Double-Take Duet

Pianist, violinist, and Colburn Conservatory of Music Artist Diploma student Ray Ushikubo excitedly welcomed the opportunity to return to the Sounding Point Academy this summer. Founded by Colburn faculty members Robert Lipsett and Fabiola Kim, the two-week in-person program offers an intensive learning experience for violin students, including technique classes, master classes, and presentation forums. Ushikubo enjoys teaching young students, helping them discover their own love of music like he did when joined the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts at age 8. He also embraced the opportunity to deliver a very personal performance. He finally fulfilled a long-held dream of performing a live duet with himself, playing both parts of Robert Schumann’s Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in A Minor, Op. 105. Impossible, you say? Not when you employ technology such as the Steinway Spirio player piano.  

“The Spirio piano perfectly records my key movements, my timing, and my pedaling. The first time I heard it [play back the recording] was the first time in my life I heard myself as a third person, like a member of the audience. The sound is coming from the piano, not a speaker, so it’s a strange out-of-body experience,” says Ushikubo. 

Of course, preparing for such a duet demanded a nontraditional approach. Yes, Ushikubo rehearsed the sonata, but he had to adopt a wholly new mindset in how to play the parts. First, he perfected the piano and recorded it with the Spirio. Then he played the violin to the piano recording, and that’s when Ushikubo realized as a violinist he had to conform his playing to the musical line of the piano, and not just let his interpretation in the moment guide him. 

He explains, “There is no room for spontaneity because the piano was recorded. You have to think about timing and phrasing and balance. One by one, I mentally took notes about where I had to take more time or rush more and what I had to do to adjust to the piano recording. Every time I played it, I learned more about both parts.” 

It also challenged him to rethink his role as a pianist in ensembles and as a recital partner.  

“As a chamber musician, I’m often told to play the piano softer, and my response in the past has been to tell the strings to play louder,” he says. “This experience showed me that there is no way Violin Ray can compete with the volume of Piano Ray. I now think more about what the pianist has to understand when it’s under violin parts. 

“In fact, the experience required a lot of patience. It was interesting to learn how differently Piano Ray and Violin Ray think,” says Ushikubo. “I’ve never argued with other musicians like I did with myself. It turns out I argued quite a bit with myself throughout the process.” 

Despite such personal revelations, Ushikubo was pleased with his duet that evening in Thayer Hall.  

“The audience had the same reaction I had when I encountered in the Spirio. You’re not really believing there is not a pianist there,” he says. “It adds a new layer of how far technology has come and how cool it is to see one person play both parts. That’s the reaction I saw.” 

Ironically, Ushikubo does not consider himself a technology-oriented musician. That said, he keeps an open mind on its influence on the future of classical music. 

“That’s how music evolves. There are so many people today who still enjoy classical music, but you have to let it evolve, and that includes letting technology be incorporated when it is necessary,” he notes. 


Special thanks to Steinway & Sons for the use of the Steinway Model D Spirio | r.


The Colburn Conservatory of Music Turns 20

The Business of Dreams 

Richard D. Colburn, the School’s benefactor, had long dreamed of a small, tuition-free conservatory where young artists pursued music at the highest level. For this conservatory to succeed and become the West Coast’s answer to schools like Curtis and Juilliard, Mr. Colburn believed faculty must lead the way. Three faculty currently teaching at the Colburn School were on his radar: Yehuda Gilad (clarinet), Ron Leonard (cello), and Robert Lipsett (violin). Their students were engaging with music at an extraordinarily high level, which profoundly moved Mr. Colburn, who had never experienced this depth of teaching when he was a young violist. “He melted,” Gilad says, reflecting on Mr. Colburn’s reaction whenever he, Leonard, and Lipsett talked about their students. “He would literally be reduced to tears hearing about my students’ successes and challenges,” says Lipsett. “I just saw that deep connection with wanting students to study great music if that was what they wanted.” 

However, Mr. Colburn wasn’t ready to bank on what his heart wanted; he was a businessman and needed to be convinced he was making the right investment. Enter Executive Director Toby Mayman who fought tirelessly alongside Dean Joseph Thayer to convince Mr. Colburn that his concept for a conservatory aligned with the School’s, and that it would be done in the best way possible. When it came to closing the deal, Gilad calls Mayman “the architect” and Thayer “the engineer.”  

Shortly after the Colburn School moved to Grand Avenue, Mr. Colburn pledged $165 million to endow a future conservatory and the Board directed Thayer to prepare a strategic plan. In fall 1998, the Board approved Thayer’s plan, whose title captured the program’s vision in simple, vivid terms: “The Colburn Conservatory: A Community of Musicians.” Thayer then assembled the Conservatory Planning Group, which included Gilad, Lipsett, Leonard, and theory faculty Warren Spaeth. The five met weekly to discuss their vision for the Colburn Conservatory of Music. “There was a common purpose between all of us who were working to put it together,” Leonard shares. 

Founding faculty member Yehuda Gilad with Mstislav Rostropovich.

Mission and Philosophy 

The foundational principles of the Conservatory fall into the following four categories.    

1. Faculty

Faculty are the nucleus of the Conservatory’s teaching model: they are directly responsible for their students’ artistic growth. Their dedication to teaching is paramount, as is their consistent presence on campus, which brings the opportunity to understand their students holistically, not just how they are in lessons and performances. By establishing resident faculty as the standard, the Conservatory diverges from teaching models common to other conservatories, where faculty jump from school to school, often week to week, to teach students.  

With few exceptions, there is only one faculty member per instrument, so it is crucial faculty work well in a small team and believe in the Conservatory’s mission. “It is important,” Leonard recalls, “that they really want to be a member of the faculty of this particular school.”  

About the faculty, Mayman adds: “They are devoted to the wellbeing of the Conservatory as a whole. The faculty are treasures as teachers and human beings.” 

2. Full Scholarships 

Conservatory students receive free tuition, room, and board—the goal being to remove financial barriers and increase accessibility. The endowed gift from Mr. Colburn, with additional support from the School’s community, allows students to focus on their education, not school bills. 

The Conservatory’s independence from tuition income directly affects other aspects of the program. As Thayer explains, “Most music schools in the U.S. admit far more students than Colburn, in part to generate tuition. The Colburn Conservatory is based on a non-tuition revenue concept, which allows maximum performance opportunities for all students, a great deal of flexibility in everything that we do, and extraordinary selectivity in terms of standards for acceptance.”    

3. Student Population and Size 

The target size of the Conservatory is small: keeping studio numbers tight creates more performance and learning opportunities for students across the board. For example, as Thayer mentions earlier, orchestral students routinely play in each concert cycle. 

The residence hall, a huge draw for recruiting students, had always been on the table, but it wasn’t a reality until funds were secured for the Olive Street Building. Anecdotally, what convinced Mr. Colburn to support a residence hall in the new building was hearing that students would lose precious practice time commuting to/from campus. 

4. Performance Curriculum 

The Conservatory curriculum is designed to prepare students for careers as working musicians. “We cater to the needs of young performers,” Gilad shares, “without overburdening them with classes unrelated to their music studies.” Performance opportunities—including orchestra concerts, chamber forums, and masterclasses—therefore take center stage. Performance Forum, the weekly recital series where Conservatory students perform solo and chamber works for the School’s community, has been around since the very beginning. The inspiration for Performance Forum came from Lipsett, who spent summers as a young violinist at Meadowmount, where Ivan Galamian curated weekly concerts. “I saw how powerful and motivating it was for students to hear their colleagues,” Lipsett says.  

Founding faculty member Bob Lipsett in a lesson with 2013 Conservatory graduate Elicia Silverstein.

When Lipsett brought the idea of Performance Forum to the faculty, they all recognized that if the concert were to become a mainstay of the Conservatory, the level of playing on stage would consistently need to be at a high level. “For those who perform,” Lipsett explains, “it is as daunting as it gets because you’re playing for an audience who are all musicians. Their experience in Forum really prepares them for performing in the outside world.”   

A Conservatory is Born 

In fall 2003, the Colburn Conservatory of Music was official. “There was a pretty big buzz about this new school,” Thayer remembers.  

Although hundreds auditioned in the early years, the plan was to enroll small and grow gradually. In 2003, 15 students were offered a spot and all 15 accepted. There were 33 students in the second year and then 56 in the third. By 2006, the Conservatory had a full orchestra, which debuted at Walt Disney Concert Hall. In 2007, the new Olive Street Building was up and running, and became the locus of Conservatory activities. Boasting Thayer Hall, the Café, a twelve-story dormitory, and sixty practice rooms and teaching studios, everything about the Olive Street Building was designed with acoustics, aesthetics, and function in mind. Reflecting on teaching in the new building, Leonard says: “All the years I was there, it felt good to be there.”  

Present Day 

Twenty years in, the Conservatory still operates with a mission to provide exceptional instruction and performance opportunities to young artists. The teaching model and rigorous criteria for the faculty remain the backbone of the program.  

Founding faculty member Ron Leonard with students on campus.

Many of the classes that existed in 2003 are part of the curriculum today. Importantly, however, the Conservatory has grown a larger footprint in the community. With 2018’s creation of the Center for Innovation and Community Impact, Conservatory students have greater outreach and advocacy opportunities. Colburn’s robust Philanthropy department provides pathways for students and supporters of the School to share their love of music. Most recently, construction began on a Frank Gehry-designed campus expansion to include five dance studios and the 1,000-seat concert hall named for Terri and Jerry Kohl, which will provide a home for the Conservatory’s orchestra and encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary educational partnerships. 

Perhaps Lipsett sums up the founding and development of the Conservatory best: “It’s a great school because of the faculty, the students, and the administration. And, in the end, that’s what Richard Colburn understood.” 

The Last Repair Shop and Colburn Students Shine Bright at the Oscars

On a Saturday in February, Ismerai Calcaneo Lopez, a junior at Roosevelt High School and saxophone student at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts (CSPA), joined a group of friends to clean out a garage as an odd job. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the afternoon, until she received a text message saying, “Congrats! You’re going to the Oscars.”  

Calcaneo Lopez was one of several Colburn students featured in The Last Repair Shop, which won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary—Short Film. Community School students Dominic An, Genesis Garay, Esteban Lindo, and Amanda Nova were also featured in the film.   

“I’m still amazed,” she says. “I remember being a fifth grader in the rooms of Colburn and Dr. John Hallberg teaching me ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,’ and then here I was at the Academy Awards. It was crazy.” 

The Last Repair Shop was directed and produced by Kris Bowers and Ben Proudfoot, and co-distributed by LA Times Studios and Searchlight. It tells the story of four employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) musical instrument repair program. For 65 years, LAUSD artisan technicians have repaired thousands of horns, violins, cellos, woodwinds, percussion instruments, pianos, and more, all at no cost to students. Bowers, a CSPA alum and Grammy-nominated composer and pianist, was one of those students. 

“I spent every moment I could with the school’s piano. There, I found a safe place, and I found my voice. Those were the foundational moments that propelled me into the school band. To Juilliard. To the Oscars,” he penned in a letter to The Los Angeles Times last November. “The one person I never got to meet was the man who tuned that school piano.” 

That changed when he and Proudfoot met the shop’s supervisor, Steve Bagmanyan, to discuss their project. It turns out, Bagmanyan was that piano tuner years ago.  

“When I stepped inside the Los Angeles Unified School District’s central instrument shop four years ago, I was surrounded by incredible cinematic imagery: cascading ribbons of sawdust, blazing torches soldering brass, the grand choreography of the thousands of tiny pieces that magically coalesce inside a piano. I expected that. But what I didn’t expect was that every one of the technicians’ life stories would break my heart and put it back together again,” Bowers wrote. 

Indeed, the filmmakers discovered music has impacted each technician’s life in profound and personal ways. And now, they find satisfaction by enabling new generations of artists to experience the myriad benefits of playing an instrument. The Last Repair Shop delivers on that note, too. 

“I‘ve always been a kid who gets distracted easily,” says Calcaneo Lopez, who has been attending Colburn for seven years. “When I got the opportunity to play the alto sax, I had something to focus on. I learned time management. I learned more discipline. When playing music, you have to be on time, be presentable, and do the best you can.” 

“Music is a big part of my life. I listen to it every day and it helps me get through my life. It also makes me feel like I’m part of a community,” adds Dominic An, a Community School violin student who was also featured in the documentary.  

The Colburn students in the documentary were recommended by Susan Cook, Dean of the Community School. They auditioned for Bowers and Proudfoot via Zoom during the pandemic. Months later some of them received an invitation to be interviewed and filmed in Colburn’s Zipper Hall. Months after that, they were asked to perform with the LAUSD Alumni band to record a song written by Bowers for the film’s score.  

“That was a wonderful experience, to interact with the composer and be a part of history,” says An. 

Of course, one of the pinnacle moments for Calcaneo Lopez was attending the 96th Academy Awards ceremony on March 10th. While most stars arrive at the event via limousines, she and the other cast members drove up to the red carpet in a traditional yellow school bus.  

“We were representing who we are. We were representing our community and what the film meant to us,” says Calcaneo Lopez. 

And for this saxophonist, being a part of The Last Repair Shop has meant gaining a greater respect for the people music has brought into her life.  

“The whole experience helped me see Colburn School from another point of view,” she explains. “I’m grateful Colburn is not just a music school, but a family you create.” 

The Last Repair Shop is available for viewing on Disney+ and at .

The Colburn Center is Ready for Groundbreaking

The Colburn Center is Ready for Groundbreaking 

After years of dreaming, planning, and designing, the Colburn School is ready to break ground on the new Frank Gehry-designed Colburn Center, a 100,000 square foot expansion adjacent to Colburn’s current campus in Downtown Los Angeles.  

These state-of-the-art performance venues and learning spaces will support students in all units of the School and make the Colburn campus an even livelier hub of artistic activity. The expansion builds on our mission of education through performance and will provide future generations of students access to world-renowned performance and rehearsal spaces,” said Sel Kardan, Colburn School President and Chief Executive Officer. 

Expanding Artistic Excellence 

Since the School planted roots on Grand Avenue 25 years ago, its number of students, faculty, visiting guest artists, and audiences has grown year after year. It’s no surprise the School needed to branch out. First was the addition of the Olive St. building, and now, the Colburn Center. The land was purchased in 2016, the building project was announced two years later, and in spring 2022, the architectural design by Frank Gehry was unveiled. Now with construction underway, expected to be completed in 2027, the Colburn Center will exponentially expand the school’s footprint in Downtown Los Angeles. Located next to two other projects by the renowned architect – the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Grand – it will create the largest concentration of Gehry-designed buildings in the world. 

“With its Coburn Center expansion, the Colburn School is making a monumental investment in three key DTLA pillars—education, culture, and architecture—and helping to take the Grand Avenue cultural district on Bunker Hill to new heights,” said Suzanne Holley, President and CEO of the DTLA Alliance. 

“As an anchor civic and cultural organization, The Music Center looks forward to the new Colburn Center and the possibilities it will offer to students, artists, and the public. This innovative addition of another incredible building by Frank Gehry will further enrich the vibrant arts and cultural landscape along the Grand Avenue cultural corridor in Downtown Los Angeles, enhancing accessibility and fostering creativity for all,” added Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO, The Music Center. 

A Blueprint for Creativity 

The Colburn Center will sit at 2nd and Olive Streets, adjacent to the current campus. Gehry’s vision blends artistry with function and distinct identity to create an original structural composition. The building consists of an ensemble of interlocking volumes built into a terrain that slopes down from Olive Street to Hill Street and clad in a pink metallic finish. The components are knit together by an expansive light-filled entrance and a pair of gardens planted at street and rooftop level. Of course, Gehry and his team kept performance at the heart of it all.  

For example the 1,000-seat hall named for Terri and Jerry Kohl won’t be just another concert hall. Audience members will encircle the performance platform for an immersive, intimate experience. The platform has room to hold more than 100 musicians, plus an orchestra pit large enough to accommodate 70 musicians. Even the space above has been carefully arranged. Gehry and his longtime acoustical engineer, Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics, have incorporated concrete sound clouds suspended from the ceiling to not only inject an intriguing aesthetic but function as an acoustic enhancement. In keeping with this airy atmosphere, two skylights will bring daylight into the space. 

“The main thing is that the engineering doesn’t overwhelm the personal thing, the human feeling,” Gehry stated last year during “A Conversation with Frank Gehry” event at Colburn.  

In addition to becoming the future home of the Colburn Orchestra, the flagship ensemble of the Conservatory of Music, the concert hall will provide flexible configurations to accommodate a full orchestra, operas, and large musical theater productions. As the only mid-sized hall in Downtown Los Angeles, it will provide much-needed performance space for the region’s established and emerging performing arts organizations. 

The Colburn Center also will become the new permanent site for the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, more than doubling its current space. A 100-seat theater dedicated to dance includes tiered seating that allows for a variety of configurations and vantage points. Four glass-enclosed studios of varying sizes give students, faculty, and guest dancers a bright space to learn, explore, and grow to their fullest potential.  

The outdoor space around, and on top, of the Center has not been overlooked. Intended to advance the greening of Downtown, students, parents, guests, faculty, and community members will be welcomed into a beautiful, lush, and abundant street-level garden that will showcase yet another performance space. A rooftop garden will be an idyllic setting for receptions as well as small performances.  

Investing in the Future 

The Colburn Center has been made possible through the transformative gifts of philanthropists from Los Angeles and around the world. The Building Our Future Campaign thus far has raised $315 million toward its $400 million goal. 

We are deeply grateful to the generous donors who have allowed us to reach this milestone. Our fundraising continues to push forward, and a seat naming campaign for our future spaces and as well as our current halls will launch soon,” said Kardan.  

To be a part of this important development in Southern California’s future, contact our Philanthropy Office at  

How the Jascha Heifetz Studio Found Its Home at Colburn

Music has an incredible power to whisk you away to another place and time. It’s an entirely different experience, however, to be transported to another place and time by entering the intimate surroundings where an iconic musician composed, rehearsed, and spent his personal moments. That’s the surreal sensation people experience walking into the Jascha Heifetz Studio, located in the Colburn School’s Grand Avenue building. 

“I played for Heifetz in this room when it was at his house in Bel Air. My memories are that I walked into another world at that moment, and it was a special world,” recalls Robert Lipsett, the Jascha Heifetz Distinguished Violin Chair for the Conservatory of Music. 

“If someone told me at that time, this would be my teaching studio some day and it would reside inside a school that didn’t yet exist, I would have said that’s a bit too much to swallow,” he adds. “Now, it’s a monument, a sanctuary, a museum, and it’s where I work all rolled into one.” 

Securing History  

Jascha Heifetz is regarded as a preeminent violinist of the 20th century. A child prodigy, he made his formal debut at age eight, earning the awe of the classical world by the time he appeared in Carnegie Hall at age 17.  

“Nothing was ever the same,” says Lipsett. “He is the one who set the modern standard of violin playing.” 

Becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1929, Heifetz began calling Los Angeles his home. In the late 1940s, architect Lloyd Wright, who was also a friend of Heifetz, designed the hexagonal building that sat adjacent to the violinist’s Coldwater Canyon home. The original floorplan contained the studio, a bedroom-office, small kitchen, and bathroom. It’s been reported that Heifetz spent much of his retirement in these private rooms. 

After his death in 1987, actor James Wood purchased the property with the intent to demolish the existing structures. Before the first hammer came down, he let it be known that he would cooperate with anyone or any organization willing to assume the financial responsibility to physically remove and preserve the studio. First came the Los Angeles Conservancy, offering to sponsor a larger search. The Skirball Museum expressed a desire to house the studio and the Friends of Runyon Canyon envisioned it as a future visitors’ center. A Brentwood ophthalmologist even bid to have the studio added to his own Lloyd Wright home. Unfortunately, none of these offers panned out. 

The idea of preserving the studio as a monument to Heifetz seemed to be waning in the early 1990s when Hortense Singer contacted Colburn’s then-Executive Director Toby Mayman on the chance the School would step in. Recognizing the historical and architectural value the studio represented as well as the inspirational value the environment could provide students, Mayman immediately presented the proposal to Richard D. Colburn. According to a 1999 article in The Los Angeles Times, the School’s benefactor promised $40,000 only if Mayman matched the sum. She accepted the challenge and succeeded. Next came the unprecedented task of dismantling, moving, and rebuilding the studio entirely inside another building.  

Piecing Together the Future 

Architect Harold Zellman managed the “reverse engineering” of dissembling the studio. His team photographed, labeled, and painstakingly wrapped each one of the nearly 1,000 pieces.  

However, construction of the Grand Avenue campus needed to be completed first, so the dismantled Jascha Heifetz studio went into storage for years. Then in 1999, the pieces were unpacked and fastidiously reconstructed based on a computer model created during the dissembling. The challenge was to not only recreate the unique environment just as Heifetz left it, but also bring it up to current safety codes. 

Today, the Heifetz Studio remains a moment in history. The room still houses the musician’s blue-green daybed, file cabinets adorned with cartoon clippings, the custom-built desk designed by Wright, and even a built-in television and turntable. 

Because there are no right angles and the shape of the ceiling, I can’t imagine a more ideal acoustic environment to teach in,” says Lipsett, whose has conducted classes in the studio for the past 25 years. There is a golden element to the sound, an aura to the sounds. All the teaching spots in Colburn are great, but when I come into the Heifetz Studio, I have been transported to an older time. There is not a day that goes by that I am not humbled to work in this place.  

“But, I have never, and will never, sit in the chair behind his desk. That is Heifetz’s place, and out of respect, I cannot sit there,” promises Lipsett.  

Photos by Abby Mahler.

The Herbert and Trudl Zipper Archives Collection—An Archivist’s Perspective

For almost a year, I have had the pleasure of working on the Herbert and Trudl Zipper Archival Collection. The collection arrived in a state of mild organization but has since gone through extensive archival processing: surveying, arranging, describing, and preserving the collection. During my initial survey of the collection, I discovered incredible artifact after incredible artifact: a 1920s newspaper clippings featuring glowing reviews of a teenage Trudl Dubsky’s performance with the Bodenwieser Dance Group, a telegram from Leonard Bernstein wishing Zipper “all the best” on opening night of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (which Zipper revived), and a 1953 cassette tape containing a Zipper conducted Manila Symphony Orchestra performance of Beethoven’s “Eroica,” just to name a few. As of now, the collection has largely been arranged in an order that respects how Zipper had it organized and in a way that will make the collection accessible to interested researchers. The collection has also been stabilized through preservation activities like removing rusty staples, placing photographs in protective sleeves, and rehousing materials in acid-free folders and boxes. Another preservation tactic that doubles to foster access is digitization. Early in the project, I acquired a fantastic scanner to digitally preserve select papers, photographs, concert programs, newspaper clippings, etc.

I have also enlisted the USC Digital Library to help me digitize materials I am unable to digitize myself, including fragile scrapbooks, music manuscripts, concert posters, and cassette tapes. Just this past week, I received an email from USC’s Digital Library containing a file made from the lone film reel in the collection. Due to the physical condition of the reel, I was unable to discern the content before sending it off for digitization, so I downloaded the file with much anticipation. The payoff was more than I could have hoped for, the reel contained a 1954 film of Zipper conducting the Manila Symphony Orchestra for local school children. Zipper was known for school concerts he conducted in Brooklyn, Manila, Chicago, and Los Angeles. To have footage of him from the 1950s conducting a school concert is quite the find. It is moments like these that make my work extremely gratifying.

While my work is not done, it has progressed well, and I look forward to sharing more of the collection as the project progresses. If you have not wandered past the library recently, you can view an exhibit featuring materials from the collection about a famous Manila Symphony Orchestra performance conducted by Herbert Zipper following the liberation of Manila in 1945. The exhibit was curated by the fantastic UCLA graduate school intern, Chris Miehl, who helped me process and digitize the collection. For now, please enjoy the materials you see here from the extraordinary lives of the Zippers.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the generous support of Ann Moore.

Learn more about the Herbert and Trudl Zipper Archives Collection

  • Letter from Herbert Zipper to Mother from Dachau (1938)
  • Original Manuscript of “Dachau Lied” (1938)
  • Scrapbook Page Featuring Materials from Trudl Dubsky’s Career with Bodenwieser Group (1930)
  • Herbert Zipper Instructing a Member of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (1949)
  • “Paco” a Watercolor by Trudl Dubsky Zipper (1945)

Dance Academy Students Present the World Premiere of Contour and Flight

Trudl Zipper Dance Institute’s Dean Margaret Tracey sought to infuse this year’s Winter Dance Celebration performance with a commissioned piece from L.A.’s rich local talent. Reaching out to Janie Taylor, a member of L.A. Dance Project and a former instructor for Colburn Dance, presented an exciting proposition to mix contemporary with classical ballet influences.

Dean Tracey expressed her appreciation for Janie’s “extraordinary artistry as a ballerina … and I support amplifying the female voice in the language of classical ballet and in the exploration of the use of the pointe shoe.”

At the age of 15, Janie studied at the School of American Ballet before she joined the New York City Ballet where she danced for close to 16 years. After some time abroad when both she and her husband worked at the Paris Opera Ballet, they returned to the States where Janie joined L.A. Dance Project, a company founded by Artistic Director Benjamin Millepied.

With a short timeline for the commissioned piece, titled “Contour and Flight,” Janie reached out to collaborate with composer, David K. Israel, who has a long history of writing scores for dance, such as for Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, and the New York City Ballet. Having studied guitar in high school with Philadelphia-based jazz guitarist Pat Martino, David later studied composition with Leonard Bernstein while simultaneously studying dance history with the late Truman Finney, who had danced with George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet.

In discussing the influence of performing arts, Janie said that dance is “something I’ve always had to do—it’s just inside me, a part of who I am. And it’s something you have to love because of how physically and mentally demanding it is. I always enjoy the effort it requires and the challenges it presents. Dance gives so much back to you.”

David recollected having started composing at the age of five, though his first “official” piece was written at the youthful age of 12, an homage to Jimmy Hendrix titled “Fly Through the Wind, Jimmy.” And in referencing the pull of the theatre, David said, “It is like a temple, and the experience is spiritual and nourishing for my soul. When I’m not in the theatre or creating for something that’s going to be in the theatre, I feel sort of empty.”

Turning to the collaborative process of composing and developing choreography for “Contour and Flight,” Janie listened to a few pieces David had existing and identified one that resonated with her vision. “The music itself had given me ideas about what I could do with it,” said Janie. However, there still needed to be an accompaniment, and David accepted the challenge to compose a piece in a compressed amount of time based on general direction from Janie, such as tempo, length, tone, and emotion.

“One thing I thought about a lot for this piece was that these students are studying the Balanchine style of ballet and what that means. And I wanted to make something where they would be able to showcase all of those skills that they’re learning from this technique, … and I wanted them to be able to exercise that very specific musicality that they’re learning. I think that David’s music lends itself very well to the dynamic and speed and musical changes that are also usually in the music of a Balanchine ballet. So, I thought it would be a really good fit to use his music for this.”

David shared that the first movement he started writing was based on Vivaldi’s Sonata for Violin and Harp. He wanted the new music to feel as homogenous as possible with the first movement already composed.

“I knew that it was going to have a slightly more modern feel to it, but not completely divorced from the sort of baroque inspirations. So, you get a lot of early baroque kind of chord progressions, but with syncopations and odd time signatures and all kinds of wonderful jazzy stuff that just wouldn’t have been possible in Vivaldi’s day,” said David.

For the choreography, the juxtaposition of Janie’s classical ballet training and the freedom and boldness that L.A. Dance Project provides has enabled Janie to leverage both in her choreographic process and decision-making for “Contour and Flight.”

“Different choreographic processes I have experienced, including those while dancing with L.A. Dance Project, have opened my eyes to how many ways there are to choreograph and that there are no rules at all as to what choreography could be. Whereas in my mind before, there was a very specific way that choreography would happen,” said Janie. “This was very illuminating and opened up my mind to endless possibilities.”

For “Contour and Flight,” which features eight Dance Academy students, Janie was excited to choreograph her first piece for Pointe, as this was a divergence from the type of work experienced at L.A. Dance Project.

“Pointe was a huge part of my life dancing and something that I love. So, it was exciting to get to have that be a part of what I would make,” said Janie.

In discussing her choreographic process, she said, “A lot of times, I hear steps. I think in some ways, I feel like the dance is there already. It’s like archeology, and I have to uncover it and figure out the puzzle…. I use a lot of imagery which can come from anywhere, from my everyday life or more fantasy type images and ideas.”

Working with the Dance Academy students to prepare “Contour and Flight,” Janie stated, “They were all really great and were open to trying things. They didn’t seem like students … they seemed like young artists who are ready to be in a company.” She further noted, “It was really exciting to allow them to have their individuality and include them in talking about the steps, letting them have a voice [such as] how do we make this smoother?” Overall, Janie hopes the students “gained valuable experience being part of a choreographic process. [Noting that], as a young dancer, you maybe don’t get a lot of that experience until you’re in a company.”

“I had so much fun with them, which was a big part of it too—for us to also enjoy ourselves. And I hope they gained experience that will help them wherever they go from here,” said Janie.

“Contour and Flight” receives its world premiere in the Colburn Winter Dance Celebration 7:00 pm performance on December 16.

Learn about all the events for the Colburn Winter Dance Celebration and purchase tickets.

Colburn Participates in the California Festival Kicking Off November 3

This month, The Colburn School joins over 100 organizations in the inaugural California Festival: A Celebration of New Music. This two-week statewide festival was created by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony to celebrate new music. Criteria for music featured in the festival require that it be written within the past five years and be innovative and compelling. The founding organizations’ music directors Gustavo Dudamel, Rafael Payare, and Esa-Pekka Salonen sought to promote an event that “highlights the collaborative and innovative spirit that thrives in California.”

The 100 participating organizations include 15 youth orchestras across the state of California, and 24 nationalities are represented across the more than 180 works composed, including 36 premieres. Performances will take place across more than 90 venues. In a recent interview with San Francisco Classical Voice, Colburn’s Artistic Administration Manager Nick Gianopoulos said “At its core, I believe the shared goal of exemplifying the excellence of artistic creations of today is what motivates and inspires each of the participating organizations.”

From November 4 through 18, The Colburn School will be presenting four performances which span orchestral and chamber music, including a much-anticipated afternoon with composer, pianist, and Colburn alumnus Kris Bowers (Bridgerton, Secret Invasion, Haunted Mansion).

The Colburn School’s California Festival Line-up:

Colburn Orchestra: Shostakovich, Brahms, and Ogonek
Conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
Saturday, November 4 at 8 pm, The Soraya
Moondog for Orchestra (2022) by Elizabeth Ogonek

Colburn Chamber Music Society with Flutist Jennifer Grim
Sunday, November 12 at 3 pm, Zipper Hall
Lakescape VII for Flute and Vibraphone (2019) by Lei Liang
Hide and Seek for Piccolo, Three Flutes, and Two Alto Flutes (2020) by Allison Loggins-Hull

Colburn Contemporary Ensemble
Thursday, November 16 at 7 pm, Thayer Hall
Sundial for String Quartet and Percussion (2021) By Samuel Carl Adams

Amplify Artist: Kris Bowers, Composer and Pianist
Saturday, November 19 at 3 pm, Thayer Hall
Selections from Violin Concerto (2019) by Kris Bowers
Selections from Horn Concerto (2021)
Selected Excerpts from Film Composition

Other local favorites performing include the Inner City Youth Orchestra of LA, Jacaranda Music, LA Master Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Performances will take place in concert halls, educational institutions, auditoriums, clubs, and alternative spaces, making access to broad audiences possible. The festival is grounded in live performance but aims to “give a voice to artists.”

While speaking with San Francisco Classical Voice and reflecting on what the festival might accomplish in the long term, Gianopoulos said “I hope that the California Festival further cements the West Coast as a major hub for innovative and thoughtful programming and paves the way for other artistic and academic institutions to develop similar programming initiatives.”

The California Festival is supported by the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. Learn more about Colburn’s programming and other participating organizations:

Student Accomplishments 2023–24


Trio Azura—Duncan McDougall, violin, Yejin Hong, cello, and Yanfeng (Tony) Bai, piano—won the Grand Prize Medal in the 51st annual Fischoff Competition. They also won the Gold Medal in the Senior String Division, the Lift Every Voice Prize for the best performance of a work by a historically underrepresented composer within the chamber music world, and the Horszowski Trio Prize for Piano Trio, Senior Division. As Grand Prize winners, Trio Azura will participate in the Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy next summer.

Eder River Acosta, oboe, won the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Oboe Fellowship.

James Baik, cello, was selected as a winner of Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions.

Henry Bond, horn, won 4th Horn with the Pacific Symphony.

Isabella Brown, violin, won Assistant Principal Second Violin in the LA Philharmonic.

Andrea Caputo, clarinet, placed First at the Sándor Végh Competition in Budapest and will make his solo debut with the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer in January 2025.

Wei-Lin Chen, violin, was selected as a winner of the Taiwan 36th Chimei Arts Award.

Toby Grace, percussion, won Section Percussion with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Danielle Kim, flute, won First Place at the Artist Presentation Society Competition in St. Louis, MO. She also performed the Reinecke Flute Concerto with the Flint Symphony Orchestra in March 2023, after winning first place at the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition in 2022.

Jeehoon Kim, oboe, was selected as a winner in the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition.

Chi-Chun (Aurora) Kuo, horn, won the Brass Category at the 2024 Pasadena Showcase Instrumental Competition.

Vivian Kukiel, violin, won Section Violin in the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Ann Kuo, flute, placed first at the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, and will return in April 2024 for a solo chamber recital and concerto performance with the Symphony Orchestra and conductor Arturo Gonzalez.

Emma Lee ‘23, cello, won section cello in the Pacific Symphony.

Yu-Wen (Lucy) Lu, violin, was selected as a winner of the Taiwan 36th Chimei Arts Award.

Ian Mertes, trumpet, won second trumpet with the Atlanta Symphony.

Jason Moon, violin, won the 2024 Hellam Young Artist Competition in Springfield, MO, and the 2024 Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra Hennings-Fischer Young Artist Competition. He was also awarded the 2024 Rosen Prize from the Colburn School, given each year to a Conservatory violinist who demonstrates not only excellent musicianship but  exceptional citizenry in the Colburn community.

Jay Shankar, clarinet, won Assistant Principal and Eb Clarinet in the Milwaukee Symphony.

Emily Shehi, violin, won Section Violin (Second) in the LA Philharmonic.

Elvin Schlanger, flute, won second prize at the National Flute Association, Young Artist Competition, and was a finalist in the Sphinx Orchestra Partners Audition.

Elvin Schlanger, flute, won 3rd Flute/Piccolo in the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

Diego Stine, tuba, won the tuba audition at the US Air Force Band of the Golden West.

Yushin (Galaxy) Su, clarinet, won Second Clarinet with the San Francisco Symphony.

Benett Tsai, cello, was selected as a winner of Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions.

Ray Ushikubo, piano, won third prize at the New York Concert Artists Competition.

Tianlu (Jerry) Xu ‘23, cello, won section cello in the Pacific Symphony.

Ryota Yamazaki, piano, won third prize at the Ferrusccio Busoni 64th International Piano Competition.

Ye (Melody) Yuan, violin, won Section Violin in the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Music Academy

Trio de Ángeles—Esme Arias-Kim, violin, Angela Rose Padula, cello, and Caden Lin, piano—won the Horszowski Trio Prize for Piano Trio (Junior Division) at the 51st Annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. The Willow Quartet—James Birch, violin, Henry Woodruff, viola, Shinah (Sheena) Youn, cello and David Choi, piano—advanced to the quarter-finals.

James Birch, violin, won First Place in the Artiste Instrumental category of the Southern California Philharmonic Young Artists Competition.

Joshua Ho, harp, won Second Prize at the 2024 Musical International Grand Prix (Teen Strings category) and received the Valeria Finzi Scholarship.

Hannah Cho, oboe, was accepted to the prestigious NY02 program. She was also selected to be a finalist and bronze medal winner in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Annual Young Artist Competition, won first place in the California Senior Woodwind Performance Competition, and was selected to be a 2023–24 Fellow in From the Top’s Learning and Media Lab.

David Choi, piano, won First Prize in the Palm Beach Atlantic Young Artist Competition. He was also a 2024 YoungArts Award winner in Classical Music and piano.

Lillian Feng, piano, is a 2024 YoungArts Award winner in Classical Piano.

Henry Woodruff, viola, won First Place in the junior division of the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition in Santa Barbara, California. He received scholarship support and will attend the Chamber Music Northwest Festival in Portland, Oregon; the Morningside Music Bridge Program in Boston; and the Moritzburg Festival in Germany.

Ziqi (Flavia) Jin, cello, won a scholarship to participate in the 28th Morningside Music Bridge Program, and will perform at the New England Conservatory of Music in July 2024.

Trang Linh (Sicilyn) Le, piano, won First Prize in the solo category of the 2024 Elaine and Andrew Daniluk Florida Young Artists International Piano Competition and received the “Pianist Mary Lou Wesley Krosnick” award for a classical work.

Esme Arias-Kim, violin, gave debut solo performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in May, performing Chausson’s Poème as winner of the Crain-Maling Young Artist Competition. She also gave a live broadcast solo recital on the program “Introductions” on WFMT , Chicago’s classical radio station, in June 1, and performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Southern California Philharmonic as First place winner of their Young Artist Competition in the Virtuoso Category.

Caden Lin, piano, won First Prize in the Marine Band Concerto Competition in Washington DC.

Eiline Tai, cello, is a 2024 YoungArts Award winner in Classical Music and Violincello.

Kayden Kelly, piano, won First Place in the 2023 Nina Simone Competition (Senior Division) and performed at the 2024 Art of the Piano Festival, was a Junior Artist at the 2023 Junior Cliburn Competition and Festival, performed as a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and gave solo piano performances at the Salon de Virtuosi in New York and the Aspen Music Festival.

Shinah (Sheena) Youn, cello, won First Place in the solo category of the 10th Camerata Artists International Competition.

Nathaniel Yue, cello, won first prize in the Senior Division of the Adelphi Orchestra Young Artist Competition. He is also a 2024 Young Arts Award winner in Classical Music.

Trudl Zipper Dance Institute

This year’s 2023-24 Dance Academy students will continue their training at top dance programs nationally and internationally, including:

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Seattle
  • Arts Umbrella, Vancouver
  • Nevada Ballet Theatre, Las Vegas
  • Canada’s National Ballet School, Toronto
  • Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Ballet), Bloomington
  • School of American Ballet, New York
  • Charlotte Ballet, Charlotte
  • English National Ballet School, London

Chloe Oronoz, dance, is currently performing George Balanchine’s Serenade with LA Ballet.


Community School

Holly Lacey, violin, was the Grand Prize Finalist in the Classical Instrumental category of the Music Center’s 2024 Spotlight Awards. Community School students Jesse Hu, Vinay Sundar, and Kyle Yeung and Music Academy students Kailey Yun, Ruolin (Cindy) Jia, and Sophie Leung were honored as Semi-Finalists.

Jack Lieberman, alto saxophone, was the Grand Prize Finalist in the Contemporary Instrumental category of the Music Center’s 2024 Spotlight Awards. Community School students Charles French, Joaquin Garde, Jordan Klein, Taylor Lee, Ian Shin, Saoirse Sipes, Luciano Soriano, Kai Spatzier, and Nathan Tatsuta were honored as Semi-Finalists.

The Corda Quartet—Andres Engleman, violin, Sarah Yang, violin, Joshua Chae, viola and Irene Choung, cello—advanced to the quarter-finals of the 51st Annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Downbeat Magazine’s 47th Annual Student Music Awards recognized Community School jazz students, led by Lee Secard, Chair, Colburn Jazz Workshop for the following accomplishments:

  • Jazz Soloist: Cosmo Liberman, Alto Saxophone (High School Honors Winner); Jack Lieberman, Tenor Saxophone (High School Honors Outstanding Performance)
  • Small Jazz Combo: Colburn Jazz Workshop Thursday Night Band (High School Honors Ensemble Winners), Colburn Jazz Workshop Monday Night Band (High School Honors Ensemble Outstanding Performances)
  • Original Composition – Small Ensemble: Nathan Tatsuta, “Zero G” (High School Honors Winner)
  • Original Composition – Large Ensemble: Luciano Soriano, “Off Little Consequence” (High School Honors Winner)

Samantha Adams-Blanco, cello, will be attending San Francisco Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship for Bachelor of Music. She was also a finalist in the Coltman Competition.

Dominic An, violin, will play with MUSE/IQUE with conductor Rachael Worby at the Huntington Library and the Skirball Cultural Center. He was also a State Finalist in the VOCE Competition.

Ava Benayoun, cello, was named Principal Cello of WestSide Youth Orchestra and Principal Cello of Beverly Hills High School Chamber Orchestra.

Kai Canton, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Joshua Chae, viola, received Second Place in the VOCE Competition, Chamber Category.

Raymond Cai, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Ellie Chen, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Irene Choung, cello, received Second Place in the VOCE Competition, Chamber Category.

Henry Chung, voice, will be attending the Tanglewood Institute.

Scarlett Cohan, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to play at Carnegie in April.

Chloe Dahm, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Andrés Englemanc, violin, made it into the finals of VOCE Music Teachers of California Competition.

Alexander Fan, double bass, was nominated for a Disney Hall solo performance with LA Youth Philharmonic Summer 2026.

Nathan Fenstad, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Isaac Fujikawa, piano, won Second Prize in the CAPMT District III 2024 Sonata/Sonatina Competition.

Reese Fujikawa, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Collin Gee, cello, is a State Finalist in the VOCE Competition.

Sophia Glicklich, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Caden Guo, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Vivienne Harutunyan, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Will Hsieh, piano, received an Honorable Mention in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Madalena Hong, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Allie Hunnius, bassoon, has chosen to attend Brown University for the 2024-25 academic year.

Dagmar Huskey, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Kento Ishikawa, piano, performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (3rd movement) with the LA Youth Philharmonic. He was also a finalist in the Nashville International Chopin Piano Competition.

Kento Ishikawa, piano, is a finalist in the Kaufman International Youth Competition in New York City.

Jaden Kim, viola, made the 2024 California High School All State Orchestra.

Kayla Kim, viola, made the 2024 California High School All State Orchestra.

Julia Kleindorfer, cello, received First Prize in the Charleston International Music Competition.

Elysian Kloepfer, piano, received Honorable Mention for the CAPMT Contemporary Competition.

Ryusei Kobayashi, piano, received First Place in Piano Teacher National Association of Japan (PTNA) Online Etude Competition.

Noah LaPorte, double bass, was accepted into NYO2 for Summer 2024.

Vienna Lee, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Ashley Li, cello, was a winner in the Junior Cello category of the Junior Bach Festival.

Audrey Li, piano, received First Place in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Sophia Li, piano, received an Honorable Mention in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Kai Lindsey, violin, received 3rd place in VOCE competition in Chamber category and was a finalist in the Coltman Competition.

Nathan Liu, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Skyler Lee, violin, received first prize in the 13th annual Henry Schwab Violin and Viola Competition.

Cosmo Lieberman, jazz saxophone, performed with the 2023 Carnegie Hall National Youth Orchestra Jazz Ensemble, as well as the 2023 Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Big Band.

Robison Louie, cello, received the gold medal in the Violoncello Senior 2023 Bach Complete Works Audition.

Elizabeth Lu, piano, received Second Place in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Hannah Ma, piano, received Third Place in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Joseph Margolis, cello, is a State Finalist in the VOCE Competition.

Ailis Nguyen, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival. She was also awarded First Place in Division 2 of the International Association of Professional Music Teachers – IAPMT 2024 Grand Prix, and was also awarded Second Place in Category B of the California Association for Professional Music Teachers Concerto Competition.

Amanda Nova, piano, won First Place in the MTAC Los Angeles County Branch Dozen Charitable Trust fund Solo Music Scholarship Competition.

Nathan Ortiz, cello, will be attending Idyllwild Summer 2024.

James Park, violin, won Second Prize in Best Mozart Performance, Trio Dolce, at Great Composers Competition 2024.

Joanne Park, clarinet, made the 2024 California All State Ensemble for Band and Southern California School Band & Orchestra Honors Band.

Andrew Peng, violin, was the First Prize winner for the 2024 Baroque Music Competition, as well as the First Prize winner for the King’s Peak Music Competition (Group B). He also received first prize in the United Stars Music Competition, the USA Music Composition International Competition, and the Charleston International Music Competition (19th Century Music). Andrew was a major prize winner in the Satori Summer Music Festival, receiving the grand prize special award in the 9 and Under Category, as well as first prize in the Strings Open Category and Strings Qualified Category.

Aviv Pilipski, viola, received Third Place in VOCE competition in Chamber Category and was a finalist in the Coltman Competition.

Karolina Protsenko, violin, was a soloist with Desert Symphony at McCallum Theater in Palm Desert. She also performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor with Orchestra Nova Los Angeles.

Karolina Protsenko, violin, was a Special Guest Performer at Los Angeles Suzuki Institute.

Mina Ree, violin, won First Prize in the 2024 Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition.

Mina Ree, piano, earned an Honorable Mention in the CAPMT District III 2024 Sonata/Sonatina Competition, as well as 1st place in Grand International Spring competition from IAPMT.

Shinaya Shin, piano, won First Prize at the 3rd Concordia Music Competition.

Mia Safdie, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in April.

Samina Schultz, Music Theory, received third prize in the Charleston International Music Competition (19th Century Music).

Cordelia Scoville, piano, received award in Southern California Jr. Bach Festival.

Yuhwan Shin, trumpet, made the 2024 California All State Ensemble for Band and Southern California School Band & Orchestra Honors Band.

Luciano Soriano, jazz trombone, performed with the 2023 Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Big Band.

Harrison Suh, piano, received second place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Vinay Sundar, bassoon, has chosen to attend The Juilliard School for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Lev Taira, violin, made it into the finals of VOCE Music Teachers of California Competition.

Kaito le Tenoux, piano, received first prize in the International Association of Professional Music Teachers’ US Grand Concours International.

Liam Thomas, violin, won First Prize in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition and was invited to perform at the Musikverein in Vienna. He also won Second Prize in Best Mozart Performance, Trio Dolce, at Great Composers Competition 2024 and received first prize in the San Francisco Young Artist International Music Competition.

Lucy Tsai, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Rivenka Tomasian, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Lina Toyne, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Bryan Tseng, cello, was a winner of the Los Angeles Cello Annual Scholarship audition.

Max Von Der Ohe, trumpet, won a seat in the All-State Golden Band.

Alexander Wang, piano, won First Prize in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Richard Wang, piano, was a prize winner in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Kyra Williams, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in April at Carnegie Hall.

Margaret May Wise, piano, received First Place in the CAPMT Honors Competition.

Matisse Wittman-McChesney, piano, received First Place in the Elite International Music Competition and was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Jeah Won, cello, received First Place in the Cello A category of the 2024 Amici Solo Competition.

Rachel Won, violin, received First Place in the Concordia Music Competition and Third Place in the VOCE competition in Chamber Category. She also received first prize and the Exceptional Performance Award in the Charleston International Music Competition (19th Century Music).

Rachel Won, violin, won First Place in the ASTA LA Solo Competition, Junior 2 Category, advancing to state finals, as well as First Place Alternate in the MTAC VOCE State Finals.

Evelyn Wu, voice, won Second Place in the Charleston International Music Competition, Vocal Division.

John Wu, violin, won Second Place at the ASTA LA Solo Competition, Junior 1 Category, advancing to the state finals.

John Wu, violin, is a State Finalist in the VOCE Competition.

Iris Xiong, violin, won Second Prize in Best Mozart Performance, Trio Dolce, at Great Composers Competition 2024.

Kairui Xu, oboe, made it into the All-State Honor Band.

Jason Yang, piano, earned an Honorable Mention the MTAC Los Angeles County Branch Dozen Charitable Trust fund Solo Music Scholarship Competition.

Sarah Yang, violin, received Second Place in the VOCE competition in Chamber Category.

Simon Yao, piano, is a State Finalist in the VOCE Competition.

Hayley Yoon, clarinet, made the 2024 California All Southern School Band & Orchestra Honors Band.

Leo Zang, composition, won the Award of Excellence in the Music Composition category with his original composition “Dream” at the 12th School District PTA Reflection Program.

Ashlyn Zheng , piano, came in First Place at the CAPMT District III 2024 Sonata/Sonatina Competition (category A).

Charlie Zhong, piano, was a winner at Southern California Junior Bach Festival in Los Angeles County Branch.

Isabella Zhou, violin, won the Junior Violin Division in the MTAC VOCE Competition and moved on to the State Finals.

Lucas Zhou, piano, performed in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as a winner of the 2023 New York Golden Classical Music Awards.

Lucas Zhou, piano, earned an Honorable Mention at the CAPMT District III 2024 Sonata/Sonatina Competition (category A).

Bram Ziomek, piano, was a winner at Southern California Junior Bach Festival in Los Angeles County Branch. He also received an honorable mention in the California Division of the 2023 Music Teachers National Association Composition Competition.

Bram Ziomek, piano, won First Prize in the MTAC Los Angeles County Branch Dozen Charitable Trust fund Solo Music Scholarship Competition, as well as a prize in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.

Norman Pfeiffer Created Harmony with Form and Function for the Colburn School

Twenty-five years ago, Colburn School opened the doors to its newly completed home on Grand Ave., in Downtown Los Angeles. Students walked into a carefully and considerately designed school for the performing arts. Of course, the facility contained modern classrooms and special sound-isolated practice rooms, but also welcoming common areas and the impressive 430-seat Herbert Zipper Hall. The debut of the building marked the culmination of a multi-year endeavor to relocate Colburn to its own permanent site.  

By 1983, enrollment was outgrowing the old, converted warehouse facility on the corner of Figueroa and 32nd Street. A team of School leaders, headed by Executive Director Toby Mayman (1980 to 1999) set out to provide a more appropriate and inspirational environment. Once the property on Grand Ave. was secured in 1994, the focus switched to design. Eighteen architectural firms were invited to present plans. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer (HHP) won the job with founding partner Norman Pfeiffer spearheading the project 

This summer, at age 82, Pfeiffer passed away, but his legacy endures through Colburn.

  • The Grand Ave. groundbreaking ceremony ushered in the beginning of the downtown Los Angeles Colburn School’s permanent location.
  • Colburn School administration surveys onsite construction for the School’s Grand Ave. build.
  • View of the Colburn School’s site development from early excavation and foundation preparations.
  • View facing the Olive building from the Colburn Plaza which also features the Colburn Café that serves students, faculty, staff, and the general public.
  • Named after Herbert Zipper, a key figure in the history of the School’s development, the Zipper Hall seats 430 and resides in the Grand Ave. building of the Colburn School.
  • Named after former Executive Director Toby Mayman (1980 to 1999), Mayman Hall resides on the second floor of the Grand Ave. building.

Pfeiffer’s Footprint 

By the time HHP began work on the Grand Ave. campus, Pfeiffer had composed an impressive portfolio. He had a hand in designing several LA landmarks, including the Robert O. Anderson Building, which is the street-facing addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). He also contributed to the 1993 renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Central Library. Additionally, Pfeiffer assembled a repertoire of several educational spaces around the globe. But it was his commitment to Colburn’s mission that stands out, according to many.   

“Everything about Norman impressed me. He and his team came to the converted warehouse and observed us in operation. That made our discussions of what we wanted in a new campus more impactful,” recalls Joseph Thayer, Colburn School dean from 1983–98 and executive director from 1998–2008. 

“Norman was the only candidate who made an effort to fully get a sense and understanding of the function of the School. He had a basic understanding of the importance of what goes on inside the building, which was providing the highest quality performing arts education to as many young people as possible,” says Mayman.  

“For Norman’s presentation to the board members, he came with a full mockup of the mid-1980’s Grand Ave. neighborhood,” she continues “to aptly demonstrate the School’s surroundings. At that time, there was no Disney Hall, nor Broad Museum, although MOCA was next door to the site.  Height limitations were at three stories. An added element was the need to include the Jascha Heifetz studio which the School had acquired more than a decade earlier and had preserved in storage. 

Pfeiffer also appreciated the intrinsic value a premier performance venue added to students, faculty, and the LA cultural arts community. Decades later, Zipper Hall remains a prestigious venue for guest artists and audiences. It’s been named Best Small Venue by SF Classical Voice for the past three years, “easily outdoing the competition.” 

“Unlike a majority of especially prominent architects today, Norman fully appreciated the acoustical essence of Louis Sullivan’s mantra of ‘form follows function.’ His performing arts portfolio, and especially Colburn’s Zipper Hall, testifies to this keen attention to acousticians’ thoughts and design guidance,” says David A. Conant, FASA, principal of McKay Conant Hoover (formerly McKay Conant Brook), the acoustic consulting company enlisted for the design of Zipper Hall. 

“I remember a quiet, thoughtful, and consummate gentleman who, during interviews with prospective clients, spoke logically and clearly of the planning and design process and would regularly invoke the phrase that epitomized so much of his work, ‘Each important space should be considered as a unique design exercise,’” Conant adds.  

“It’s a striking design and adds to the wonderful variety of architectural design on Grand Ave. But for me, the No. 1 issue with any building is that it works and the buildings at Colburn work really well,” says Thayer. 

Pfeiffer and his team from Pfeiffer Associates (formed in 2004) applied that same expert attention to performance quality when designing the Olive Street building. Its doors opened in 2007, by which time Colburn had added the Conservatory. He also forged an inviting connection between the two facilities. 

“I think the design of the building around the central courtyard with the Colburn Café sharing the courtyard is a very important element of the School that was missing with the first building,” says Thayer.  

According to Mayman, Pfeiffer enjoyed the fruits of his labor. 

“I saw him at a number of concerts and performances after the completion of the Grand Ave. building,” she says. “It was a wonderful feeling that this was a man who exulted in the sense of accomplishment and watching the kids flourish in these surroundings. I think it was as rewarding to him as it was to me. 

Now, the School is writing a new chapter in its history with the groundbreaking of its latest campus addition. Frank Gehry leads the architectural team that’s developing the intimate Terri and Jerry Kohl Hall, a sophisticated 100-seat dance studio theater, as well as additional dance studios for instruction, and a study center, all of which will be highlighted by picturesque public and green spaces.  

Still, the impact Pfeiffer’s designs have made on countless students, instructors, guest artists, audiences, and community members will always remain a key component of the Colburn campus. 

“Norman had a major influence on what the institution has become, and by extension, the School has a bit of him,” says Thayer.