The Alta California Orchestra, are a group of musicians and dancers of diverse backgrounds brought together to
preserve and perform the music & dance of Early California. The music is presented in the true spirit of the Fandango, Fiesta or
Barn dance, with bright, lively tunes and songs of good times and heartbreak.
The performers are all well versed in the traditional music of America, Europe and Mexico and have performed world wide.
We are proud to present this vibrant art form which is one of the great treasures of the State of California and our
2017-18 residencies and touring. Call or e-mail director@InstituteforTraditionalStudies.org Deborah (707) 937-2133 for booking rates.
Photo left; Deborah, (the late) Lee Birch and Ernie Fischbach of The Alta California Orchestra
1996 CD with 2009 remix link here; Los Californios, The Alta California Orchestra "Fandango at Sonoma" CD sales and info.
AVAILABLE NOW! California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction Booklet and CD. Created by Deborah Fischbach and The Alta California Orchestra as part of American Masterpieces-California Residency Program.
Comments from Happy buyers:
"Hi Deborah, I am sorry I failed to let you know that your spectacular books and cd's arrived. They truly are a great addition to our education kit, and we're so glad that they're included."
Best, Meighan Maguire, Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site.
Link to contents of booklet, sample dance tune and more about the Booklet and the talented folks who made it. Also purchasing and 'package deal' including "Fandango at Sonoma" CD, offer.
Call Deborah or order online today at the Booklet! Retail with Teacher's discount = $18.00
Wholesale and NPO orders please call. Important: If you already have the booklet; go to the Booklet link for some suggestions which should help you to make several lesson plans using this booklet. After you read my suggestions and look it over, if you have questions regarding how the steps go or the timing, or music please call me, Deborah at 707 937 2133.
We are the band started by Robert Thomas in the 1970's releasing our 1st CD in 1996 after Robert's passing.
Available for all occasions. You can hire a small combo or a large orchestra and include a dance caller/teacher with minimum of trio or four performers altogether! We dress in costume and play antique instruments. The Orchestra can combine a public performance, fandango, fiesta or dance with a K-12 School residency, teaching the children the dances first and having them bring friends and family to the public event. Call Deborah or e-mail director@InstituteforTraditionalStudies.org (707) 937-2133 with questions or for help planning your event.
Rate sheet available upon request.
Short video available on u-tube Titled "Community Fandango" or CLICK HERE TO OPEN this page and click play on screen.
Event marketing consultation and HDVD media coverage available with Trent Anderson
Our 2009 residencies were also public performances, we taught and perfomed outdoors all afternoon, then entertained the gamblers at night in the Sierra Foot Hills historic town of Columbia at the Fandango and Columbia's Birthday Ball on MARCH 28, 2009!
We taught at schools in King City on April 3rd in preparation for California Mission Days Festival at Mission San Antonio de Padua on APRIL 4th, 2009. A beautiful day at the Mission!
Friday, May 2, 2008 we were in Comptche, California playing music and teaching dance to all the students attending Comptche School. Because of the young ages of the students (K-3) we taught the Bridge dance, a clapping exercise for waltz time, and El Coyote a game dance using the waltz for the second part. Again because of the predominantly young students we did not do a performance but kept it casual and fun, ending with the Tarantella, a no partner dance. The children had fun and really enjoyed the live orchestra consisting of Ernie Fischbach on mandolin, Sylvestre Lee on accordion, Barbara Brown on drums and David Brown on hammered dulcimer. Deborah taught the dances with the help of Barbara and Judy and Jane; Comptche School teachers. Judy Stavely said she would recommend this program for any level grammar school children, as she felt Deb was very sensitive to the students needs and very encouraging, empowering them to dance.
In 2008, we started our residency program at Mendocino School 4th grade class on Valentine's Day. The Students learned and performed the waltz (inviting parents and families to join), La Varsouvianna, the Bridge dance, El Coyote and the Broom dance. We also shared a wonderful feast made entirely by the students, (handmade corn tortillas, salsa, cookies and lemonade) and they made confetti eggs to break on each other's heads!
March 14, 2008 found us in Santa Cruz at "Branciforte small schools" teaching children 9 to 11 years old. The students learned; Three Waltzes, (American, Balance and 'Cajun' or box waltz), El Coyote, La Varsouvianna, the Bridge dance and the Tarantella or 'the Spider dance' as they named it. After a break we shared a wonderful 'Potluck' dinner with families of the students, followed by dancing and then dessert. Since we had Jason Adajian, Ernie Fischbach, Brian Steeger and Chava Richmen as the Orchestra, during the break before dinner all went outside and played Galician bagpipes (3) with Chava on drum. The Galician pipes, from Northern Spain, were traditionally played in Los Angeles in the evening when the street lamps were lit.
Our Sept. 16th 2007 residency and student performance at Old town San Diego "Fiesta" was a great success. Students learned, and preformed La Varsouvianna, The Waltz, El Coyote and the Bridge dance. We gave the district 8 sets of our California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction Booklet and CDs for teachers and their students. We were joined by local musician, Ian Law.
Elementary School in Lancaster, December 7th 2007 playing for 4th grade classes at "El Dorado Elementary School" with unbelievable welcome/reaction to our program. We taught the 120-4th graders in 2 groups in the morning and then invited parents to view the dance performance (also in 2 groups) and share food with each other and the children in the afternoon! The school said it was the biggest parent/community turn-out for any school event ever!!! The local Rotary club donated food, service and clean-up volunteers for the 400 students, teachers and parents who participated. Local restaurants donated dinners for us and the VERY nice local Inn donated one of our 2 nights stay (for 2 couples). The children made us Thank you notes and gave us hugs a-many. This note came at lunch time before the performance; "Thank You, the dance was wonderful. I'm glad I signed up for this. I can't wait to see my parents faces." One boy had a hurt foot and couldn't dance in the morning, so we gave him a tambourine and he played with the band, then a miracle....he could dance in the afternoon!! All 120 - 4th graders learned and performed; All three waltzes, (including the Box Waltz), The Bridge Dance and El Coyote (a game dance).
2007-2008 TOUR Season The Alta California Orchestra was proud to be a part of
American Masterpieces - California "Musica Festiva De Las Misiones"
2016-17 Two ways to participate;, whether you are a presenter, teacher, principal, mission, historical society, PTA or community group.
Organizers can also combine the two for a discount rate.
1. RESIDENCIES K-12: We are excited to be able to book residences, targeting K-12 School Children (an afternoon of listening, singing, dance instruction and dancing) through our sponsor organization the "Institute for Traditional Studies" ITS. All K-12 performances will include California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction Booklet and CD with all dances for pre and post dance practise, music lesson plans and a description of a California Fandango. Made possible with the help of the "National Endowment for the Arts" NEA, "California Arts Council" CAC and "Western States Arts Federation" WESTAF.
2. PUBLIC PERFORMANCES:
Please call or email Deborah at the Institute for Traditional Studies itsArt@wildblue.net or 707 937-2133 for promo package and current fees for PUBLIC PERFORMANCES.
Core Musician Bios For American Masterpieces - California Project;
Brian Steeger~ Resides in San Juan Bautista, with wife Marianne and is a known instrument maker. He has devoted over 35 years traveling to study with masters of world music. In the 1980’s he received an artist in residence grant from the California Arts Council, to revive and teach old California music with Luis Valdez’s “El Teatro Campesino” in San Juan Bautista, CA. Brian Steeger later became the musical director of their winter “Pastorela” Productions at the San Juan Bautista Mission. Brian continues to further California music. He teaches and plays at California music festivals, events, workshops and camps. He also plays bagpipes of the world.
Ernest Fischbach ~ Studied Anthropology at CSU Long Beach (BA 1966), where he met Ethnomusicologist, Dr Sam Chianis, who recommended and helped with scholarships for Ernie to study Classical North Indian music at the Ali Akbar College of Music in the Bay Area. He studied the music of Afghanistan and other folk music with immigrant musicians in the Bay area and throughout California. Today Ernest is making mandolins www.ELF Soundworks.net and teaching/performing throughout California. Ernie is a founding member of 'The Institute for Traditional Studies' a non-profit organization founded in 1979 to revive traditional musicks.
Marianne Steeger ~ Has been playing music since she was a child. She is an accomplished musician on stringed instruments, piano, accordion, percussion, and vocals. Marianne has preformed with “El Teatro Campesino’s” winter productions of “La Virgen Del Tepeyac” and “La Pastorela” at Mission San Juan Bautista, eventually becoming co-musical director with her husband Brian. Marianne has sung with San Benito County’s “Oriana Chorale”, and is currently with “The Alta California Orchestra” and other traditional musical ensembles.
Deborah Fischbach ~ Has been a student of dance, rhythm, art and music since grammar school. By high school she had received several honors and awards and added teaching to share her love of the arts. In 2003 she was certified for “Professional development in the field of California standards for Arts education excellence in Arts integrated curricula, K-12” (Via a CAC grant). She currently performs percussion and teaches dance. Deborah is a founding member & current president of The Institute for Traditional Studies non-profit organization founded in 1979 to research, perform & promote traditional arts education, early California music & dance and other historical arts projects. She is also involved in Healing Arts. In 2007 she created "California Folk Dance Traditions" Instruction Booklet and accompanying music CD, funded by NEA, CAC and WESTAF.
Special guest performances & appearances of Singers and Musicians ~ include members of Los Californianos, living descendants of the early explorers and settlers, who came to California between 1769 and 1781.
Also you may find one of these talented musicians from our "Fandango at Sonoma" CD joining in.
Lee Birch- Accomplished musician, dancer, research specialist and teacher who has helped in the revival of Old California music.
Melissa Fischbach- Accomplished vocalist and percussionist. Sings on the Instructional and the Fandango at Sonoma CDs.
David Brown- Master of Music, University of New Orleans, Composer. Recording Engineer and musician on the California Folk Dance Traditions Instructional and the Fandango at Sonoma CDs.
Sylvester Lee- Accordion specialist, and vocalist.
Barbara Brown- Accomplished singer, dancer and rhythm instrumentalist. Helped direct and plays music on the Instructional CD and sings on the Fandango at Sonoma CD.
Jason Adajian- English Dance Master, Accordionist and historian.
Chava Richman- Artist, percussionist, dancer.
Ian Law- Musician extrodinaire.
Kevin Hughes - Multi-instrument musician.
Robert Hill - Violinist and fiddler.
TRADITIONSIn the 1960's the late Robert D. Thomas* had a vision of recreating the Old California Music in its traditional style. Bob Thomas was given Czarnowski's book "Dances of Early California Days" by the San Diego Curtiss Family in 1968 and we started teaching the dances and music at Sweetsmill Music camp**, he called the music and the band "Los Californios" as referenced in Ms. Czarnowski's and ***other books on early California. Interpreting the dances from the book was difficult, then at Sweetsmill I found a Balkan dance teacher, Made Taylor, who had studied with Ms. Czarnowski early in her career, she taught me first hand knowledge of the steps. At Sweetsmill we came in contact with Lee Birch who was also interested in this music and had been researching in Tijuana, Mexico to find musicians who maybe knew the old tunes of California. So we joined up and in the ensuing years we have traveled the length of California, researching the Old Music in such places as The Archives of California Missions, The Bancroft Library and The Southwest Museum in Pasadena, California.
*founding member of ITS ~ **Virgil Byxbe's gathering of musicians and dancers on his Sierra Mountain Retreat ~ ***Californios, written and illustrated by Jo Mora 1946. The Spanish West, Time Life Books 1976
Cline Cellars Private Event
You can always buy our CD, "Fandango at Sonoma" at the Jolon Mission Gift Shop and San Juan Babtista Mission gift shop.
CONTACT US, The Institute For Traditional Studies, ITS A registered non-profit corporation, Chartered 1979
If your business, society or non-profit company would like more information you can call Deborah Fischbach: (707) 937-2133 e-mail director@InstituteForTraditionalStudies.org or write: ITS: The Alta California Orchestra at; 21512 Orr Springs Rd., Ukiah CA.95482.
Return to ITS, The Institute For Traditional Studies' Homepag
Check out our world music programs for all ages World Music K-12 and higher.
The Alta California Orchestra "Fandango at Sonoma" CD sales and info
"California Folk Dance Traditions Instruction Booklet and CD" Discount purchase on Booklet, CD and "Fandango" CD.
You Tube 5 minute video of a residency and public performances, with The Alta California Orchestra.
Check out and purchase ITS Street Musician Postcard Series featuring 1960's California street performers.
Hello, Please bookmark this page or add to favorites before you leave. Thanks for the visit!
Deborah, Webmaster, Dance Master, Percussionist with The Alta California Orchestra.
LINKS to other Californio Groups and Music
El Californio! Great musical references, Lummis recordings, and more; http://home.comcast.net/~tenorguitar/index.html
Yesteryears Dancers; yesteryearsdancers.com
Elisabeth Waldo; elisabethwaldomusic.com
Elizabeth Erro Hvolboll and Luis Moreno; sevensouth.com/recordshop/MorenoLu/bio.php
New World Baroque Orchestra; newworldbaroque.org
El coro hispano de San Francisco; corohispano.org
The José Arias Troubadours; ariastroubadours.com
The Calicanto Singers; calicantoassociates.com
Vaquero Days, Descanso, California; vaquerodays.com/myp.htm
The Lively Arts History Association; lahacal.org
Los Californianos — Statewide descendants organization; loscalifornianos.org
Descendants of Old Town; www.ot-boot.com/DESCENDENTS/index.htm
The Barrel Organ at Mission San Juan Bautista; http://www.standingstones.com/sanjuan.html
The Roots Music Listening Room: Texas-Mexican Border Music & The Music of Vera Cruz: 1920s - 1950s; http://juneberry78s.com/sounds/ListenToMexican.php
The Lou Curtiss Sound Library; http://www.folkartsrarerecords.com/?q=node/7
Folk Arts Rare Records; http://www.folkartsrarerecords.com/
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress: American Memory, California Gold; frontiers.loc.gov/ammem/afccchtml/cowhome.html
Californios, a People and a Culture californios.us/ca
California History Online — from the Library of Congress; lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/cbhtml/cbintro.html
The Whaley House Museum; whaleyhouse.org
Bob Flesher’s Banjo Rogues; flesherbanjo.com/rogues.html
The Southwest Museum of the American Indian Autry National Center; autrynationalcenter.org/southwest
The Autry National Center of the American West & The Museum of the American West; autrynationalcenter.org
El museo de las Californias, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico; sic.conaculta.gob.mx
California Mission Studies Association; http://www.ca-missions.org/
California Mission Studies Association Links to resources; www.ca-missions.org/links.html
International Hispanic Music Study Group; dartmouth.edu/~hispanic
William John Summers’ studies of California Mission Music; californiamissions.com/music/history.html ca-missions.org/summers.html
SOHO: Save Our Heritage Organisation; sohosandiego.org
Shadows of the Past, a web page on historic reenactment; sptddog.com/sotp/sotp.html
More great music sources from; greatcalifornia.com