2012-04-05 / Schools

Resident’s composition part of New West’s educational outreach

By Kerrie Sadler
For New West Symphony

Craig Zobelein Craig Zobelein As a child, Thousand Oaks resident Craig Zobelein found it difficult to talk to his parents, so he found solace in the piano.

While sitting at the keyboard and experimenting, he discovered that making music made him feel better.

Though he struggled with formal music lessons due to a dyslexic condition, those early experiments, coupled with his gift for playing by ear, led to a hobby as a composer and an affinity for music that has lasted a lifetime.

“I was never really a great student, yet I always had faith in myself,” he said. “I knew that I possessed a gift that I needed to search for and find, and I never gave up.”

Now 74, Zobelein was delighted that one of his compositions, “Mozart—Not!” was included in New West Symphony’s 17th annual Symphonic Adventures program.

The educational outreach concerts were presented March 26 to 28 to more than 6,400 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from 68 schools throughout Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

In Thousand Oaks, the concert was presented at the Civic Arts Plaza’s Fred Kavli Theatre.

The 50-minute program taught students about musical styles throughout history, including the baroque, classical, romantic and modern periods.

Titled “Mozart and the Story of Orchestral Music,” the program also included a performance of the Mendelssohn violin concerto by 16-year-old Korean-born violinist Youjin Lee of Los Angeles.

An interactive, comedic element was added with a 220-yearold Mozart arriving to review today’s symphonic scene with his onstage sidekick, Professor Scales.

The characters were portrayed by Cabrillo Music Theatre actors Dane Biren and Dink O’Neil.

Of his composition, Zobelein explained that “Mozart—Not!” is hard to put into a specific category.

“It’s part Sousa march, part big band and part orchestral music— all original stuff that came to me out of the blue,” he said.

The piece was first written for organ 12 years ago and performed by Zobelein for the American Guild of Organists.

More recently it was transcribed for both band and orchestra by music arranger and New West Symphony librarian and stage manager Bob Bockholt.

Zobelein’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Zoe Farrell of Las Vegas, was thrilled to lead the New West Symphony in one performance of his piece.

Retired and living with his wife, Jennifer, in Thousand Oaks, Zobelein is a fourth-generation Los Angelino with an eclectic career background that has included working as an electronics engineer, elementary school teacher, corporate CEO and park ranger. He has also dabbled in show business as a singer and dancer, performing in Conejo Players Theatre productions for years.

Despite his difficulties caused by dyslexia, which wasn’t formally diagnosed until he was an adult, and attention deficit disorder, Zobelein learned to play harmonica, vibes and marimba, piano and organ.

Of his recent success as a composer he has a message for students today:

“Don’t get discouraged. Look at me—I became a composer at the age of 50,” he said. “Each of us has a talent in there somewhere that’s going to come out, so look for that treasure within you.”

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