New Group Plays Classic Tunes

Local Ron Harris leads a new chamber group performing at Soka University on Feb. 10.
Local Ron Harris leads a new chamber group performing at Soka University on Feb. 10.

By Roberta Carasso, Special to the Independent

A new musical organization tuning up in Orange County will hold its second concert in its inaugural season next month in one of the county’s newest performing spaces.

Laguna Beach resident Ronald Harris, continuing in his 12th year as one of the original members of Laguna Music Festival board, now also leads the newly established Chamber Music of OC (CMOC). Harris, a lawyer who trained as a classical pianist, serves as the organization’s chair, tirelessly adding another accomplishment to a long list of volunteer involvement.

The new chamber group is the brainchild of pianist Kevin Loucks, 31, and his wife, violinist Iryna Krechkovsky, 30. It began about seven years ago when Harris, his wife Ellen and family hosted young Loucks, who was performing as part of the Laguna Music Festival. The visit blossomed into a close friendship as Loucks went from Juilliard to receive a doctorate at New York’s Stony Brook University, married Iryna, initially settled in New York but recently relocated to Orange County. In the Harris’s home seeds were planted for CMOC. Despite the growth of musical performances in the community, all three musicians recognized that something was still needed: ensemble playing.

Ensemble music is more intimate, the performing of duets, trios, and quartets, requiring fewer musicians. In an ensemble format, CMOC would be lean enough to bring music more easily to a broader audience of concert goers, and to those in schools and hospitals, who do not have access to concert halls. The founders made the dream come true by forming Trio Celeste, a branch of CMOC, along with a third musician, cellist Ross Gasworth.

With the annual Laguna Beach Music Festival, emergence of the Dana Point Symphony and South Coast Symphony, clearly the swell of music demonstrates that there is an audience for chamber music outside of Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center concert halls.

In addition, Lucinda Prewitt, president of music presenter Laguna Beach Live!, states that a music series, “should be an opportunity for musicians and audience to explore, to stretch…a go ahead and try it sense.” Certainly, CMOC embodies these goals and more.

Currently, the Loucks are the artistic directors of Irvine-based CMOC, ensemble players and artists-in-residence at UC Irvine. They give master classes and provide opportunities to other musicians who perform with them. With youthful vitality, the ensemble plans a variety of concerts in beautiful venues. Talented and up-and-coming instrumentalists and world-class musicians are featured.

On Monday, Feb. 10, Eugene Drucker, master violinist and founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, will perform with the ensemble at Aliso Viejo’s Soka University. CMOC’s first performance last November took place at Chapman University.

On Friday, May 23, for the third concert, musicians will include British cellist Colin Carr, a faculty member of Stony Brook University, pianist Julian Martin, on Juilliard’s faculty, and Krechkovsky. The venue has yet to be set.

This will be followed by OC Rising Stars at Yorba Linda’s Nixon Library on June 22. Harris envisions replenishing future music programs with diverse and talented ensembles that he hopes will attract audiences.

CMOC not only performs, it has developed a mission statement that includes teaching and free programs at hospitals, senior centers and nursing homes. The group finds time in its busy schedule to play for school children as well.

Lastly, having experienced CMOC performances in concert halls, schools and hospitals, Harris, pleased with what has developed, concludes: “I like to think of music as nourishment for the soul, bypassing all temporal and cultural barriers, and I find it beautifully poignant that we can be similarly moved by the very same music heard by generations long gone.  The CMOC musicians are part of that continuum.”

For further information Or call: 949-679-0065.

Tickets can be purchased for the Soka Performing Arts concerts at: Or call: 949-480-4278


Roberta Carasso is a freelance arts writer. Contact her at [email protected].


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