Learn About Our Orchestra

Jahja Ling

Music Director

Jahja Ling has been the conductor of the orchestra since 2003.  He began his musical training at age four studying piano in Jakarta.  At age seventeen he won First Prize at the Jakarta Piano competition and was later awarded a Rockefeller grant to attend the Julliard School in New York City.  

After completing a master's degree at Julliard, he studied conducting at the Yale School of Music and received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree.  

As a pianist, Mr. Ling has won a bronze medal at the 1977 Arthur Rubinstein Competition and a certificate of honor at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition amongst other awards.  He made his Cleveland Orchestra debut as a pianist in 1987 and has appeared as both soloist and a conductor with a number of orchestras in the United states and internationally.  

Mr. Ling makes his home in San Diego with his wife, fellow pianist Jessie, and their young daughters Priscilla and Stephanie.   


Matthew Garbutt

Principal Pops Conductor

Mr. Garbutt has been Staff Conductor and Principal Summer Pops Conductor of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for more than 25 years.  He has conducted classical and pop artists alike.  

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Garbutt began his musical studies on the tuba at age ten and conducting at age 16.  He attended the Idyllwild School of Music and Arts, the Music Academy of the West, Cal State Northridge, and the California Institute for the Arts.  He also attended the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna and completed studies at Indiana University.  

When not on the podium, Mr. Garbutt also serves as Principal Tuba of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. 


Sameer Patel

Assistant Conductor

Sameer began his musical training as a pianist and received both his graduate and undergraduate degrees at the University of Michigan, where he studied conducting with Kenneth Kiesler. He has held prestigious conducting fellowships with the Boston Philharmonic and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Also an enthusiastic advocate for music education, Sameer has worked with school and youth orchestras in North America, South America, and Europe.