Organizational History

Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra (CHICO) began as the brainchild of Les Vielbig, Henning Ottsen and KuanFen Liu in 2003.

Members of the 1st United Methodist Church of Ventura invited CHICO to use their sanctuary as the primary venue for orchestra concerts. CHICO’s founding board members adopted the 1996 bylaws of SanBuenaVentura Symphony that operated a few years after Ventura County Symphony dissolved. CHICO was established as a non-profit charitable 501(c)(3) organization, #77-0417189, dba Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra.

In 2011, CHICO partnered with Ventura Unified School District to provide Peter and the Wolf concerts for 4th graders in Ventura.

In 2013, CHICO expanded the season to include five concerts and concerts in two locations: Saturday performances in Camarillo and Sunday performances in Ventura.

In 2016, the Peter and the Wolf concert program was expanded to include students in Camarillo as well as Ventura. The school program currently includes more than 2,000 students.

Board Members

CHICO’s Current Board Members are: Henning Ottsen, Bruce Walker, Miriam Arichea, Steven PerrenLaura Mihalka, Nancy Sieh, Les Vielbig, Ted Lucas

Youth Outreach

CHICO’s Youth Outreach committee includes board members Henning Ottsen, Laura Mihalka, Miriam Arichea, Karen Darnall. 


Judy Russo, Administrative Director – Judy has been a life-long supporter of children and the arts.  With a background in education, she has participated with many non-profit organizations in Seattle including Lake Washington School District, Village Theatre and Second Story Repertory.  After moving to Ventura six years ago, she served as Chair for Rubicon Theatre’s Education and Outreach, as Talent Coordinator for VUSD Festival of Talent and is currently the Administrative Director for Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra.

Access Private Concert Sheet here