Police have launched an investigation into the apparent theft of $500,000 from the Los Altos-based Peninsula Symphony of Northern California.

The sum represents nearly all of the 65-year-old nonprofit organization’s endowment and operating funds, spokesman Larry Kamer told The Daily News. A member of the symphony’s board of directors discovered the money was missing while following up on a recent overdraft notice.

“We don’t know how it happened,” Kamer said.

The financial loss was reported immediately to the Los Altos Police Department, Kamer said. Reached by phone, Sgt. Scott McCrossin confirmed that a criminal investigation is under way but declined to discuss the case at such an early stage.

Meanwhile, Steve Carlton, the symphony’s full-time executive director since 2010, has stepped down. Kamer would not comment on the resignation other than to say Carlton no longer represents the symphony.

Board members and musicians have rallied to raise roughly half the money needed to proceed, Kamer said.

“We are confident we can open this season, but we’re going to need help getting through it and to rebuild,” Kamer said.

In addition to paid performances, the 90-plus-member symphony annually provides more than 50 concerts to children at schools that lack music programs, as well as master classes to hundreds of high school musicians.

Mitchell Sardou Klein, the symphony’s music director, said he has been impressed with the outpouring of support from the community.

“All of us are renewed in our energy and enthusiasm in keeping this music alive,” Sardou Klein said.

I read it here. My heart goes out to all involved (aside from the thief).


  1. I used to play in Peninsula Symphony under Aaron Sten. This is so sad. This seems to be happening a lot lately with mismanagement (or thief in this case) of Symphony Orchestra funds. I hope they get it resolved but KUDOS to the musicians and board members for trying to keep the season a live.

  2. patti with an i

    Thanks for helping to spread the word, Patty. This is a huge obstacle, but the PSO is truly an orchestra of, by, and for its community, and the response thus far has been heartening. I really think we’ll find a way through this.

  3. I can post an entry next week if you’d like more attention on this, Patti. If you have anything you’d like to write, just say the word. Or write that word(s) ….

  4. I agree, Lisa. Sad. Pathetic. But hooray for the orchestra folk and board members and, I hope, locals who attend the concerts.