Founded in 1971, the Festival began modestly with three performances over a weekend. However, it grew rapidly to six, nine, then eleven concerts and by 1983 the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival presented 19 concerts. In its early days, the Festival featured primarily orchestral and choral music, but as it has evolved it offers an ever expanding range of programming, including early music, period instrument concerts, jazz, contemporary music, opera, chamber music, solo recitals, world music and much more.
Throughout its history, the Festival has attracted its share of luminaries, up-and-coming artists and exceptionally talented orchestral, choral, and studio musicians who come to participate in great music making and to enjoy the pleasures of the Central Coast. Music critic Greg Hettmansberger wrote, in the prestigious Performing Arts Magazine, that the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival offers a “stunning variety of venues” and “unique and provocative artists,” and that it is an “aesthetic extravaganza.”
The festival has been led by two artistic directors in its 40+ year history, Founder and Music Director Emeritus Clifton Swanson and Scott Yoo. In 2005, Clifton Swanson passed the baton to Scott Yoo, who has since led the Festival in exciting and bold directions, showcasing timeless music in spectacular spaces performed by accomplished musicians.
In 2008, the Festival adopted the name Festival Mozaic, to appeal to a broader demographic and to showcase the variety and breadth of musical experiences we present.