Board Members

Les Vielbig, Founder, 1934-2020

Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra (CHICO) members are proud to have committed board members who take an active role in helping to bring live performances to Ventura County. CHICO began as the brainchild of Les Vielbig, Henning Ottsen and KuanFen Liu in 2003.

Henning Ottsen

Henning Ottsen has guided CHICO from its earliest days to its present status as preeminent orchestra of Ventura County.  His focus has been to support the orchestra in its excellence of music making for present audiences and in its outreach to future audiences.  This focus reflects the mission of the orchestra as well as his commitment to supporting music in our community. Henning is happily nested in a musical family in Ventura with his wife, Linda, his children, Hans and Mollie, and grandchildren, Zoë, Shea and Faith.

Ted Lucas

Ted Lucas, President of the Board, is a founding administrator of Cal State Channel Islands and served as its first Provost from 2003 to 2008, after which he retired to devote more time to composing and performing. music. He received his Doctorate in Music from the University of Illinois and his M.A. and B.A. in music from San Diego State University. Ted studied composition for a year in Paris, France, with the renowned teacher Nadia Boulanger following receipt of his Master’s degree. His works have been performed in London, Paris, Berlin, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego and New York City, among others.

Laura Milhalka

Laura Mihalka, Treasurer, started piano lessons as the age of four and quickly moved on to cello. In high school, she studied with cello professor, Nils Oliver, at UCLA. She completed her degree in Sociology from UCSB in 1993 and spent the next two years touring with a rock band as their lead guitarist. She has been playing cello with Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra since 2010 and composes string arrangements for recording studios in Ventura County. Laura lives in Ventura with her husband Shayne and teenage daughters, Erin and Allison.

Nancy Sieh

Nancy Sieh, Secretary, joined the CHICO board of directors in 2014, after retiring from the practice of law. She served as Deputy District Attorney in Ventura, then in Santa Barbara County as Assistant District Attorney . She specialized in crimes against vulnerable victims, including spousal abuse, sexual assault and child abuse. Upon retiring, Nancy chose to return to her roots. From a musical Italian family,  she was introduced to opera and classical music in the home early in life and saw the joy it can bring.  Tales from the great operas were her bedtime stories.  Nancy heartily recommends that others join the CHICO family and enjoy a role in producing more concerts of all kinds. Nancy is grateful to her husband and family for their unflagging support.

Bruce Walker, Emeritus

Bruce Walker is a founding member and founding board member of CHICO and has been actively involved in Tri-County music since 1956.  Since the mid-1960’s he has been a research/consulting engineer by day and professional musician by night, playing oboe in Ventura County Symphony for 30 years, English horn in Santa Barbara Symphony for 24 years and oboe in CHICO for 16 years, retiring in July 2018.  He currently serves as CHICO’s Treasurer and as a consultant on aero-acoustics research to NASA.

Steve Perren

Steve Perren came to Opera later in life…a lot later!  He started as a tenor; he is now a baritone with bass aspirations.  Singing chorus in Boheme’s street scene with OSB was transporting; how about the Triumphant March from Aida?  Brindisi from Traviata?  The passion and power of this music lifts the soul.  P.S.  He still loves Broadway.  He is not, however quitting his day job. Thank you Linda for being the heart and voice of Ventura music.  Thank you KuanFen and CHICO for bringing the joy of great music to our community.

Miriam Arichea

Miriam Arichea played the inaugural CHICO concert in 2004, and has been privileged to be part of this organization – both as a piano soloist and as a board member – since that time.    Miriam also performs regularly with the Ventura College Symphony, the Singer Chamber Trio, and various other instrumentalists and vocalists.  A lawyer by training, Miriam handles criminal appeals with the California Appellate Project.  Miriam also works at Ventura High School as instructor/coach for their mock trial and academic decathlon teams.  Miriam and her husband Jeff Bracket have three adult children, Josh, Arielle, and Daniel.

Karen Nelson

During her undergraduate years at UC Riverside, Karen Nelson played with the Riverside Symphony and Redlands Bowl Orchestra.  After moving to Ventura, she played with the Ventura County Symphony and Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera.  She has played with CHICO since its inception, and feels fortunate to have this wonderful group in our community.  Karen earned a Masters degree in Education from UCSB in 1990.  She taught for forty years in elementary and middle schools, serving bilingual students and students with learning challenges.

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