Love, Death, & Farewell


CHICO continues its celebratory 20th season with an extraordinary appearance by a Grammy®-winning mezzo soprano, Kelley O’Connor.  Ms. O’Connor, who has graced the concert halls of this country’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., to name just a few, as well as international venues such as the Taiwan Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Britten Sinfonia in the United Kingdom, has been hailed as one of the most compelling performers of her generation. 

Ms. O’Connor is acclaimed for her command of the pillars of the classical music cannon – from Beethoven and Mahler to Brahms and Ravel – as well as for her insight and facility in tackling the new works of contemporary composers.  Local classical opera buffs may recall Ms. O’Connor’s 2012 appearance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the world premiere of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, in which Ms. O’Connor sang the title role, written specifically for her by the composer.  Other performances of modern-day composers’ works include Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar at Tanglewood and Santa Fe Opera, and Adams’ El Nino with the London Philharmonic.  Ms. O’Connor has sung under the batons of a host of luminaries, including Gustavo Dudamel, Robert Spano, Sir Simon Rattle, Stephane Deneve, and Vladimir Jurowski. 

This will be Ms. O’Connor’s second performance with CHICO, having appeared with the orchestra in March 2012.   CHICO is fortunate to highlight an artist of Ms. O’Connor’s stature in large part because of the personal connection between artistic director KuanFen Liu and Ms. O’Connor.  “Kelley and I were classmates at USC (University of Southern California) together, and we had great fun touring Europe as part of the USC Chamber Choir,” recalls Dr. Liu.  Later, in the early 2000’s when Dr. Liu was music director at First United Methodist Church Ventura – the site of CHICO’s concerts for the past 20 seasons – Ms. O’Connor would step in as a soloist for special Easter or Christmas cantatas.  Indeed, CHICO co-founder Henning Ottsen, board members Miriam Arichea and Patricia McPherson, as well as former board members Linda Ottsen and Jeff Brackett were part of the church chancel choir in those days, and have fond memories of being able to perform with Ms. O’Connor. “Kelley’s voice was so beautiful and unique, and we just felt so lucky to have her be part of our choir!” exclaims Ms. Ottsen.

CHICO is eager to host Ms. O’Connor once again, with the upcoming concert entitled Love, Death & Farewell!  She will be featured in a variety of pieces ranging from vier Abschiedslieder by Erich Wolfgang Korngold to Selections from Chants d’Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube de Malaret. 

Please join us in welcoming this world-renowned artist to Ventura County!  It promises to be an astonishing concert, and an opportunity to see two incredible musicians and friends – and USC alumni – together again.  

This is the fourth of five concerts for CHICO’s 20th season, with the last concert, the annual and popular Choral Spectacular, slated for April 22-23, 2023. Advance tickets are not required for CHICO concerts, but attendees can make a $20.00 donation at the door. Students are always free! The March 18th concert is at 7:00 pm at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 25 North Las Posas Road, Camarillo. The following day’s concert is on March 19th, at 3:00 pm at First United Methodist Church, 1338 East Santa Clara Street, Ventura. 

Masks are encouraged at both venues.  

Contact KuanFen Liu for interview at 
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