School is out, and that means revised summer hours for our on-campus dining options, the Colburn Café and Starbucks. The café will still be open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, with limited weekend hours through May 21. On Monday, May 22, the café will begin summer hours until the start of the fall academic term.
Summer hours are subject to change throughout the season based on summer camp and festival activity on campus. Visit this link to get up-to-date information from our café, including menus and schedules.
Congratulations to Community School clarinetist Javier Morales Martinez and Music Academy pianist Tyler Kim, who came home with first prizes in the Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition last weekend. The final round, held at UC Davis May 5–6, featured 14 finalists from across the state of California competing in three divisions. Javier won the Instrumental Division and Tyler won the Piano division, and both top prizes came with a $1500 award.
Music Academy cellist Nathan Le received runner up in the instrumental category. Community School cellist Claire Park and Music Academy flutist Ann Kuo also competed in the final round.
Javier Morales Martinez just completed his junior year of high school, and has been a student in the Community School of Performing Arts for four years. In the last year, he's participated in Carnegie Hall’s NYO2 training program, appeared on NPR’s From the Top, and was awarded second prize in the the junior division of the International Backun Clarinet Competition. He studies with Michael Yoshimi and is a Herbert Zipper Scholar. Visit this link to read more about Javier and his journey.
Tyler Kim is a 14-year-old pianist who made his concert debut at the age of ten with the Viennese International Orchestra at Palais Ausburg in Vienna, Austria. He has performed with various orchestras including the San Diego Symphony, Inland Valley Symphony, Alicante Philharmonic Orchestra, and Temecula Valley Symphony. He's won prizes at the US Open Music Competition, the Helen B. Goodlin Competition, the Southern California Bach Festival, the MTAC State Convention, and the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition. Earlier this month, he performed the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra as winner at the Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition. Tyler currently studies with Myong-Joo Lee.
The Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition recognizes talented young musicians, and awards Young Artists Prizes for musicians under the age of 18 in the state of California, and a Founders Prize for musicians aged 18-22 from across the US.
Help students like Javier and Tyler succeed with your support of the Colburn School. Visit this link to learn more
All 14 Colburn Music Academy graduating seniors were accepted to top conservatories and schools of music, including the Colburn Conservatory of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, and the Peabody Institute.
Bachelor of Music harpist Alyssa Katahara is a finalist in the Advanced Division of the 2017 National Harp Society National Competition. Elisabeth Zosseder, a 2015 Bachelor of Music alumna, is a finalist in the Young Professional Division. The finals will be held in June.
Ruriko Terada, 2017 Master of Music student, was appointed harpist at the Spoleto Festival for 2017.
Music Academy violinist Aileen Chung was named Orange County Register Artist of the Year. Visit this link to read the profile of her.
As the 2017 Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition winner, Music Academy student Tyler Kim joined the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra as a featured soloist on May 1.
Ray Ushikubo played Scarlatti, Chopin, and Liszt in a concert curated by Jean-Yves Thibaudet that was broadcast live on France Musique.
Community School student Alexander Hurvitz was a recipient of ASCAP's 2017 Morton Gould Young Composer Award. Visit this link to listen to Alexander’s award-winning composition.
Community School student Luca Mendoza is one of nineteen to be awarded ASCAP’s 2017 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. Visit this link to read more about Luca and his successes.
Multiple Community School students and ensembles won DownBeat Magazine awards for jazz performances and compositions. Visit this link to view the list of winners.
Natalie Hoe, 2015 Bachelor of Music alumna, was named principal clarinet of the Florida Orchestra.
Artist Diploma alumna Stephanie Ng won Second Prize in the 2017 Waring International Piano Competition.
Joseph Brown, 2013 Performance Studies Certificate alumnus, was appointed Second Trumpet of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.
David Fung, 2007 Bachelor of Music and 2009 Artist Diploma alumnus, was appointed Artist-Teacher of Piano at the University of Georgia.
Support excellent performing arts education so that students can pursue their dreams at the highest level. Visit this link to give today.
Luca Mendoza had his first introduction to the basics of notes and rhythms bouncing balls in time as a student in Community School instructor Kathy Sawada’s early childhood education class at just four years old. Since then, he’s thrived, going on to amass dozens of awards and accolades as a pianist and composer. On May 20, after 14 years as part of the Colburn community, he’ll address his fellow graduating seniors at the High School Senior Recognition Event.
After his early introduction to music fundamentals, Luca began studying classical piano. When his parents enrolled him in a jazz ensemble in grade five, he didn’t quite know what to expect. “I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into,” he said. “All of a sudden I was playing jazz with a bunch of my peers.”
Luca warmed to the genre quickly, finding encouragement and motivation playing with groups of other students. He started to see his colleagues bring in their own compositions to rehearsal, and was inspired to write some music himself. “If you’re in a combo and you write a tune, it immediately gets played,” Luca said of the composition process. He noted that the communal and improvisatory nature of jazz makes for a creative environment, perfect for working on a new piece. “You’re able to shape it in the rehearsal.”
In recent years, Luca’s piano chops and compositions have gained him a lot of attention, as well as numerous honors. Most recently, he was one of 19 to be awarded ASCAP’s 2017 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. He’s been recognized as both a performer and composer by the National YoungArts Foundation, Music Center’s Spotlight Awards, the DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards, the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, and more.
While he’s gotten considerable recognition for his work in jazz, Luca is quick to point out that classical music is a very important part of his life. He studies classical piano with Rina Dokshitsky, and composes in the genre as well. Recently, he participated in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s multi-year Composer Fellowship Program, which culminated in the orchestra’s performance of one of his compositions.
Community School leadership chose Luca as an exemplar of what students can achieve with dedication in a supportive environment. “Luca is the perfect representative for our graduating class this year, with a strong passion for music and deep connection to the Community School,” said Assistant Dean Sara Hiner. “It was here that he was first exposed to an arts education, found his musical voice, and learned the valuable role that community plays in the arts. We’re so proud of him and his classmates.”
Though he’s still forming ideas for his speech to his fellow students, Luca knows he wants to focus on the people and support system he’s found at Colburn. “I’ve always felt that [Colburn] was a second home,” he reflected. “I’ve been thinking about how much this community means to me, and how important it is to have a musical community.”
Next year, Luca’s off to pursue his two passions—jazz studies and composition—at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. Luca recognizes the future could hold anything, acknowledging his range of interests, from modern jazz to classical composition to new electronic music. In the end, he says, “I want to create an experience for the audience that’s individual to me.”
Help us provide a community and sense of belonging to students like Luca with your gift to the Colburn School. Visit this link to donate today.
A string quartet plays at Groundwork Coffee in North Hollywood, as part of Anna Scheider's composer + coffee project.
“There is no perfect opportunity. You just have to do it,” advises Lizzy Nicastro, Manager of Community Engagement and Career Development, as she guides students through the process of developing an entrepreneurial project for Colburn’s New Venture Competition.
The competition, now in its third year, was launched to help students develop creativity and innovation skills to enhance the work they do on their instruments. “An iterative process, students generate an idea, formulate a business model around their idea, and pitch it to a panel of judges. Selected winners are then mentored for up to a year as they get their business idea off the ground,” explained Nate Zeisler, Director of Community Engagement and Career Development. “We are always blown away by the ideas that students bring forward, and this competition has been a great tool for developing the careers of our amazing Conservatory musicians.”
Since its inception, the competition has funded student and alumni entrepreneurial projects from Solar System Symphony to the composer + coffee project to one of this year’s winners, a classical music drinking game. “The competition is completely different for everyone based on their experiences, interests, skills and strengths,” Lizzy added. She and Nate work closely with the contestants leading up to and after the pitch day, tailoring their mentoring based on students’ individual strengths and weaknesses.
Anna Scheider, a graduating bass player, received funding from the competition last year for her composer + coffee project. Since then, she has worked with the Career Development Center to create an intimate concert series in a coffee shop. She recently held her first concert at Groundwork Coffee in North Hollywood with a program titled “Music of Outsiders.” Anna and the coffee shop consider it a huge success, and the shop’s management is excited to continue working with her on more concerts. In the future, she plans to create coffee blends based on composers to accompany the music.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without Lizzy and Nate. They know that I’m better at planning so they gave me the push to just go out and do it,” Anna said. Lizzy is well attuned to each student’s working style, and uses that knowledge to work with them in the way they find most helpful: “Anna’s top strengths are strategy and planning, so it helped her to have a list of action items at the end of each meeting, and for us to break down the steps to get from this idea of having a concert series to actually executing it.”
Lizzy’s working process differs from person to person based on their individual levels of comfort and openness to changing their idea. “We warn students not to get married to how they think their idea is going to turn out,” she says.
Jordan Brokken, a graduating bassoonist, started off with a simple concept: a drinking game to make classical music more palatable to an uninitiated audience. Exactly what that looks like, however, is still up in the air, and he will continue to workshop his concept with the Career Development Center when he returns to Colburn next semester for his master’s degree. “My idea is kind of vague right now and to have the opportunity to get to develop it with people who do this for a living is a dream come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
In addition to Jordan, three alumni will also receive funding from this year’s New Venture Competition: Gina Luciani, who pitched an electric flute project to further her personal brand; Josh Cote, who is developing a 3D printed mass market horn mute; and Katy La Favre, who is writing arts and creativity based lesson plans for pre-K to 3rd grade students.
“Colburn is such a small, but powerful community inside LA,” said Amelia Dietrich, undergraduate student speaker for this year’s Commencement, while snacking on hummus in the Colburn café.
“Definitely,” agreed graduate student speaker Joseph Merchant. “The amount of intimacy gained from just physically being near the same people all the time – there’s an unspoken sort of energy that fluctuates together.”
Amelia, a violinist, has studied at Colburn for three years and, in that time, has grown to appreciate the opportunities and challenges of the community’s closeness. Living, studying, and rehearsing with the same people for years breeds an extremely supportive cohort.
But they agree that at times it can feel constricting.
That’s why she and Joe, a bassoonist who has been at Colburn for two years, have actively found ways to branch out. “Eating is my hobby,” says Amelia. “I’ve really gotten to know the LA food scene, and that’s been one of my favorite parts of living here. It’s been a really great way to explore LA.”
Joe, on the other hand, is an avid mushroom hunter, but due to the dearth of mushrooms in downtown LA, he has had to find other hobbies. “I got really into visiting different visual art galleries. That scene in Los Angeles is enormous. There’s always something new; there’s always something opening.”
Joe and Amelia tout the virtues of being well-rounded, especially as musicians in a small school like Colburn. Although Amelia played violin growing up, she never thought she would be at a conservatory. She started college as a pre-med student, and took those two years to seriously practice violin before deciding that she wanted to pursue it as her true passion.
Joe completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he took advantage of the university’s non-music classes and was “one British literature class away from being a poetry minor.” Besides reading and writing poetry, he also held part-time jobs serving tables at restaurants, which gave him a refreshing break from music and a different perspective on life.
“I’m so, so thankful to have come here with outside life experience,” Amelia gushed.
“It has helped me get a better idea of how I want to utilize everything that Colburn offers,” agreed Joe. “I wouldn’t be getting the best out of the experience if I had nothing to outside of Colburn to compare it to.”
In the fall, Amelia will be pursuing a Masters of Music at Juilliard with Ida Kavafian.
Joe is returning to Los Angeles after the summer and will be freelancing as he prepares for auditions. “It’s very rare for a Colburn student to graduate without a job or plans for grad school, but I’m just excited to exist as a non-student for the first time.”
This story was originally posted November 21, 2014.
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."
"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."
Update, May 1, 2017: The Academy Virtuosi will perform their year-end concert on Tuesday, May 2. The program will include selections from Vivaldi's Double Violin Concerto performed by concerto competition winners Ray Ushikubo and Qiaorong Ma. Visit this link for more information on the event.
Colburn is pleased to welcome violinist Kyung Sun Lee this fall as a visiting artist. Ms. Lee, who teaches at Seoul National University, will be teaching students in the Conservatory of Music and Music Academy, and will also coach chamber music.
“I am excited and honored to be joining Colburn as a visiting artist. Colburn has an amazing record of training exceptional young musicians, and I look forward to working with its dedicated faculty to be a part of the school’s success.”
Kyung Sun Lee performs Piazzola with the SNU Virtuosi.
Prior to joining the Seoul National University faculty, Ms. Lee taught at Oberlin and the University of Houston, and has taught or performed at notable festivals here in the US and across Europe.
Luca Mendoza, Evan Abounassar, and Jordan Reifkind received individual honors.
Jazz soloists and ensembles from the Community School’s Jazz Workshop won five awards in the 40th Annual DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards, and will be featured in the magazine’s summer edition. Since 2012, students from the Colburn Jazz Workshop have received 36 DownBeat Awards, which are considered among the most prestigious honors in jazz education. This year, Colburn students received honors across the categories of jazz soloist, original composition, and small jazz combo:
Jazz Soloist Outstanding Performance Luca Mendoza, piano
Original Composition – Small Ensemble Winner Luca Mendoza, Synergy
Original Composition – Small Ensemble Outstanding Composition Evan Abounassar, Enigma
Original Composition – Small Ensemble Outstanding Composition Jordan Reifkind, Dualism
Small Jazz Combo Winner Colburn Jazz Workshop Monday Night Band, directed by Lee Secard
Original composition is one of the Colburn Jazz Workshop’s key values. Jazz Chair Lee Secard encourages students to begin composing as soon as they realize they want to, and provides support every step of the way. Students perform their original pieces in their bands and through that practical experience, they are able to solidify theoretical concepts they encounter in the process of composition. Three students—Luca Mendoza, Evan Abounassar, and Jordan Reifkind—received awards for their compositions for small ensemble this year.
As part of the DownBeat Student Music Awards competition, professional musicians and educators from across the country judge students on musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, and more. The awards are an important recognition for early-career musicians, music educators, and music industry professionals, and students have used this recognition to garner more than $10 million in scholarship opportunities.
The first weekend of April, two jazz ensembles took home prizes in the finals of the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival: the Big Band won second prize in the Conglomerate Big Band Division and the Monday Night Band won third prize in the Conglomerate Combo Division. The Big Band’s set included compositions by students Ethan Moffitt and Luca Mendoza, and the Monday Night band’s set included compositions by Luca Mendoza and Evan Abounasssar. The yearly festival is one of the most prestigious competitions for young jazz ensembles, and the Monday Night Band, Thursday Night Band, and Big Band from the Colburn School competed in the 2017 finals.
Several individual students received additional honors for their performances and achievements:
Saxophonist James Day was awarded a scholarship to the California Jazz Conservatory and won an Outstanding Soloist Award
Guitarist Simon Carlaftes won an Outstanding Soloist Award
Pianist Luca Mendoza won an Outstanding Soloist Award
Bassist Anna Abondolo won an Outstanding Soloist Award
Bassist Ethan Moffitt won an Outstanding Soloist Award
The Monday Night Band is directed by Jazz Chair Lee Secard, and the Big Band is led by Mr. Secard and Assistant Director Dr. Walter Simonsen. The 2017 festival marked the third year the Big Band has advanced to the finals, and the seventh time in 10 years the Monday Night Band has advanced. The Colburn Jazz Workshop and SFJAZZ were the only programs to have more than one group place in multiple divisions.
Introduced in 1971 as the California High School Jazz Band Competition by Monterey Jazz Festival Founder Jimmy Lyons, the competition was conceived as a way to bring talented student groups to Monterey and to cultivate musicians for the future. The festival welcomes performances by middle school, high school, and collegiate groups of every kind: big bands, combos, and vocal ensembles, as well as conglomerate bands. Winning ensembles perform at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival in the fall.
Visit this link to learn more about the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival.