverse career ranges from being a chamber musician, violin soloist, concertmaster, and conductor.  Dawn is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Associate Concertmaster for the New Century Chamber Orchestra and Co-Concertmaster with the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

She also is the Music Director and conductor of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. She also records regularly at Skywalker Ranch Studios on sound tracks for movies and video games.

Ms. Harms was chosen as a Fellow at the exclusive American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. Her guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, the Livermore Amador Symphony, Symphony Parnassus, Fremont Symphony,  Grass Valley Summer Music Festival, and with the San Francisco opera orchestra.  She was also invited to conduct the extra shorts on the film ratatouille, which are found exclusively on the DVD.

Dawn has performed chamber music with Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. Frederica Von Stade, Eugenia Zukerman and Lynn Harrell. She has premiered works with and by by Jake Heggie, and has been featured on many of his recordings. She won grand prize at the Fischoff chamber music competition as the first violins of the Harrington string quartet.

A strong advocate for Music education, she was music director and conductor of the Amarillo Youth Orchestra.  She designs and performs her own family show throughout the United States, New Zealand, and Japan.  Dawn has performed her one-woman family show with the Lincoln Symphony in Nebraska, the Oakland Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, and the Bear Valley Music Festival.   
She conducts the prep dept string orchestra, at the San Francisco conservatory of music.
She also teaches at Stanford University.

KYLE BALDWIN | Assistant Conductor
Kyle Baldwin is an in-demand conductor and percussionist in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to Assistant Conductor for the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, he serves as Director of the San Bruno School District’s after-school beginning band and orchestra music programs. In these positions, Kyle is dedicated to building community and promoting excellence.

Kyle strives to work with living composers and has worked with distinguished composers such as Libby Larsen, Samuel Jones, Victoria Bond, and Avner Dorman. Kyle conducted the music of Dennis Tobenski with Tobenski singing and played percussion in the West coast premiere of Tobenski’s piece Only Air. Kyle also assisted in preparing the world premieres of Andrew Lippa’s I Am Harvey Milk and June Bonacich’s Concerto for String Trio written for the Little Stars Trio.

RICHARD HORAN | Executive Director
Richard has worked many years in the non-profit field, currently with the Jenifer Altman Foundation. A former software programmer/analyst who moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia, he has performed with multiple symphonic, operatic and chamber music groups, including principal violist with the University of Pennsylvania Symphony, the New York Chamber Opera Orchestra, NYU Symphony, Washington Square Chamber Ensemble and the Carnegie Symphony Orchestra. Although Richard grew up in Pittsburgh, PA he has spent most of his life in New York City, earning a music business degree at NYU and studying computer programming at Columbia. Richard was Board Secretary for the Brooklyn Symphony and studied viola with Toby Appel.

Board of Directors

Hans Brightbill Ph.D. is a research scientist at Genentech studying the molecular mechanisms underlying inflammatory disease. Hans joined BARS in 2008 and has served on the Board and as co-principal cello in the orchestra. Along with degrees in Biological Sciences (B.S., UC Irvine) and Immunology (Ph.D., UCLA), Hans earned a degree in cello performance (B.M.) and has continued to play throughout his life. In addition to BARS, Hans is principal cello of two other Bay Area community orchestras. In the past few years, Hans was the featured soloist for performances of Bloch’s Schelomo and in June toured Costa Rica with the Sonoma County Philharmonic performing the Elgar Cello Concerto. Hans lives in San Francisco with his husband Anthony.

GENE NAKAJIMA | Vice President
Gene is a psychiatrist at the Center for Special Problems in San Francisco. He attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Ignatius Gennusa at the Peabody Conservatory.

Currently a risk management professional working in analytics at Wells Fargo Bank, Jeannette has been a musician with BARS since June 2008, joining the violin section for the second performance set.  She started playing the violin when she was 12 years old and returned to the violin after a long hiatus during which she worked as a research scientist at Genentech, raised three children, earned her MBA in Finance, and found no time to practice.  Jeannette lives in Pacifica with her husband Tom.


IAN HARWOOD | Director
Currently the Associate Executive Director of Berkeley Symphony, Ian Harwood was the founding Executive Director of BARS and has since held positions with the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Tucson Symphony Orchestras and the Aspen Music Festival and School. At these institutions, Ian has been involved in concert and event operations and production, recording and digital media, labor negotiations, marketing, fundraising, and strategic planning. Mr. Harwood studied Biochemistry and Music at the University of Rochester and Eastman School, and earned his PhD in Biophysics at UCSF. He was named a Orchestra Management Fellow of the League of American Orchestras in 2011, and has lectured at Roosevelt University (Chicago) and the Lubar School of Business (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee).

ANDY JIH | Director
Andy is a product manager at Stripe, a technology company in San Francisco building software for businesses. He grew up in Virginia in the D.C. metro area where he started playing the violin when he was 8 years old. Andy first joined BARS as a member in 2013, and he has been serving on the Board since 2017. Andy lives in San Francisco with his husband Kristopher.

Sam Tepperman-Gelfant is an attorney with Public Advocates, a nonprofit civil rights organization working for racial and economic justice throughout California.  A native of Oakland, Sam has played cello since he was 8 years old.  He has performed with numerous groups, including the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, the California Shakespeare Festival, and the Broadway Bach Ensemble.  He lives in San Francisco with his husband. 



Our History

BARS continues to redefine the orchestra experience for audiences and members alike though music’s potential for education and personal enrichment.

  • October 21, 2007 5 Bay Area musicians meet to form a new type of LGBTQ ensemble: “We are happy with ‘Bay Area Rainbow Symphony’ as an organization name.”

  • March 5, 2008 First rehearsal at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. 27 musicians attend.

  • June 8, 2008 Premier concert, part of the Old First Concerts series. Despite having only 8 violins, 3 violas, 5 cellos, and 2 double bases in an ensemble of 39, over 200 audience members attend.

  • June 16, 2008 Rehearsals begin for second concert. Over 60 musicians attend.

  • September 6, 2008 First LGBTQ orchestra elected into the Lesbian and Gay Band Association.

  • September 13, 2008 First performance at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Concert sells out.

  • January 2009 Received 501(c)3 non-profit status. BARS musicians march in the first LGBTQ contingent of the presidential inauguration parade with the Lesbian and Gay Band Association.

  • June 2009 Daniel Canosa takes the baton as first Artistic Director.

  • November 2009 Drum Drive fundraising campaign launched for acquisition of timpani and other percussion equipment.

  • March 2010 BARS first collaboration with San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

  • March 2011 In just 1.5 years, BARS raises funds and purchases timpani. Jessica Bejarano is named BARS first assistant condcutor.

  • April 2011 Founder and Executive Director Ian Harwood is named a League of American Orchestras Management Fellow.

  • May 2011 BARS introduces Lauren Brown as it’s first Front of House Manager.

  • December 2011 Richard Horan, BARS’s President, becomes Executive Director.

  • June 2012 BARS announces a Guest Conductor season where four finalist candidates audition to be BARS next Music Director.

  • August 2012 Dawn Harms is appointed Music Director of BARS.

  • December 2012 BARS makes it debut at Davies Symphony Hall in collaboration with the SF Gay Men’s Chorus.

  • June 2013 BARS collaborates with the SF Gay Men’s Chorus in the world premier of Andrew Lippa’s I Am Harvey Milk at the Nourse Theater.

  • November 2014 Renown conductor Michael Morgan makes his first guest conducting appearance with BARS.

  • June 2015 BARS performs its first all-female composer concert featuring internationally acclaimed soloist Sara Davis Buechner.

  • April 2016 BARS performs “Tales of Our City” at Davies Symphony Hall with SF Gay Men’s Chorus and Armistead Maupin.

  • June 2016 BARS performs a free benefit concert at the SF Conservatory of Music in Memory of the Orlando Victims

  • November 2016 Alasdair Neale makes his first guest conducting appearance with BARS.

  • March 2017 BARS makes its debut at Herbst Theatre with the world’s most famous double bass soloist, Gary Karr.