Meet the SoCal Philharmonic
The 2017-18 season marks the 15th year of existence for the Southern California Philharmonic. We invite you to learn more about the group's long history and join us as we move forward on a musical journey with the mission of bringing the great masterpieces and orchestral works the Orange County.
First Rehearsal of the Yorba Linda Orchestra Association (YLOA)
A group of musicians in Yorba Linda California search for a group to play with. Although initially unsuccessful, with perseverance and some help from the city the Yorba Linda Orchestra Association (YLOA) is formed with dreams of playing at the city's new performing arts center. Their first concert was on June 6, 2003, with Interim Conductor Larry Lowder at the helm.
Dr. Robert Frelly joins as the new Conductor and Music Director.
With changing priorities within the city, the new performing arts center stalls and financial support for the orchestra dwindles as the group approaches its fifth anniversary. However, new Conductor and Music Director Dr. Robert Frelly joins and the group continues to tour, including a trip to China.
The Yorba Linda Symphony becomes the Southern California Philharmonic (SCP or SoCalPhil)
Hoping to draw a wider audience from the entire Orange County area, the board votes to change the group's name from The Yorba Linda Symphony to the much broader "Southern California Philharmonic." Around this time, Dr. Frelly went on to persue other opportunities and the search for a new conductor begins.
Branden Muresan Named New Musical Director
After auditioning 5 potential candidates over a 18th-month period, the Board, following the recommendation of the orchestra, chooses Maestro Branden Muresan as the new Conductor and Music Director for the Southern California Philharmonic.
The SoCal Phil Forms New Alliances with CDM High and TACFA
SCP finds a new home at Corona Del Mar High School for rehearsals and concerts in exchange for mentoring high school students in the instrumental program and a new partnership is forged with the Tustin Area Council for the Fine Arts specifically in support of SCP's Young Artists Showcase.
The Southern California Philharmonic Celebrates its 15th Anniversary
Under the continued leadership of Music Director Branden Muresan, and after a long record of bringing the great classical works to the communities Orange County, CA the SoCal Phil celebrates its 15th year of existence.
Share in Our Story
The Southern California Philharmonic will celebrate its 15th year in the 2017-2018 season. The dedicated musicians that comprise the orchestra come from all walks of life and include individuals from many different generations. The tie that binds us is our love of music, and in particular, our desire to share this gift of music with family, friends, and members of the community, those we wish to call our friends in the future! Realizing that we are hitting a milestone, I've been trying to piece the history of the group together. Here's what I've come up with so far.
Back in 2002, a group of musicians from the Yorba Linda area was looking for an orchestral group to play in, but they were not having much luck. There were a few other orchestras in Orange County, but many groups were not looking for additional musicians at the time. In addition, there were rumors in the Yorba Linda community that the City planned to build a performing arts center. So these individuals decided to create a Yorba Linda based orchestra with dreams of a big move into a new performing arts center in the near future. The City encouraged the group and even kicked in a few bucks in the early years to help this new orchestra achieve their dream. Things moved quickly with the first rehearsal held in March of 2003, incorporation of the Yorba Linda Orchestra Association (YLOA) in May 2003 as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, and the first concert was performed on June 6, 2003 with Interim Conductor Larry Lowder at the helm. Shortly thereafter, John Burdett took over as the conductor.
Known in the early years as the Yorba Linda Symphony, several concerts were performed each season at a variety of venues in the Yorba Linda area depending on availability and price. Musicians are community members who rehearse weekly during the regular season (September to June) and perform up to five concerts each season. While many music professionals can be found among the musicians in the group, there are only two compensated positions in the group, a conductor and the concert master. The board of directors and all of the other musicians support the group generously with time and donations to make each season possible.
With the passage of time, changes occur, and priorities at the city of Yorba Linda no doubt changed in those early years. Although there was still talk of a performing arts center, that project did not seem to be moving along as the orchestra neared their fifth anniversary. In 2007, Dr. Robert Frelly joined the Yorba Linda Symphony as the new Conductor and Music Director. Around the same time, as it goes with local governments, budget priorities shifted and the City was no longer contributing to the orchestra. Operating expenses were supported through ticket sales and donations from musicians in the group, their family and friends. During the first ten years of its existence, other musicians joined the original group, expanding the make-up of the group to include musicians from other areas of Orange County. Concerts continued to be held at a number of different locations in the northern area of the county.
Probably the most notable accomplishment of the orchestra during the period it was directly by Dr. Frelly, was the trip to China! I'm sorry to say I missed this trip, joining the group maybe six months after their return, but eye witness accounts have told me that it was a great tour, jam-packed with both wonderful performances and sightseeing opportunities including a trip to the Great Wall!
In 2009, the Board decided to change the operating name of the orchestra to one that did not tie the organization specifically to the Yorba Linda area and might draw a wider audience from Orange county, and so, the Southern California Philharmonic (SCP or SoCalPhil) was born! Shortly thereafter, Dr. Frelly moved on to other opportunities and the search for a new conductor began.
To help the Board select a conductor that would support the SCP goals and mission, over an 18 month period of time, the SoCalPhil auditioned five potential conductor candidates. Each conductor prepared the orchestra for one of the regularly scheduled concerts, taking us through the cycle from the first rehearsal through the performance. The musicians rated each conductor after each concert, providing feedback and impressions. A focus group made up of principal players and those musicians who had performed in all five of the concerts, convened to review the survey results and discuss their experiences with each of the candidates. After the focus group discussion, the group recommended that the Board interview two of the candidates and select our next music director/conductor after those interviews were held. As a result, Branden Muresan was asked to join the SoCalPhil in 2013.
If you haven't had a chance to see the SCP perform, you are in for a real treat! In addition to working with us to prepare a great repertoire each season, Maestro Muresan also draws the audience in, setting the stage, so to speak, frequently telling the tale of the piece and composer to provide the context for the music. An accomplished musician himself with an ear that doesn't miss a thing, we have also learned that our Maestro is many things – teacher, cheerleader, parent, counselor, student, friend – and the list goes on. Most importantly, he believes that each concert is a gift that we, as musicians, can only enjoy by sharing it with those who come to listen.
During the next season, SCP was able to find more of a "home." For the next two seasons, most of our performances were held at Orange Lutheran High School (OLHS) in the Nechita Performing Arts Center. Our patrons enjoyed having performances in the same theater during this period with a few exceptions as school events sometimes required alternate arrangements. In trying to nail down performance dates for our third year at OLHS, conflicts with planned school events could not be resolved, and it became evident that we would need to find a different venue. In addition, rehearsal space had become difficult to find. What to do?
As rehearsals for the 2016-2017 season began, lots of ideas were considered and some discarded because of budget impacts. Understanding our needs and our constraints, Maestro Muresan began to tap into his network. After discussions with friend Val Jamora, a long-time colleague and Music Director at Corona del Mar High School, a partnership between CdMHS and SCP was formed. Not only do we have a wonderful new theater in which to perform, SCP also has a new rehearsal spot. We couldn't be more fortunate!
The 2016-2017 season was also the first year that SCP's Young Artists Showcase, which was held in March, was sponsored by the Tustin Area Fine Arts Council (TACFA). The Young Artists Showcase features soloists from ages 3 to 24 who compete to perform with the SoCalPhil. Auditions are held in early November for the March concert date. Learning about the SCP mission and the Young Artists Showcase and that this Concert fell in line with TACFA's mission to encourage and support the study of fine arts among students, TACFA was enthusiastic about sponsoring the event. Through the TACFA network, news about SCP's Young Artists competition and Showcase was shared. SCP had a record 15 applicants at the 2016 audition. Five soloists were selected in three age groups, a pianist from the Protégé group, ages 3 to 12; a pianist and a soprano from the Artiste group, ages 13 to 17; and a flutist and soprano from the Virtuoso group, ages 18 to 24. Both of the Virtuoso winners are students at Sothern California universities destined for performance careers!
There is no time like the present to put the SoCalPhil 2017-2018 season concerts dates on your calendar! Enjoy the classics, meet the next generation of musicians, enjoy holiday favorites – there is something for everyone in our repertoire! Won't you join us for our 15th year together – plan now to be part of the celebration and make the musical journey with us!
Beth McCormick - President