Our Founders

Edward Francis

Born and first educated musically in Ohio, he moved to California in 1965, where his major teachers were Mildred McGowen-Ryan, and Peter Yazbeck. He entered CSU Northridge, as a scholarship student in the music department, where he earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Piano Performance. During his years at the university, he won many awards in solo and chamber music performance. He was the music department's candidate for the university President's Award, as top graduate student. His principal teacher was French Pianist Francoise Regnat. He was an invited participant in the master classes of Polish Pianist Jakob Gimpel for six years. Post-graduate study continued with Edward Auer. His study and research in pedagogy and music history were with William Richards, Rosalie Ligget, George Skapski, and Eleanor Russell.

Shortly after completing his master's degree he was hired as music faculty at Oxnard College in Ventura County. He has taught Class Piano, Music Appreciation, Music Fundamentals, History of Rock & Roll and has conducted one of the college choirs. Subsequently he was added to the Applied Piano faculty at Moorpark College and Pepperdine University. He has taught at CSUN for two summers, as part of an exchange program with the Superior Conservatory of Music-Seoul, Korea, and CSUN. In 1998 he was invited by CSUN to replace his former piano professor Francoise Regnat, while she took a one-year sabbatical. In 2010 he was hired to teach piano at CSUN. In 2013 he will assume the position of head of the Piano Pedagogy Area. He is also the editor of the CSUN Keyboard Area Newsletter.

For years he has been a member of two active performing groups. The Westlake Chamber Ensemble, which has played regular chamber music concerts for nearly twenty years. They have performed at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, the Thousand Oaks Library, the Recitals at Four series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which was broadcast live on KUSC radio, Moorpark College, and numerous other venues. They gave the opening recital for the 1996 City of Ventura Chamber Music Festival, and they were the 1998 Chamber Music Artists for the Music Teachers' Association of California Convention held during the summer of 1998 in Los Angeles.

The DeCesare/Francis piano duo has been designated "Artists-in-Residence" at Moorpark College. They have played recitals at Moorpark College, UCLA, Pasadena City College, and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Their CD titled Piano Music for Four Hands, was released in 2000.

He has been concerto soloist with the Ventura County Symphony, the Conejo Valley Symphony, the Moorpark College Symphony, the Ventura College Orchestra, and the Pepperdine University Symphony.

He has given master classes for several branches of the MTAC, the Utah Valley Music Teachers' Association, the Sarah Compinsky Master Class study group, the Colburn School, UCRiverside, Whittier College, Pasadena City College, some private music groups and several private teacher studios. He has lectured on a variety of topics that include: "Parents' Responsibilities in Music Study" and "The X-ray Technique for Confidence in Performance." He presented two papers at conventions sponsored by the Music Teachers' Association of California and the California Association of Professional Music Teachers, titled: "Etude, Brute: The Advanced Etude," and "The Concerto: Literature for the Emerging Young Artist." He has had several articles published in the profession journal “The California Music Teacher.”

An experienced evaluator he has judged countless competitions and festivals, and is in demand as an adjudicator. For many years, his piano studio has produced many competition winners. Many have been featured soloists with orchestra as winners of Young Artist competitions, or in special award recitals. Other awards, won in state, national and international competitions have been numerous. Many of his students have matriculated at important music schools around the world, winning scholarships upon entrance. (Royal Academy of Music-London, Eastman, Indiana University, New England Conservatory, USC, CSUN, UCLA, University of Michigan, Arizona State U., Juilliard and Oberlin.)

In 1998 the Arts Commission of Thousand Oaks presented him with the "Encore Award for Excellence in the Arts." The award is given for past and continuing contributions to the performing arts in the community and surrounding areas. In 2006 he won, from the Department of Education as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts Teacher Award, given to a select group of teachers at a ceremony at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium and the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington D. C. In 2011, he was awarded the “Beacon of Light Award-Humanities” by the Women’s Federated in Ventura County for his work in promoting young artists in music.

He has served in various board positions, including five terms as President of the Conejo Valley MTAC. His work with the Music Teachers National Association, state affiliate, CAPMT, included two terms as Vice President, Convention Chair. He was a long time committee member of the New West Symphony's Education Outreach, is on the Artistic Committee for the Ventura Music Festival, is an editor for Alfred Music Company and and has served as editor for the Piano Education Web Page, where he was the featured "Artist-Educator of the Month" in November of 1997.
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Thomas Osborn

In August 2006, after being on a two week vacation to the North Pole with his wife Joyce, Tom Osborn returned to Los Angeles International Airport, and collapsed when disembarking from the plane. He had a massive heart attack and died. We were all saddened by his untimely passing, which was only a week before the Project: Brahms that the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic was to perform that very weekend. Since Tom was looking forward to conducting the concert and everything was scheduled and in place, his wife Joyce, felt that the concert should go on. It did, with Tom’s spirit present, the soloists and orchestra gave outstanding performances.

A formal tribute was given to Tom during the second concert of the Brahms weekend at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The orchestra, guest conductor, and each board member participated. Board members each shared a personal experience that they had with Tom. Some were poignant, others humorous, but all focused on Tom’s love for music and education.

Shortly thereafter, the family arranged for a memorial service, which was attended by nearly 1000 people at Forrest Lawn in Hollywood. As was fitting, the service was filled with music performances given by members of the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, the LA Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Downey Symphony, and the Roger Wagner Chorale.

The Osborn family has established the Thomas Osborn Endowment Fund. To donate, checks or money orders bay be sent to: Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, PO Box 4195, Thousand Oaks CA 91359. For more information or to make a donation with credit card please contact Edward Francis, the executive director of the T.O. Phil.

The board took on the intensive process of a conductor search, which lasted over the 2007 & 2008 seasons, during which several of the top candidates were invited to lead individual concerts. One of these candidates emerged as the new conductor choice. We based our criteria on many of the elements that Tom had established through the years he was our conductor (2000-2006). We are grateful for the time Tom dedicated himself to our mission, and we will miss him.

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The Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, formerly known as Concertos with Orchestra Thousand Oaks (CWOTO), was founded in December of 2000 as a California registered non-profit educational organization, with its foremost purpose being to provide exceptional piano students in the area with an opportunity to be featured as soloists with a professional orchestra. Because of the resounding success of the first concert, the community interest, and a desire to give as many students as possible this remarkable opportunity, other instrumentalists, as well as vocalists, were invited to audition for the solo performances in subsequent concerts.

When formed by Edward Francis, Thousand Oaks Philharmonic was an idea and a dream which would bring opportunities to exceptional students and other members of the local community. In order to do this, a performing group had to be available, so the orchestra was developed (formerly referred to as the Conejo Concerto Orchestra or CCO). The accompanying orchestra is made up of professional musicians from around the Southland and is currently conducted by Dr. John Roscigno. When founded and until his passing, the orchestra was conducted by Dr. Thomas Osborn

The Ventura County area is rich in talent, with an unusually high concentration of young artist-level musicians living in our midst. Perhaps it is no coincidence that our schools graduate some of the highest-ranking and well-prepared students in the country, and their level of achievement in other fields naturally mirrors those results.

There is no secret to the success of a performing artist. Of course, raw talent and natural ability play an important role. However, nothing substitutes for the discipline of practice, professional study, and parental support. If chance allows the combination all these essential elements, in the right doses, the product can be quite stunning. In addition to providing students with this wonderful opportunity, the community also benefits by attending thrilling performances which can be quite memorable and especially influential to the younger members of the audience.

In music study, there can be fewer wonderful experiences than being the featured soloist with an orchestra. While there are some possible current opportunities to do this, and the ones that exist are important and quite exciting, the number of opportunities is limited. It is the expressed hope of the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic to enhance these opportunities for students in Ventura County and areas immediately adjacent.