Lompoc Pops Masthead

Diane Siminski PHOTO


Lompoc Pops - Hometown Pride

By Diane Siminski, Pops Co-Founder & Former Concertmaster (1997-2015)

When I moved here from Los Angeles, there was little opportunity to play professionally. I joined the three Central Coast symphonies, the PCPA Orchestra, and the Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera. I dreamt of a Lompoc orchestra playing music of American composers and arrangers – a kind of "Boston Pops" of the Central Coast. The dream strengthened as I observed the enthusiastic audience reaction when an orchestra played American popular music by John Williams or George Gershwin for example. With my background in a strolling strings dinner music group in Las Vegas, I formed a similar ensemble called the "Festival Strings".

In 1996, an expanded version of this group was asked to play dinner music for a "Space Week" banquet in Santa Maria. In 1997, we were invited to play at the banquet again and also asked to expand to a full orchestra for a public concert as part of the Lompoc Space Week celebration. These Space Week performances were well received by enthusiastic audiences and the Lompoc Pops was born.

The Pops Orchestra is smaller in size than symphony orchestras, thus reducing expenses. It makes music affordable in a small community like Lompoc. The Pops offers audience pleasers of patriotic, Broadway, and film tunes, as well as "Old Blue Eyes" to the Beatles, jazz and Big Band pieces. Americans love to hear American music played "live". The Pops also presents different instruments that are rarely found in symphony orchestras such as the keyboard, sax, electric bass, guitar, accordion and even bagpipes.

That first Space Week orchestra featured 25 musicians; 17 are still with us. The Lompoc Pops usually features 40-42 musicians (as opposed to 70-100 of a philharmonic orchestra). Still with us is the talented and colorful Maestro Rodolfo Fernandez who earned such strong audience approval during that first concert.

I am grateful to Lompoc for accepting and encouraging my dream. Thanks to our first Board: Gen. Paul Maye (Ret.), Dick DeWees, Cecilia Walker, Greg Stoll, Glen Newcomb, Madeline Evans, Maida Ratcliff, and John Porter. Also thank you to our first corporate supporters/advertisers: The Lompoc Record, Graphic Systems Printers, Embassy Suites, Lockheed Martin, Pac Bell, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, Comcast, Sissy's Uptown Café, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Radio KTMS and KUHL, Lompoc Valley Florist, KCOY-TV, Sue's Place, Cabrillo High School, Midstate Bank, the Chumash Band of Indians, Avenue Florist, Union Bank and CoastHills Federal Credit Union.

We especially remember and thank our perpetual archangel – Louise Mollath. Thank you also to the many board members who have served since that first concert and to many other corporate sponsors, artists, friends and patrons through the years. And finally, thanks to the musicians for your dedication, loyalty, and sharing your God-given talent season after season.