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Three Glorious Days in Brea

Conductor David Rentz gives the kids a lesson
with the baton.

By Staff writer, 2012-07-23
As you may know, Birch Street, in Brea, forms the most wonderful space for festivals and concerts, and now that the Downtown Association has purchased a huge new stage which hydraulically unwraps itself like a “Transformer”, the setting is just stunning.

All it needed was the Orange County Symphony, for two nights, and the Orange County Wind Symphony for the final night, a thousand chairs, all the bars and restaurants open, people crowded on the sidewalks with their own camping chairs and picnics, and you had the perfect recipe for the best open air concert you could imagine in any city environment. Did I mention it was also free?

This was the third year the Symphony had graced Birch Street, and there is no doubt the people of Brea have embraced them. Sunday night the orchestra rolled out music from the movies and under the skillful baton of conductor David Rentz thrilled the crowds with a range of numbers from The Magnificent Seven to Pirates of the Caribbean. Vocalist Ellen Rentz sang gorgeous hits from Judy Garland’s repertoire.

Monday night (July 15th) Broadway came to Brea. Who can fail to warm to the Sound of Music (especially after the children had an opportunity to meet with David Rentz, straw baton in hand, and have a fun conducting lesson from a master)? More Richard Rogers, some Wicked and then we met Scott Levin, opera singer from LA. Scott not only unveiled an incredible rendering of “If I were a Rich Man”, from Fiddler on the Roof but performed it with huge comedy and enthusiasm.

And after the intermission Ellen Rentz returned, this time with Riverside vocalist Christopher Marsh. Not having heard Ellen perform before I was delighted to see she not only has that very special vocal quality of a Broadway singer, but she is a considerable play actor and comedian. The pair of them were thoroughly entertaining and really delighted the 1000 plus crowd.

The symphony was certainly sumptuous. The way they were “mic-d” and amplified down the length of Birch Street allowed us to hear all the parts with remarkable clarity. The depth of the music, from the crystalline tones of flutes and piccolos to the sonorous horns and resounding timpani was very rich.

The final night gave opportunity for the Wind Band to shine. Guest Director Paul Sherman took the baton and after a slightly nervous start got completely into his stride. The OC Wind Symphony is just about as good as any such band you could care to listen to. And as they rolled out The Star Spangled Banner, 76 trombones (the music, that is) and selections from Showboat and Irvine Berlin the audience was once again basking in the sheer joy of such an experience.

The crowd settles down

Sure, people roamed the perimeter, kids left and returned with ice creams, folks chatted at the back. But that was all part of the total charm.

And the concert is ready to begin.

Major sponsors for the event were Target, and their volunteers were always on hand to help facilitate the crowds. Gary Hobday, the MC, is a total fan of the Symphony and reckons they could find a piece of land to give the Symphony a permanent home – in Brea! Sylvia Bianchi, Executive Director of the Brae Downtown Owners Association was a picture of delight in her booth, simply thrilled with the event.

One could not help but wonder if all these good concert lovers could be transported to the Anaheim Convention center to form the crowd for the much hoped for Pops in Anaheim. After all this is the ORANGE COUNTY Symphony!

On the last evening Executive Director Dorothy Rose talked with the crowd about the Gift of Music. Yes, music is a gift, and these wonderful musicians have that gift. But now they are giving that gift to you – free of charge.

Indeed the members of both ensembles are amazing because they really do give scores of hours, quite freely, to bring music to Orange County audiences. But it still costs huge amounts actually to BRING the music to people. This is only covered by normal ticket sales, donations and sponsorship.

In editorial our reckoning, it would be a great investment in the quality of music in the OC if a few more sponsors did step up to share the responsibility of keeping the music of the OCS alive, and free from worry.

The OCS would love you to visit their new website and explore the concert offerings through to the end of the year. Very soon the whole season will be posted. And here is an amazing deal: If you become a season subscriber for a mere $255 – you get to go to NINE concerts and take (get this amazing offer) THREE other people with you on each occasion. That is 36 concert seats over nine concerts. And each time to can have a party with your friends either before or after the concert. I can’t think of a better deal. It’s all on their website!



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