Posted 01/23/2015 10:33AM


The next Gibson Dunn Rush Hour Concert will feature two jazz bands from the Community School of Performing Arts presenting their own compositions on January 29.

"Our students over the years have become prolific composers," said Lee Secard, saxophone instructor and director of jazz studies for the community school, who directs the bands performing at this week's Rush Hour concert. "The act of composing is very common to those who improvise," he went on, adding, "it's the same impulse, channeled slightly differently."

The community school's jazz program uses two main techniques to help students learn. First, Mr. Secard said, students focus on aural learning of music through listening and hearing rather than reading and interpreting. Second, students work on creating their own music to put into practice their technical skills on their instrument, their collaboration skills within their combos, and the sense of artistry they develop through ongoing exposure to existing jazz music.

"Our students do not need to be told how to compose, and I never tell them what to compose," Mr. Secard said. "The students playing in the Rush Hour concert are wonderfully gifted as players, improvisers, and composers," he added. "In addition, they are wonderful people—smart, good colleagues to each other, and very professional in their behavior and conduct."

Mr. Secard has been teaching in the community school since 1987, following many successful years as a full time touring musician. He launched the jazz studies program in 1994, beginning with just one group of four students. The jazz program in the community school now includes eight groups, with two additional adult studies groups taught by Liz Kinnon. Thursday's concert includes performances by the Sunday One O'Clock Band and the Monday Night Band, both named for their scheduled rehearsal times.

"One of my favorite aspects of my job is that our students form long lasting relationships with each other," Mr. Secard said. The pride he takes in his work and in the accomplishments of his students is palpable. "Our students usually go on to study at the best conservatories and universities in the country," he added. "I am very pleased we have as many alums at Ivy League schools as we do at music schools."

Visit our online calendar for more information on the Gibson Dunn Rush Hour concert.

Posted 01/22/2015 05:10PM

Community School Dean Robert McAllister will moderate a discussion with respected musicians Ivan Zenaty and Sandra Shapiro following their performance on January 28 at Thayer Hall. Mr. Zenaty and Ms. Shapiro have joined together for a tour including performances in the United States, Europe, South Korea, and Japan. While they are both successful musicians in their own right, they are both regarded teachers at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where Ms. Shapiro serves as dean of preparatory and continuing education and Mr. Zenaty serves as a faculty member. Following their performance, Mr. McAllister will engage these visiting artists on how they strike a successful balance as both touring musicians and effective teachers. "It is my privilege to moderate a discussion from Mr. Zenaty, one of the leading violin pedagogues nationally, and a brilliant collaborator and former colleague of mine, Sandra Shapiro," he said. "I am grateful they have arranged their schedule to visit the Colburn School for what promises to be a wonderfully memorable and engaging musical event." Both musicians have a unique perspective on what it's like to be a working musician today, said Community School Assistant Dean Sara Hiner, because of their ability to be successful in both performing and helping to guide the musicians of tomorrow. "Ms. Shapiro will be able to offer valuable insight to pre-college musicians and their parents as they begin to think about majoring in music, auditioning, and applying to universities and conservatories," she said. Mr. Zenaty is increasingly named "the most important Czech violinist" by music critics, audiences, and his fellow musicians. He began his professional career with his participation in the finale of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1982, followed by his debut with the Czech Philharmonic. He has collaborated with Yehudi Menuhin, Yo-Yo Ma, Neville Marriner, and many other important musical figures of his time. Besides the technical perfection one would expect, he is also appreciated for his taste and for his captivatingly beautiful tone. Ms. Shapiro, a pianist, is a lauded soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. She began her studies at age three and made her orchestra soloist debut by age 11. At the encouragement of her mentor, Ms. Shapiro began studies at The Juilliard School at 15. In her professional career, she has won many awards for her solo performances as well as her work with the duo-piano team of Hecht & Shapiro. Visit our website for more information on this performance and discussion.
Posted 01/22/2015 05:08PM


While children attend classes, parents and families of Community School of Performing Arts students are invited to join President and CEO Sel Kardan for coffee on January 31.

Coffee with the President is a Colburn School tradition at the start of each fall and spring semester. "It's a great opportunity for parents to make connections with each other, with the Colburn School as their first shared interest," said Sara Hiner, assistant dean of the community school.

Robert McAllister, dean of the community school, also attends the event and loves getting a chance to talk to his students' families. "Our students need supporting family members to encourage them and see the value in all the hard work they put into their study," he said.

Mr. Kardan appreciates the event because he, too, is a community school parent whose daughter participates in the Suzuki strings program. "What unites us around the Colburn School is our child's passion for his or her art," he said. "It's great to get to talk with other parents about how their children discovered music and the performing arts and what keeps their kids so engaged."

Coffee with the President will be held on the Colburn Plaza from 10 am to noon. It is free to attend. For more information, contact the community school office at (213) 621-4548.

Posted 01/22/2015 05:07PM


The Colburn School's pre-professional program for dancers aged 14–19 will hold its first round of auditions since launching its inaugural year last fall.

Dance Academy director Jenifer Ringer and co-director James Fayette have scheduled dates in San Francisco and New York to hold auditions for dancers in those regions. A third date for dancers in the Los Angeles region is also included. Auditioning dancers will participate in a full technique class taught by Ms. Ringer. "We'll take them through basic and advanced steps, right up to the very high difficulty level we would expect potential students to have mastered before entering our program," she said. "There's no previously prepared variation as part of the audition, so they only preparation they need is to bring the right shoes," she added.

Admission to the program is highly competitive and the number of openings for 2015–2016 will not be known at the time of auditions. Dancers should have at least four years of ballet training; female dancers should be excellent at pointe work. All dancers should have an interest in exploring other forms of dance, music, and visual art in order to become more unique, individualized performers.

"We are looking for dancers who are not only great technicians, but also great movers. We want them to have musicality, movement quality, and precision," Ms. Ringer said. She went on to describe how a dancer's attitude and outlook on their education are also very important. "We want them to demonstrate an ability to learn and accept correction, and show a willingness to commit to our training."

The San Francisco auditions will be held February 14 at 4 pm at the San Francisco Ballet. Auditions in Los Angeles will be held March 1 at 2 pm at the Colburn School. New York's auditions will be held March 8 at 2 pm at the School of American Ballet. All auditioning dancers are encouraged to pre-register; full information is available on the Colburn School's website. Dancers should arrive a full hour prior to the audition start time to check in and complete pre-registration materials.

The dance academy's program is currently limited to 12 dancers. Ms. Ringer's philosophy on why is clear and simple. "Having only 12 dancers gives us the ability to get to know each student on an individual basis, which means our classes are closer to private lessons," she said. "We can closely track their progress daily."

Posted 01/16/2015 11:24AM


Colburn School Artist-in-Residence Jean-Yves Thibaudet will appear with the Colburn Chamber Music Society for a program of Poulenc, Fauré, and Franck on Saturday, January 24.

Chamber music is a prominent and vital fixture of the conservatory's curriculum. In 2012, former Tokyo String Quartet members Martin Beaver, violin, and Clive Greensmith, cello, joined the Colburn faculty as co-directors of the conservatory's string chamber music program, bringing their years of experience and insight as touring and recording chamber musicians. Conservatory string students enjoy many opportunities to perform, and the opportunity to play alongside faculty members and guest artists as part of the Colburn Chamber Music Society concert series is very special.

Mr. Thibaudet will spend a full week working with Colburn School students in preparation for the performance. "To work so closely with a major artist like Jean-Yves Thibaudet is a tremendous honor and privilege for our students," said Laura Liepins, director of artistic administration for the Colburn School. "Not only is it a unique item for their résumé, it gives students an opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with a guest artist."

The three works on the program will all feature Mr. Thibaudet on the piano, with conservatory students and conservatory faculty providing the rest of the instrumentation. The performance will feature very small ensembles for an exceptionally intimate event. Poulenc's sonata features Mr. Thibaudet with flutist Anthony Trionfo, while conservatory faculty member Ronald Leonard will perform the cello part of the Fauré quartet.

Visit our website for more information on the event or to purchase tickets.

Posted 01/16/2015 11:24AM


Students from the Community School of Performing Arts begin weekly performances this Friday as part of the Friday Night Recitals series.

Friday Night Recitals began at the Colburn School in 1982 in what was known as the "Fireside Room" at the school's old building on Figueroa and 32nd Streets. String Chair Richard Schwabe recalls that the room was cold and drafty in the winter and the fireplace hearth was used for overflow seating. The faculty judging committees also doubled as stage crew.

Early Friday Night Recitals gave students an opportunity to perform pieces as soon as they were prepared to do so, rather than forcing them to wait until the end of the term. "Even back then, we all understood the vital role that the Friday Night Recitals, School Recitals, and Honors Recitals played in showcasing the wonderful talent of our students," Mr. Schwabe said. Over the years, these recitals became a beloved Colburn School tradition, reinforcing the importance of performing for an audience in the greater scheme of performing arts education. Richard Schwabe still opens and attends each Friday Night Recital, a series he coordinates with violin faculty Rumi Shimasaki. Also at every recital is staff accompanist Roberta Garten, who has been collaborating with the Community School's young musicians for more than 30 years.

Participation in a Friday Night Recital is an important rite of passage for a budding artist. The non-competitive events allow students to develop stage presence and confidence once they have mastered a piece, and the faculty members and parents in the audience are always supportive of the performers themselves. After their performance, each student returns to the hall to listen and applaud for their colleagues.

"Along with the educational benefits provided by Friday Night Recitals, they give parents and family members an opportunity to connect with each other," said Sara Hiner, assistant dean of the community school. "That sense of community is a really wonderful outgrowth of the recital series."

Because of the size of the student body in the community school, there are frequently two Friday Night Recitals back to back in order to accommodate the high number of prepared and eager students.

"That level of participation, to me, really underscores the quality of our faculty and the dedication of our students," Ms. Hiner added.

Visit our website for more information on Friday Night Recitals scheduled for the spring semester.

Posted 01/16/2015 11:22AM


A panel of faculty jurors selected 17 students from the Community School of Performing Arts to participate in the winter Honors Recital on Sunday, January 25.

Honors Recital musicians are nominated by a faculty jury after the students perform in one of Colburn's weekly Friday Night Recitals. Last week, those nominated students auditioned for a jury, who then determined the final roster of musicians for the Honors Recital.

Nomination to the audition is a high honor for community school students and selection for the honors recital is very competitive. Nominated students put a great deal of work into their audition pieces, and they take great pride in their achievement. The students in the January 25 performance are between the ages of 11 – 18 and encompass strings, piano, and winds.

"The Honors Recital is a joyful showcase performance of community school students from multiple areas of study," said Sara Hiner, assistant dean of the community school. "It is a beautiful exemplification of the high level of instruction by our faculty and dedication from our students. I am so proud of not only the students who will be performing on Sunday, but of each of the students who auditioned for the Honors Recital."

The recital will include both solo and quartet performances of works by Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and others.

Visit our website for more information on the performers and program. This event is free and open to the public. The performance will be followed by a reception in the Colburn Café.

Posted 01/09/2015 12:18PM


The start of the new year is a great time to recommit to making music a bigger part of your life. The Colburn School Adult Studies program welcomes both beginning and seasoned performers as well as adults who want to enrich their understanding of music. Registration for adult studies classes opens January 12.

"Our adult studies classes create opportunities for anyone to have a new experience with music," said Nathaniel Zeisler, director of adult studies. "Classes are specially designed to reach adult learners where they are and bring them up to the next level."

Popular instrumental classes include Beginning and Intermediate Guitar for Adults with Kenton Youngstrom and Jazz Combos with Liz Kinnon. Singers can add their voices to Choral Singing with Leaav Sofer or to the Colburn Community Chorale, directed by Misha Shtangrud. Auditions for the community chorale will be held on January 29; email adultstudies@colburnschool.edu for more information.

Scholars in music, including Brian Lauritzen, Kimberlea Daggy, and Sean Friar, will offer classes in music history and music theory, while those interested in learning more about Great American Songwriters can sign up for the course led by Bob Lipson and Saul Jacobs.

Visit the adult studies webpage to read course descriptions and learn more about registering for these unique classes. Instruction begins as early as January 29.

Posted 01/09/2015 12:17PM


Among orchestral stringed instruments, the viola seems one of the most neglected by classical composers when considering existing solo repertoire—but all that will change if master violist Kim Kashkashian has anything to say about it.

In the early years of her career, Ms. Kashkashian came to realize she had many more opportunities to play works for viola in Europe than in America. In 2000, she explained the situations to Strings magazine: "Here, the viola is just beginning to be reluctantly respected as a solo instrument, while in Europe it is fully accepted."

In the late 1980s, she moved to Germany to pursue those opportunities and stayed for 13 years. However, an opportunity to teach with the New England Conservatory, where she remains on faculty, enticed her to come home. But the situation for the viola in America had not improved much. She remarked at the time, "American violists are still acting like missionaries and it's time for me to join the fight."

Ms. Kashkashian is counted among the most ardent advocates for the expansion of viola repertoire. Along with furthering viola technique, she has personally commissioned new solo and chamber works by many of the top contemporary composers. She relishes the opportunity to perform new work. "I feel that part of my job as a musician is to tell the news, to spread the word about what's going on in the musical world. It's our obligation, as well as a challenge and a pleasure, to work with the composers of the day."

Her advocacy and passion for new music was honored in 2013 with a Grammy award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo Album, featuring work by Hungarian composers Gyorgy Kurtag and Gyorgy Ligeti. The award energized violists everywhere.

"Kim Kashkashian is renowned for her interpretations of contemporary music," said Helen Callus, viola instructor in the Music Academy. "Her knowledge of this particular repertoire will be an invaluable experience for the students performing in her master class."

As a teacher, Ms. Kashkashian strives to impart both effective technique with artistic mastery. "The relationship between student and teacher is very personal, so it's important for a good partnership that we choose each other," she has said.

At the Colburn School, Ms. Kashkashian will work with music academy and conservatory students as part of a public master class.

Music Academy Master Class

January 15, 7 pm

Conservatory of Music Master Class

January 16, 6 pm

Posted 01/09/2015 12:16PM


Renowned conductor Sir Neville Marriner and the Trebles of the University Singers of California State University, Fullerton, will join the Colburn Orchestra at their January 18 concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Colburn Orchestra will perform Sunday's concert under the direction of guest conductor Sir Neville Marriner, founder of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Mr. Marriner celebrated his 90th birthday last April and maintains an active schedule of conducting. The depth and breadth of his musical experience is virtually unmatched, and he has performed with and nurtured generations of musicians in his illustrious career.

The University Singers will add their vocals to the Colburn Orchestra's performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets, a piece inspired by the astrological significance ascribed to seven of the nine heavenly bodies in our solar system. The vocal group ranks among the nation's premiere choral ensembles of college students. "It was unusual to bring in a chorus for a symphony piece, but not without precedent in classical music," said Kristi Brown, chair of music history and literature at the Colburn School. "It's interesting that Debussy used this for a mythical effect while Holst wanted a more mystical effect. It simulates an audio fade out effect we are more familiar with in contemporary recorded music."

Holst wanted the chorus to remain hidden and to fade away during the movement named for the planet Neptune. In the score, Holst wrote, "The chorus is to be placed in an adjoining room, the door of which is to be left open until the last bar of the piece, when it is to be slowly and silently closed." For the Colburn Orchestra performance, the chorus will use a different technique to preserve Holst's desired effect, one that takes into account the unique architecture and layout of the concert hall.

The CSU Fullerton choral ensemble is internationally lauded and well-traveled, having recently performed in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and Australia. Closer to home, the University Singers have performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pacific Symphony, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. "We are so pleased to welcome the University Singers back following their participation in last year's Britten War Requiem performance with the Colburn Orchestra," said Laura Liepins, the Colburn School's director of artistic administration. Visit our website for more information on the Colburn Orchestra concert.

Posted 01/05/2015 11:47AM


Most of the time, conservatory students add their unique voices to the orchestra's tapestry of sound. When solo opportunities arise, students selected to play feel a great deal of pride about their time in the spotlight.

When he learned he'd been nominated to play a solo with the Colburn Orchestra, violinist Blake Pouliot said he was "incredibly excited and incredibly nervous." Blake began studying violin at age seven and is now a junior in the conservatory's performance diploma program. He has previously performed as a guest artist with the Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Calgary Philharmonic, and the Commonwealth Orchestra. He was honored by the conservatory faculty's nomination to play the concerto. "It can lead to a lot of opportunities in the future," he said.

Blake is scheduled to play Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto under the baton of conductor Sir Neville Marriner on January 18 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. It is considered one of the most technically challenging pieces written for violin, and he will be performing it with one of the world's most celebrated orchestral conductors.

To prepare for this performance, Blake and his teacher Robert Lipsett began working last spring. After several months of study, he put the piece away, Blake said, "to ripen" in his mind. This fall Blake and Mr. Lipsett returned to the piece in earnest to perfect his performance in advance of the concert.

But not all of Blake's preparation happens on with his violin in hand. "There's a lot of mental preparation," he said. After putting the instrument away, he keeps the music itself nearby. "I go through it with my eyes, play it with my brain," he explained. Lastly, Blake said, he spends a good amount of time imagining the performance itself, a way to anticipate what the evening will be like, how he'll move through the space—all the finer details of the concert that don't involve the music itself.

Blake's ambition is to build and develop his solo career because he feels passionately about live performance. "There really is something special about playing for an audience," he said.

Sir Neville Marriner conducts the Colburn Orchestra in a program of Holst and Tchaikovsky on January 18 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Visit our website for tickets and complete details.

Posted 01/05/2015 11:43AM


With over 1,700 students attending classes each year, the Community School of Performing Arts is a bustling hub of talent, activity, and promise at the Colburn School. Registration for spring semester classes begins January 5 for returning students and January 12 for students new to the community school.

"Registration for the new year is now upon us and I encourage parents and students to explore the rich variety of classes and lessons that Colburn provides," said Community School of Performing Arts Dean Robert McAllister. "Not only does Colburn enroll students beginning at 7 months of age, but we also provide opportunities for adults to experience the arts as well."

Courses on the schedule promise to inspire and invigorate musicians, dancers, singers, and performing artists of all ages in a variety of options. Budding pianists between four and a half and five years of age can start a lifetime of love for the instrument with the "Exploring the Keys" class, which focuses on motor development, ear training, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and keyboard geography. Grown ups who want to kick up their heels might like "Adult Beginning Tap" with Denise Scheerer, which meets Thursdays at 7 pm here on the Colburn School campus.

During the week of spring break, the community school will host the special Merce Cunningham Minevent, open to all dance students in modern advanced technique. Banu Ogan, a former Merce Cunningham Dance Company member and current faculty member at the Juilliard School, will stage excerpts from select Cunningham dances. The minevent will run Sunday, March 29 through Saturday, April 4.

As always, students can choose private music instruction in orchestral instruments, dance, and voice by submitting an online inquiry form and passing an informal interview-audition with faculty from the community school.

Visit the community school website for more information on spring courses.

Posted 01/05/2015 11:42AM


"Students love making rhythms with their feet," said Denise Scheerer, chair of tap, jazz, and musical theatre in the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute. "I see them enjoying themselves most when they are really challenged."

On January 11, the Winter Tap and Musical Theatre Concert will bring to the Zipper Hall stage students from the Colburn Tap Ensemble, the musical theatre tap class, the apprentice tap class, and the high school musical theatre class. Appearing with the Colburn School students will be two visiting youth tap companies, Everybody Dance, under the direction of Carol and Steve Zee, and the Academy of Performing Arts Tap Ensemble, under the direction of Christy Hernandez. Several students from the new pre-professional Colburn Dance Academy will perform alongside the high school musical theatre class as well. "My students will enjoy friends joining them for this performance," Ms. Scheerer said. "Supporting and welcoming these visiting artists is a great experience for our dancers."

The concert program includes dances from 42nd Street, Oklahoma!, and The Fantasticks. The Colburn Tap Ensemble will premiere two new works during the concert, "Colby" by choreographer Sarah Reich and Ms. Scheerer's own "Jody Grind."

Ms. Scheerer describes tap as both a visual and musical art form. The movements of the dancers appeal to the eyes while the rhythms of their feet appeal to the ears. Tap dancers must have both a good sense of time and familiarity with percussion study.

"I hope my students will be proud of their work and have a true sense of accomplishment," she added. "They have worked very hard."

Visit our website for more information on the Winter Tap and Musical Theatre Concert.

Posted 12/19/2014 10:20AM


The Colburn School campus will be in winter recess beginning Monday, December 22, through Sunday, January 4. During that time, This Week at Colburn will be on a hiatus. Regular issues will begin again on January 5.

Posted 12/18/2014 04:47PM


As you take time to reflect on 2014, we hope you'll find many fond memories of the year past.

We've had a wonderful year with on the Colburn School campus with the nearly 2,000 students who joined us for classes in the performing arts. We are always thrilled to give these dedicated artists the opportunity to become better singers, musicians, dancers, and performers.

Here are some highlights from each of our schools:

The Community School of Performing Arts

  • welcomed eight new faculty members in strings, piano, winds, voice, jazz, and early childhood education: Dr. Rose Beattie, Can Canbolat, Dr. Vanessa Fadial, Alice Kahng, Cheryl Kim, Dr. Walter Simonsen, Dr. Ted Sugata, and Hester Taylor. Additionally, Kelly Ann Sloan (ballet), Tamsin Carlson (modern dance), and Gina Coletti (chamber music) became department chairs.
  • played a prominent role in this year's National Guild for Community Arts Education, hosting several events on campus. The National Guid honored Robert McAllister, dean of the community school, with its Milestone Certificate of Appreciation in honor of his twenty years of contributions to the field.

The Music Academy

  • reached its highest level of enrollment since its founding in 2010. Now the school is home to 40 gifted pre-college aged musicians.
  • unveiled the Guest Artist Series, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Jinchao Ma. The series arranged campus visits for distinguished musicians Laurent Korcia, Boris Berman, Kim Kashkashian, Hans Jensen, and Michelle Kim so that they can work with students.

The Dance Academy

  • brought celebrated dancers Benjamin Millepied, Wendy Whelan, and Jared Angle to work with students in focused master classes.
  • presented a midyear performance by students at the Winter Snapshot event earlier this month.

The Conservatory of Music

  • honored pianist Menahem Pressler at the 2014 Spring Gala at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Other renowned guests included composer John Adams, clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas, violinist Gil Shaham, and the Ebéne Quartet.
  • welcomed new faculty members Ariana Ghez (oboe) and Liviu Marinescu (humanities).

If you have a moment, take a walk back in time with us by scrolling through our photo archives on Facebook and Instagram.

We wish you a very happy start to 2015, and we hope to see you on campus soon.

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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