Student Accomplishments, September 2021

Emma Lee (cello, MM ’23), Jonathan Wisner (percussion, PSC ‘23), Cristina Cutts Dougherty (tuba, BM ’19), Javier Morales-Martinez (Community School ’18) were 2021 London Symphony Orchestra Keston MAX Winners at Music Academy of the West. They will have the opportunity to perform with the the opportunity to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Sir Simon Rattle in 2022.

Conservatory violinist Fiona Shea (BM ’22) won the 2022 Dorothy DeLay Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and School. She also soloed with the Pacific Symphony in August 2021, performing Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1.

Community School pianist Lillian Feng was selected as a recipient of the 2021 Chopin Foundation Scholarship.

Music Academy pianist Daniel Wang (’23) was selected as a recipient of the 2021 Chopin Foundation Scholarship.

DeVonte’ Tasker (Dance Academy ‘18) will join the faculty of Ballet Arts Tucson, the official school of Ballet Tucson, to teach Modern, Theater Dance, and Hip Hop/Jazz Funk.

Conservatory harpist Anya Garipoli (AD ’23) was appointed Principal Harpist with the Venice Symphony in Venice, Florida.

Music Academy pianist Lindsey Yang (’24) was a finalist in 2021 Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition.

Devan Jaquez (Conservatory ’19) has been named Principal Flute of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Isabella Bertagni (Dance Academy ’21) has been accepted into the Professional Division of the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Justin Cummings (Conservatory ’18) has been named Principal Bassoon of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Conservatory cellist Benett Tsai (BM ’24) was a semi-finalist for 2021 ABC’s Young Performers Award, one of Australia’s most prestigious awards for young classical musicians.

As a first prize winner of the International Music Competition “Grand Prize Virtuoso,” Music Academy flutist Nikka Gershman-Pepper (’26) performed in the historic Beethoven House in Bonn. Nikka also performed a solo concert with the LA Jewish Symphony and won first prize of Rising Stars Grand Prix 2021 – International Music Competition Berlin.

PBS SoCal and KCET will broadcast The Music Center’s Spotlight Virtual Grand Finale featuring Grand Prize Finalist and Music Academy student William Ju (oboe, ’22).

Modern dancer Tess McCharen (TZDI ’17) signed a contract with the Limon2 dance company.

Community School cellist Nathaniel Yue received first prize in the Young Artist Category of the Chicago International Music Competition.

Abigail Ullendorff (Dance Academy ’18) has been appointed the President of the student-run ballet company at Duke University, Devils en Pointe.

Music Academy clarinetist Noah Jung (clarinet, ’22) performed in Carnegie Hall with the National Youth Orchestra.

Dance Spotlight: Holly Lacey

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

When did you start dancing and playing the violin?
I started with pre-ballet when I was in preschool, so three or four years old. And I started playing the violin when I had just turned five.

How did you decide to start playing the violin?
When I was four, I wanted to learn the flute, because that’s what I thought Hello Kitty played, but [when I tried it out], I couldn’t make a sound out of the flute. And then I tried the violin, and I was able to make a sound. My mom had my great-grandfather’s violin from Indonesia, and I discovered that it was something I could actually do.

What’s it been like doing both dance and music at the same time?
It’s been a little complicated, just because they’re two big commitments, but I really love them both. Having both of them now at Colburn has been a lot more efficient than having them at two different locations and commuting through LA traffic.

You study with a few teachers at Colburn. How is that?
For Modern Dance, I have three teachers: Tamsin Carlson, Yuka Fukuda, and Chard Gonzalez. They are all amazing and they each focus on different modern dance techniques like Cunningham and Horton. Each of them also has different approaches to teaching and notices different things about the way each dancer dances and how we can improve. So all of that together [makes us better dancers overall].

As part of the Modern Dance program, we also continue to take ballet with Ms. Gillespie who has also been wonderful. I am really grateful for Tamsin as our Modern Dance chair; not only is she an amazing dancer and teacher, but she leads the program with such positivity.

I’ve been studying with Joanna Lee, one of my violin teachers, for a long time. She’s seen me grow from eight or nine years old to now, 14. So she’s put up with me for five years and has been there for every step of my musical development. She’s one of the most energetic and dedicated people I know. I’m really, really grateful that she has stuck by me.

Studying with Ms. Batjer has been amazing. I feel so fortunate to be part of her studio because I have been able to see the huge development her students have all made and all their amazing successes, which she genuinely cherishes; it really inspires me. I really look up to her and try to remember everything she teaches me. Every time I come out of a lesson, I feel like I have learned and gained so much more knowledge to make me a better violinist and artist.

I also study music theory with Kathy Sawada which has really enhanced my interpretation of music for both violin and dance. Ms. Sawada has been wonderful and I’ve learned so much, despite the fact that all of my time with her has been during the pandemic.

What has it been like at Colburn in general? Has it been different from other places you’ve studied?
Colburn has so many opportunities, especially the concerts that they hold and the artists they are able to bring in. For dance, we had somebody from the Cunningham Trust come and teach us official Cunningham repertory.

Actually, the Modern Dance program at Colburn is really unique because of the partnership Colburn has with the Cunningham Trust. Being able to dance official Merce Cunningham repertory is very rare for dancers my age and is only made possible because of this partnership.

What did you learn from the Cunningham Trust?
In the fall semester, Cunningham Trust stager Marcie Munnerlyn came in and staged a piece for our Modern V class from Merce Cunningham’s repertory, Changing Steps. Filmmaker Heather Seybolt then created a film based on all of our dances that we did; we were all really proud of it.

What have been some other notable experiences at Colburn?
Right before the pandemic, I performed Corelli’s Concerto Grosso as one of the three soloists for the Colburn String Orchestra in Zipper Hall, which was a highlight.

Seeing and meeting Ray Chen last year right before the pandemic was also memorable.

Even during the pandemic, I was able to play in a master class with Almita Vamos, which I was very grateful for and which I found very helpful to hear her perspective on my playing.

What have you learned from those experiences with guest artists?
The modern dance techniques, like Cunningham and Horton, are so unique. It’s not really something that I’ve learned anywhere else besides Colburn. It’s freer than ballet, which I previously studied, and doesn’t have as many rules, which is so interesting. I also find it fascinating to watch, and having guest artists come really expanded my exposure to this art form.

For music, with the master classes, you’re constantly working and improving your techniques. Having somebody else objectively evaluate your performance and give you feedback is really beneficial.

When did you make the switch from ballet to modern?
I did ballet all the way through pointe, and then I learned about the Modern Dance program from [Associate Dean] James Fayette. I actually did modern dance at Colburn and ballet at another studio simultaneously for a year, before deciding to focus on modern completely.

I found myself drawn to modern dance because it was like a whole new dance world that was different from ballet, even though my ballet training continues to be essential for modern dance, like the basics.

How has your ballet training been essential to modern dance?
I started modern at level three, so I didn’t start from the very beginning. When I started, I found that a lot of the steps and balances, and the phrases—the way you put them together—are kind of based on ballet, but different. While the basics may be similar, modern dance challenges the structured nature of ballet in a way.

How about music and dance? Do either of those influence the way you approach the other?
I think learning music influences the way that I’ve approached dance because they’re different art forms and they each tell a story. And while the technical aspect is very different, they really complement each other and they’ve both helped me develop artistically.

I think when you’re dancing, you’re telling a story and your movements have to show that story. When you’re playing violin, you also have to show them a story, but in a different way, because you’re helping the audience visualize it with the music and trying to draw out specific emotions.

What are you looking forward to when we go back to campus in the fall?
In terms of dance, I’m definitely looking forward to the studio space, because there’s just not a lot of space for dancing in my bedroom at home. I am also looking forward to being able to learn again from the other dancers in the studio and pick up on what they’re doing and draw inspiration from them.

For violin, there were so many things we could not do in person. We weren’t able to do orchestra or chamber music this year. I really enjoy both of those, so I’m really looking forward to that.

For both dance and music, I also think just being able to perform again in front of a live audience and in an actual performance hall will feel amazing.

Despite the pandemic, I feel that I’ve still grown a lot, technically and artistically, and my teachers deserve a lot of credit for that. I also am very grateful to our Dean, Jenifer Ringer, because she really pivoted [Trudl Zipper Dance Institute] (TZDI) to online classes immediately and kept all of us engaged throughout the pandemic, and even coordinated a TZDI-wide Nutcracker!

Do you have any idea what you might want to do with music and dance in the future?
I think the next four years of high school would be important for me to decide on how I can build a career in both music and dance or the arts in general. There are so many great role models at Colburn to look up to. All of my teachers have had really successful careers in the arts, so it’d be incredible to do the same.

Dance Spotlight: Micah Miko-Levine

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

When did you start dancing?
In first grade. I was part of my school’s musical theater productions, and that opened me up to jazz specifically. Then I started doing some musical theater productions in Pasadena, and then I found out about Colburn and that’s when I became much more serious about certain styles of dance.

Why did you start dancing?
I always found musical theater so exciting. It was a way that I could let out all my energy and not have to be contained. When I was really little, I’d always lip sync. Then I was actually able to get into musical theater and do [it] in real life while people are watching and listening.

As I’ve grown, I’ve seen how happy it makes people that watch it. So that just brings me to life even more, seeing people so engaged by this art form. Knowing that I’m making people feel things and connect is something that I find really beautiful. When it comes to musical theater, it just excites me inside, and I know it’s exciting others.

It must be a different experience now without that energy from in-person performances.
It’s definitely interesting to bring to life what you’re doing, but only see people on screen. I use my imagination when I’m doing it, and I can easily sort of feel myself enter the stage, but it’s definitely very odd because then you come back to reality. You’re like, “Oh, I’m the only person in this room, but I just have to work with what I got.”

But I really enjoy it when I get to work with somebody else and they split us into smaller groups. It’s still really lovely, and I feel so happy to be able to do it even in my room because even with technology, I’m still dancing and I’m still getting all that energy.

How did you decide what genre you wanted to focus on?
I’ve always been intrigued by the jazz world, I think because I grew up watching lots of musicals and I love Fosse technique. I was always so jazzed up about it when I watched it. That style just feels the most exploratory and intriguing to me.

So that’s what I like the most, but I definitely believe in taking ballet classes. I think that’s a great grounding to your style. Like I said, I’ve gotten more interested in tap with Ms. Denise [Scheerer] and that has opened me up to a whole new world of expression with rhythm.

What has it been like getting more serious about tap, especially over Zoom?
It’s really funny because I started when we were in-person, and it was really great to hear everybody at the same time, especially with something like tap where it’s all sound. Being in a room full of people made it really nice to be able to hear one another and be able to make sure you were getting everything right.

But being at home and doing it virtually has been a very different experience. I’m definitely able to learn because Ms. Denise is there and she’s doing it, but it’s just a different experience to not hear other people with you while you’re performing.

I always have to remind myself to look up and perform, instead of looking down because the computer screen’s down at my feet. You can normally use your peripheral vision and look at people next to you, but now you’re looking down at a screen.

I definitely feel that I go into my own zone when I’m tapping by myself, which can be really therapeutic. I know what I’m getting wrong because I can hear it. It’s very meditative too.

You recently recorded something for Sweets from the Nutcracker. What was it like working on that?
It was really interesting. I was able to set up a whole space when I did tap in my living room, and I had my dad film it. I had my earbuds in, so it was really bizarre to not be able to hear other people while performing. I was still able to hear the music, but it was odd.

I wouldn’t love to do it for years and years and years. I much prefer being in-person, but it was nice to see the end product and know that we all did this and we all had to go through this together, but that we were still able to bring something beautiful and show people.

Before The Nutcracker, you also worked on the Musical Theater video from last summer. How was that?
We did “The New World” from Songs for a New World. It was the same sort of idea that we did with Sweets from The Nutcracker. We each individually recorded pieces, but we got to be a lot more experimental with it. We did these outtake ideas where you are looking out a window or lip syncing. That was something that I think brought a whole new level to the sort of film that we made. It was really lovely because you got to see so many people doing their own thing in the final result.

It feels very individualized and personal to be in class practicing and to do your own recording. But when all the pieces are brought together, and I got to see that final product with the music and with all of us singing, it was really, really heartfelt, especially because we don’t get to have that so much now. I was so happy when I saw the final result.

What have you learned from dancing at Colburn in general?
What’s really great about Ms. Denise is that she’s had so much experience and because of that can choreograph really, really well; everything she’s choreographed for us has been really awesome.

I haven’t had much experience outside of Colburn, but I can’t imagine it being any better than it is. It’s been very prestigious, and I’ve been able to really get challenged in ways that I wasn’t in other places. I’ve been able to get to a higher level and go to classes that are for people older than me, like being in Musical Theater for High School and not even being in high school. I’ve been able to grow and excel in dance and just learn so quickly and have these teachers that are just so excited for me to keep learning and to keep challenging myself.

Musical Theater 2020

Micah Miko-Levine Performs "The New World" in Musical Theater Summer Workshop 2020

Fall Registration Begins for Community School and Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, Featuring New Online Programming

Over the past few months, as we have pivoted and adjusted to our collective new reality, Colburn has remained dedicated to providing the best possible online education for our students. As we transition to an online Fall semester, the School will continue this commitment. Academic leadership and faculty have spent countless hours exploring best practices in online learning, investigating new resources, and planning a variety of unique opportunities for students in each unit to create the most enriching, rewarding, and effective learning experience for all our students.

As the Fall semester begins for the the Community School of Performing Arts and Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, students will benefit from new online offerings to help them perfect technique, build musicianship and artistry, and develop new ways of learning throughout this challenging time.

Community School of Performing Arts

Community School students will be able to continue their private lessons and group classes (early childhood, instrumental group classes, jazz workshops, chamber music, and drama) remotely. Students who register for private lessons prior to August 31 are eligible for special incentives including no payment plan fees, the same tuition fees as last year, a $25 loyalty discount for continuing students, and a sibling discount.

Students can also take advantage of new classes for the fall, including gap year packages for students planning to defer their undergraduate studies; a master class series with celebrated guest artists; and new online group classes. Additional classes will be announced as they are confirmed.

One such class is the Music Production course taught by Brian Langsbard, which teaches the basics of Logic Pro X, recording, engineering, and mixing—especially valuable for students who may want to share recordings digitally.

Music lovers will be able to take a new Music Appreciation and History course for adults: a four-week lecture series on Beethoven and the Ninth Symphony taught by Music History Chair and A Serving of Beethoven host Dr. Kristi Brown-Montesano.

In addition, string players can also choose from two levels of Violin Sight Reading and Musicianship and two levels of String Workshops for Violin, Viola, and Cello. These group classes are designed to give students the feeling of community while providing them with the necessary skills that will enable them to evaluate and analyze their own musical progress. Additional classes for advanced violinists will be added soon.

Registration begins on August 1 for returning students and August 15 for new students.

Trudl Zipper Dance Institute

The Trudl Zipper Dance Institute has outlined three goals for students in the Colburn Connected virtual dance program this fall: engagement, progression, and inspiration. Even in the students’ at-home studios, the study of dance is productive and meaningful. There are many ways to keep students connected to their Colburn family in their dance technique and in their personal artistry while staying safely at home.

Engagement: Each upper-level student will receive private lessons to assess progress and set achievable goals for the semester. Class sizes for all levels will be small to increase the amount of personal attention each student receives.

Progression: Each individual student will be made aware of their technical goals for the year and will work with their teachers to accomplish those goals. We will support student progress by increasing their strength and stamina with cross-training opportunities and helping them to create an optimal home studio learning environment.

Inspiration: The faculty and staff of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute will work to inspire students by adding film and choreographic projects for all levels that will provide the students an outlet for their creativity, keep them dancing, and help them develop their artistry in new ways.

In addition to the 100+ dance classes offered each week in ballet, modern, tap, and musical theater, Colburn Dance is including new “Plus” classes to supplement our students’ dance training and physicality. Students will be able to take master classes with notable professional artists, create solo dance videos and audition videos for advanced students, and take cross-training classes and wellness lectures.

In particular, a new Artists of Influence curriculum series will be offered to enhance students’ historical knowledge, highlighting dancers of color. Later in the semester, all dance students regardless of genre will be able to participate in a new winter film, recorded remotely. The working title is Sweets from the Nutcracker, performed to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Registration begins on July 28 for returning students and August 10 for new students.

Dance Spotlight: Ryan Edge

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you start dancing?
When I was very young, I went to a birthday party, and at that birthday party people were playing a video game called the Michael Jackson Experience. So I got introduced to Michael Jackson through that, and I fell in love with his dance and his music. So, that’s how I got into dance in general.

For tap specifically, I watched a lot of Gene Kelly movies. After falling in love with dance, I started to like tap too.

What about musical theater?
Like the Gene Kelly thing, I watched a lot of movie musicals. At first I didn’t really like singing or acting that much. I was mostly focused on dance until I was put into my middle school play, which was West Side Story, and I had a ton of fun with that. And that’s how I fell in love with musical theater.

How has it been at Colburn?
I love it here at Colburn. I’ve a ton of fun, and I’ve been very happy here. It’s great. I am also very honored to have been awarded a merit scholarship because without that, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be at Colburn, and I probably wouldn’t be dancing as much.

You take lessons with Denise Scheerer. How is that?
Denise is a really great teacher, and she’s really like a mentor to me. Her way of dance has impacted the way I dance. She made it more fun, and she made me want to do dance as a career when I’m older.

What are some things that you’ve learned from her?
First of all, I learned timing because that’s a big deal in tap. But also, to just be chill about it. Don’t be like so hard, just be calm about it, do it lightly, and make it look good.

How did she inspire you to pursue dance as a career?
At first I was just like, “I’ll just do this for fun.” And then because of Denise’s work, I fell in love with dance even more, and kind of had ding moment like, “Oh. This is what I want to do for a living. This is exactly what I should do.”

What do you do in your tap and musical theater classes?
For tap, I actually have four tap teachers, and each one of them has a different style of tap and a unique way of teaching and of tapping. So through tap, I learn a lot with their techniques, and the way they teach, and it’s a lot of fun.

Musical theater is also a lot of fun. Half of it is dance, and half of it is singing, and then in both of those you learn acting. And the teachers there are also great, and they help you a lot with what you’re learning.

How does tap help you with musical theater or the other way around?
They both help each other. Not a lot of people do tap in musical theater at least nowadays, so it’s kind of an advantage for musical theater.

The way that musical theater helps with tap is that the dance style in musical theater is mostly jazz. Jazz requires more flexibility, and you get better with turns and stuff. That really helps with tap as well with your upper body.

What’s the piece you’ll be performing for this?
It’s an a cappella piece taught by Joseph Wiggan, who’s one of my tap teachers. It’s a lot of movement, and a lot of stretching out because that’s something Joseph really works on, expanding yourself.

What are some challenges specific to doing it without music?
It’s difficult especially with a group of people, because with music you can hear the time or the beat, and so you know what step goes where. But without music, it’s hard to keep in time with everybody else. You have to time it in your head. Sometimes we rush or slow down a lot.

Are you performing this with the ensemble anytime soon?
We did it last year for a performance, and this Thursday we’re doing a community service thing where we go into an elementary school and we tap for kids. So, we’re doing that piece there.

That’s so cool. Why do you guys do that?
I think it’s getting kids to start thinking about what they want to do when they grow up, and tap might be one of them. We’re kind of just like, “Hey. Here’s something you might want to look at, and start trying and see if you like it.”

How do the kids like it?
They love it. Usually the kids try to tap, but they’re like stomping their feet everywhere, or they’re just like amazed like, “Whoa. They can tap. That’s so cool.”

What’s the importance of the arts in your life?
It’s a great way of learning and trying new things. It impacted my life in that it brought me a whole lot more joy. I’ve had so much fun with it, and it’s brought me strength into who I am. And I think that’s what art, or performing arts, does.

Ryan Edge tap dancing

Ryan Edge Performs Tap

The monthly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.


New Programs and Offerings Enrich Colburn Students’ Artistic Development

Colburn students have always had access to the highest-quality performing arts education through our world-class faculty, sequential learning programs, and multiple performance opportunities. However, beginning this school year, they will have even more ways to take their artistry to the next level.

Read on to discover exciting new offerings from around the school.

Center for Innovation and Community Impact

Starting this school year, the Center for Innovation and Community Impact will offer a series of eight short courses for Colburn students as part of its career development programming. Although the courses are designed for Conservatory students, all music students will benefit and are encouraged to attend.

Students will be able to select from seminars that cover resume, biography, and professional photo tips, financial literacy, community engagement, digital marketing, and other practical knowledge and skills for professional musicians.


Previously, graduating Conservatory students enrolled in the Working Musician course taught by Dr. Nathaniel Zeisler, Dean for Community Initiatives. By adapting this one course into several different classes, students will be able to choose areas that are most relevant to their career goals, giving them a more tailored and in-depth experience. Students will also be able to take courses throughout their enrollment at Colburn rather than only in their senior year, thus allowing them to develop skills and understanding throughout their education.


Apart from academic courses, the Center will also expand its artist toolshed, which equips students with tech gear such as computers, cameras, and microphones for rental use. The expansion involves this year’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, Jared Dickerson and Simone Porter of The Upnote podcast, who will assist in developing a new studio for students to record podcasts.

The Center for Innovation and Community Impact will continue working with student soloists and ensembles to present community programming throughout the year.

Community School of Performing Arts

This fall, parents with young children will find captivating new programs, including additional classes in Early Childhood and Drama on Sundays, a hybrid Dalcroze and Music theory class for five year olds called Beginning Musicianship, and the Suzuki Guitar program.

The brand new Suzuki Guitar Program is directed by Dr. Connie Sheu, a classical guitarist with over 10 years of experience teaching Suzuki Guitar. Weekly private lessons and group instruction ensures that students are progressing at their own pace, developing ensemble skills, and reinforcing proper technique on the instrument. Suzuki guitar is open to students ages five and older. For enrollment information, contact Dr. Connie Sheu at


For students looking to continue studying music in college, the new College Audition Prep for Singers class provides college-aspiring high school singers with the knowledge, strategies, and technical skills needed to craft a first-rate college music audition. This class is taught by voice faculty Michael Chipman. Mr. Chipman shares a conclusion he formed from his experience in the college audition process, “It seems to me, having been on the other side of the audition table for many years, that there is a lot of information that would be very helpful in preparing students (and their parents) for those auditions.” Twelve weeks will be a seminar on specific topics, and four weeks will be conducted as master classes. The class will provide the information and technical knowledge to construct a successful college audition and set students apart from the competition.


The Community School has added two ensembles, Symphonic Band and the Colburn Sinfonietta. Designed for middle school students with at least one year playing experience in a band or ensemble at their school, the Symphonic Band is a welcoming group for those students looking for an entrance into the band continuum here at Colburn. This program allows winds, brass, and percussion students to gain skills, develop ensemble experience, and reach their musical goals, all while surrounded by encouraging faculty and peers.

Additionally, the Community School is excited to announce the Colburn Sinfonietta as part of the advanced orchestra program. Featuring talented wind and string players, students in this close-knit group will dig deep into Classical repertoire and explore their musicality as a group.

Read more about all of the ensembles.

Music Academy

Beginning this fall, the Music Academy will offer a new curriculum track for students who live on or near campus. Each weekday morning, these students will take classes that include eurhythmics and improvisation, movement, choir, basic conducting, piano skills (for non-pianists), as well as duo coaching and continuo training (for pianists). They, along with other music students across the school, will have the opportunity to use a new state-of-the-art piano lab to develop basic keyboard skills expected in most collegiate-level music programs.

For our high-school aged Music Academy students who are beginning a pre-professional track, the development of fundamental skills such as movement, stage presence, and musical expression is crucial to their artistic development. With the addition of these new curricular offerings, Music Academy students will be able to expand and supplement their musical skills in a holistic manner, while experiencing new learning opportunities that will also help to build camaraderie among the student cohort.

After last year’s newly established partnership with Oak Crest Academy, this year’s curricular addition creates even more structure to the Music Academy’s program while allowing students to maintain their focus on instrumental performance.

Music Academy students will continue to perform with the Academy Virtuosi chamber orchestra, in chamber music settings, on the Music Academy Young Artist Performance recital series, and at special events throughout the year.

Office of Alumni and Parent Relations

Every year, Colburn serves over 2,000 enrolled students in addition to those who are reached offsite by outreach programs in the Center for Innovation and Community Impact. And each year, around 150 of those students move on to college, training programs, or the professional world. Colburn embraces its commitment to this growing community by investing in alumni engagement.

As part of this effort, the school established the position of Manager of Alumni and Parent Relations this past March with Los Angeles native Michele Yamamoto filling the role. Michele brings a valuable history of supporting donors, students, and families at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. This school year she will be concentrating on developing effective and consistent measures to engage both alumni and parents, which will include existing family-focused events throughout the year and new events.

As a means to connect, once a month, Alumni and Parent Relations will host an “Office Hours” pop-up as a gathering space for Colburn families to have the chance to get to know supporting staff, other families, and students. Coffee and snacks will be provided. Michele, as Manager of Alumni and Parent Relations will spearhead this new series as an effort to knit the Colburn family closer.

The first Office Hours will take place on Saturday, August 24 from 9 am to 12 pm on the plaza in front of Thayer Hall.

Trudl Zipper Dance Institute

The Trudl Zipper Dance Institute has added a new Youth Dance program for male students ages 10–14. In the Boys Youth Ballet program, students will participate in Ballet Levels IV and V (based on placement), and take two male-only classes per week with a focus on learning more advanced steps specialized to male ballet dancers, such as jumps, lifts, and leaps. They will also be able to combine with female students in three other classes for supplementary instruction.

The program is designed to give provide boys the specialized attention they need at that age to begin developing the different, more masculine style of ballet needed to progress to a higher level. After finishing the Boys Youth Ballet program, students will be well-prepared to audition for the Colburn Dance Academy, which prepares dancers for a professional career.

Beyond the technical skills the program will teach, Boys Youth Ballet will also present a social outlet for male dancers to get to know each other and be part of a like-minded group of students.

Scholarships will be available for male-only classes, with a possibility of full funding based on merit for the additional classes.

In the two years since the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute restructured, Youth Dance has worked to establish a sequential learning curriculum for successful development. The Boys Youth Ballet program will bring an added layer resulting in deeper preparatory training.

Student Accomplishments, July 2019

Music Academy alumna Mayumi Kanagawa, violin, placed fourth in the final round of the XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition and was awarded $5,000.

Community School cellist Madison Gamboa won a full scholarship to the Sphinx Performance Academy, a chamber and performance program for gifted string students from cultural backgrounds that are underrepresented in the field of classical music.

Conservatory violinist Hao Zhou was selected as the Grand Laureate of the 2019 Concours Musical International de Montréal Violin Competition.

Community School alumna Caroline Hales won Grand Prize in the American Harp Society National Competition, Young Professional Category.

Conservatory violinist Julie Lin won first prize in the Concerto Competition at the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) and will perform with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

Community School alumna Annette Lee (harp, ’19) performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a part of recognition of the 2019 US Presidential Scholars in the Arts, which she was awarded this year. Annette also received first prize for the American Harp Society National Competition, Intermediate II Division.

Conservatory trombone player Connor Rowe will be joining the New Mexico Philharmonic as the Principal Trombone in Fall 2019.

Conservatory alumnus Gianluca Farina (trumpet, AD ’19) will be a Fellow in the New World Symphony Fellowship Program starting in the fall.

Nicholas Hooks, a Conservatory bassoonist, won the Principal Bassoon position with the Billings Symphony starting Fall 2019.

Community School pianist Gavin Yang received first place in the Junior Division Glendale Orchestra Performance Competition.

Conservatory clarinetist Vitor Trindade will be joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as the 2nd clarinet starting Fall 2019.

Community School flutist Joseph Loi performed as a soloist with the Asia America Youth Symphony.

Conservatory alumna Elyse Lauzon (PSC ’15) will join the Pacific Symphony as a member of the horn section beginning in August.

Musical Theater student Nicholas Vuckovich was awarded a John Raitt Award for Youth for Lead Male Soloist.

Conservatory pianist Sam Glicklich won the piano competition at the Aspen Music Festival and School and will debut with the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra on July 10.

Community School cellist Claire Park performed with the Olympia Orchestra, directed by Fung Ho, as part of the Grand Prize of the 2018 American String Teacher’s Association, LA Competition.

Conservatory alumna Kayla Chang (harp, BM ’11) completed her medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and was promoted to lieutenant in the US Navy.

Community School pianist Richard Qiu was a finalist for the Celia Mendez Young Pianist’s Beethoven Competition.

Conservatory violinist Hanna Zhdan won the Concerto Competition at the Fresno Summer Orchestra Academy (FOOSA).

Student Accomplishments, June 2019


Violinist Blake Pouliot (PSC ’18) made his Dallas Symphony Orchestra debut in mid-May.

Percussionist Derek Tywoniuk (MM ’15) has completed his PhD in Music Composition at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Avi Nagin (BM ’13) will be joining the Amernet Quartet as second violin and will also be joining the faculty of Florida International University, where the quartet serves as Ensemble-in-Residence.

Trudl Zipper Dance Institute

This year’s Youth Dance and Dance Academy seniors will be attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, Syracuse University, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, USC, Indiana University, and University of Utah.

Stephen Marshall, a Dance Academy student, will be joining the Carolina Ballet’s apprentice program.

Modern and ballet dancer Madeleine Lee was accepted to the Alvin Ailey training program.

Dance Academy student Maeve Sentner will be joining the Grand Rapids Ballet as an apprentice.

Community School of Performing Arts

This year’s graduating Community School students will attend The Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory, the Peabody Institute, UCLA, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Occidental College, Cal State Long Beach, Boston University, Berklee College of Music, San Francisco Conservatory, UC Santa Cruz, Pasadena City College, USC Thornton School of Music, Pierce College, and more.

Herbert Zipper Scholar and Community School violinist Nichole Aye was a guest performer playing all movements of Vivaldi’s “Summer” with Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra at Walt Disney Hall.

Community School violinist Amy Sze was chosen as a member of the Shenandoah String Quartet Program at the Heifetz International Music Institute.

Community School violist Andy Park won overall runner up for Best Performance of the Competition for ASTA Regional Finals and will advance to state.

Community School pianists Vivienne Hong-Harutyunyan and Sarah Shin were winners in the Southern California Junior Regional Bach Festival.

Community School pianist Will Robles won first place in Dozen Charitable Trust Fund Music Scholarship Competition (MTAC – Los Angeles branch).

Community School pianist Yiting Han was the first prizewinner of the MTNA Romantic/Impressionistic Competition.

Community School cellist Lucas Lee was an ASTA Solo Competition Elementary Division Winner.

Music Academy

Music Academy cellist Sarah Kave and Community School alumnus Javier Morales Martinez, clarinet, will perform on From the Top with guest host, pianist Lara Downes.

Recent Music Academy graduate Ann Kuo was selected as the 2019 American Joe Zawinul “Z” Award winner. She will spend three weeks in Vienna, Austria attending master classes and lessons as part of the Joe Zawinul Music Exchange program.

Dance Spotlight: Juan-Carlos, Melani, and Carlos Tobar

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you start taking classes here?
MT: We were born preemies, so we stayed in the [newborn intensive care unit] for a while, and then once we came back, we had to go to physical therapy because we needed to improve our motor skills and the therapist recommended sports but one of our mom’s friends said, “You should come here to Colburn for tap dance.”

What’s your favorite thing about Colburn?
MT: It’s a friendly environment. There are also other dancers and it’s just a place to break free from schoolwork and everything else.

JT: It’s a place where you can grow and learn.

CT: It’s also a place where you can do homework quietly. It’s also a good place to make friends.

You performed in the Tap and Musical Theater showcase a couple weeks ago. What did you perform?
CT: We performed three pieces. During the Tap History thing, we all performed the Shim Sham.

JT: The national anthem for tap.

CT: But for my class, we did a dance choreographed by Ms. Melinda [Sullivan] and it was really fun dancing that dance because it was really fun!

JT: I liked our dance, it was choreographed by Joseph [Wiggan] and cause we have multiple members in Tap Ensemble I it makes us feel like we can show what we’re learning as a group.

Juan-Carlos and Melani, you’re in Tap Ensemble I together. How do you like being in the same class?
MT: It’s fun. We help each other out and we just make it extra friendly.

JT: We help each other a lot.

MT: And we always have a person to go to instead of asking the teacher for help.

JT: And also people to practice with at home.

Why do you like tap dancing?
CT: That’s easy. It’s so much fun to tap dance! It’s so cool learning new things, and I also enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out how to do new steps.

JT: The reason why I like tap dance is that it lifts the burden off my shoulders because I feel relaxed whenever I do tap dance. I’ll be piled with homework and I have to use time for tap dance, and in that time I just forget everything else and it helps me feel more calm.

MT: I love tap dance because I get to move around. I love to play and it’s hard for me to be in one spot for an hour so in tap I just break loose and I feel free. I feel like I can just be myself in class.

How was Tap Fest back in March?
MT: It was amazing. I was inspired even more. Right now, I have to choose ballet or tap. But after Tap Fest, I don’t think I can choose anymore. Every professional dancer inspires me a lot. Especially Evan Ruggiero.

CT: I was inspired by Tap Fest too. I just thought it was amazing because we could see examples of professionals doing amazing things that we could eventually too.

MT: And also, I’m inspired by my teachers.

JT: They inspire you to grow and do better.

What are your favorite subjects in school?
JT: I like science because you get to do a lot of experiments and stuff, not like those TV shows where it shows you all this fake information.

MT: I like science because there are puzzles in science like figuring out the atomic number and everything for the elements, and it’s just super fun and I love to learn more about the human body and the environment we live in.

CT: I like science because you get to learn new things and experiment, especially because science is based off of questions. I love answering questions and figuring out new things because it gives me more knowledge about different subjects.

What do you want to do when you grow up?
MT: I want to be a dancer and a neurosurgeon.

CT: Doesn’t everyone want to be a neurosurgeon?

JT: I want to be a scientist because I want to solve world problems because I can help not only myself, but others around me.

CT: I’m kind of thinking a doctor or a veterinarian. If I was a veterinarian, I would help people be really happy because their pets would be healthy, but if I was a doctor, I’d save lives of other people.

What are things you like to do besides dancing?
MT: I like to play outside, go on our bikes, and I also like to make bracelets and just make things and I also like making mini projects. And I also like hanging out with friends. And eating. I love to eat.

JT: I like to ride my bike. I also like to do my schoolwork. I also like to play outside with my sister and brother.

CT: I like reading because it takes you to a place in your imagination and it just takes you away from everything else so you’re focused on that book. I also like going outside and playing because it’s really fun and it gives me a lot of exercise. Another thing I like to do is build stuff. I love building things because it’s so cool to build them and destroy them and build them again.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.


An Ode to Southern California: Colburn Youth Ballet Tackles an Original Work

This Mother’s Day, students from the Colburn Youth Ballet program take the stage to show parents and patrons their growth following months of hard work in the dance studio. But this won’t be your average end-of-year recital, because the centerpiece of the program unites all five levels of Colburn Youth Ballet in a full length work.

Postcards and Pliés from LA by Colburn’s own Kelly Ann Sloan, ballet chair of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, takes the audience on a journey through Los Angeles’s most famous sites, from Santa Monica Pier to Rodeo Drive.

“It’s an ode to Southern California,” says Sloan. “As an East Coast native who has now been here for 13 years, I still find myself enamored by the cool places to see in LA. This work highlights what is so wonderful about this town we all live in and what makes the Colburn School unique.”

Each of the five sections in Postcards and Pliés from LA focus on a different landmark and are tied together with short narrations that introduce each dance.

The youngest students in the program start the journey off at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade. The dancers are dressed as a marching band and demonstrate the fundamental steps they’ve learned in Level I.

“From there, each level features more advanced choreography, harder musicality, and longer pieces of music,” explains Sloan. “This work is a great way to show the development of a dancer at Colburn, from the youngest in Level I up until our Level V students who are ready to go on to a college dance program or audition for a company.”

Sloan knew from the beginning of the choreographic process that she wanted to create something to which the students could relate. “I couldn’t think of a better way [to do that] than kids who live in Los Angeles doing a ballet about Los Angeles—about places that they love visiting or places they may want to see in the future,” says Sloan. “With Postcards and Pliés, the dancers have the opportunity to look at our city from a tourist’s perspective. “

Postcards and Pliés from LA is performed annually, allowing dancers to play different roles as they progress through the Colburn Youth Ballet program. The piece was designed to be an ever-evolving work, changing as new students add their personal touches and as veteran dancers hone their skills. For example, this second annual production of the work features a new opening overture performed by a solo dancer and an elaborate final tableau that gets every level onstage at the same time.

The May 12 program is rounded out by the “Waltz” from Sleeping Beauty and variations from Bournonville’s Napoli, both performed by the Ballet V students.

Before the show, the Colburn Dance Council will be holding a lovely Mother’s Day Tea on campus. Make the day extra special by joining the Colburn Dance community for tea and hors d’oeuvres.

Receive your invitation to the Mother’s Day Tea by donating $250 or more to the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.