Thank You – Successful Live Taping of Serial Broadcast Opera Vireo

As you are all probably aware, this past week Grand Central Art Center and an amazing team were extremely busy at The Yost Theatre filming the first two episodes (pilot) of the new serial broadcast opera Vireo, by GCAC artist-in-residence artist/composer Lisa Bielawa.

Artist-in-Residence Lisa Bielawa conducts the Kronos Quartet
(GCAC Artist-in-Residence (Vireo composer) Lisa Bielawa conducts the Kronos Quartet)

We would like to say thank you to our supporters, community and audiences for making the Vireo production process such an amazing success!  Your supportive contribution to the project made the project a reality.  Those that have directly contributed are listed on our Vireo website support page:


So many people played a role in helping us to realize the vision for this project, with community partners and those involved with CSUF and the City of Santa Ana, so we wanted to share the acknowledgments with you…

Cast and crew during day two of Vireo taping
(Cast and crew during day two of Vireo taping)

First, we want to thank the incredible team at CSUF’s ASC for their continued support and flexibility over the past few weeks, especially Frank Mumford, Tariq Marji, Judy Goberdhan, April McNamara and Le Lam.


Thank you to the CSUF Administration and College of the Arts Team, with sincere and special thanks to Jim Taulli for his support and for attending both live audience taping sessions .  If you want to know what the experience was like for the community members who attended, please ask Jim about his experience and impressions of the evenings.


The Santa Ana City Team was also extremely helpful with a few last minute requests, especially with parking of crew and some trucks, so our sincere thanks to Leigh Eisen, Kenneth Gominsky, Rock Garcia and Arturo Rodriguez.

Vireo Director Charlie Otte with DP Greg Cotton
(Vireo Director Charlie Otte with DP Greg Cotton during day two of Vireo taping)

We would also like to thank Ryan Smolar of Downtown Inc, here in Santa Ana, as he helped to secure the support of the local restaurant who assisted with catering for the cast and crew.


Thank you to the CSUF Philanthropic Board for the continued support of GCAC, and for this project specifically we would like to thanks Doug Simao and Jeff Van Harte, who have been in conversation about the project throughout.  Jeff was even so gracious to meet with the artist in San Francisco a few time to provide his knowledge and insights, as Lisa Bielawa is up there often through her role as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Choir.  GCAC would also like to express my thanks to Kate Peters, who has worked so hard connecting us with individuals that are now involved with the project.

Rowen Sabala (Vireo) with composer Lisa Bielawa and Kronos Quartet
(Rowen Sabala (Vireo) with composer Lisa Bielawa and Kronos Quartet during day two of Vireo taping)

We’ve also had some great CSUF student involvement with the project, with last summer and fall’s Graduate Assistant Amanda Leader (MM in Music), and last summers intern and now GCAC employee MacKenzie Simao (BA Music).  MacKenzie was also extremely helpful with the original audition process for the lead role of Vireo, as she is a recent graduate of OCSA’s Classical Voice Conservatory.   On crew we were fortunate to have current CSUF student Varag Vick Kamali (BA Theater Design), who was their throughout the entire four days of production.  And through our collaboration with CSUF Music faculty member Pamela Madsen, many of the performers (Lisa Bielawa, Matthais Bossi, Laurie Rubin) involved with Vireo participated through performances, panels and master classes of the CSUF New Music Festival this past week.

Rowen Sabala (Vireo) with Laurie Ruben
(16 year old OCSA student Rowen Sabala (Vireo) with Laurie Ruben (The Voice/The Witch))

The project wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing GCAC Team, including Jennifer Minasian, who also happens to be a current grad student in CSUF’s Exhibition and Design program, MacKenzie Simao (CSUF student)Etienne LaVallee (Fullerton College Exhibition Design Student) and Carly Jo Reeves (Fullerton College Exhibition Design Student) for keeping GCAC’s door open the past couple of days/months during auditions, rehearsals, production and staging.


Most of all, thanks to the incredible Tracey Gayer, GCAC Associate Director, for her strong accounting, management and people skills.  She is truly a guiding force at GCAC, making sure that all policies and paper work is properly followed, while providing a welcoming attitude to all our artists and creative in residence, from students to national/international figures.  THANK YOU TRACEY!

Rowen Sabala, Laurie Rubin, Mattias Bossi
(Rowen Sabala (Vireo), Laurie Rubin (The Witch), Mattias Bossi (The Drummer)
And the Orange County School for the Arts Middle School Chorus during day two of Vireo taping)

Our community collaboration was heavily involved with the Orange County School for the Arts Classical Voice Conservatory students and faculty, with OCSA student Rowen Sabala playing the lead role of Vireo, Classical Voice Director Maria Lazarova playing the role of the mother, the OCSA Middle School Choir playing a major role in episode two, and along the way during auditions and rehearsals we have been fortunate to work with OCSA piano teacher Gabriel Lawson.  Families of OSCA also played a key role in the success of the project, with parents delivering and picking up their students from the many rehearsals, and OCSA families proving home stays for the 32 visiting girls from the San Francisco Girls Chorus.


We were also able to provide some positive economic development to the local Downtown Santa Ana businesses.  We worked with local restaurants  Boldo and Ninja’s with Appetites, as well as had the new 4th Street Market packed with the SF Girls Choir during meal times.

Kronos Quartet performs during day two of Vireo taping
(Kronos Quartet performs during day two of Vireo taping )

Great in-kind support for Vireo was provided by CSUF alum Greg Christy of Brite Ideas Lighting. Greg is a 1984 graduate of CSUF with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatrical Lighting Design and a Minor in Sound Design TechniquesCSUF Alum Matt Gush also contributed to the project by taking early PR images, the ones you will find on the Vireo website.  Matt is a 2013 graduate of CSUF with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art – Photography.


Our team is now beginning the edit/post stage of the production at the KCET studios in Burbank, preparing for the first two episodes scheduled to appear on KCET’s Artbound on March 31.  I think you will truly be amazing by what you will see and how well CSUF and GCAC are represented.

Cast and crew during day two of Vireo taping
(Cast and crew during day two of Vireo taping)

We are also happy to report that, along with the recent write-ups on the project in the NY Times (, Daily Titan ( and a few additional online outlets, a interview with Lisa Bielawa is schedule for an upcoming issue of Orange Coast Magazine.  We also anticipate additional coverage for the project in the coming weeks, so we will keep you posted.

KCET Program Director Juan Devis, interviews Laurie Rubin
(KCET crew, with KCET Program Director Juan Devis, interviews Laurie Rubin (The Voice/The Witch))

KCET’s team was also on site filming interviews and will create editorial content over the next month leading up to the premiere, including interviewing Dennis Lluy and Ryan Chase about the history of The Yost Theatre, so we will keep you posted as those appear.  The project would not have been possible without the support of The Yost TeamRyan and Irv Chase, and Dennis Lluy.  It was clear that the KCET team was extremely impressed by the quality and scale of the production, as is eager to get a great audience and exposure for the project.

32 members of the San Francisco Girls Choirs
(32 members of the San Francisco Girls Choirs in costume and ready for day one of Vireo taping)

We also wish to acknowledge the additional in-kind support from the following:  Orange County School of the Arts (on so many different levels with time and space); The Law Offices of Dennis A. Dascanio (Parking of Talent and Crew); Foothill High School (loan of marching band drum); and San Francisco Girls Chorus (arrangements with getting 32 girls to Santa Ana).


This project would not have been possible with out the generous funding support of the following:  The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual ArtsFainbarg-Chase Families; and William Gillespie Foundation.


Here is a link to the Vireo website and below I have included a few images that Maria Lazarova took during production.



We are using the hashtag #Vireo


We hope you will share the knowledge of this project with others!


Very best to you all and again, THANK YOU!