El Camino College to Present 75th Anniversary Concert
El Camino College will present a 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Celebration Concert full of guest artists, talented alumni, and assorted musical surprises at 8 p.m. June 3 in Marsee Auditorium.
Following the theme, “Shining Through the Decades,” the free concert will pay tribute to the college’s 75-year musical heritage and is part music showcase, joyful reunion, community collaboration, and a celebration of El Camino’s tradition of excellence.
“It is so wonderful to be back together in person after the past two years working remotely,” said El Camino alumna, professor, and Director of Choral & Orchestral Activities Joanna Medawar Nachef, who is organizing the concert. “We have so much to celebrate. El Camino has truly been the path of excellence for so many in the past 75 years, from our students’ memorable musical journeys to community partnerships. In addition, the Center for the Arts has brought some of the finest artists from around the world to our campus, entertaining our community and inspiring our music students to pursue their passion.”
Headlining the anniversary concert is renowned Grammy-nominated pianist/composer and ECC alumnus David Benoit, who will conduct his own composition titled, “Soul to Seoul, East Meets West: A Time for Hope.”
Featured ensembles and artists include El Camino’s Symphony Orchestra, Chorale, Concert Choir, and Women’s Chorus, in addition to the Torrance Civic Chorale, and the Joanna Medawar Nachef Singers, which includes many ECC alumni. Music selections are distinctly celebratory, featuring pieces from Beethoven to Sinatra, specifically chosen for their connection to past musical events from different eras at the college. Dane Teter, El Camino’s former director of instrumental music, will return as a guest conductor for the first time since his retirement last year.
An impressive lineup of accomplished alumni soloists includes soprano Erin Wood, an applied music faculty member with a distinguished opera career; Lizbeth Sanchez Montenegro, an alto with a master’s degree in opera from CSU Northridge; tenor Christopher Craig, who transferred to the San Francisco Conservatory where he earned a bachelor’s degree; and baritone Anthony Moreno, an ECC faculty member who earned a doctorate in music from USC.
Leading up to the concert, current students will have opportunities for workshops and instruction from music industry professionals who will share performance techniques and career insights.
As the concert’s artistic director, Nachef says she feels part of ECC history. She works from the same desk formerly occupied by her professor, mentor and friend, the late Jane Hardester, who joined the music faculty in 1962, and spent the next 28 years creating and developing the college’s outstanding choral program.
Nachef is aware of multilayered campus connections such as these, tied to a long legacy of not only performances, but to the journey of countless students who found their purpose and life’s work at El Camino. The award-winning choral conductor started her own career as a professor at the college in 1989 and since then she has also led the Los Cancioneros Master Chorale, the Ambassadors of Harmony, the Peninsula Community Church Choir, the Joanna Medawar Nachef Singers, and the Torrance Pops Orchestra. And though she has conducted choirs and orchestras all over the world, including six performances at the legendary Carnegie Hall, she said her ties to El Camino ground her.
“I was that young immigrant from Lebanon who first took professor Hardester’s class when I was 18 years old,” she said. “She told me I had natural talent to become a conductor, and I believed it.
“To be here working with students after all these years and to be a part of the 75th Anniversary Concert, well, it’s beyond my imagination. And I think that’s what El Camino is about – we continue the legacy of excellence set by those before us. I tell my students, it’s not perfection we seek, it is excellence. And that kind of excellence is cyclical; I hope an El Camino graduate will sit at this desk one day. I am so grateful to be here. It is humbling and an honor.”
The 75th Anniversary Concert is free, but tickets are required to attend. El Camino’s safety protocols are in place. Reserve tickets via www.elcamino.edu/75concert using the online ticketing system. El Camino College is located at 16007 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance. For more information, view www.centerforthearts.org.
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About El Camino College
El Camino College (ECC) is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) as a two-year college that has educated the brightest minds of the South Bay since 1947. With more than 34,000 students taught by nearly 1,000 award-winning instructors, ECC offers approximately 2,500 classes in 200 programs, and awarded nearly 4,000 degrees in 2019. For more information visit www.elcamino.edu.