Wonder where the next generation of musicians and singers is coming from? Simple: Orange County School of the Arts, which kicked off its 33rd year with its fourth annual “Season Premiere” event.
An uplifting evening celebrating OCSA’s mission, the program is meant to equip aspiring young artists with the education, experience and confidence to go after their dreams.
More than 270 supporters of OCSA gathered at the Balboa Bay Resort on Sept. 7 to enjoy a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner and an impressive performance featuring actor, singer and OCSA alumnus Terron Brooks, along with 26 students from OCSA’s Popular Music Conservatory.
The high-energy, crowd-pleasing concert featured a slew of popular 1960s hits, delivered by a group of high school musicians that looked and sounded as professional as any you’d see in concert or on TV.
The sold-out event was made possible by Honorary Producer Carole Pickup of Balboa Bay Resort and executive producer, the Bushala family.
“It pleases me very much to watch all of the talented young people onstage doing what they love most and to see them encouraged by such an accomplished alumnus. Terron Brooks is an outstanding example for all of the students of what is possible,” said Pickup, who has underwritten OCSA’s Season Premiere for the past four years. “The Balboa Bay Resort and my family are looking forward to many more years in partnership with OCSA. There is no better place to put our treasures than in our young people.”
The evening began at 5:30 p.m. with the school’s performance ambassadors, MONTAGE!, playing an acoustic set while guests arrived for a cocktail reception. A choice of signature cocktails included a peach orange blossom bellini or bourbon basil berry lemonade. Tray-passed appetizers included devilled Vella Ranch eggs with smoked paprika and mousse, southern fried chicken oysters with spicy honey mustard, fried mac-and-cheese croquettes with Tillamook cheddar fondue, and ahi tuna tartar with avocado served in a sesame cone.
Dinner entertainment featured students from The Garn Family Jazz Studies Program, led by John Reynolds, who showed off their musical chops with tunes such as the classic “Take the A Train.”
Guests enjoyed a baby wedge salad, and slow-smoked beef brisket with tobacco fried onions and a peach tea-smoked Jidori chicken with roasted summer peaches served with mashed potatoes, simmered greens and smoky barbecue sauce. The meal concluded with a warm wild berry cobbler and vanilla bean whipped Chantilly cream.
Once the sun went down, accomplished actor, singer, songwriter and motivational speaker Brooks took the stage for a 1960s revue featuring Popular Music Conservatory students, led by conservatory director Rachel Kramer.
Brooks opened the show with “Get Ready” and “My Girl.” Three young women dressed in floor-length gold gowns sang “Keep Me Hangin’ On,” followed by Brooks and additional featured students performing “Hard to Handle,” “Just My Imagination,” “Respect” and other favorites. The performance concluded with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Among the many student musicians on stage were keyboard players Analiese Bancroft, 16, of Newport Beach, and Christian Somoya, 18, of Corona del Mar. After the performance, the students talked about the experience.
“Being on stage there is so much energy — I love making music and making people happy,” Somoya said.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Bancroft added. “Being on stage it’s like a family, and having the audience there makes it a bigger family.”
Despite the songs having been written decades ago, Somoya and Bancroft said they knew the material from hearing them on the radio and performing them in class.
In addition to playing music, Somoya amd Bancroft said that their OCSA education has opened them up to a variety of potential music careers, from audio engineer to music arranger.
“At OCSA we get a well-rounded look at music as a whole,” Somoya noted. “We have recording classes, arranging classes, performing. We learn what it’s like to work in the industry and the tools we need.”
“It really opens up your eyes to the different possibilities in the music world,” Bancroft agreed.
For more information, visit ocsarts.net.