Diane Salisbury works to keep La Jolla Symphony & Chorus playing to packed houses
Diane Salisbury is in her fifth year as executive director of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, an affiliate of UCSD that performs six concert weekends a year on campus in Mandeville Auditorium. She assumed the post in 2006, but her history with LJS&C dates back to 1993 when she served as a board member and, in 1999-2000, as board president.
Besides being an avid music lover, she has a marketing background in both retail and corporate communications. She previously was owner of a retail store (Mex-Art Pottery & Home Accents) and traveled frequently to central Mexico, sourcing and importing the store’s artisan products. Prior to that she was a partner in Salisbury-Figueroa, a marketing communications firm.
What brought you to La Jolla?
I’m a 32-year resident of San Diego and have always enjoyed La Jolla. The views, the park, the restaurants … it’s a unique place. What brings me here mostly now is my position as executive director with La Jolla Symphony & Chorus.
What makes this area special to you?
I love that La Jolla is sophisticated yet still feels like a village. It’s a walkable town, and you almost always run into someone you know. I like the familiarity of businesses that have history in the community, too, like La Vie, Warwick’s, even places like The Spot and Alphonso’s.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you improve in the area?
I hope the community is able to maintain a balance between tradition and new. There are so many wonderful historical buildings. At the same time, there are many new businesses with little or no attachment to the community that have cropped up. It’s a tricky balancing act to keep a town vibrant but not lose its soul.
Who or what inspires you?
The people I work with inspire me. The musicians of LJS&C are incredibly talented volunteers who show up for rehearsals every Monday night after working their day jobs. That’s passion, and it’s what got me hooked on this organization in the first place. And it is inspiring to work with a visionary like Steven Schick.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
Only eight! There are so many people I’d love to have a conversation with over a good meal and glass of wine. But here is my guest list: Betty Friedan, Julia Child and her culinary co-conspirator Jacques Pepin (not only for the conversation, but perhaps a little help in the kitchen), Margaret Mead, what an extraordinary life she led, Howard Schultz (founder of Starbucks), and since we’re on a La Jolla theme, Ellen Browning Scripps, a visionary and successful business woman in her own right, plus Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky — one of the most influential people of the 20th century.
Tell us about what you are reading.
I usually alternate light fare with something more serious. You caught me in one of my deeper moments: “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright, about the rise of Islamic extremism.
What is your most-prized possession?
Our home. My husband and I live in South Mission Hills and wake up every morning to a wonderful view of downtown San Diego and the bay. I love being close to the city, with the cruise ships and airplanes coming and going, but still being in a neighborhood.
What do you do for fun?
When I have a chunk of time, I love to travel. Other lands and cultures have always held a fascination for me. I enjoy golfing, going to hear music and see theater, dining out, and entertaining friends at our home.
Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
I hope my greatest accomplishment is still out there! Something I’d like to accomplish is to gain for LJS&C the recognition it deserves. It’s been a “best-kept secret” for too long. And I want to make sure it has the financial resources to keep going for another 50 years.
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
Be fair, and keep an open mind. Embrace change. And never grow too old to play.
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