"We survived 10!" he exclaims. And now Burton Karson, founding director of the annual Corona del Mar Baroque Festival, is looking forward to No. 11, which begins Sunday.
He credits "wonderful grass roots" support for the longevity of the modest festival.
"We struggle so hard to pay for everything," he says. "It's a major triumph to be able to pay our bills without going into the red. We survive from year to year, just barely, through the generosity of our patrons and subscribers, and the generosity and goodwill of our performers who play and sing for absolutely low rates because they enjoy doing it."
Still, he adds, "we stretch nickels." The budget this year is about $30,000.
To help build the subscription base, the festival has expanded this year from its traditional four concerts to five, by adding "a solo recital on Monday, a fairly low-cost venture.
"Then we altered our series. Instead of having all the concerts on subscription, we offer two choices of four."
As usual, the festival will include repertory by such giants as Vivaldi, Bach and Handel along with works by such little-known composers as William Felton, a English clergyman, organist and composer who lived from 1715 to 1769.
Felton will be represented at Sunday's opening concert by a concerto for organ and strings that Karson found three years ago in a collection of manuscripts gathering dust in the archives of the British Library.
"These works were published in the 18th Century but have not been in circulation or performed much since then, as far as I can tell," Karson says. "So this constitutes, you could say, an American premiere."
Also as usual, Karson will be slipping in a little repertory from periods later than the Baroque. This year, listen for a work for English horn and organ by contemporary Dutch composer Jan Koestier, and a "Fugal Concerto for Oboe, Flute and Strings" by Gustav ("The Planets") Holst.
"I had never even heard of the 'Fugal Concerto,' " which was written a few years after "The Planets," Karson says. "It has three delightful movements, with lots of trills."
The Festival programs:
* Sunday: Works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Holst and William Felton.
* Monday: Organ and other works by Bach, Samuel Scheidt, Thomas Arne, Jan Koestier and other composers.
* Wednesday: Harpsichord and other works by Scarlatti, Bach and other composers.
* Friday, June 7: Cantatas and sonatas by Telemann and Handel.
* Sunday, June 9: Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum" and "Anthem on the Peace."
What: The 11th annual Corona del Mar Baroque Festival.
When: June 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9.
Where: June 2, 3 and 9 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 3233 Pacific View Drive; June 4 and 7 at the Sherman Library and Gardens, 2645 E. Coast Highway.
Whereabouts: To St. Michael's, take the San Joaquin Hills Road exit off the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway and go south to San Miguel Drive. Turn left and go up the hill to Pacific View Drive, then turn right. To the Sherman Library: Take the Corona del Mar Freeway to MacArthur Boulevard, head south to Pacific Coast Highway and turn left.
Wherewithal: Individual concerts: $10 to $20. Subscriptions available.
Where to Call: (714) 760-7887.