Colburn Alumni Take the Virtual High Road

Claire Brazeau, Oboe

“We’ve been thrown out of our traditional venues, but we are all putting our heads together to figure out how we can keep creating and sharing our passion for the arts,” says alumnus Claire Brazeau.

Summer is almost here, and artists are coming to terms with the cancellation of festival season and all of the professional and creative development opportunities it typically brings. This break between season calendars for working musicians or summer recess for students is often a time for performers to reconnect, reflect, and build.

Principal Oboist for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Colburn alumnus Claire Brazeau (Conservatory ’14) reflected recently, “We’ve been thrown out of our traditional venues, but we are all putting our heads together to figure out how we can keep creating and sharing our passion for the arts.” For many performing arts organizations and institutions, this means going virtual.

Brazeau teamed up with Sounding Point, a Los Angeles-based creative and marketing agency, and coordinated the Virtual Oboe Competition, featuring an international panel of legendary oboists including Elaine Douvas, Eugene Izotov, Francois Leleux, and Ramón Ortega. The competition, which will award first and second place cash prizes, is accepting entries in two age groups through July 20.

“We have formed an online community around the competition and are offering opportunities to feature the work of participating oboists,” Brazeau explains. “It is our aim to provide a supportive and inclusive community […] We are working on ways to make this not only a competitive project, but an educational one as well.” And Brazeau is not the only alumnus actively working to adapt to the new normal.

Nicole Sutterfield, Viola Nicole Sutterfield (Conservatory ’09), pictured left, produced an online interview series called The Intentional, Effective Music Teacher to provide teachers with tools and insights that will help them connect more effectively with their students. Offering one new episode per day over the course of three weeks, Sutterfield sat down with over twenty experts in the field, including alumnus Danielle Belen (Conservatory ’08), and Colburn faculty members Paul Coletti and Richard Beene. This series is free and open to all with email registration.

Ryan Meehan, Violin Calidore Quartet member Ryan Meehan (Conservatory ’14), pictured right, has also recently announced an online Virtuosi Virtual Summer Academy, which he co-founded with pianist Gabriela Fahnenstiel, for students aged 8–24. Danielle Belen and Jeffrey Myers (Conservatory ’14) will also be on faculty for this two-week curriculum that includes master classes, interviews, workshops, performance opportunities, and career guidance.

Ryan Darke, Trumpet And Ryan Darke (Conservatory ’13), pictured left, founded Trumpet Forward, featuring a free online Artist Masterclass Series. Trumpet Forward will also host a five-week festival with guest artists from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Juilliard. In addition to virtual lessons, seminars, and panel discussions, the program will include a wellness portion with yoga, Alexander Technique, and performance psychology residencies.

The current global situation has presented the performing arts community with a blank canvas to imagine both the near-term and long-term future, and Colburn alumni have risen to the challenge.

In addition to preparing the Virtual Oboe Competition, Brazeau has spent the past few weeks teaching students online and doing remote recording work. “Out of necessity, I think artists and arts organizations are exploring the full potential of online platforms.” And while she is working to be part of the solution and provide safe alternatives for young artists, she has her eye on the real payoff. “I look forward to returning to the concert stage and performing with my colleagues. I miss that the most.”