Colburn In Focus

Colburn to Host Young Dancers' Workshops for The Music Center's Co-Production of The Nutcracker

by Lillian Matchett

This summer, the Colburn School will host two workshops, June 19–30 and July 31–August 11, in preparation for The Music Center’s holiday production of the all new George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® by Miami City Ballet. The workshops will not only train students in elements such as choreography and long sequences, but will also educate students on the history and joy of The Nutcracker. Additionally, Colburn School faculty will lead a workshop with students from The Gabriella Foundation’s everybody dance! program.

Led by Colburn Dance Academy Director Jenifer Ringer and Associate Director James Fayette, both former principal dancers of the New York City Ballet, these workshops invite dancers ages 7–12 to audition for the opportunity to join students from both the Colburn School and The Gabriella Foundation’s everybody dance! program to train for the rigor and artistic demands of professional performance. All participating students will prepare for the chance to be chosen and cast by The George Balanchine Trust in this new production of The Nutcracker ballet.

Auditions to participate in the workshops will be held for all other Colburn School students and dance students from programs throughout Los Angeles on April 2. Registration opens for Colburn Community School ballet students only on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, and for non-Colburn dance students and dance students from throughout Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Visit this link to learn more about the workshops, auditions, and registration.

Taste of Colburn Auction Now Live Online

By Lillian Matchett

No matter where you are during Taste of Colburn tomorrow, you can easily bid online on all the silent auction items up for grabs at the event. From art and fine jewelry to vacations and concerts under the stars, the collection includes something for everyone. And these are good bargains for a good cause: all funds raised go to support need-based scholarships in the Community School of Performing Arts.

Bidding is open now and closes at 7:25 pm PST on Saturday, March 18 during the event. Check out to view the assortment of items, and register to bid. In-person bidding closes at precisely the same time, so you don't have to worry about getting out-bid at the last minute by event attendees.

The Community School's annual celebration ensures students have access to the best faculty in Southern California. Students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff come together for a dazzling evening of food, beverages, and performances showcasing the talent of our young artists. At the 2017 event, the Colburn School will recognize Anne Akiko Meyers with the Distinguished Alumni Award, as well as Alice and Joe Coulombe in appreciation of their philanthropy and contributions to the Colburn School community.

Don't see an item you want, but still want to help students with a passion for music or dance study at Colburn? Join us tomorrow night, donate online, or contact Jarrod Fasching in Advancement at or 213-621-1021. Though online sales close at 5 pm on Friday, tickets will be available at the door.

Posted by lmatchett in Community School on Friday March 17
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Starbucks to Close March 11-19 for Café Improvements

by Lillian Matchett

The Colburn Café is in the middle of a makeover, and the community can look forward to greater variety and enhanced menu options in a remodeled space. Please pardon our dust over the next week, as the area will be closed as we beautify the floors.

This means our campus Starbucks will be closed beginning March 11, reopening at 7 am on March 19. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our community, and we appreciate your patience as we improve our campus.

All year round, Colburn audiences and community get a 15% discount on food and beverage at the Omni's Noé Restaurant and Grand Café, located just south of the Colburn School at California Plaza. Simply show your ticket or your badge to redeem your discount. Visit the Omni's website for more information on hours and dining options.

Posted by lmatchett in Facilities on Friday March 10
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Community School Violinists Prepare for their Performance with a Superstar

by Lillian Matchett

Left to right: Katherine Zhu, Jae Yeon Hong, Natalie Boberg

Three talented violinists in the Community School of Performing Arts will recognize a dream this month: performing side-by-side with world-renowned violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. Katherine Zhu, Jae Yeon Hong, and Natalie Boberg will each play a movement with the famed soloist in a program featuring Bach’s Double Violin Concerto at Taste of Colburn on March 18.

Soloists and alternates for each movement were selected through auditions during February. Last Sunday, Community School violin instructor Aimée Kreston led a master class in performing with an orchestra and a partner for those students in Mayman Hall. She coached each student through the process of soloing with an orchestra, from walking on stage “with purpose” and shaking leaders’ hands, to exuding confidence and final bows.

For the students, the masterclass offered another valuable chance to hone their performance skills and get comfortable with the piece in front of an audience. Following the class, I caught up with each soloist as they shared a bit about themselves and their upcoming appearance with Anne Akiko Meyers. The interviews below have been lightly edited for length, clarity, and style.

I. Vivace
Katherine Zhu, 15
Studies with Samuel Fischer at Colburn and Hernan Constantino in San Diego

What are you most looking forward to about Taste of Colburn?
I’m so excited that it is Taste of Colburn, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Community School. To be chosen to play with Anne Akiko Meyers – who got her start here – at such a big event really inspires me.

We’re three weeks out from Taste of Colburn. What in particular are you going to be focusing on until then?
I’ve been looking up Anne Akiko Meyers’s performances, paying attention to the way she plays and her style. I’m going to study that and try to match that as much as possible, while, of course, still playing the way I play. The partnership between the two violin parts is so important.

Was this master class valuable for you?
Performances are always different than when you’re playing alone. It’s a different environment, different atmosphere, so to have experience performing the piece before Taste of Colburn is very helpful. The more that you perform a piece, the more comfortable you’ll be in the actual performance.

You travel up to study at Colburn from San Diego. What makes it worth the trip?
There are so many chances to perform, accompanists always ready, and the faculty here is amazing. I have another teacher in San Diego, Hernan Constantino, and he really helped foster my musicality and made me love music. Coming up here has helped develop different aspects of my playing.

II. Largo ma non tanto
Jae Yeon Hong, 16
Studies with Aimée Kreston

How does it feel to be performing with Anne Akiko Meyers at Taste of Colburn?
I’m just so excited by the fact that I’m playing with her and really looking forward to it. It’s such an honor to perform with a really great violinist. It’s going to be the first time doing that, playing with a soloist of that caliber.

Is there anything in particular you’ll be working on between now and the performance?
Personally, for the slow second movement, I’m going to work on improving and refining my sound so that I can really perform at my best at Taste of Colburn.

Was this master class helpful for you as you prepare?
It was really helpful. Before this, I’ve performed in Friday Night Recitals in the Community School and my teacher [Aimée Kreston] has me play a lot here at Colburn. Performing often really helps me learn how to play well and confidently for other people and in front of an audience.

III. Allegro
Natalie Boberg, 17
Studies with Aimée Kreston

How does it feel knowing in three weeks you’ll be performing with Anne Akiko Meyers?
It’s an honor. I’ve admired her playing for years. I love her rich tone and her passion for the music. It’s so evident in all of her performances. She’s also a great female role model for me. We are starting to see more, but there still aren’t a whole lot of women holding these major roles of soloists, conductors, and principal positions in orchestras. So I’m really glad I get to work with one of my role models.

Why did you choose to audition specifically for the third movement?
I love all three movements, but the third movement is really exciting. It closes the concert and really leaves an impression on people.

What will you be working on between now and the performance?
I’m looking forward to working with Ms. Meyers to make the piece our own and give a really exciting performance. I’ll also be working on some details on my end. Ms. Kreston and I play through the piece in lessons, and I am going to be doing more performing. The more you perform, the more comfortable you are.

Any other thoughts on the piece or the performance?
The Bach Double Concerto is very special to me. My previous teacher, [Community School instructor] Michael McLean is a Bach scholar, and he taught me a lot about the nuances of playing Bach. So the music is in me, and I’m excited to share that.

Taste of Colburn is a family-friendly evening of food, drink, performances, and fun. Proceeds from the event go to Community School scholarships to ensure students have access to the best faculty and musical opportunities in Southern California. Visit this link to learn more.

Violinist and Pianist Ray Ushikubo Shines on Public Radio

by Lillian Matchett

At just 15 years of age, Music Academy student Ray Ushikubo is already well on his way to achieving his ambitious dream of becoming a solo artist equally skillful on two different instruments, piano and violin. In February, he got one step closer to his goal when he was the first musician featured as a multi-instrumentalist Young Artist in Residence on the popular classical music radio program Performance Today with Fred Child.

In his interviews with Fred Child, Ray covered everything from how he first found inspiration for classical music in the cool and stylish protagonist of the Japanese TV series Nodame Cantabile, to his affinity for early 20th century violin greats, like Jascha Heifetz. He particularly enjoyed the host’s interview style, and felt totally at ease during his time in the studio. “Fred Child asks the kind of questions that audiences want in a way that allows people like me to feel very comfortable,” Ray said. “It’s more like a conversation.”

Ray spent five days in St. Paul, Minnesota at Performance Today’s headquarters at Minnesota Public Radio. He occupied his time practicing, performing, and seeing the sights. As part of his residency, Ray played outreach concerts for a local middle school and a high school in the St. Paul area. He enjoyed sharing his craft with other students. “It was a really fun experience to play for other students who are interested in music and have a conversation with them.”

The residency is yet another milestone for Ray, following performances at venues and programs such as Carnegie Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Merkin Concert Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and more. He’s performed with artists such as Lang Lang and Jeffrey Kahane, and was a recipient of the prestigious Davidson Fellow Laureate in 2014.

At the Colburn School, Ray studies violin with celebrated professor Robert Lipsett, and piano with professor and Music Academy Dean Ory Shihor. He finds inspiration in his teachers, and also in his fellow students. “The colleagues that I have here are all musicians that I could be working with for my whole life. To be able to meet them at this age is a really special thing for me.”

Listen to Ray’s performances and interviews on Performance Today’s website.

Conservatory Students Build Valuable Skills Performing for a Younger, Gigglier Crowd

by Lillian Matchett

In February, Colburn Conservatory of Music students Michelle Feng, Jordan Brokken, and Edoardo Passarotto gave a dynamic performance for 1,600 students over the course of four days in Zipper Hall as part of Community Engagement’s Musical Encounter Interactive. The program, combining music, acting, and audience engagement to tell the original story of a musical trio’s encounter with a zany French chef, was a completely new experience for the group.

The trio worked hard for months with acting teacher Debbie Devine, developing their presentational skills and discovering how to engage and entertain young learners. They were involved in the process start to finish, and spent countless hours developing the script with Debbie and scriptwriter Leon Martell, workshopping the program, learning lines, and performing.

For oboist Michelle Feng, it was a brand new challenge. They’d worked with the Community Engagement department to perform outreach concerts before, but Musical Encounter Interactive meant much more than playing a concert. “It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” she said. “We had to memorize music, memorize lines, remember all of that in performance, and engage with the audience.”

The group’s new skills will help them be more effective musical ambassadors as they embark on their careers. “The whole experience will be really helpful for future outreach. We were involved in the whole process, it was very interactive, and now we have that knowledge.”

The storyline follows a trio’s confusion as they work to impress a French talent agent, played by actor Bennett Schneider. They alter their playing to accommodate seemingly silly requests, not realizing that he’s no agent, but a chef describing food. Hilarity ensues, and they finally realize it’s better to trust in themselves and all of their preparation, rather than bending to what others say.

Throughout the performance, children in the audience are encouraged to participate and interact. Performing in this format was new for the trio as well, and has had its surprises for Michelle. “The kids laugh at everything, especially everything Edo says because I think they like his [Italian] accent, even things we didn’t realize would be funny.”

In two weeks, they move the show to The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Aside from logistical differences and adaptations – the stage is just a little smaller – Michelle is eager to experience the new crowd on the west side.

“Each group of kids responds a little differently. I’ll be really interested to see what they’re like, and how they interact with the performance.”

Visit this link to learn more about Community Engagement, or sign up for the quarterly Community Engagement newsletter.

Student and Alumni Accomplishments, March 2017

by Lillian Matchett

Jordan Reifkind
Jordan Reifkind performing at Taste of Colburn in 2016.

Congratulations to these students and alumni on their recent success.

Community School student Ethan Moffitt won the 2017 Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest. Ethan’s piece will be recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), he will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a composition lesson with Ted Nash, and a trip to New York City to observe the JLCO recording session and Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival in May.

Community School jazz guitarist Jordan Reifkind was selected for the 2017 Thelonious Monk Institute National Performing Arts High School All-Star Jazz Sextet, which will participate in a one-week intensive program in Florida this spring that consists of master classes, performances, and peer-to-peer teaching in the schools.

The 2017 Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition, which recognizes talented young musicians in California, named 14 finalists, including five Colburn students: pianist Tyler Kim, flutist Ann Kuo, and cellist Nathan Le from the Music Academy, and cellist Claire Park and clarinetist Javier Morales Martinez from the Community School. They will compete in the final round at UC Davis in May.

Community School jazz drumer Angelo Velasquez was the recipient of the 2017 Ventura County Young Jazz Artist of the Year Award. Angelo performed with his trio, Atrium, at the Ventura Music Festival’s kick-off event at Ventura County City Hall on February 21.

Violinist Blake Pouliot made his debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, following his win in the orchestra’s 2016 Manulife Competition.

Steven Metcalf, who graduated with his Professional Studies Certificate in 2014, was appointed Principal Bass of the Colorado Symphony.

Paul Aksman, 2013 Professional Studies Certificate recipient, joined the bass section of the Helsinki Philharmonic in Finland.

Colburn alumni the Calidore String Quartet were among the winners of the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award. The quartet was nominated by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in acknowledgment of their extraordinary talent and budding career

Calidore String Quartet Wins Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award

by Lillian Matchett

Congratulations to Colburn alumni the Calidore String Quartet, winners of the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award. The quartet was nominated by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in acknowledgment of their extraordinary talent and budding career. They’ll be honored at the awards program and dinner hosted by Golden Globe winner and Oscar and Tony nominee Sigourney Weaver on March 1.

Violinists Jeff Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry, and cellist Estelle Choi formed at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in 2010. Their musical bond was fortified during one of their very first rehearsals as they read through Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2, a piece which they sentimentally featured the piece on their 2015 debut album.

The group has forged a promising career, performing across the world in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Lincoln Center, and more. In 2016, they made international headlines as the Grand-Prize winner of the 2016 and inaugural M-Prize International Chamber Music Competition, the largest prize for chamber music in the world. They were selected as a BBC New Generation Artist through the 2018 concert season.

Visit this link to learn more about the awards and view the full list of winners.

Student Accomplishments, February 2017

by Lillian Matchett

Current Performance Studies Certificate student Patrick Hodge was named Assistant Principal Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

All Dance Academy students who recently auditioned for the Boston Ballet (11 students) and Pacific Northwest Ballet (10 students) received invitations to participate in each company’s summer intensives.

Music Academy student Tyler Kim won first place in the Blount-Slawson Competition, with a cash prize of $10,000. He will be playing the entire Chopin Concerto No. 2 with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra on May 1.

The Community School’s Monday Night Band, Thursday Night Band, and Big Band have all advanced to the finals of the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, which will be held in Monterey the weekend of April 1 and 2.

Community School student Ethan Moffitt won first prize in the 2017 Herb Pomeroy Jazz Composition and Arranging Contest for his arrangement of Chick Corea’s big band composition Humpty Dumpty. The honor earned him a performance of the work by the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra on February 11 and a full scholarship to the school’s five-week Summer Performance Program.

Benjamin Crofut, 2015 Performance Studies Certificate recipient, was appointed Instructor of Double Bass at the University of Alabama.

Cellist Arnold Choi, 2009 Bachelor of Music graduate, joined the Calgary Philharmonic.

Wes Precourt, a violinist who received his Artist Dipoma in 2009, was appointed Associate Concertmaster of the San Diego Symphony.

Peter Myers, a 2008 Bachelor of Music alumnus, was named Assistant Principal Cello of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

Luca Buratto Explores Great-Grandfather’s Legacy, Fascist Italy’s Dark Musical and Cultural History

by Lillian Matchett

Italian composer Renzo Massarani, a composer active during Mussolini’s regime, was one of the many Jewish artists and composers who were silenced, had their works suppressed, and were forced to flee their home countries during World War II. Today, his great-grandson Luca Buratto is a piano student in the Colburn Conservatory of Music, and Luca will revisit his family history when he performs his great-grandfather’s Three Preludes for Piano in the Recovered Voices class on February 13.

Massarani was of born in Italy of Jewish heritage in 1898, studied with Respighi, and was beginning to forge a promising career as a composer in the 1930s. However, after World War II broke out, Mussolini’s Italy became a dangerous place for him and his family. Following the late-1938 enactment of Racial Laws in the fascist regime, which also suppressed Jewish art and culture, Massarani fled to Brazil with his family.

He’d always had great pride in his country, but left with a feeling of disillusionment. “The music he was composing was very connected to his country, and he was so disappointed that he wanted to destroy all his music,” Luca said in a phone interview.

After arriving in Brazil, Massarani mostly abandoned composing, as he associated his works strongly with a sense of Italian identity. However, Luca insists that “music saved his life.” He started a piano bar and eventually became the principal music critic in Brazil’s most influential paper. “It teaches you that music can be very powerful.”

Massarani with his family on the beach in Brazil, 1943.

It was by chance that Luca met Robert Elias, director of the Ziering-Conlon Initative at the Colburn School, who organizes and instructs the Recovered Voices class with LA Opera’s James Conlon. The course examines lesser-known composers whose works and success were suppressed by the Nazi regime. Robert invited Luca to play in a guest lecture by Michael Beckerman, in which he discusses the music in Fascist Italy and how it differed from the situation in Germany.

Luca describes Three Preludes for Piano as somewhat neoclassical and very Italian, with marked influence of his mentor Respighi. During the lecture, he hopes to learn even more about his great-grandfather’s legacy and the historical context. “I, of course, never had the chance to meet him, and I’m curious about what [Michael Beckerman] is going to say. I’m very curious from a musicological perspective.”

The lecture is part of the Recovered Voices class led by James Conlon and Robert Elias, which is open to the public and meets on Monday evenings at 7. The class is part of the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices at the Colburn School, inspired by LA Opera's groundbreaking series

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