The Orange Coast College Symphony will have a new conductor at the helm as the College prepares for a phased return to campus in Fall 2021. OCC has hired Dr. Mathew Ward to lead its prestigious community performing group, which has been part of the Costa Mesa campus for 60 years.
Dr. Ward is a Southern California native who earned degrees in violin and conducting from the Longy School of Music in Boston and Louisiana State University. He has previously performed as a violinist with organizations such as the Boston Civic Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic and the San Diego City Ballet Symphony. In 2010 he toured with La Primavera Symphony throughout Italy as concertmaster, and participated in the Australian International Music Festival, where the orchestra was awarded a silver medal for a performance in the Sydney Opera House.
Dr. Ward will concurrently serve as the director of the Symphonia and Strings Program at the California School of the Arts, and interim music director for Saddleback College’s orchestra in Spring 2022.
“We recognized immediately that Dr. Ward would be a kindred spirit who shared our passion for community music-making, and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the OCC Music family,” says OCC Director of Choral Activities Eliza Rubenstein.
Orange Coast College’s Symphony is composed of students, community members, and professional musicians who typically perform between four and six times per year. The Symphony paused in-person performances due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, but has continued to perform in a virtual format, offering its first concert online during the 2020-2021 academic year. The OCC Symphony plans to resume in-person rehearsals and performances for the 2021-2022 school year.
“As a young musician, the community colleges in Southern California served as a springboard for my professional trajectory that was unbeknownst to me at the time,” says Dr. Ward. “It is particularly meaningful to join the accomplished faculty at OCC who continue to nourish the arts in our community.”
Currently, the OCC Symphony is seeking instrumentalists of all ages to audition for its upcoming 60th season. “Students — no matter their major — and community members with instrumental experience are encouraged to join the OCC Symphony, which rehearses on Tuesday evenings,” says Rubenstein.
Musicians who are interested in auditioning can find more info on the OCC Music department’s website.