Helsinki and LA Exchange Piano Trios

In February, three students from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland spent a week at the Colburn School for a week of rehearsals, performances, classes, concerts, and field trips. In May, three Colburn students will be traveling to Helsinki for a similar round of activities. It will be the culmination of the School’s first pre-college exchange program.

This exciting new initiative takes its place alongside Colburn’s partnerships with the Saline Royale Academy in Arc-et-Senans and the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin which have provided Colburn students with broadly curated international opportunities for conservatory study. And the Helsinki-Los Angeles connection, which began in earnest when Esa-Pekka Salonen became music director of the LA Phil in 1992, deepens further with this new relationship.

All four of the students I talked to were still pinching themselves to make sure it was all real. Cellist Mira Kardan of the Olive Trio, with violinist Anais Feller and pianist Daniel Wang, told me that when she heard the news, “We were so excited. We’d never been to Finland. It’s such a beautiful country. And it’s really exciting to travel with good friends.”

For their audition, the Trio had prepared Schubert’s B flat trio and were asked to play excerpts selected by the judges during their 15-minute ordeal. “It was a challenge,” Kardan admitted, “but we pushed ourselves. I’ve been here since I was three. I was in the Community School and then I came to the Academy. I’ve learned that everything is possible.”

When pianist Isabella Pätiälä, violinist Albert Sahlström, and cellist Saima Malmivaara in Helsinki saw the call for applications they “immediately thought that we must apply,” according to Pätiälä, “because it’s not every day you get a chance to go to the United States. When we learned that we would be getting lessons from some of the best teachers here,” she added, “we were really excited. And it’s really been great.”

After arriving late on a Sunday night they had a short tour around campus in the morning and started their lessons at 10. “We’ve been working all week and finally tomorrow we’re getting a tour of LA. It’s been quite intense.” They worked on the first two movements of the Mendelssohn D minor, the first movement of the Beethoven’s Ghost, and a modern Finnish piece by Einar Englund. “It’s the last movement. We played it at the concert Tuesday. It’s very fun music.”

When I asked what they would like to show the Olive Trio when they come to Helsinki, Malmivaara said, “Nature, because it’s very important to Finnish people to have forests and lakes near them. Also, the older parts of Helsinki and the fortress on Suomenlinna island.”

Adrian Daly, Colburn School Provost, detailed the American itinerary: “They’ll get to go to Ainola near Helsinki where Sibelius lived with his family for part of his life and where he wrote some of his music including his last three symphonies. They’ll interact with students at the Sibelius Academy. They’ll perform at a joint concert like they did here. They’ll have coachings with their faculty. They’ll get to hear the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.”

Daly also gave an equally detailed account of what Colburn had planned for the three Finns for their weekend in LA. “Tomorrow they’re taking a bus ride around the city including Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica, Farmer’s Market, and the Getty. Tomorrow night the LA Phil at Disney Hall. On Saturday they will sit in on the music history and movement for musicians classes. We’ll have pizza and go to the Colburn Orchestra concert at Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena. We’ll have a brunch on Sunday with donors who have helped support the program. They’ll fly back on Sunday evening.”

For Markus Utrio, Vice Dean, Faculty of Classical Music, Sibelius Academy, “these exchange programs are something really special. They’re a whole society’s attempt to be an ambassador to other countries. It’s not sending people to be trained, it’s sending people who will say something about Finland or about America. In Europe where travel is easier, exchange programs are so natural that at the Sibelius Academy we have more than 100 students going in and out.”

Daly, who had already set up exchanges between the Sibelius Academy and Eastman and the Cleveland Institute before partnering Colburn with the Academy, pointed out that, “like many European schools, the Sibelius Academy is very invested in the idea of cultural exchange and student exchange. They have a dedicated international relations office and a person charged with creating and managing exchange opportunities. It would be lovely to make that more available to more students at Colburn.

“In my mind, there’s always been a sense that with exchange programs, part of what’s going on is the kids are acting as ambassadors for their countries. Absolutely. Is that too big a responsibility to put on them? No, it’s never too early to be a citizen.”

This year’s exchange program between the Colburn School and the Sibelius Academy was made possible by the generous support of Stephen Block, Raulee Marcus, Beverly C. Marksbury, and Dr. Lawrence Rubenstein and Dr. Susan Auyang.

European Tour 2023

Colburn’s Artist-in-Residence, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, is joined by esteemed faculty members cellist Clive Greensmith and violist Tatjana Masurenko with students of the Conservatory of Music, Aubree Oliverson (violin), Duncan McDougall (violin),and Javier Morales-Martinez (clarinet) on a European tour beginning May 2023. The group will perform chamber music in Europe’s beautiful halls, including London’s Royal College of Music, Dublin’s National Gallery of Ireland, Berlin’s Boulez Saal, and Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet.

  • Jean-Yves Thibaudet
    Colburn Artist-in-Residence
  • Clive Greensmith
    Conservatory Faculty
  • Tatjana Masurenko
    Conservatory Faculty
  • Aubree Oliverson
    Conservatory Student
  • Duncan McDougall
    Conservatory Student
  • Javier Morales-Martinez
    Conservatory Student

Featured Artists

  • Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Colburn Artist-in-Residence
  • Clive Greensmith, Conservatory Faculty
  • Tatjana Masurenko, Conservatory Faculty
  • Aubree Oliverson, Conservatory Student
  • Duncan McDougall, Conservatory Student
  • Javier Morales-Martinez, Conservatory Student

Tour Information

Friday, May 5 at 7:30 pm
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, Royal College of Music

DEBUSSY Cello Sonata, L. 135
RAVEL String Quartet in F major
MESSIAEN Quartet for the End of Time

Buy Tickets 

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Clive Greensmith, and Tatjana Masurenko lead master classes at the Royal College of Music on May 4

Monday, May 8 at 7:30 pm
Shaw Room at the National Gallery of Ireland

DEBUSSY Cello Sonata, L. 135
KLEIN String Trio
BARTÓK Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Sz. 111
DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81

Buy Tickets

Wednesday, May 10 at 7:30 pm
Pierre Boulez Saal

DEBUSSY Cello Sonata, L. 135
KLEIN String Trio
BARTÓK Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Sz. 111
DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81

Buy Tickets

Sunday, May 14 at 5 pm
Grand Foyer, Théâtre du Châtelet

DEBUSSY Cello Sonata, L. 135
BARTÓK Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Sz. 111
DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81

Buy Tickets


About Colburn

An internationally renowned performing arts institution located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the Colburn School trains students from those about to embark on professional careers to those just beginning their artistic journey.

The academic units of the School are joined by a single philosophy: all who desire to study music or dance should have access to top-level instruction. The units of the School are the diploma- and degree-granting Conservatory of Music, a preeminent training ground for professional musicians; the Music Academy, a pre-college program preparing musicians to study at top conservatories; the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, a comprehensive dance program including the elite pre-professional Dance Academy; and the Community School of Performing Arts, offering private lessons and group instruction in music performance, drama, and music theory for students of all ability levels and ages, from seven months old to adults. Serving all units of the School, the Center for Innovation and Community Impact prepares students for sustainable careers and nurtures the passion and ability to serve their communities.

The Conservatory of Music opened in 2003 with one goal: to train the very highest level of classical instrumental performers for careers in the 21st century. All students accepted into the Conservatory receive full scholarship support so that they can focus on their craft without financial burden. With world-renowned faculty, outstanding performance opportunities, and unparalleled financial support, the Colburn Conservatory gives young musicians unrivaled opportunity to develop their art. Graduates of Colburn go on to careers as soloists and chamber musicians, and perform in orchestras around the world including the Baltimore Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Royal Swedish Opera, and the St. Louis Symphony, among many others.

Learn more about the Colburn Conservatory of Music

Learn more about Travel With Colburn, a unique program to experience the sound of chamber music in renowned locations around the world from acclaimed musicians and young artists from the Colburn School.

The Colburn School Announces 2023 Conservatory Keynote Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipient Anne Akiko Meyers

Violinist and Colburn School alumna Anne Akiko Meyers will be the featured keynote speaker on May 1 at the 2023 Conservatory of Music Commencement, where she will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the School. One of the world’s most esteemed violinists, Anne regularly performs around the world as soloist with leading orchestras, in recital, and as a prolific recording artist with more than 40 releases. She is one of today’s greatest champions of living composers, having commissioned and premiered important new works to massive critical and audience acclaim.

A native of Southern California, Anne’s early training was at Colburn’s Community School with Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld. She later attended the Juilliard School where she studied with the legendary Dorothy DeLay, Masao Kawasaki, and Felix Galimir, and signed with management at 16 years old to launch her international performing and recording career. She has been awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Colburn School, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Juilliard School.

Anne Akiko Meyers will address the graduating class of the Colburn Conservatory of Music alongside student speakers Aubree Oliverson and Ross Jamie Collins. 61 students will graduate in 2023, the largest in the Conservatory’s history, and will go on to positions with the Atlanta Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Florida Symphony, New World Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Pershing’s Own United States Army Band, San Diego Symphony, and Victoria Symphony, among others. Conservatory Commencement is open to the public, and tickets are not required.

About Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers is one of today’s most important violinists. Her current season includes appearances with the Los Angeles, National, Albany, Detroit, Nashville, Princeton, San Diego, San Jose, Tucson, and Wichita Symphony Orchestras. She recently released Mysterium, a recording of newly imagined violin/choral music by J.S. Bach and Morten Lauridsen, with Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Shining Night, her 40th recording, recorded at Zipper Hall, featuring world premieres and new arrangements by J.S. Bach, Brouwer, Corelli, Ellington, Piazzolla, Ponce, and Lauridsen, with pianist Fabio Bidini (the Carol Colburn Grigor Chair of Piano at the Colburn School), and guitarist Jason Vieaux.

Anne has premiered new music with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Seattle, Washington D.C., Helsinki, Hyogo, Leipzig, London, Lyon, and New Zealand, among others. She has worked closely with Arvo Pärt (Estonian Lullaby), Einojuhani Rautavaara (Fantasia, his final complete work), John Corigliano (cadenzas for the Beethoven Violin Concerto; Lullaby for Natalie), Arturo Márquez (Fandango), Michael Daugherty (Blue Electra), Mason Bates and Adam Schoenberg (violin concertos), Jakub Ciupiński, Jennifer Higdon, Samuel Jones, Morten Lauridsen, Wynton Marsalis, Akira Miyoshi, Somei Satoh, and Joseph Schwantner.

Anne’s television appearances include The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Evening At Pops with John Williams, CBS Sunday Morning, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Emmy Awards and The View. John Williams personally chose Anne to perform “Schindler’s List” for a Great Performances PBS telecast and the iconic Estonian composer Arvo Pärt invited her to perform the opening concerts of his new centre and concert hall in Laulasmaa, Estonia. Anne premiered Samuel Jones’s Violin Concerto with the All-Star Orchestra led by Gerard Schwarz in a nationwide PBS broadcast special and a Naxos DVD release. Her recording of Somei Satoh’s Birds in Warped Time II was used by architect Michael Arad for his award-winning design submission which today has become the World Trade Center Memorial in lower Manhattan. Other highlights include a performance of the Barber Violin Concerto at the Australian Bicentennial Concert in Sydney Harbour for an audience of 750,000; and appearances for the Emperor and Empress Akihito of Japan; Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in a Museumplein Concert with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; and capacity crowds before baseball games at T-Mobile Park in Seattle and Dodger Stadium.

Anne has been featured in commercials and advertising campaigns including Anne Klein, shot by legendary photographer, Annie Leibovitz, J. Jill, Northwest Airlines, DDI Japan, and TDK and was the inspiration for the main character’s career path in the novel The Engagements written by popular author, J. Courtney Sullivan. She performs on the Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesù, dated 1741, considered by many to be the finest sounding violin in existence. Visit for more info.


Anne Akiko Meyers

Listen to Anne’s interview on Colburn’s alumni podcast, So How’s That Going? In this episode she shares her perspective on emerging from COVID, her earliest days at Colburn, and being tenacious.

James Conlon Directs and Curates “Discovering Debussy”

This March and April, a series of performances and events across Los Angeles explore the music of Claude Debussy. Curated and directed by LA Opera Music Director James Conlon, “Discovering Debussy” includes events presented by the Colburn School, the Hammer Museum, LA Opera, Norton Simon Museum, the Opera League of Los Angeles, and the Ebell of Los Angeles. 

The exploration of the life and legacy of this influential French composer is anchored by LA Opera’s eagerly awaited production of Pelléas et Mélisande. Originally scheduled for May 2020, the production was cancelled due to COVID. Beginning March 25, the landmark 20th-century opera makes its long-awaited return. David McVicar’s production marks the opera’s first time onstage at LA Opera for over 25 years. 

In a letter drafted in 2020, Maestro Conlon recounts his lifelong fascination with the opera, which he has called “one of those rare works that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, for which there is no substitute.” As we read his letter today, we remember the sense of uncertainty which permeated those days and feel deep gratitude that music has returned to our stages.  

James Conlon on Pelléas and Mélisande
Written for LA Opera, Spring 2020  

Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.
“Ash Wednesday”
T.S. Eliot (1930) 

On the eve of what would have been the LA Opera opening of Claude Debussy’s magnum opus, Pelléas et Mélisande, I am sitting still, caring and trying not to care.  

Long overdue, the work was to have returned to the stage of LA Opera for the first time after 25 years. I have been yearning to conduct it once again for almost as long. It has been 23 years since my last time around.   

The notion of “favorite” would be misplaced in this love affirmation. It is one of those works that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, for which there is no substitute. If it has possessed you, as it has me from the time of my adolescence, you are always possessed. While you are caught in its spell, no other music exists. The missed opportunity to share it with our public is painful. Its magic is irreplaceable, its embrace so personal, almost private, that words are inadequate. I would have liked to introduce many new listeners to its addictive power, that they might feel as I do. For now, we must sit still.   

I was very fortunate to have stumbled over Pelléas early. I no longer can remember how old I was, 15 or maybe 16. Was it Destiny, an essential word from the world of Maurice Maeterlinck? I remember that its dark mysteries and haunting beauty captivated me. My customary refuge, the New York Public Library, provided me with opportunity to hear recordings. I remembered being mesmerized by the anguished voice of George London’s Golaud, a torment I knew from his renditions of Boris Godunov, Wotan, and the Flying Dutchman.   

I never saw Pelléas until the New York City Opera produced it in 1970, and then I saw it several times. Two years later, the Metropolitan Opera staged it (after a hiatus of 12 years), and again I went to as many performances as possible. That production came back repeatedly over the next decades, and I attended it every time I was in New York.   

I was also privileged to have studied conducting with Jean Morel, at the Juilliard School, from the time I was 18. Destiny again? A French expatriate, he was an extraordinary musician, a ferociously demanding teacher, and an enormous inspiration. He was quintessentially French, having been born into the world of Debussy, less than a year after the premiere of Pelléas. We systematically studied the symphonic repertory in class, including a significant dose of the French literature. I asked him if the class could study Carmen (of which I still have his handwritten notes) and Pelléas. As it was not possible in class, he offered to work with me privately, and accorded me the time to do so.   

And then, for a long time, I had to sit still with it all. Throughout the next 20 years, it followed me, and I, it. There was a long gestation period of two decades, years in which I spent much time in France. And then, to my good fortune, between 1992 and 1997, I conducted five separate series of Pelléas in three different new productions: directed by Harry Kupfer at the Cologne Opera, Frank Galati at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Robert Wilson at the Paris National Opera. After that, rather than feeling that I had had enough, I couldn’t wait for more.  

Subsequently, I have waited, and will wait again. I have decided, despite the cancellation of the current production, to pass my time in its presence. Every day, whenever I can, I spend time with Pelléas. In a monastic routine, I pore over my score, with all of the markings and (unprinted) changes from Debussy that I had received from Jean Morel and Pierre Boulez. I have listened to recordings, with which I was unacquainted, on iTunes and YouTube, including a Met broadcast from 1954 conducted by my teacher.   

I am writing in my studio, surrounded by ten books on Debussy, five on Pelléas, and three editions of Maeterlinck’s original play. I have various program books from productions I have seen in Europe, replete with articles. The most precious possession among them is a study and analysis published in 1926 by Maurice Emmanuel, a contemporary and colleague of Debussy. My teacher had lent this small book to me before he passed away. It bears his signature. I have kept it all these years as a memento.   

Now, instead of rehearsing and performing Pelléas, I am living it, spiritually, at home, sitting still. It is no less beautiful and captivating, whether reading and writing about it, listening to it, playing it at the piano, or just thinking about it. When these months have passed, I will not have been deprived of the time I would have spent with Debussy and Maeterlinck.     

Teach us to care? I have been taught. I have not yet, however, learned not to care. I must sit still. I live with the same hope and desire with which I exited the stage door of the Palais Garnier in 1997, after my last performance of Pelléas. The identical thought is on my mind now, as was that night: I hope it is not too long before I conduct it again. 

LA Opera presents Pelléas et Mélisande March 25–April 16, 2023. 
Learn more about additional Discovering Debussy events throughout Los Angeles 

Colburn Students Win Awards in the YoungArts 2023 National Arts Competition

The Community School of Performing Arts and Music Academy are proud to announce the selection of our students in the YoungArts 2023 National Arts Competition. This year, fourteen Community School students and three Music Academy students have been selected for this prestigious honor. 

Every year thousands of performing, visual and literary artists age 15–18 apply to YoungArts through their national competition. Finalists attend National YoungArts Week to collaborate with peers and develop their crafts with internationally recognized leaders in their fields. Finalists in their senior year are further eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts—one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. 

All award winners—including Finalist, Merit and Honorable Mention award levels—receive mentorship and financial awards; gain access to a lifetime of creative, professional development, and funding opportunities; and become part of an uplifting, inter-generational community that helps artists connect, create, and collaborate. 

Congratulations to both these students and their respective teachers on this outstanding achievement! 


Nikka Gershman-Pepper, Flute+
Cosmo Lieberman, Jazz Alto Saxophone* 

Honorable Mention 

Arlo Erwin, Jazz Composition*
Anaïs Feller, Violin+
Jack Lieberman, Jazz Alto Saxophone*
Joseph Mintz, Jazz Percussion*
William Schwartzman, Jazz Piano
Kuper Walker, Popular Voice* 


Michael Blasi, Jazz Trombone*
Alexis Cai, Classical Flute*
Madeline Cheng, Classical Composition*
Joaquin Garde, Jazz Guitar*
Marvel Roth, Classical Composition*
Luciano Soriano, Jazz Composition and Jazz Trombone*
Stellan Swanlund, Jazz Piano*
Nathaniel Yue, Classical Cello*
Chunyi Zhou, Violin+ 

* Community School of Performing Arts student
+ Music Academy student 


Katalin La Favre Reflects on Colburn’s Alumni Support and Her Project Storytelling Through Music

Katalin La Favre describes herself as “a classically trained percussionist on a non-traditional path.” Having studied with Jack Van Geem at Colburn’s Conservatory, she graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s in percussion. Thereafter, she received a Fulbright Grant to study with percussionist Jean Geoffroy in Lyon, France at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon (CNSMDL) and continued to live in France for almost a decade, only recently returning to the U.S. a year ago. 

Katalin speaks of the support she received from Colburn in making her studies abroad happen. Katalin worked with Library Director Deborah Smith to write her grant proposal for the Fulbright Scholarship.  Aiding in her efforts, Colburn faculty Jack Van Geem and Doug Dutton also provided integral recommendations to secure her selection. Katalin received her master’s and artist diploma at the CNSMDL, followed by acquiring a degree in instrumental pedagogy at CEFEDEM Auvergne Rhône-Alpes also in Lyon. 

Colburn’s care didn’t end once Katalin arrived in France. Noting that she is “very impressed by Colburn’s alumni support,” she shares that Colburn sponsored her to perform at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 2013, with incredible support from Daniel Bee, Laura Liepins, Susannah Ramshaw, Montana Graboyes, and Carol Colburn Grigor. “That was an amazing experience. And Colburn arranged everything: booked the venue, did the marketing, arranged somewhere for me to stay, rented my instruments, and also supported me bringing somebody to help me with the lighting and moving equipment. And it was incredible …. That Colburn did that for me was marvelous.” Katalin further notes that the program was based on her Colburn senior recital and that she had an additional three performances in Scotland. 

Another alumni offering that Katalin speaks highly of is the New Venture Competition hosted by the Center of Innovation and Community Impact. The New Venture Competition is a philanthropically funded opportunity for alumni to test the entrepreneurial waters and gain valuable knowledge and experience for real-world ideas and project development and pitching. “You need to be your own advocate if you want to make certain things happen. So New Venture was a great way to, in a safe environment, try out pitching and get feedback,” says Katalin. She further shares that the program is “really amazing and provides support both in terms of financial and guidance. And that even 10 years after graduating, there is always someone there providing support.” This latter statement is a shout-out to Dean Zeisler for his availability to provide guidance with her materials and address questions. Acquiring this knowledge and developing these entrepreneurial skills is “as important as playing your instrument,” states Katalin. “Students should really take advantage of these opportunities. It’s crucial.” 

One of these opportunities, the Center of Innovation and Community Impact’s Teaching Fellows program, which is generously supported by the Max H. Gluck Foundation, is identified as an experience that “planted the seed” for her pedagogical studies and later motivated her music curriculum project for the New Venture Competition. The project is called Storytelling Through Music and was created for public school kindergartens and first grades. Her inspiration for the project is also connected to a childhood experience where she was supposed to read her favorite story but instead, she created a new story based on the illustrations in the book. She recalls being “really excited to share my story with the class … because I wasn’t always given an opportunity to do what I was really good at, which was to create things. So I really wanted to create something for the child version of me. I would’ve loved something like this when I was a kid.” 

Storytelling Through Music is a curriculum within common core guidelines that intentionally incorporates creativity components. “I want students to be able to create; listen to music and use their imaginations in a space where there are no right or wrong answers. I also want to get more music into the classroom.” The project includes musical compositions by Katalin and illustrations by Jessica Sunderhaft and is set up in a series of four chapters. The introduction chapter includes a story developed with a musical accompaniment that the students listen to and then they create a sequel based on a musical track. The lesson plan includes discussion points for the teacher to engage the students with the material, such as conducting a simple analysis of the music. For example, “Is it slow or fast? What kind of instruments do you hear? And then how to apply those answers to create a story.” Other chapters include building upon story parts such as characters and settings with a musical connection. Common core elements are interwoven through discussion verifying students’ listening comprehension, practicing narration of sequential events, and being able to communicate their ideas clearly. The final chapter culminates in the full story creation based on musical tracks heard by the students to develop a beginning, middle, and end narrative. The students also provide illustrations and present their stories to their classmates. 

Katalin is targeting an early 2023 release of the Storytelling Through Music curriculum that will be available on 

In a final reflection, Katalin shares that “Being at Colburn provided a real openness and freedom for me to do a lot of things. Not just because of the financial support, which of course is huge, but also because of the personal support of the teachers and the staff.” Evidence of this freedom to explore was Jack Van Geem’s encouragement in the percussion studio to create the Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble. Additionally, Katalin and another percussion student, Joe Beribak, helped establish the Colburn Contemporary Players with the support of Doug Dutton and Richard Beene. “A school that allows students to propose ideas like this and help make them a reality is really incredible. And that intimacy of Colburn where students can really have a big voice and get attention is huge. I miss having that artist community sometimes as a professional; it was so great as a student to have that support.” 

In addition to co-authoring a book with a group of former students and colleagues on former Colburn Conservatory faculty Jack Van Geem, Katalin has several other projects in the works. Learn more about Katalin and her various events and projects here. 

If you are interested in providing funding for the New Venture Competition or getting involved as a mentor for future student projects, please send an email to Dean Nathaniel Zeisler at

Colburn’s Art Installations Create an Inspirational Learning Environment

When the Colburn School’s Grand Avenue building was designed more than 25 years ago, deliberate thought went into how the architecture could enhance the performing arts education for students and their families as well as create a welcoming environment for audiences and visitors. When Toby Mayman, former executive director (1980–1999) and lifetime honorary board member, walked through the freshly painted halls, she recognized yet another opportunity. The bare walls were blank canvases waiting to be adorned.

“I was highly motivated to blur the space between the performing arts and visual arts. I feel they are part of the same creative effort, creative inspirations for students,” she recalls.

Mayman and then-Dean Joseph Thayer visited several Los Angeles galleries to pitch the idea of local artists volunteering their works to be displayed on Colburn’s walls for an entire school year. Peter Shire, who had been commissioned to create the chandelier hanging above the main staircase, was the inaugural featured artist. Year after year, the School connected with various galleries to showcase multiple mediums and stylings.

“It grew organically into the annual art installation. The faculty, staff, as well as students and parents looked forward to new installations. We usually scheduled a new art opening with a performance, too,” says Mayman.

StudioEleven Finds a Home

Former board chairperson Wendy Kelman took up the mission of fostering relationships with LA painters, photographers, and artists, too. She introduced StudioEleven, an artist cooperative established in the StudioEleven Art Gallery that supports members through multiple efforts, including educational experiences and exhibitions. Almost immediately, members were keen on building a collaboration. Their first installation, titled Coda at Colburn, was on display for the 2015–16 academic year.

“The first year with StudioEleven was such a success that it led to another year and another year—their output is prodigious. That morphed naturally into the current relationship that seems to make everyone happy,” says Mayman.

Indeed, after a few years of submitting rotating collections, Colburn and StudioEleven agreed to an exclusive arrangement that the group would supply each year’s art installation on display from fall through summer. And now as a tradition, Colburn students typically perform in conjunction with each collection’s debut.

“Prior to that, we would seek out individuals, but now they are basically the resident rotating studio. The artists of StudioEleven are very passionate and they like the idea of integrating their art with the performing arts, students, families, and faculty,” says Randy Osherow, special assistant to Colburn School President and CEO Sel Kardan. As a trained visual artist, she also oversees the art installations on campus.

Each year’s collection illustrates a theme, oftentimes reflecting events impacting the city. So naturally when COVID-19 shut down classrooms and people were asked to work and learn from home, the artists expressed their reactions through their unique perspectives. The 2021 installation was called Lockdown Art: Reflection of StudioEleven Practices. Although the pieces found their home on the Colburn campus as planned, the pandemic forced the debut celebration to be postponed until January 2022.

“The artists were ecstatic when we finally held the event. They were able to revisit the work as if it was the first time, and it was wonderful,” says Osherow. “Also, I was surprised by how optimistic the work was. I think they came up with an amazing connection to the resurgence from COVID.

“The show that just opened this fall, called Cultivation, contains pieces by 25 artists and is an explosion of optimism, with every medium represented,” she adds. “From a visual point of view, the halls are alive with art designs in various colors, textures, and content. It is wonderful to share that forum with students, faculty, and families.”

“We are so grateful for the beautiful art displays around our campus. We encourage our dance students to take time to pause, reflect on the artwork, read who the work was created by, and allow it to inspire their own creative process as they develop themselves as young artists,” says Darleen Callaghan, associate dean for the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.

Arkatov Preserves Musical History

Also gracing the campus halls, offices, and walls are black-and-white photographs courtesy of James Arkatov and the Arkatov family.

“The Arkatov collection harkens back to the friendship of Richard D. Colburn and James Arkatov. They were both lovers of classical music and they were both integral in founding the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra,” notes Mayman.

Born in Russia, young James and his family immigrated to the United States in 1925, where he began playing the cello at age nine. By age 18, he was invited to join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He also became principal cellist for the San Francisco and Indianapolis symphonies.

Upon moving to Southern California, Arkatov landed work as a studio musician for film and recording artists, including legends Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Still, he never lost a passion for classical music, and in 1968, Arkatov became the founder of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Arkatov was also a talented photographer, first as a hobby inspired by his father and later as a secondary career. For decades, he captured the essence of musicians and artists in portraits, including Isaac Stern (a childhood friend), Igor Stravinsky, Sir Thomas Beecham, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Yo-Yo Ma, among hundreds more. He also memorialized rehearsals and performances with both still photos and video recordings and published two books: Masters of Music and Artists: The Creative Personality.

Arkatov’s photos have been exhibited in several museums and collections have been archived by renowned institutions, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, USC Libraries, and UCLA’s Ethnomusicology department. However, he personally gifted the Colburn School two collections of photos in 2001 and 2008.

“Photos from the first gifts were installed in what I call the artery of the School, the floor where all the students walk through to and from classes, so it was a perfect place,” says Osherow.

After his death in 2019, Arkatov’s wife, Salome, a UCLA emerita piano faculty member and documentary filmmaker, and his children presented the School with another permanent gift of more than 300 photos.

“For the most recent exhibit, I looked for what Mr. Arkatov touched and selected. Both of the earlier gifts, he personally selected, and of the 300, approximately 100 were already matted, so that told me he held particular interest in them,” Osherow explains. “My job was to represent these arrangements on campus to inform students. The floor that is home to the conducting program, composing areas, the piano chair, and faculty members with studios has images everyone on that floor could relate to. On the floors with faculty in jazz, wind, and percussion, I curated images for those disciplines.”

The common theme throughout each collection is the hope that all who see them will find inspiration and feel a connection to the photographer and his subjects.

“We were united in that the goal was to have the art up on the walls. It was always the family’s wish that the photos be accessible and inform new generations of the performing arts. Students and families see the milestone musicians of previous generations,” says Osherow.

“We chose the Colburn School to have a permanent collection of my father’s photographs, because of the great admiration and affection my parents have always had for the Colburn family, and for the exceptional impact that the School has had on the gifted students and the communities it so proudly serves. We chose photographs that we thought would complement and amplify their unique location—on the walls directly outside of the Colburn faculty and practice studios on the fourth and fifth floors of the Olive Building—by providing an insider’s look at the behind-the-scenes preparation of the world’s great artists,” says Alan Arkatov. “The extraordinary collection of photographs that now lines the walls of the Colburn School are a testament to my father’s passions and interdisciplinary talents, and the importance of what the arts bring to individuals and society.”

“I find the Arkatov collection incredibly inspiring. The expressions of musical life of those fantastic musicians is making any artist richer and having a deeper contact with what real music making is. As music is a life-changing experience for everyone, so is the Arkatov collection, able to make music through his eyes and poetic portraits. Colburn is extremely lucky to have the chance to expose this profound way to ‘see’ music,” says Fabio Bidini, the Carol Grigor Colburn Piano Chair at the Colburn Conservatory.

“It is an invaluable resource and inspiration to the faculty and the students, especially those in the Conservatory. For me, it’s a reminder of the School’s growth and history,” says Mayman.

Community School Spotlight: Lal Besir

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

How did you start singing?
I’ve been singing pretty much all of my life. When I was younger, I was really extroverted. I would sing in front of people and I would do concerts. I started taking voice lessons with Debbie Lewis when I was doing a lot of musical theater. I sang with 5-Star Theatricals, and I would do theater productions with them as well as perform in their kids’ program. I fell in love with performing; I was obsessed! I just continued doing it and I wanted to grow. I discovered classical opera when I started studying at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts.

What music do you like to sing?
I love singing classical opera. I’ve kind of stopped with my musical theater singing, but classical music—I love arias. I perform masses with my choir each year during school. I love anything in a higher range, anything challenging.

Has there been a composer that’s found a place in your heart?
Bach, Schubert—I’m working on a piece by him—Bach’s Ave Maria is gorgeous too. And just for fun, Taylor Swift, a hundred percent.

You’ve sung in all kinds of groups; do you have a preference of singing in groups or alone?
I love the harmonizing of a choir. I love how that can sound and give you goosebumps. I think that’s amazing. But I love singing individually because I feel [that enables] you to improve your own technique and figure out what you enjoy. Singing is just really important to me.

Would you talk a little bit about how you came to Colburn?
I believe I started two years ago in 2020. Jim Walker is friends with my dad, who’s a musician and a composer. Jim is a flutist, and he teaches at Colburn and recommended that I begin this journey, and I’m really grateful for that.

How has your experience been here at Colburn?
It’s amazing. I have the best teachers, and from every lesson, I’m improving. I’ve joined the Colburn Concert Choir here too. The people are really nice—everyone sounds amazing and there’s so much talent surrounding me. I just want to keep growing with them.

Would you talk about what it’s like studying with each of your teachers?
Michael Stevens is my vocal teacher; I love him so much. I think he’s one of my favorite teachers just in general, including school, and he is just so diverse and knows so much. He’s so fun, and he  makes me want to keep improving. He’s just a really great teacher. I started studying music theory with Kathy Sawada in 2022, and it feels so good to get her satisfaction—I care about her opinion so much. I’m always wanting to impress her. She’s really sweet too. And then Adrian Dunn the Choral Director is just so fun! Everybody loves him and I love him. He is really upbeat, and he includes everybody. He treats his class like a college-level course. We can just speak out loud, and so it’s so interesting.

Is there anything you’re really looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to improving with my music theory, and singing-wise, improving my technique because my voice is changing. I really want to figure out my favorite genres, as well as what I enjoy singing to start building my repertoire a bit more. I definitely want to perform at the Friday Night Recitals.

What do you hope for your musical future?
I would really like to continue singing classical opera and continue improving my technique. I would like to continue studying [voice] in college, maybe Colburn, maybe Juilliard. And then I want to start entering competitions. I really want to begin doing more performances because that was hard to do at times during COVID. So this year I want to focus on performing. My dad and I were thinking about making something—recording covers of pieces, making an album—for college, but it would also just be for us.

The Herbert Zipper Scholars program offers highly motivated, deserving students the opportunity to engage in comprehensive music education at Colburn, one of the nation’s premier arts organizations. Herbert Zipper Scholars receive instruction in music theory, private lessons, and ensemble participation, among many other academic and performance opportunities. 

Conservatory Student Sam Glicklich Performs at the Festival Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot

It’s hard to imagine more idyllic settings for live performance than the stunning wineries, abbey, and historic chapel that were home to this year’s Festival Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot, held every summer in Burgundy, France. Helmed by Colburn’s Artist-in-Residence Jean-Yves Thibaudet and festival Co-Artistic Director Gautier Capuçon, this weeklong festival boasts international stars and the very best wine that Burgundy has to offer. Each evening, guests enjoy a wine tasting featuring upwards of 20 different regional labels, with the winemakers themselves often pouring. Then on to a concert, perhaps in a sprawling garden or cobblestone courtyard, featuring superstars from around the world. The evening concludes with a truly spectacular dinner prepared by some of the world’s finest chefs, and, of course, more wine. It’s a special festival, to be sure.

This year, it was made even more special by Colburn Conservatory student Sam Glicklich who was the Festival’s Young Talent scholarship recipient, and invited guest artist. Sam performed on three programs throughout the week as a soloist, as well as with Gautier Capuçon and with two vocalists. His performances were simply outstanding, met with immense appreciation from the sophisticated audience. The proverbial cherry on top of this incredible week for Sam was turning 22 and hearing 200 people sing Happy Birthday to him in the expansive dining room of the Château du Clos de Vougeot. Even he admits, it will be very hard to top that celebration or the entire experience.

Everyone has been so incredible and so generous with their time and their talents. It’s a completely unique community, and you can tell how much people love and care about this Festival. It’s really magical to be a part of it. I feel so honored just to be here! Conservatory student Sam Glicklich

Sam is a student of Fabio Bidini and is mentored by Jean-Yves Thibaudet as Colburn’s Artist-in-Residence. Now in its fourteenth year, the Festival has welcomed leading artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, Lisa Batiashvilli, and many others. The prestigious Young Talent scholarship is awarded to college-age students studying music and is generously supported by individual donors and the annual wine auction held after the closing concert of each Festival. Colburn is immensely grateful to Jean-Yves Thibaudet for his tireless advocacy for our students and for his personal commitment to their artistic development.

Congratulations to Sam on a memorable, remarkable, and thrilling week.

Student Accomplishments, July 2022

Conservatory, Austin Brown, flute, won Associate Principal Flute for the Pittsburgh Symphony .

Conservatory, Ben Cornavaca, percussion, won a fellowship with the New World Symphony.

Music Academy, Nikka Gershman-Pepper, flute, one of 12 musicians worldwide to be selected to perform in the Vienna Konzerthaus in June 2023 as a Classicalia competition finalist.

Conservatory, Forrest Johnston, trumpet, won Assistant Principal/Second Trumpet with the Naples Phil.

Conservatory, Vivian Kukiel, violin, won the International Stepping Stone at the Canadian Music Competition.

Conservatory, Davi Martinelli de Lira, percussion, won first place in the Sphinx Competition.

Conservatory, Justin Ochoa, percussion, won a fellowship with the LA Phil.

Conservatory, Jenny Marasti, percussion, won a fellowship with the New World Symphony.