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 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, 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 Mihalka, Treasurer, enjoyed playing cello with CHICO for eight years and has been active on their board since 2014. She received a B.A. in Sociology from UCSB and participated in their university symphony, gospel choir and Middle Eastern ensemble. After college, she toured the western United States as a lead guitarist with a female-led folk/rock band. She lives in Santa Barbara with her husband Shayne and has two daughters, Erin and Allison. Laura currently is a bookkeeper for Underdog Media and in her free time, enjoys writing music and playing with her dogs.
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 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 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 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 has also performed with the Ventura College Symphony, the Singer Chamber Trio, and numerous other instrumentalists and vocalists. In addition, Miriam has served as youth music director for Rubicon Theatre Company, and most notably founded and directed the Rubicon Harmonix, the elite singing troupe who also appeared with CHICO in 2016 and 2017.
A lawyer by training, Miriam received her undergraduate and law degrees at Duke University. She handles criminal appeals with the California Appellate Project. Miriam is also on staff 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.
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.
Paul Christopher Hunt has been director of instrumental music at Ventura High School since 2010. In 2014, he helped to re-establish and become co-director of the Ventura Youth Symphony. He received his Bachelors of Music in Wind Performance in 2007 at Cal State, Northridge where he also received his California Teaching Credential and holds a Master’s of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction and CTE Credential in Arts, Media and Entertainment. Paul is a freelance trombone, euphonium, and tuba player and has performed with various opera and theater companies.
Alexa Constantine is a Los-Angeles based musician. She currently serves as a staff pianist at UCLA and works at Exactuals, a FinTech company that helps music and entertainment clients calculate and pay out royalties. In addition to working full-time, Alexa is obtaining her master’s in Music Industry Administration from the University of California, Northridge. When Alexa isn’t playing piano, she is hiking, running, playing card games, and writing songs.