Adrian Rangel-Sanchez found more than just a career at
Irvine Valley College. He found a voice.
A violinist since age four, and a piano player before first
grade, music had always been a source of confidence for the Irvine native. At University
High School, he gravitated toward vocal performance, thriving as a member of
the choral ensemble, and even co-founding an
a capella group: “The Footnotes.”
Then, as a senior filling out college applications, things
started to change. With so much riding on that four-year choice, his future in
music suddenly became a source of anxiety.
Rangel-Sanchez was “so stressed about college applications,
trying to pick a university right away,” that he began to overthink his college
planning. Even after his acceptance to UC Riverside, the tension remained: What if I make the wrong choice?
“I wasn’t planning on IVC [until] I realized it would serve
me better,” says Rangel-Sanchez, currently succeeding as a music teacher and
choral ensemble director at Portola High School in Irvine. “The best thing
would have been to figure out what to do first – I would have saved myself a
lot of stress.”
Irvine Valley College’s welcoming, exploratory atmosphere
would provide the perfect remedy to Rangel-Sanchez’s college-induced anxiety. Though
his initial indecision forced a late start, he was inspired by a meeting with
IVC Music chair Dr. Matthew Tresler, who “pulled some strings” to admit him.
“He got me into classes a week late,” recalls
Rangel-Sanchez, who felt instantly at home in the program, thanks largely to
engaged faculty like Tresler. In fact, it was his professor that first inspired
the idea of using his musical gifts to teach.
“He was the one who [told me]: ‘every great conductor is
really just a great teacher.’”
The thought stuck with Rangel-Sanchez, and soon, he was on a
mission to teach music. With his sights set on a bachelor’s degree from Cal
State Fullerton, he committed full-force to studying and performing in IVC’s renowned
“The fact that I could have a whole school day full of music
classes…was a great thing,” says the teacher and choir director, currently in
his third year at Portola High School. “I knew I wanted to conduct and direct
musical ensembles [and] I had the guidance of my teachers at IVC.”
After auditioning successfully for Tresler, Rangel-Sanchez
joined the Master Chorale – IVC’s highest-level vocal performance group – where
he continued to evolve as a performer and conductor. Meanwhile, his instructors
were taking a genuine interest in his career path, even helping him create a
blueprint for success.
“Adrian was a very good student; very
inquisitive and invested in his education,” says Tresler, who continues to
support his former student by guest-speaking at Portola High School music
events. “Knowing that Adrian wanted to be a conductor and educator, we talked
about the required skills early on, and tailored his study somewhat toward that
If there’s one thing a music major knows, it’s keeping time.
Thanks to good advice and savvy degree planning, Rangel-Sanchez managed not
only to graduate as expected, but to enter his Cal State Fullerton program with
a two-year head start – and no loss of credits.
“The transition was pretty much seamless,” says Rangel-Sanchez.
“There’s lots of communication and fluidity. Everything’s very clear as to what
As far as “Mr. R” is concerned, it couldn’t have worked out
better. Today, he’s inspiring the future as director of the vocal program at
Irvine’s newest high school. Portola High School opened in the Fall of 2016
with a bold commitment to art and music. For students and faculty, that meant
not only shiny new instruments, but a show-stopping concert venue.
“We have an absolutely stunning, state-of the-art
performance hall,” says Rangel-Sanchez about the 700-seat PHS Performing Arts
Center. “It’s really nice being so new… it’s conducive to cool projects.”
Last October, the PHS choir collaborated with students from
the English and Art departments to stage an original, topical musical entitled For the Children: Songs of Hope and
Reflection for the Southern Border Crisis. The “politically and socially
charged event” combined original perspectives with traditional and contemporary
musical arrangements – such as Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”—to shed light
on border issues in what Rangel-Sanchez calls an “often sheltered” city.
“It was a multifaceted event -- poetry readings to give
context; the art department created new artwork reflecting the situation,” says
the director. “We have a high commitment to interdisciplinary projects [at
PHS]. This was a really special one.”
Even in the “off-season,” there’s never a dull moment for Mr.
R. As an advocate of music, in general, he strives to create an atmosphere
where students at any level of
musical experience can benefit. Whether he’s “doing serious, difficult
repertoire” with his advanced students, or teaching the school’s star running
back to carry a tune, he can’t help but feel blessed.
“It’s been rewarding,” says Rangel-Sanchez. “It’s been
really diverse, which is a great thing.”
And when his students ask, he’s quick to credit his start at
Irvine Valley College for clarifying his path to success. He says he’s honored
to have had the opportunity to build his confidence close to home.
For IVC’s part, the feeling is mutual.
Says Tresler: “We
are proud of Adrian and excited to see the excellent work that he is doing here
in our own local area, educating the next generation of musicians.”