Searching for Santa Cecilia


Twenty-three years ago I lost my father. My father who was handsome, funny, loving, adventure- seeking, full of life, lover of everything Hawaiian, talented musician, Local 47 Union member and my dad. He had the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard and he played guitar beautifully.

He was a professional musician and he prayed to St. Cecilia every time he sang. He was very devoted to St. Cecilia, who is the patron saint of music. At the age of 56 he was told he had cancer. The cancer started in his prostate, but had spread to almost his entire body including his bones. His last wish was to see the tomb of St. Cecilia.

It so happened that she is buried in Rome and I was scheduled to go to Rome to conduct, so I took my father with me. He went to her tomb and sang her a Spanish song called “De Colores.” This was my father’s last wish and he fulfilled it.
It wasn’t long after that that I sat at his bedside for two weeks and watched him slowly die. This was before the personal computer existed, no Internet, no iPhones, and no iPad, no browsing the internet or Cecilia-photo-#2a“liking” posts on Facebook. I just sat and watched him die in agonizing pain. I was with him all day, but could not have conversations with him because he was under such heavy doses of morphine for his pain. I spoke to him, I read to him and held his hand. He died on a September afternoon. My sister in Texas, Sylvia, called me to tell me he was dying. She held the phone while I said goodbye. I heard him take his last breath.Cecilia-photo-#1a

A few months after, I started an orchestra. In my father’s honor I named it Santa Cecilia Orchestra after the patron saint of music.


This year, 2014, I returned to Rome on a personal pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Saint Cecilia. On a June day with 100 degrees temperature I, along with my husband and son, walked from the Vatican after a private audience with Pope Francis to Trastervere to the church of St. Cecilia. We walked a lot to find the area then to find the church. We kept being led the wrong way and felt like we were going in circles. My feet were hurting so badly that I finally said a prayer to St. Cecilia to help me and give me a sign. At that moment (true story) a bell starting ringing and ringing loudly and did not stop. We followed the sound of the bell down an alley and around a block and the moment it stopped was the moment we found St. Cecilia’s church. Two hours later… 23 years later, I was there at her tomb. Thank you dad, thank you St. Cecilia.



Fall: A Season of Expectations

Happy Fall EA walk in fall, crossing a bridgeveryone!

Fall is my very favorite season for many reasons. I like the coolness that accompanies this wonderful season. I look forward to the celebrations to come, including my birthday and the upcoming holiday season. I look forward to our first concert that kicks off our season. A season that is fuEntrance to SCO Concerts at Thorne Hallll of great music.  I look forward to seeing the musicians in the orchestra after a long summer separation.  I look forward to seeing our audience, who is loyal and enthusiastic.


Santa Cecilia Orchestra Harpist during its Educational Program, Discovering MusicBut most of all, I love Fall because it signals the new school year for Santa Cecilia Orchestra. It is in the fall that we return to the many schools we serve through our Discovering Music Program. I will very much enjoy watching the faces of the children as they hear a trumpet, cello, violin, harp, percussion, oboe or trombone in their very own classroom. I will look forward to speaking to principals again, once again greeting the hundreds of teachers we see each year and welcoming the families that attend our concerts.


Welcome Fall!Horn Musicians of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra

Welcome to the new Santa Cecilia Orchestra website!

Santa Cecilia Orchestra receiving applause

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the new Santa Cecilia Orchestra website! You will find links to our exciting season of upcoming concerts. You can also find links to all our social media where we can stay in touch.

One thing that is new to our website is this blog. I hope to use it to stay in touch with all of you and give you updates on what we’re doing at the orchestra. We’ll give you some insight into our world and my world. I will post regularly, so make sure to come back and check for a new blog. Want a reminder? Like us on Facebook where I will post a notice reminding you that there is a new blog post.

Speaking of my world…. I have the great honor of performing with great musicians in our orchestra. I’d like you to meet them too! We added a new section where you will meet the musicians in our orchestra through a fun questions & answer page. This week you’ll find yours truly, as well as concertmaster Yi-Huan Zhao and Salpy Kerkonian, our principal flute. Check them out!

I hope you all had a great summer! I had a wonderful one. I traveled to Europe with my husband and son. We spent time in Paris, London, Rome and Munich. Day after day we discovered great museums and had the pleasure of seeing great art. As you will see in my “Meet the Musicians” Q & A, I have a case of wanderlust, so traveling is one of my favorite things to do! Below find a few pictures from my travels.

De Leon de Vega at Trevi Fountain De Leon de Vega in a perfect evening at the Eiffel Tower Late afternoon at Stonehenge