Posted 11/21/2014 02:28PM


As make our way into the buzz of the holiday season, the Colburn School thanks you for being part of our family this year. Whether you took a course with us, enrolled your child in private lessons or group classes, or attended concerts by our students, you showed us the performing arts are essential in our lives, and for that we are very grateful.

"On behalf of the Colburn School's students, faculty, and staff, I thank you for supporting the Colburn School," said President and CEO Sel Kardan said. "Everyone with a passion for music, dance, and drama has a place at the Colburn School and we're so glad you've found yours."

As a token of our appreciation, the Colburn School will give a pair of complimentary tickets for the December 6 Colburn Orchestra concert at the Ambassador Auditorium to the first 50 people to email communications@colburnschool.edu and request the discount code. Complimentary tickets can then be reserved directly from our website. This offer closes Wednesday, November 26, at 5 pm.

Posted 11/21/2014 02:27PM


About 30 students experienced their very first Thanksgiving dinner at the Colburn School last year, thanks to Residential Life staff members Annie Bosler and John Hanpadungvongs.

"Some students can't travel home for the holiday, so we host a big meal for them here on campus," Annie said. "We create a big U-shaped seating area in the Colburn Café and serve traditional Thanksgiving food so everyone gets a taste of the holiday."

To give international students context, Annie sends out an email a few days before the dinner with information explaining the history of Thanksgiving and why Americans celebrate it the way we do. Dylan Hart, Annie's husband and former Colburn Community School of Performing Arts alumnus, takes turkey carving duty for the meal. Annie and John order enough food so that students can enjoy leftovers the following day, understanding this, too, is part of the tradition.

Many teachers and local friends invite students to dinner at their own home, so the on-campus dinner happens early in the day. John has co-hosted the event for the last six years. "It's become an important tradition for the students who make Colburn their home away from home," he said. "Annually, we have 50-60 students eat with us."

"The holidays can be tough time especially when a student's family is far away," Annie said. "We started the Colburn family Thanksgiving eight years ago when the residence hall opened. It is one of my favorite events that we host."

Posted 11/21/2014 02:19PM


A recent workshop brought together musicians from the Colburn Conservatory of Music with singers from the LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, a paid residency for performers of exceptional talent transitioning from academic training to a professional career in opera. The event was the culmination of a week-long collaboration between the two organizations.

Thirty-two conservatory musicians participated under the leadership of Kenneth Merrill while eight Young Artist Program vocalists sang portions of The Magic Flute and The Abduction from the Seraglio with stage direction from Trevore Ross of LA Opera.

Participants in the collaboration met in one of the Colburn School's rehearsal halls. "This workshop provided valuable experience both for Colburn students and for LA Opera's young artists," said Laura Liepins, the Colburn School's director of artistic administration. "Opportunities for vocalists to work with an orchestra are limited and our instrumentalists were exposed to operatic repertoire they will undoubtedly encounter as professional orchestral musicians. It's a win-win for both institutions."

One of the LA Opera's young artists who participated in the Mozart workshop, Summer Hassan, will appear with the Colburn Orchestra at their December 6 concert at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena. She'll be singing Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs. "I am truly honored to be performing such honest music with such an honest group of musicians," Ms. Hassan said. "I feel like everyone involved with this project is here to tell their personal story through music, and I cannot think of a better set of songs to help do that."

Visit our website for more information on this event.

Posted 11/21/2014 02:17PM


The tradition of the conductorless orchestra stretches back to the very beginning of symphony history. The earliest orchestras were led by a concertmaster, often the harpsichordist or violinist, who initiated the ensemble's performances. Composers served as the earliest conductors, but the role evolved over time into the professional music director common today.

The Music Academy's string ensemble of talented pre-college musicians, the Academy Virtuosi, is a continuation of the orchestra's earliest heritage. Like those early orchestras, though, the Academy Virtuosi work with a professional concertmaster, Margaret Batjer of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, who guides them in a coaching role through the special challenges of conductorless performance. "They have to learn to use their ears in a very sophisticated way," Ms. Batjer said. "Each member of the section from first to last chair has a much greater responsibility than when there is a conductor."

For the Academy Virtuosi, the opportunity to play under these circumstances is both empowering and educational. "It's a rare opportunity for students their age to play in an orchestra without a conductor," said Ory Shihor dean of the Music Academy. "I don't know of many programs where young musicians get to perform this way."

Ms. Batjer draws from expertise gleaned from her mentors when she was a student and the wealth of experience developed at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. "I have worked with the students over the past 10 weeks on this program," she said. "Aubree, from the Concertmaster chair, as well as the other principals, have learned to lead the ensemble themselves physically and also musically by example. They have come so far in terms of understanding the nature of a conductorless ensemble as well as growing musically and technically with the program."

The Academy Virtuosi performance on Tuesday, November 25 will include selections from Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, Elgar, and Bartók. "Working with young musicians is one of my greatest passions," Ms. Batjer said. "Although I only began my work with the Virtuosi this year, I have seen such growth in all of them individually and collectively. I have enjoyed working with all of them very much."

Visit our website for more information on this event.

Posted 11/17/2014 10:22AM


The Colburn School congratulates all our students who participated in this weekend's Pasadena House for the Arts Instrumental Competition. The annual event drew young musicians from across Southern California.

We are proud to recognize the following students for their outstanding achievements this year.

Grand Prize - $6,000

Cristina Mateo Saez, 19, clarinet, student of Yehuda GIlad

1st Place – Woodwinds - $4,000

Riria Niimura, 20, flute, student of James Walker

Tied for 2nd Place – Brass - $2,500

Julian Zheng, 21, French horn, student of Andrew Bain (tied with UCLA Bass Trombone student Cameron Rahmani, 20)

Most Promising Talent Award - $1,500

Charles Seo, 19, cello, student of Ronald Leonard

Honorable Mentions - $500

Usha Kapoor, 20, Strings/violin, student of Robert Lipsett

Signe Somer, 23, Woodwinds/clarinet, student of Yehuda Gilad

Kyle Kremer, 24, Brass/trumpet, student of James Wilt

Visit our website for more information on the Pasadena House for the Arts Instrumental Competition.

Posted 11/13/2014 03:58PM


Elicia Silverstein and her performance partner Daniel Walden are on a mission to challenge the conventional concert program. Ms. Silverstein, a violinist and graduate of Colburn's conservatory, and Mr. Walden, a pianist and harpsichordist, have created a unique approach to presenting both classical and contemporary work in the same performance.

Their current work draws connections between the experimental work of the 17th century, performed on historical instruments, and avant-garde Italian music from the late 20th century, played on modern instruments. "The pairing is not random," Ms. Silverstein said. "In the early part of the 20th century in Italy, partially as a result of Mussolini's nationalistic fascism, contemporary composers were strongly encouraged to look back at earlier Italian musical traditions from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods for inspiration."

Both Ms. Silverstein and Mr. Walden feel equally at home in the Baroque and contemporary pieces, which makes them uniquely adept at navigating both period instruments and modern instruments. "In weaving together these two distant but deeply interconnected musical worlds, a beautiful dialogue emerges that dissolves any distinction between what sounds 'old' and what sounds 'new,'" she said.

Ms. Silverstein's time at the conservatory was essential preparation for her ongoing career as an international performer. "I came to Colburn right after finishing high school in New York City to study with Mr. Lipsett," she said. "I was immediately blown away by his teaching and by the school. Colburn is unlike any other conservatory I know of in its adamant support of its students."

As part of their visit to Los Angeles, Ms. Silverstein will present a Baroque lecture-demonstration master class in Thayer Hall on Friday, November 21, as well as a full recital, "Stylus Phantasticus /Avanguardia," that evening. Both events take place in Thayer Hall, and are free and open to the public.

Posted 11/13/2014 03:32PM


After seven years of study on the violin, Kurt Muroki transitioned to double bass. Though he was only 13 years old at the time, the choice would lead him down a largely untrodden path, forging a career on the instrument focused primarily on chamber music.

Mr. Muroki studied double bass under Homer R. Mensch at The Juilliard School, then went on to perform with the internationally renowned Sejong Soloists, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and New York City Ballet, among many others, and took first prize in the Aspen Music Festival Double Bass Competition. Mr. Muroki was also the first bassist to win the New World Symphony Concerto Competition.

An inspiring moment with bassist Alois Posch at the Pacific Music Festival changed Mr. Muroki's perspective on how he saw his work. After taking a chamber music master class with Mr. Posch, Mr. Muroki had an epiphany. "I knew that I wanted to be a musician, not just a bass player. Being a musician, for me, encompasses everything: sound, technique—everything," he said.

Mr. Muroki's career has included opportunities to play with some of the world's most lauded orchestras and chamber orchestras as well as unexpected turns into film music and popular music. "If your goal is to be a musician, you remove the limitations the instrument has and replace them with your vision of what the music should be," he said, and his career is a living testimony to that philosophy.

For his visit to the Colburn School, Mr. Muroki will give two master classes. The first, for conservatory students, will be November 22 at 6:30 pm, with a second class for community school students held November 23 at 10:30 am. Visit our calendar for more information on these events.

Posted 11/13/2014 03:30PM


Though Gibson Dunn had been contributing financially to the Colburn School for many years, Peter Wardle hoped the law firm could start doing something with more impact when he joined Colburn's Board of Directors five years ago. After conferring with Colburn School President and CEO Sel Kardan, Mr. Wardle and Gibson Dunn partner David West (now retired) agreed a free concert at the end of the workday would yield the greatest benefit for the downtown Los Angeles community.

"I'd been involved with classical music since first grade, and I played orchestral instruments all through high school and college," Mr. Wardle recalled. "As a lawyer, I don't have the opportunity to be creative in those same ways anymore, so it's been amazing to be part of the Colburn School and to be around classical music again."

Rush Hour concerts, which are free and open the public, happen almost every month during the academic year and feature different performers from one of the Colburn School's units. November's "Autumn Winds" program on November 20 will be performed by students from the Colburn Conservatory of Music.

Each concert opens with a casual reception featuring wine and light hors d'oeuvres, giving attendees an opportunity to relax together before heading in to listen to an hour-long program of music.

"I've never walked away from a performance at the Colburn School without feeling proud and impressed," Mr. Wardle said. When it comes to the Rush Hour concert series, his joy includes sharing the concert experience with friends, colleagues, and new attendees. "It's gratifying to see the reaction of people experiencing the Colburn School for the first time. They're so thrilled to know this school is here, and that it's doing such phenomenal work."

Visit this link for more information on November 20's Gibson Dunn Rush Hour" or to reserve your seat.

Posted 11/10/2014 12:15PM

Aspiring college-aged musicians seeking the most rigorous instrumental music performance training should apply to the Colburn Conservatory of Music by December 1.

The conservatory is unique among music training programs because it provides full financial scholarships to every student. Rather than worrying about paying tuition, room, and board, Colburn's conservatory students can keep their focus on their musical training and the more than 150 performance opportunities coordinated by the school.

"The conservatory is dedicated to helping each individual student fulfill his or her full potential," said Conservatory of Music Dean Richard Beene. "Our philosophy is entirely student-first. We want to create leaders and global citizens as well as the finest musicians."

Admission to the conservatory is highly selective and requires an audition on top of the formal application. Since its opening in 2003, the Colburn Conservatory of Music has become one of the nation's leading conservatories. Click here for more information or to submit an application.

Posted 11/10/2014 12:14PM


The Colburn School will welcome the 2014 Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition on Saturday, November 15. The annual event recognizes excellence by string, woodwind, and brass musicians ages 16-24 who live or attend school in Southern California.

Musicians perform their best rendition of the required repertoire before a panel of judges, made of up seasoned musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. In last year's competition, current students and alumni of Colburn performed well, winning top prizes. Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, which coordinates the competition, has awarded over $550,000 in prizes since the program began in 1985. Cash prizes for the November 15 competition total up to $30,000, with awards to individual musicians ranging from $500 to $6,000.

"Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts delights in rewarding the efforts of young musicians who excel in their area of study and can demonstrate their talent and progress," said Suzanne Hart, this year's Instrumental Competition Chair. "This competition is a result of the hard work of our all-volunteer organization, its members, judges, instructors, and schools all in collaboration. Exposing young students to the act of musical competition enables and inspires them to grow musically and personally. It gives us such pleasure to help our community in this way."

The Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition is free and open to the public. Performances begin at 11:00 am on November 15 in Thayer Hall. For more information, click here.


Posted 11/10/2014 12:08PM


The Colburn Community School's Colburn Youth Orchestra and Colburn Chamber Orchestra, both directed by Maxim Eshkenazy, will perform on Sunday, November 16 in Zipper Hall.

The Chamber Orchestra and Youth Orchestra members are selected through competitive auditions each year. Every musician is a community school student between the ages of 13 and 18. Both ensembles perform standard symphonic literature as well as newly commissioned works and arrangements.

The Chamber Orchestra's afternoon performance focuses on Viennese classical music. The program includes Mozart's Divertimento for Strings in D Major and Schoenberg's moving Verklärte Nacht, based on Richard Dehmel's poem of the same name. "These are essential Viennese pieces," said Mr. Eshkenazy. "The Schoenberg is actually a kind of borderline between two classical worlds, the Romantic and the Modern—it is the last breath of Romantic music in Europe." Their performance begins at 4 pm.

The Youth Orchestra's 7:30 pm performance focuses on colorful Eastern European selections. Staynov's Thracian Dances and Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances are made up of brief segments drawn from different areas of Bulgaria and Romania, respectively. "These pieces feature strange rhythmic patterns that are interesting to listen to," Mr. Eshkenazy said. The program will also feature Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Suite, a piece made familiar in America in the work of Walt Disney.

Mr. Eshkenazy stressed the exceptional skills of his teen musicians. "These are core classical pieces. All of this music is difficult for adults to play—they are not playing watered down versions for young musicians. And they are playing these pieces extremely well."

Both concerts are free and open to the public.

Click here for more information about the Colburn Youth Orchestra performance and here for more information about the Colburn Chamber Orchestra performance.

Posted 11/03/2014 05:23PM

The Community School's performance series usually features students on stage as they demonstrate the skill and expertise honed in classes with esteemed faculty. But on November 7, the roles reverse when faculty take the stage to perform for their students, students' families, and community members as part of the Faculty Showcase Recital.

"Community school faculty are dedicated teachers and exceptional musicians," said Community School Dean Robert McAllister. "We look forward to the Faculty Showcase Recital as a way to honor our students and supporters with a program tailor made for them by their mentors."

Fifteen community school faculty representing both vocal and instrumental instruction will participate in the recital, along with four special guests: Sidney Hopson (timpani), Colburn Conservatory alumna Jennifer Johnson (oboe), conservatory staff accompanist Yi-Ju Lai (piano), and Jeffrey Schindler (harpsichord). The program includes both classical and contemporary works by Marcello, Delibes, Grieg, Doug Bristol, Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, and more.

All attendees are invited to attend a reception in the Colburn Café following the performance.

Posted 11/03/2014 05:19PM

Three students from the Colburn Music Academy and four students from the Community School for Performing Arts advanced to the Semi-final Auditions of the national Young Artists Competition, hosted by the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis campus.

Cellist Jenny Bahk (Clive Greensmith), violist Ji Eun Park (Helen Callus), and violinist Hannah Song (Danielle Belen) of the music academy will move forward to the next round of competition. Violist Celia Daggy (Andrew Picken), violinist Geneva Lewis (Aimée Kreston), violist Emma Wernig (Andrew Picken), cellist Tracy Lang (Dr. Richard Naill, Ida Levin and Tina Qiu), and pianist Yoko Rosenbaum (Robert Thies) will move forward from the community school.

The annual competition invites pianists and instrumentalists between the ages of 12 and 17 to compete in the Young Artists Division. Students prepare a performance video for their preliminary application in order to receive an invitation to audition live in one of five cities. The Los Angeles Semi-final audition will be held on November 22.

The final auditions will be held in Davis on February 28 and March 1. The top two instrumentalists in the Young Artists Division will receive $1,500 and $500, respectively.

Posted 11/03/2014 04:58PM

Using pieces of visual art as inspiration, Colburn Conservatory of Music students have crafted a special free program for the Norton Simon Museum's Family Festival on November 8.

Designed for listeners of all ages, Musical Compositions explores the relationship between classical music and the museum's permanent collection. Performing students worked with staff at Norton Simon to identify which chamber pieces seemed to engage in interesting dialogue with the museum's art. As one of the Conservatory's interactive performances, Musical Compositions will include discussion and special activities as part of the program.

"The Colburn Conservatory prioritizes events like this, when our students can work closely with organizations and audiences to craft a special opportunity," said Nathaniel Zeisler, the Colburn School's director of community engagement. We believe this is a critical part of preparing our musicians for life beyond the Conservatory."

Musical Compositions is free to attend. Click here for more information.

Posted 11/03/2014 04:46PM

As students in the Colburn Orchestra worked with Guest Conductor Gilbert Varga, Music Director Yehuda Gilad traveled to Sweden to teach a master class in European chamber music.

The Aurora Master Classes & Festival ran October 25 – November 1 in Vänersborg. Mr. Gilad shared his expertise in both solo clarinet performance and chamber music. Other faculty participating in the festival this year included distinguished musicians like cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and violinists Gerhard Schulz, Jean Sulem, and Olivier Charlier.

Aurora Chamber Music is an organization fostering education, professional development, and networking for musicians, especially young musicians, while providing performances of chamber music to the community around it. Mr. Gilad is among 80 of the world's most accomplished musicians and teachers who contribute their time and expertise to master classes and performances.

Mr. Gilad will appear again with the Colburn Orchestra when they return to the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena on December 6. Click here for tickets.

Colburn School Plaza with the Music Center in the background
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Colburn School Thayer Hall windows reflecting L.A. City Hall

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