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OC in Unison - Stories


Jan Kovac, January, 2015

Composing a symphony for Orange County sounds like an unbelievable undertaking, but Narong Prangcharoen wrote a beautiful symphony in honor of Carl St.Clair, his mentor, and now he wants to compose for our county. The night his first symphony was performed the audience was receptive and maybe even surprised at the excellence of his composition. His music was pure and sweet and when I approached him at intermission in the hall he humbly thanked me as gratitude was expressed for his work.

When he announced he would produce a symphony called OC in Unison to honor Orange County I felt skeptical. How could one capture the OC in music? In order to do this he is asking for ideas to help with his inspiration. What makes Orange County home and what unites the people of Orange County are his two questions submitted to the public. Sharing how I feel about Orange County's Pacific Symphony then allows me the opportunity to offer my thoughts regarding our beautiful environment and what makes it special to live here.

As a new season subscriber I've enjoyed some wonderful performances. What I most appreciate is arriving early and observing the orchestra set up, tune their instruments and then watching Carl St.Clair bound on stage. I hold my breath as he greets the audience and then turns to the symphony and lifts his baton. Then with one stroke of his baton the orchestra and audience come alive and become one. I've been seated on the first row just beneath St.Clair and can feel the energy he exudes as he literary falls into the music with love and enthusiasm. Sitting in the box circle seats for the Itzhak Perlman performance allowed me to watch all the facial expressions of our famous conductor. When he delicately pulled the melody forth and held the notes to his heart my love of music was confirmed by another, a scholar of music.

I express the above thoughts in order for you to understand why I think Narong is devoted to his mentor, the orchestra and Orange County. The following ideas are my response to the questions posed to the public. On the surface the OC is fast paced and money oriented as buildings constantly appear out of nowhere. But I submit that Orange County is all about beauty, nature and feeling the harmony of living close to the mountains and near the sea. The first thing we told our relatives after moving here 42 years ago was that "the weather and everything is so perfect!" We saw avocado and orange groves everywhere and fields of strawberries and many vegetables growing. What an abundant life!

I often walked in one of our many regional parks and my very being felt at peace in nature. My children relished the freedom of sunny days and swimming in the ocean where each beach was more beautiful than the last. The protection of the fish and the birds from ocean to wetlands and bays are evident in the programs offered to educate the public. Because the mountains are so close in proximity, we found a small cabin to visit in the local mountains so we could experience the four seasons. I am so grateful for being able to have lived in the beautiful abundant OC. Even though on the surface it may look like a place where only the rich survive, that is not true. The peoples of this area take care of and feed their own as evidenced by the many outreach agencies. A generous, abundant land has produced the same kind of people who lovingly care for their own no matter who they are.

How can a composer take these ideas of beauty, abundance, generosity and find a note, a phrase and create a symphony? May you, Narong Prangcharoen, find many words of love and inspiration that assist you in creating beautiful music that the residents of Orange County will be delighted to call their symphony, OC in Unison. I love Orange County, even in the hustle and bustle and so appreciate the privilege of living here.


Dear Narong Prangcharoen:

When you ask the question, “What makes Orange County home?” I think immediately of the hummingbirds that grace our area year-round. On iridescent wings, they carry a certain magic. They possess a strength far exceeding their size. And nesting as they do—tucked into a sheltered citrus tree or perhaps a Ficus--they are messengers of “hope, that thing with feathers,” as Emily Dickenson famously wrote.

Humming BirdThis Anna’s Hummingbird, Hope, is the embodiment of Emily Dickinson’s poem. She was the delight of everyone who visited my blog and Facebook page last spring. I gained her trust; she, in turn, allowed me to photograph the unfolding miracle in my backyard. Hope incubated two Tic-Tac sized eggs, from hatch to fledge, sheltering them through rainstorms and shielding them from potential predators. What a joy it was, to watch her fledgling soar from the nest one sunny afternoon, just as our own children eventually do.

Warmest regards on completing your project. I’m so looking forward to seeing the many ways our cherished Orange County is depicted through this collaborative venture, and then ultimately represented by your symphony.


First, let me say what an awesome project this will be!

Calling OC home is such a blessing. While I am not an OC native, I've lived here since the age of two... and that is a long time ago, so I feel like a native! Here are some of my thoughts:

We can play on the beach and view snow covered mountains from our shores.

On a clear fall or winter day, watching the sun set over Catalina Island takes my breath away.

The rich history we enjoy (and sadly, take for granted) is vast and includes missions and adobe buildings.

The citrus industry sort of grew up here... that is, after all, where we get the name of our great County from!

I remember being able to smell the strawberry fields when traveling along the 5 freeway near Irvine... yes, we had fields then!

Going to the OC Fair as a kid was such a treat... we rode our bikes and stayed all day ... couldn't leave until we had a cinnamon roll from the vendor INSIDE the building... that's where the best ones are, we've taste tested and we know!

OC is very different now than even just 30 years ago... some days I long for the simpler days of playing outside until the street lights came on... riding bikes along the riverbed bike path to the beach, the dream of being able to be a homeowner in your home town (out of reach for so many today).

thanks for this little trip down memory lane :)

we all have so very much to be thankful for, don't we?!!!

Blessings,
Debra :)


the piece should exhibit the vibrancy shown by a community that has erected in a few decades a first class university, two magnificent music halls, a world class repertory theater as well as enticed major sports teams here… something other communities have never done or which have taken generations to accomplish

-edward miller


A rainbow of neighbors/friends/family

Memories worth treasuring in your heart for a lifetime Orange trees in your backyard layered with cypress trees and fireworks on top in the ninth hour Ocean waves calling and calming Fine arts and fine eats Orange Bounty, genesis of blessing

Jennifer Marvin



Picture your life in a straight line, not metaphorically but literally. Picture your life like a roller coaster going up and down. That is my life, a straight line, going up and down with a few twists in between. My name is Saul Lopez; I was born in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico. However, I was raised in Santa Ana Orange County, California. I would say the typical “My life has revolved around” but my life doesn’t revolve; my life is a straight line from Dyer Rd. and Grand Ave. in Santa Ana CA to Walnut Ave. and Glassell St. in the City of Orange. Grand Ave. and Glassell St. is the same street but with different names in different cities.

Like a lot of kids in Santa Ana, I attended Remington Elementary on Grand Ave. and First St. I remember walking with my friends to the local 7/11 on the corner to buy chips and slurpees. We would always be excied when “Red Ribbon Week” came along be cause we would get free small slurpees from 7/11. Things were so simple back then, sometimes I feel like we all wish to stay young and innocent forever. Good times, good times. I was only in Remington for kinder garden and 1st grade before I moved to Mexico for the next six years.

I came back when I was fourteen years old to finish my last year of elementary at Sierra Middle School, now known as Sierra preparatory Academy. Sierra is located on Grand Ave. in between 17th street and Santa Clara Ave. Even though I was only at Sierra for one year I managed to meet some really interesting people and some great teachers I still have the privilege of talking to this day.

After Sierra I promoted to Century High School also on Grand Ave. in between McFadden Ave. and Edinger Ave. I was in Century for all 4 years of high school; at the beginning of my junior year I moved from my house in Grand Ave. and 2nd St. My family has been living in this house for more than four decades. It’s a small little house with one bedroom, one bathroom, a small kitchen and a living room. It is the last house on the left hand side of 2nd street facing the east. There use to be a big empty lot in front of the house where my older, Jesus, smaller brothers, Eduardo, and I use to play baseball on the evenings. Now it is a business building guarded 24/7 by security guards. Anyway, I moved one block away into a bigger house with 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a huge front yard where my two little sisters, Daniela and Margarita can run around and play with their little puppies, brownie and cowie. This dream house is located on Grand Ave. and 3rd St. just a block away from our old house.

When I graduated from high school I began looking for a job. Lucky enough I found the perfect job as a receptionist at La Quinta Inn and Suites in Grand Ave. and Hotel Terrace Dr. This is the best job a young college student could ever have. My manager Nicole Jones is one of the most professional and understanding people I have ever met. She works with my schedule and offers me the best she can give. I am truly grateful for all her support and encouragement.

I was able to take a semester off; on February of 2015 it was time for me to return to school. I am now attending and living in Chapman University in the city of Orange on Glassell St. If you keep going north on Grand Ave. it will eventually turn into Glassell St. when you enter the city of Orange. It wasn’t until I moved to Chapman that I realized how my whole life happened in one street. I thought it was funny, but I’m glad because now I have the chance to share this with you.

I guess I haven’t talked about what exactly unites the people of Orange County. How does my straight-line life relate to this? Well let me tell you. The people and the experiences we share are what unite us as one people. We all share similar experiences, struggles, and adventures. In one way or another we are all connected weather it’s by a street, a friendship, or the life style of Orange County. As far as how my story relates, well I am not the only one who lives in a straight line. Many of the kids of Santa Ana have attended these schools just like me. Throughout my journey I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of these people. I share a similar story to them, not only did we attend the same schools but we walked the same streets day in and day out. We grew up together, we changed together. I have also seen and heard about a lot of families finding the perfect home for their family just like my family. A place where they can live, a place they can call home, and most importantly a place where the children can grow. We, the people of Orange County, share a life style, a way of life particular to just us. It may seem like my story is unusual, but it isn’t. I am just an ordinary man of Orange County.

-Saul Lopez


It was a joy meeting our Composer-in-Residence at the concert and I applaud the innovative and creative tool to unite our community.

I live in Laguna Woods Village and believe we, as residents, are a light in the retirement world seldom seen by the public. Too often, 'retirement' means left to live your remaining years in quiet withdrawal. Here you will see the minds and bodies of our seniors thriving and continuing their commitment to the community in so many different ways.

The creative arts are blossoming and those who enjoyed that expression in their earlier years are now growing with additional instruction thru the Saddleback College Emeritus programs here and the shared energy of their neighbors.

I invite you to visit our Clubhouses as they house sewing, potters & sculptors, jewelry making, drawing & painting, woodworking, photography, theatre/drama, writing, and so many other avenues of art. The talent of our residents, not only in the arts but in other arenas, explodes all around us.

Dormant, we are not! Lively and involved, we ARE! Come visit a senior facet of Orange County - be our welcomed guest.

-Bonnie Baller