Musicians attending the 2012 summer chamber music workshop at California State University Sacramento began exploring the possibility of starting an orchestra. They approached Pete Nowlen, who runs the workshop, and he agreed to conduct the ensemble. After an initial meeting to determine interest, the musicians began rehearsing and secured the support of the City of Rancho Cordova and the Cordova Community Council Foundation.
The orchestra was named the Rancho Cordova Civic Light Orchestra (RCCLO) in honor of its supporting community. The RCCLO performed its first concert in May 2013 with repertoire by Tchaikovsky, Holst, and Grieg.
In July 2013, the RCCLO performed at the Rancho Cordova City Hall in a celebration of the City’s 10 Year Anniversary. The concert was a salute to American music, featuring Dvorak’s American Suite and Alec Wilder’s Carl Sandburg Suite.
The RCCLO was formally incorporated in 2013, electing a board of directors and officers. Both the federal Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board approved and recognized RCCLO’s non-profit, tax-exempt status shortly thereafter.
The RCCLO’s mission is to provide high quality musical performances, primarily in its home community of Rancho Cordova, but performing as well in the surrounding Sacramento area. Nearly all of the concerts are free to the public. The orchestra typically performs four concerts each year with musical selections featuring both classical and pops music. Professional guest artists have included Deborah Pittman (clarinet), Robin Fisher (soprano) and Ray Anthony Trujillo (violin), Derek Sup (piano) and Liisa Davila (soprano).
The orchestra commissioned its first world premiere, a piano concerto by local composer Derek Sup. His concerto was composed in honor and memory of his piano teacher, local resident Debra Miller. The orchestra premiered the concerto, a multimedia composition that featured video recordings of Sup’s recitals as a youngster, in the spring of 2017.
The RCCLO began its 2017-18 season with two unique concerts. Forming a suite of music by Ferde Grofe and with the participation of Ferde Grofe, Jr., the ensemble performed a suite celebrating the history of California. For its second concert of the season, the orchestra performed an original musical comedy, Poperetta!, with lyrics by conductor Pete Nowlen and J. Conrad Frank, who also portrayed the starring character “Katya Smirnoff-Skyy. Played to a full house, the show was a hit. RCCLO plans to follow the success of Poperetta! with a production next year in celebration of Valentine’s Day – Poperetta From the Heart.
In 2014, the orchestra expanded its program to include performances by chamber music ensembles, which perform at public and private events. These small ensembles support civic events in Rancho Cordova, such as the quarterly Artist Receptions held at City Hall; monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheons for civic leaders; the holiday art gallery featuring the visual artists in Rancho Cordova; dance recitals; and holiday performances at the State Capitol. The orchestra’s flagship ensemble, Beethoven and Friends Chamber Ensemble, will perform at the convention for the Society of the Blind in March 2018 and at a special exhibit at the newly renovated Mills Station Art Gallery in Rancho Cordova.