Classically Trained: OCC Chamber Singers take New York

The times they are a-singin', especially in Newport-Mesa.

The Orange Coast College Chamber Singers returned this week from a trip to New York City. The group of 31 singers — comprised of voice, instrumental and composition majors, as well as nonmusic majors — performed with several other college choruses from places like New York, Michigan and Arkansas.

Playing in the big city is a big deal, but it's even bigger when you consider where they sang: Carnegie Hall.

"Carnegie Hall is everything it's reported to be: a cultural landmark and a truly outstanding hall, both aurally and visually," said Eliza Rubenstein, the college's choral director, in an email. "For a musician, performing there is a benchmark like almost none other, and our excitement at seeing our name on the marquee was eclipsed only by the experience of actually getting to make music in such a wonderful venue and for such an eager audience."

Singing helped the students online too, she said: "I think our Facebook 'friends' lists have all grown this past week."

Getting to the Eastern Seaboard required lots of fundraising, Rubenstein said, which included the help of donors and revenue from concert tickets.

Most of the students from the Costa Mesa campus had never been to NYC before. So when not rehearsing or performing, they were going to Broadway shows, a Yankee game, Central Park, the World Trade Center memorial, museums, cathedrals and jazz clubs, Rubenstein said.

Now that the students are back and on Pacific Standard Time again, there will be a "homecoming" concert at 8 p.m. Saturday in the campus' Robert B. Moore Theatre, 2701 Fairview Road.

The performance repertoire is Brahms' "Zigeunerlieder" ("Gypsy Songs"), a set of 11 pieces for chorus and piano. Janelle Tag will serve as the accompanist.

Also on the lineup is Mozart's "Regina Coeli" for chorus, soloists and orchestra — it will feature a quartet of OCC's voice students as soloists — and Vivaldi's "Gloria," which is one of the most popular pieces in choral repertoire, Rubenstein said.

The Mozart and the Vivaldi were the pieces the touring group sang in New York.

Joining OCC's Chamber Singers is the school's larger Chorale and a professional orchestra. Tickets are $10. Visit or call (714) 432-5880 for more information.

Also of note: During Saturday's concert, there will be an announcement of a grant that will allow the expansion of OCC's choral-vocal program immensely in the next year or two, Rubenstein said.

Rubenstein called the trip a culmination of a year's worth of hard work and several years' worth of "meteoric progress" for the department. She also thanked the OCC administration, faculty and music-loving community.

"And unless Frank Sinatra has lied to me, I understand that if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere," she added. "So it's an exciting time to be part of the OCC music department."


Pacific Chorale announces new education initiative

This week, the Pacific Chorale announced a new education program geared for high school music students.

Dubbed Choral Advantage, the week-long course from the Costa Mesa-based choir will take place Aug. 6 to 12. It's presented by Cal State Fullerton and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Participants will focus on music theory and vocal production, and sing in both large and small ensembles. The week culminates with a performance for family and friends at 11 a.m. Aug. 11 at the college campus.

Two CSUF music professors, Robert Istad (also assistant conductor of the Pacific Chorale) and Christopher Peterson, are leading the program. They'll also be assisted by professional singers and educators.

Eligible students for Choral Advantage are those entering 10th grade through those who have just completed 12th grade. Acceptance is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Registration is open now by visiting

For more information about Choral Advantage, contact Katherine Yang at or call (714) 662-2345.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at Follow him on Twitter @BradleyZint.

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