November Alumni Recital: Silverstein–Walden Duo

by Elicia Silverstein

I could not be more excited to return to Colburn, where I spent five of the most formative years of my musical life, to share the work that I have been doing in Europe and with my duo partner, pianist/harpsichordist Daniel Walden, since graduating a year and a half ago.

The Italian writer, Italo Calvino once said that his work, "aimed at tracing the lightning flashes of mental circuits that capture and link points distant from each other in space and time," and this is what we have aimed to do with our recital program Stylus Phantasticus/Avanguardia, which we will be presenting in Thayer Hall next Friday, November 21 at 8 pm. The program, which stems from my work as a Netherlands-America Foundation Fulbright scholar in Amsterdam last year, juxtaposes avant-garde 20th century Italian music by Salvatore Sciarrino and Niccolò Castiglioni with experimental, virtuosic, highly improvisatory stylus phantasticus music from the 17th century by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Dario Castello, Francesco Rognoni, and Giovanni Antonio Pandofi Mealli.

The pairing is not random: In the early part of the 20th century in Italy, partially as a result of Mussolini's nationalistic fascism, contemporary composers were strongly encouraged to look back at earlier Italian musical traditions from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods for inspiration. In the next generation of Italian composers, there was a more organic fascination with "early music" in general. This may have been partly due to the fact that much of this music was enjoying a major revival, thanks to the historically informed performance movement. Composers like Luciano Berio, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Niccolò Castiglioni, were grappling with historical musical languages, idioms, stories, ideas, effects.

In weaving together these two distant but deeply interconnected musical worlds, a beautiful dialogue emerges that dissolves any distinction between what sounds "old" and what sounds "new."

Posted by tphillips in Alumni on Wednesday November 12, 2014 at 02:45PM
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Colburn Orchestra Concert Features Mozart's Sinfonia

Photo of Elicia Silverstein and Christopher Zack by Philip Pirolo

Originally published in the Cheers! section of the Pasadena Star News on Friday, April 19.

Following a season of sold-out concerts, the Colburn Conservatory of Music is ready to bring the beauty of music from its home in downtown Los Angeles to the Pasadena community.

On Saturday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m., Maestro Yehuda Gilad and the Colburn Orchestra will take the stage of the Ambassador Auditorium — where hundreds of free seats have been made available to the public — to perform in their final concert of the 2012/2013 season. Tickets available at colburnschool. edu/tickets or 213-621-1050.

Tomorrow’s performance will bring Conservatory students Elicia Silverstein, (violin) and Christopher Zack (viola) together in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, a famed piece with a memorable first movement, consisting of an array of beautiful, melodic strands. The Sinfonia reveals the deep contrast between darkness and brightness of the two solo instruments in an engaging, conversational style.

“The Sinfonia Concertante has been one of my favorite pieces for as long as I can remember,” said Silverstein. “Apart from being a closet violist, I played the viola seriously from the age of 8 years old until I was 16 and adore the unique voice of this instrument. This concerto represents to me the spirit of chamber music and the deepest expression of humanity. Nothing fills me with more joy than the opportunity to perform this exquisite masterpiece with my close colleague, Christopher Zack — who has just won a position in the Munich Radio Orchestra after a rigorous and grueling audition process — and Maestro Gilad, from whom I have learned so much over the past five years.”

This also marks a landmark moment for Silverstein, who just learned that she has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to complete her studies in the Netherlands next year. This continues the 100 percent record of successful applications and wins The Colburn School has made for Fulbright scholarships — an unrivaled accomplishment for any other college in the United States today.

Silverstein studies with Jascha Heifetz Distinguished Violin Chair Robert Lipsett and American violinist Arnold Steinhart.

“I came to Colburn right after finishing high school in New York City to study with Mr. Lipsett, who had taught several extremely successful violinists I knew in New York, whose playing I loved. When I visited the school before my audition to have a lesson with Mr. Lipsett, I was immediately blown away by his teaching and by the school. Colburn is unlike any other conservatory I know of in adamant support of its students, its unique integration of students, faculty and administration, and of course its beautiful facilities,” said Silverstein.

The Colburn campus, which is right in the “heart-of-art” of downtown Los Angeles, boasts three acoustically superb performance halls and multiple soundproof rooms for students to practice in. Amenities like these and the superior level of instruction and support Colburn faculty provides is invaluable preparation for students to stand at the forefront of classical music performance and mastery and share their musical repertoire with their extended Los Angeles communities, like Pasadena.

“Seeing our students bring their artistry and professionalism in performance to the Ambassador Auditorium is the perfect end to a phenomenal season. We are planning next year’s season just now and are confident that it is going to further cement our plan to bring the world’s most beautiful music to California,” said Colburn Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Yehuda Gilad.

Starting in September, the new season will kick off with a memorable Colburn Chamber Music Society concert on Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. in Zipper Hall, featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who has recently been hailed as “one of the best pianists in the world.” Following this performance will be the brilliant duo of future Colburn faculty mem- bers, Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith of the Tokyo String Quartet on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 3 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24, at 8 p.m.; the return of L.A. Opera Music Director James Conlon to conduct members of the Colburn Orchestra in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in Walt Disney Concert Hall; and the return of the Ebene Quartet from France on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at: Tickets available at colburnschool. edu/tickets or 213-621-1050. The school has become an epicenter for phenomenal success. The conservatory’s international prize-winning Calidore String Quartet has won a number of international competitions in the last two years including top prizes at the ARD Munich International String Quartet Competition, the Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition and Grand Prize the Fischoff Competition. Conservatory student, Sang Yoon Kim won the Jacques Lancelot International Clarinet Competition; and student Joe Morris won the Grand Prize at the Hennings-Fischer Foundation Competition. 

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Posted by tphillips in Conservatory of Music, Colburn News on Friday April 19, 2013
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New exhibition: PAINTED MUSIC

We're proud to announce a new exhibition at The Colburn School by Los Angeles artist Nancy Mooslin. The exhibition, titled PAINTED MUSIC, is a visual representation of musical ideas, musical compositions, and musical harmonies.

Nancy Mooslin says “the work investigates the comparison of color with musical pitch, form and texture with timbre, and proportion and measurement with rhythm. The content of the work also includes symbolic references to cycles of time, planetary motion and the interconnection of our perceptions. As an artist I feel the links between visual and audio media very deeply and believe that abstract art and music are closely related aesthetically, conceptually, scientifically and intuitively.”

Included in the exhibit is Mooslin’s new series “Water Music”, which explores the musical, rhythmic qualities of water in constant, repetitive motion and the rich tradition of musical compositions inspired by water. Pieces like "Water Music/Stream of Fifths" (pictured above) are studies of the surface of water in a variety of media; photography, print, drawing and watercolor. These studies led to the overlay of musical harmonies and compositions on top of the patterns created by light and the water’s movement.

The official opening of PAINTED MUSIC is on September 30, 2012 from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm. Conservatory percussion ensemble "Smoke and Mirrors" will perform at the event. Please RSVP for the opening to or call 213.621.1010. The exhibition runs until May 28, 2013. 

The art is located in the Grand building main level and upper level, the Olive 3rd floor lobby and the Colburn Café. One piece in the exhibition is a beautiful painted baby grand piano. The color spectrum used for pitches on the keyboard correlate with the pitch/color in the other works of the exhibition. The piano is available to play in the Olive 3rd Floor Lobby. We've already been treated to several spontaneous performances and hope to hear many more!

"Painted Piano", 1997, Nancy Mooslin
Posted by in Colburn News on Monday September 24, 2012 at 04:16PM
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Video: 2012/13 Concert Highlights

The Colburn School President and CEO Sel Kardan walks us through a few highlights from the 2012/13 concert season.


Posted by in Conservatory of Music, The Academy, Colburn News on Wednesday September 12, 2012 at 10:31AM
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UK Dispatch #7


Day Eight                                                                                                                        

As I mentioned in my previous blog, by popular request we changed our plans from visiting Llandudno, a small Welsh town to visiting Chester, one of Britain’s great heritage cities.   This was a non-concert day, and we were scheduled to spend all day sightseeing. Everyone was glad to have a late-morning call – we were not scheduled to leave the hotel until 10:30 AM – which felt like noon to the CCC due to all the really early morning calls up to now! Within a ½ hour we arrived at Chester, located in England just south of Liverpool on the River Dee.   The choir members felt free to wander since we didn’t need to be back at the bus until 5:00 PM. When we disembarked, we broke up into smaller groups, making our way to sightsee much easier. The air was warm and sunny, perfect for spending much time outside.

One of the defining features of this beautiful city is the City Wall, circling the town and dating from the Roman occupation 2,000 years ago. The Wall can be walked on almost all the way around the city, approximately 2 ½ miles, affording great views of buildings, homes, the River Dee, and the bustling streets below. The 700 year old Rows (only 700 years old) are parallel shopping galleries that run the length of the main street, one on top of the other. Chester is home to the oldest racehorse track in England. There is the 1,000 year old Chester Cathedral,   the Eastgate Clock, built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

There were street performers throughout the town, and in the CCC’s imitable style, the choir members wanted to perform too. A jazz keyboardist and saxophone player invited one of the smaller CCC groups to perform in front of them on the street. The older musicians seemed to really appreciate the choir members’ talent. As the day came to an end, and the whole choir congregated in front of The Chester Town Hall (an imposing huge Gothic “hall”), they decided to perform a number of their pieces. People gathered, applauded and threw money. The members are becoming budding professionals!

Lights out early tonight, for tomorrow we will be on the road about six hours to make it to Edinburgh and perform at a 3:00 PM concert at St. Giles Cathedral.

Day Nine

We all managed to be up, have breakfast, pack, bring concert attire in separate bags, and check out of the hotel by 7:50 AM – another amazing feat! We’re on our way to Scotland . . . The drive took about six hours with lunch at a large roadside stop, Costa. We passed by Lancaster University, which overlooks rolling green hills (what doesn’t in this part of the world?), and Cumbria, which inspired Beatrice Potter to write “Peter Rabbit.” At 12:45 PM, we made a “change stop” where the members changed into their concert attire (they are really getting good at doing this “on the road”), and grad a bite to eat – we were back on the road by 2:00 PM – next stop: St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. It seems unimaginable after a six hour road trip, the choir members change and rehearse in the bus, then perform in one of the most impressive cathedral’s in the world – but they do it, and beautifully too! It was a special treat for the adults in the bus to listen to the rehearsing – the sound of their voices is wonderful as we drive through beautiful fields . . .

St. Giles Cathedral is dazzling with ancient pillars of varying styles and stain glass in every nook. Interestingly, the choir performs in a permanent choir loft in a semi-circle in the middle and on the same floor as the congregation. The “loft” is made of beautiful marble with permanent brass music stands in front of each singer. A grand piano and organ are also situated right in front of the choir, so all the music comes from the center of the cathedral. This “central” position seems to express music is essential in underlying the spiritual message given at the Cathedral.

Something truly spontaneous happened at St. Giles. The choir was not singing as part of a mass, however, applause is not expected in a church, in fact frowned upon in some. But after a few pieces were sung, the audience started applauding. I can certainly understand it - it is difficult not to show appreciation, when those “ringing” tones of the choir hangs in the air of such a magnificent place.

After the concert and group picture in front of St. Giles, we headed to check into the Holiday Inn Express Waterfront in Leith, just outside Edinburgh. After settling into our rooms, we walked to La Garrigue Bistro where we had our choice of chicken, fish or beef, with a terrific cream of vegetable soup as a first course. Scots are masters at good hot soups which is welcomed since one is often coming in from the cold!

Tomorrow in a non-concert day dedicated to sightseeing.

Day Ten

We made up for the sunny, clear days in England by beginning our day of sightseeing in Scotland with heavy rain and cold winds that did not let up all day. Our southern California rain gear finally got a real work out – windswept umbrellas that had a tendency to turn inside out, and soggy shoes (for those of us who didn’t have boots). Somehow, it all made for adding to our adventure in dark and grey Edinburgh. The city reminded many of us of Prague (from the choir trip there two summers ago): the buildings are as old and architecture as beautiful. The respect for the ancient is evident everywhere.   At first, the all the dark buildings seemed disconcerting, but after a while the sheer beauty and magnificence of the city became evident.

Two Scottish guides joined our tour for the first half of the day - what fun they were and full of information. The first thing they reminded us of is the bus we were in is a “coach” because it is privately rented – buses are public. We were staying in the Port of Leith, which accommodated shipping dating back to the 1100’s. The buildings in the central and oldest part of Edinburgh were built with sandstone.   The guides regaled us with story after story, which seems characteristic of the Scots. Stories about the conflicts and eventually the cooperation between the “highlanders” and the “lowlanders,” how early buildings were built of wood 14 stories high (without lifts, of course), and close enough together so people could reach out of their windows and shake their neighbor’s hand, and all about the “Act of Nastiness” which had to do with waste disposal (or lack thereof) which essentially meant all waste food, household and bodily was thrown out of windows – hence the term “nastiness” was apt. That story drew many groans from the choir members.

We had a wet, cold, and windy walk to Edinburgh Castle, high up on a cliff overlooking the city. The castle is monumental, but with the high winds and heavy rain, it was especially difficult to take it all in. It continually amazes us how these amazing edifices were constructed high on hills with large, heavy stones before, during and after the middle ages.

We had a scheduled group lunch at Merchants Restaurant in central Edinburgh. Traditional lamp shank with mashed potatoes was served. Even though the servings were large, the meat practically fell of the bone it was so tender, the choir members ate with gusto (somehow with the weather so wet and cold, and the food so warm and hearty, “gusto” seems an apt description – dainty and picturesque dishes were not operative in this case . . .!).  

After lunch, we split up into two groups, those who decided to stay in town & sightsee some more, and those who decided to traipse back to the hotel for warm baths and a warm & dry hotel room.

The “sightseers” spent most of their time on Princes Street, one of the main retail sections of Edinburgh

(There was some confusion at first: “Princes Street” sounds like “Princess Street” but after we realized there was no Princess Street near Princes Street, we gave up trying to differentiate . . .!). The “hotel” group went to dinner in a mall very close to the hotel. Surprisingly, the restaurants in the mall were very good, not typical “food court” food at all. As a matter of fact, we all needed to “slooooow down” in restaurants – service was very friendly but always at a leisurely pace – it helped us all realize how fast we expect our food to be served in Los Angeles, and how we needed to adjust our expectations and look at slow service as positive and not negative – which actually took a few days ( ! )

Our last full day is tomorrow, Sunday. We all keep saying how quickly this trip has gone – the choir members miss home but are really having a good time, which is a terrific combination of feelings.


Written by guest blogger and Colburn parent, Joanne Saliba. To see more pictures and posts about the Colburn Children's Choir tour, visit their facebook page.

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Wednesday July 11, 2012 at 09:51AM
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UK Dispatch #6


Day Seven

Another early morning departure, but this day we needed to anticipate some clothes changing times in one day without being able to come back to the hotel. I think it’s worth noting “the changing-of-the-clothes” rundown: First, the members needed to be in street clothes for breakfast, (Misha wisely did not want any breakfast food accidents on concert attire), then the members needed to go back to their rooms to dress in concert attire, but bring their Colburn T-Shirts, jeans, and casual shoes and be at the bus by 7:45 AM. They sang in the competition at 9:00 AM in their concert attire, then changed into their Colburn T-Shirts on the bus, then in the afternoon changed back into their concert attire (but had to carry their dress shoes because it had been raining all day and the festival grounds were muddy) and walk 15 minutes to a country church to perform, then return to the bus and change again into their street clothes for a walk around the town and back to the festival grounds for the adjudication. Five changes in one, very wet and rainy day. Whew! And not one permanently lost piece of clothing, though we had a few close calls….

A little about the competition: over 4,000 performers from all over the word head to this beautiful little Welsh town to take part in a unique event combining competition, performance, and international peace and friendship. Over five thousand singers, dancers and instrumentalists from approximately 50 countries perform to audiences of more than 50,000 people over the six days of the event. The parade (described in the previous blog) opens the festival. There are many categories of performances in the competition including (but not limited to) Senior Children’s Choirs, Youth Choirs, Show Choirs, Adult and Children Folk Dance Groups, Chamber Choirs, Barbershop Choirs, Vocal Solos (over and under 15 years of age), Instrumental Solos (over and under 18 years of age), etc. Colburn Children’s Choir competed in the Senior Children’s Choir division (youth 11 to 18 years old).

The process to become a competitor begins with sending a CD for consideration in a preliminary round and, if chosen, the group advances to the final round. Reaching this round was a real accomplishment and the CCC should be extremely proud to have attained it in their first attempt at this competition. Colburn was one of only 17 groups in this division invited to sing as finalists in this prestigious worldwide competition.   The 17 finalists in this division hailed from England (8 groups), Wales (5), Ukraine (1), South Africa (1), and USA (2). Misha characterized this level of attainment as receiving an Oscar nomination. By being chosen to be in the finals, our choir is already a winner and in the top echelon of youth choirs.

Two pieces were chosen: One was required by the competition to be a folk song, and another of the director’s choosing. The CCC sang “The Cuckoo”, an American Folk Song, and “Tanzen und Springer” by Hans Leo Hassler. They were enough of a contrast to show the CCC in their best light.

On our way to the competition this morning, Misha rehearsed the choir members on the bus. We adults were privy to the magic he performs with the members. After they rehearsed for a while, he talked about what the jury of four musicians look and listen for and how strict they are. For instance, how the members look is very important – points get taken off for the wearing of necklaces & bracelets, non-dress shoes, non-black stockings, etc. Fortunately, except for a few bracelets and necklaces sadly being handed over to the chaperones, the choir members already looked great.

They sounded fabulous too. At the adjudication ceremony, the judges described what their ratings were based on – some of those were dynamics, color, consistency, spacing on stage, visual look, resonance, blend, balance, engagement, and being true to the composer.

Even though the CCC did not place in the upper three winning categories, they distinguished themselves as wonderful ambassadors for the USA and for Colburn.   The members should feel pride they have been placed within the top best children’s choruses in the world – a rare honor indeed!

The choir members seemed to learn a great deal from the competition over and above winning or losing. As Dean Robert McAllister said, “The CCC made a big step in their growth as an ensemble in a short period of time. I’m quite pleased as to what happened today. The two pieces, “The Cuckoo” and “Tanzen und Springer” were performed brilliantly and at an artistic level higher than I’ve ever heard the CCC sing.” I hope Dean McAllister’s words resonate with the choir members as a lasting testament to their hard work and creative talents.

Even though they did not place in the winning categories, the BBC corralled Misha and the choir as we left the adjudication ceremony. They were taken to the broadcasting tent and were asked to perform a special rendition of “God Bless America” for a BBC news show. (Unfortunately, they wouldn’t give us a tape of the segment – they said we could see it on BBC Llangollen: YouTube.)

More later regarding this remarkable day . . .

One of the most special things that can happen on a trip, if one is open to it, is serendipity. The CCC experienced one of the most moving moments of the trip so far. As I mentioned earlier, there are many choirs from all over the world and choir members made contact with one another during the festival. The Midlands Youth Choir from South Africa was a particularly popular choir amongst our choir members. They were friendly, fun, wore terrific native costumes, and sang with great gusto.

A few hours after the CCC’s performance for the competition, the choir members walked from the festival grounds in Llangollen about 15 minutes to a small country chapel where they held a concert for the parishioners.   Once again, under not the best of circumstances (remember the concert dress to be worn, but with street shoes and dress shoes carried with umbrellas aloft – then right before the concert, dress shoes put on, street shoes and umbrellas put “somewhere” in this small chapel full of people? This was one of those times . . .). The choir members rose to the occasion by singing beautifully in a room, albeit small, but with wonderful acoustics.   Just as they were finishing the last few pieces, as a total surprise to us, a few of the South African choir members come into the chapel to listen to our choir. Unbeknownst to us, they were scheduled to sing after the CCC finished. Our members were really happy to see them, dressed as they were in their native colorful South African costumes.

Misha seized the moment and suggested our choir members sing, in honor of the South Africans, a piece in the CCC repertoire, “Siyahamba” a South African freedom song. As soon as the CCC began this rousing song, the rest of the choir members from South Africa rushed into this little chapel with total appreciation and excitement.   They had a drummer with them – Misha invited him to join our choir, and as the CCC sang, the South Africans swayed and clapped in appreciation. Please imagine, this small chapel in Wales with Welsh parishioners sitting the middle, the CCC from the USA at one end and the South Africans at the other end both singing and swaying to an African Freedom song. After this truly serendipitous moment was over, one of the parishioners told one of our parents this moment brought tears to his eyes . . .

This embodies the underlying mission of the festival: To bring peace to the world through music and dance. In his opening remarks, Terry Waite, the Eisteddfod President, alluded to this fact. The words have a special meaning coming from him as I was reminded he was one of the hostages held and chained for five years during the Iranian hostage crisis. He is a hero in the UK, not so much because he endured, but because he turned his horrifying experience into dedicating himself to world peace.   Our choir members are learning just how important music can be in all facets of life . . .

Tomorrow we deviate from, by popular request, our schedule of sightseeing.

By the way, I’m sure you’ve realized by now, the Fourth of July was “barely on our radar” this year . . .


Written by guest blogger and Colburn parent, Joanne Saliba. To see more pictures and posts about the Colburn Children's Choir tour, visit their facebook page.

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Tuesday July 10, 2012 at 08:33AM
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UK Dispatch #4/#5


Day Five

Packed and left Jurys Inn in Craydon at 9:30 AM. Craydon is about 1 ½ hours outside London. It had experienced a riot last year – however there were signs of renewal and our hotel was calm with good service. Actually, the service was OK considering we blew out a fuse cutting electricity on one whole floor ( ! ) Also, the door keys were used to turn on and off all the power in each room and sometimes they didn’t work, so the people at the reception desk had their work cut out for them. They handled everything with quiet efficiency. Our buffet breakfasts were hot and cold food, and for the most part gave the choir members all they needed (assuming they got up early enough to eat – even with 7:00 AM wake-up calls, that didn’t always happen . . .).  

It was grey and drizzly when we left the hotel for our two hour drive to Cambridge – yeah, London weather! Before arriving in Cambridge proper, the choir had its second concert of the tour at Ely Cathedral. The first phase of the cathedral was built in 1090 in the Norman style and the second phase in the Gothic style. It is truly remarkable to look up at the impossibly high ceilings and have one’s eyes traverse these different and distinct architectural styles. This huge cathedral (is there any other size in England?) had many rooms and chapels, and the CCC sang in the Lady Chapel, the largest of its kind in England, dedicated to Mary. Completed in 1349, it is lined with headless statues of saints – headless because a couple of hundred years later during an uprising all the heads were smashed off. There is a rather strange statue of Mary – with a strident poise rather than passive, dressed in a bright blue gown and gold sash, with arms lifted to the heavens. The acoustics in this chapel are very “lively” – the spoken word almost gets lost, but singing was another matter. At the end of each piece the choir sang, the sound hung in the air like we had not heard before. The audience was sophisticated enough not to applause until the “ringing” died away. The choir members once again showed their mettle – they performed this concert without the opportunity to rehearse at all, let alone in this space. Such troupers they are!

We arrived in Cambridge at 3:00 PM, just in time for our scheduled walking tour. We broke up into smaller groups. It rained during our walking tour, which seemed fitting somehow. The college buildings are monumental and the grounds are pastoral. Who wouldn’t want to study there? Just by walking in the footsteps of great men and women throughout history that have attended and taught there, one feels special and humbled. The town is charming and steeped in history as well – somehow “college town” just doesn’t seem to be an apt description . . .

By the way, have I mentioned we've seen no graffiti anywhere, so far, on this trip?

We check into the Huntington Marriott for an overnight stay, and on to Stratford-Upon- Avon tomorrow. But not before the choir members availed themselves of the Marriott’s warm indoor pool and gym. The dinner and next morning’s breakfast were the best we’ve had until now – everyone praised the quality, variety and interesting dishes offered.

Day Six

The two hour drive from Cambridge to Stratford-Upon-Avon was just beautiful – the green rolling, mostly flat landscape dotted with sheep and cows continues to bring joy. The mostly two lane highway is narrow and the bus is very large. We are continually amazed at how our driver maneuvers it so well.

Shakespeare’s birthplace is another charming town – buildings and shops have continually been renovated, so the architecture is much as it was during Shakespeare’s time. We took a tour of his house, where his father was a glove maker and sold his gloves from the house. The beds were very short – we were told people slept sitting up because they felt it was bad luck to lie down.

We were on our own for lunch in this charming town, so we broke up into smaller groups. Some of the choir members wanted to experience “high tea” and there was no better place than Shakespeare’s birth town in which to have it!

On to Llangollen, Wales, for the International Eisteddfod (a parade, festival and competition). Again we drove through verdant land approximately two hours. Our guide, Susie, explained we were driving along the “boarder lands” between England and Wales. Stone farmhouses, green everywhere, cattle and sheep – she said there are more sheep in Wales than people . . . 

None of us knew what to expect when we disembarked at Llangollen (the pronunciation of this town’s name was a source of humor the last few days – the Welsh pronounce it much differently than an American might expect - and after hearing a Welshwoman pronounce it, I can’t even spell it phonetically for you . . .!) The history of the festival held throughout Wales, goes back to the 12th century (what doesn’t?). Originally a gathering of bards, the eisteddfod of today are more like competitions and festivals. In modern times, the Llangollen Eisteddfod, as it is known today, was started as a gesture of friendship after WWII, by a newspaperman who wanted to have a concert and invite the whole world to join in. It worked, and continues to be a major international musical event. Choruses and dancers from all over the world come for a six-day event in this tiny town of Llangollen. 

The choir members donned their blue Colburn shirts and jeans to participate in a parade at 3:00 PM through the streets of Llangollen to celebrate the opening of Eisteddfod. We couldn’t have anticipated the throngs of people lining the roads, waving out of windows, peering from balconies as we marched from one end of the town to the next, turning corners and parading through all the main streets in town. We were in a line of performing arts groups from all over the world – many dressed in native costumes. Over the umbrellas, for it was raining by now, flags and banners were waving in the wind, drums and wind instruments were playing, and Colburn held its own with a large blue banner Colburn had designed for us that said “Colburn Children’s Choir - Colburn School of Performing Arts.” They also carried a large American flag. As they walked, the Colburn Choir members sang the National Anthem and a couple of Beach Boys songs that were a big hit with the crowds. All of this was done spontaneously by our choir members. Some of the members started to give “high fives” to the young children lining the streets – parents were thrilled and stopped them from walking to take pictures. The “high five” gesture touched the crowd and spoke to the open friendliness of the “youth from California.” The rain didn’t seem to put a damper on anything – obviously people in this part of the world are used to it, and their attitude toward the rain was infectious to the rest of us, even those in extravagant costumes.

At the end of the parade, a buffet dinner was served for all the participants in another huge tent.

After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, the choir members changed into their formal concert attire (the bus became their dressing room - boys and girls taking turns – nothing fazes this group of intrepid choristers!). They then proceeded to the Opening Welcome Ceremony and concert at 7:30 PM. The opening included each group filing into a huge tent with flags and each group being introduced one-by-one. Then the groups performed on a stage as big as the Hollywood Bowl with large screens on either end. Again, the choir members performed without rehearsal, but again performed brilliantly. Misha prepares them for any eventuality, which is why nothing seems to faze them.

Another hour drive just over the border back to England where we will be staying at the Best Western Forest Hills in Cheshire. Lights out as soon as we settle in because the choir members need to be up, breakfasted and out by 7:45 AM for the all-important and eagerly anticipated Festival competition at 9:00 AM tomorrow.  


Written by guest blogger and Colburn parent, Joanne Saliba. To see more pictures and posts about the Colburn Children's Choir tour, visit their facebook page.

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Monday July 9, 2012 at 08:51AM
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UK Dispatch #3


This is an exciting day – the choir’s first concert of the tour! During our three hours of sightseeing in central London, the group broke up into smaller groups. Some took in the Science Center & Natural History Museum, some took in shopping (Harrods was high on the list); others just walked about and took in the sights. All the buildings were on “museum row” so it was easy to get around. We all went to Buckingham Palace for a quick “photo op” because that was all we could do given the aforementioned crowds of people. It was actually pretty funny: our schedule allowed us just time enough to get off the bus, herd ourselves through a sea of people, get around a very large block, shoulder our way to the front of the palace, take a group picture, and run back to the bus all within the 15 minutes allotted to us. We laughed about this “excursion” more than once . . .

Before describing the concert that took place in the evening, I want to share a very interesting “thread” of events that happened today illustrating the importance of dynamic public communications. At 6:45 AM, BBC Radio contacted Misha and Bob for an interview. Misha and Bob knew before coming to the UK, they were to be interviewed by the BBC because of the choir’s participation in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales (more on that later), but they didn’t know when. As it turned out it was for a live radio interview during the BBC’s Morning Show. Happily for us (and Colburn), Misha and Bob are consummate professionals, so they were able to give a cogent interview early in the morning. But, unbeknownst to them, the broadcasters had a recording of the Colburn Children's Choir (CCC) singing “Sound the Trumpets” and were broadcasting it during the interview, critiquing as they went along. The final “piece” of this thread happened after the concert later in the evening, when people came up to Misha to say they had heard the BBC interview with the CCC recording and wanted to come hear the youth choir in person!

On to the concert: After lunch we took a two hour drive through the English countryside to the charming Southend-On-Sea. This is a picture-book English country town if there ever was one. The weather again was such we were all able to breathe in the restorative sea air and revel in the sunshine. Our choir met up with the Southend Children’s Choirs for a joint concert in the Holy Trinity Church. The parents of the choirs and the church parishioners hosted a pot luck that had no end. The dishes were tasty and the big church hall accommodated all the choir members who mingled after rehearsing and before performing together. The welcome was so warm and inviting, the choir members had no problem getting to know one another. The friendliness of our hosts was infectious and the singing of the blended choirs reflected the new found friends. In addition to singing a few pieces together, as guests the CCC sang several pieces by themselves. We all commented on the outstanding acoustics in the church, which is amazing when one learns the church was built in the 1200s and is one of the oldest continuously attended churches in England. There is a breathtaking and intricately designed huge stain glass window behind the alter that had large old trees right outside of it. As the sun and breeze changed and shifted the leaves on the trees, the subtle colors in the glass, and much clear glass, took on a life of movement. With the choirs singing in front of the window, the fusing of sound and color was truly memorable. I mention sun because at 9:30 PM it was still light outside, which afforded us the opportunity to see the longest pier in the world (right in Southend-On-Sea . . . who knew?). To continue with the friendly gestures made by our hosts, the Mayor of the town, representing the 175,000 populace, gave a welcome speech and handed Misha a beautiful framed watercolor of the town.

Back to the hotel around 11:30 PM, and all quiet by midnight.


Submitted by guest blogger and Colburn parent, Joanne Saliba. To see more pictures and posts about the Colburn Children's Choir tour, visit their facebook page.

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Friday July 6, 2012 at 02:54PM
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UK Dispatch #2

The Colburn Children’s Choir is currently on tour throughout the United Kingdom. As they travel through England, Scotland and Wales Colburn parent, Joanne Saliba, will be guest blogging about their trip. Their facebook page is filled with even more photos and updates. 

Day Three:

As we woke up, dressed, and had breakfast, the clouds were dark. It had rained through the night, and we were all ready for a day of excursion in the rain. Uncharacteristically, we Angelenos had raincoats, slickers, boots, hats, and umbrellas – we were ready for cold, dark, wet London. However, just as we traipsed to the bus, the clouds broke, the sun came through, the weather turned balmy and for the rest of the day and night it stayed that way. Jjust as we were uncharacteristically ready for one thing, London uncharacteristically gave us another!

The weather couldn’t have been better since we spent much fun time on the open top deck of a boat as it took us on a short river cruise on the Thames. We passed under bridge after bridge. The Waterloo Bridge, the Charing Cross Bridge, the Black Friars Bridge, the Ladies Bridge (built during WWII by women) - each more interesting architecturally then the next – not to mention the rebuilt London Bridge - we all knew the original one ended up in Arizona. The choir members especially liked the gigantic Ferris wheel at water’s edge with large glass enclosed “rounds” – one for every London borough. It takes 25 minutes for the wheel to go around which gives you an idea of how big and very slow it is. At a leisurely pace, we saw many sights of London from the water – the mix of ancient, old and contemporary gave us a sense of time evolving through a city’s architecture.

On land we took a tour of Westminster Abby and the fabled Tower of London. The Tower of London is actually a large compound encompassing at least 18 towers and many buildings, including restaurants and museums.  “The Tower” provided much to see (not just a torture chamber) including a dark room with dramatically lit Crown Jewels. The Abby was just exquisite, steeped in history both old (built in 1065) and new (2002 funeral of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother). Many poets, scientists, royalty, and writers are buried there. However, as our interest was high to visit these iconic places, the ability to actually see and ponder both the Tower and the Abbey was hindered due to the masses of people we encountered.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when we came to the Air Edel Recording Studio in London. It is on a quiet street and anticipation was high for the choir members to record in such a famous studio. The grandfather of a choir member, Elizabeth Edel, opened the studio in 1970 in partnership with the “fifth” Beatle, George Martin (Sir George subsequently). Air Edel primarily records for TV and Film currently, so the studio is well-respected and busy. Elizabeth’s mother, Jillian and her father, Scott thoughtfully and graciously welcomed us with snacks and drinks (wine for the adults). It is a beautifully appointed studio, with enough space and comfortable chairs for the parents to sit in the control booth while all 31 choir members, and Misha and Anna playing the piano recorded. The choir members sounded terrific and everyone had a great time. Thank you to the Edels for so warmly opening their studio to us and providing such a valuable experience in London!

We had dinner at the hotel and everyone in their rooms by 10:00 PM.

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Thursday July 5, 2012 at 11:19AM
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UK Dispatch #1

The Colburn Children’s Choir is currently on tour throughout the United Kingdom. Colburn parent, Joanne Saliba, will be guest blogging throughout their trip. Don’t forget to check out their facebook page for more photos and posts: click here.


Welcome to our blog about the Colburn Children’s Choir (CCC) Tour to the United Kingdom. I hope you enjoy reading about our experiences in the UK as well as seeing pictures. I am Joanne Saliba, a parent of one of the choir members who will be doing the writing. The tour is from June 28 to July 9, 2012 and encompasses England, Wales and Scotland.

It is rather impressive that things are so well organized and the members get along so well, for there are 31 choir members on this tour, ages 9 – 18. We can thank Colburn for providing wonderful support from Dean Robert McAllister, and of course, Misha Shtangrud, the Choir Director. Things can go wrong on any tour of this type, but we can be assured the members are in the best of hands with Bob and Misha, since this is the fourth tour they have taken with many of the same choir members. The past tours will not be easily forgotten: performing in iconic Carnegie Hall in 2007, singing in some of the most magnificent cathedrals and halls in Prague, Salzburg and Vienna in 2008, and experiencing the highs and lows (no pun intended) in Rio and Buenos Aires in 2010. The experiences the choir members have had are life-changing and would not have happened without the vision and dedication of Misha and the support of Colburn and Bob McAllister.

Day One 6/28/12: Arrival at LAX at 2:30 PM for a Virgin Atlantic flight to London scheduled to take off at 5:30 PM. However, as it often happens with flights, it actually left at 8:30 PM. But these choir members are made of stern stuff and not a peep of complaint was heard. They are resourceful and spent the time getting to know each other better and enjoying each other’s company. The flight was long and mostly smooth with minor turbulence. Happily, we were provided with dinner, breakfast, drinks, ear phones, movies at each seat, blankets, small pillows, and a plastic bag filled with little goodies such as a toothbrush and toothpaste. All at no extra charge – it almost felt like the old days....! We arrived at Heathrow at 4:45 PM London time (7:00 AM LA Time). The 21 adults (mostly parents) accompanying the CCC were a little bedraggled as we got off the plane, but the CCC seemed raring to go . . .

We were met at Heathrow by Susie Howe, Tour Manager with Classical Movements, Inc. This is the concert and travel management company that also organized our last two tours to Europe and South America. They are professional, well organized and always a sight for sore and tired eyes as we deplane after a long flight. As we traveled by a bus big enough to carry 52 people, Susie explained that London was developed from the east to the west and since the airport was in the west, we felt like we were traveling back in time as we passed through neighborhoods developed during different eras. We traveled through Knightsbridge as she pointed out the Museum of Natural History, Harrods, Green Park, Piccadilly Square, Buckingham Palace, Regent Street, Haymarket, St. Martin-in-the-Field Concert Hall, Trafalgar Square, Savoy Hotel & Theatre where original productions of Gilbert & Sullivan were held. We were in a big bus winding through small streets absolutely teeming with people and cars. We were surprised at the sheer numbers of people until we realized we were in the middle of Wimbledon season and just before the Olympics. Suzie warned us Americans to “Watch for traffic to come from where you are not used to” in her dry English sense of humor. For our first meal in London, we stopped for dinner at a quaint and busy pub in Covent Garden, the Marquess of Anglesey (we love these names!) for tasty vegetable soup and the absolutely-must-have Fish ‘n Chips. The consensus was it was very good - mostly everyone was just really hungry! A wonderful surprise came our way while we were having dinner. The President of Colburn, Sel Kardan, his lovely wife, Micah, and their darling daughter came by the pub to visit. They had been in the UK and were on their way back to the states, but the timing was just right for them to meet us. Sel was able to spend a few minutes with the CCC which made it a special time for them. There is something so meaningful to run into someone “from home” when traveling, and the choir members had this rare experience on their first day in London.

The choir members, finally tired, all checked into the hotel at which we’ll be staying the three nights we’ll be in London, Jurys Inn. It’s pleasant, the choir members are two to a room, and we have a 7:00 AM wake-up call tomorrow Saturday. We’ll be up early for a busy day of sightseeing and a recording session at the storied Air-Edel Recording Studio. More later. . .

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Monday July 2, 2012 at 03:24PM
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Checking in with Colburn's new Drama III class

Take a look! This picture features Colburn's Drama III students creating original theatrical work at 24th Street Theatre. 

Drama III is an advanced School of Performing Arts class (ages 14-19) that was introduced this spring. The course is held at our new satellite, the 24th Street Theatre, which allows the class to utilize live production elements such as sound, media and lights. The theatre, built in 1928, is located in the historic West Adams district and was originally a carriage house. Learn more about the past and present of the 24th Street Theatre's here.

Debbie Devine, instructor of Drama III and head of the drama department, said, "We had 25 students enrolled and they were a mix of Colburn students, who have been through Drama I and Drama II like Leon Saliba seen in the foreground of this picture, and kids from around the neighborhood of the theatre who are experiencing theatre training for the first time. It was an amazing semester because the kids all discovered that even though they may come from different neighborhoods and different socio-economic backgrounds they all had in common being a teen growing up in L.A. and the bonding that happened was so incredible to watch.

Congrats to all the students on a wonderful first semester of this new class!

Posted by in School of Performing Arts on Thursday May 31, 2012 at 02:56PM
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Colburn Café hosts pop-up dinner featuring Jet Tila

On Sunday, May 20th, the Colburn Café hosts its first ever pop-up dinner. The dinner brings an exciting culinary experience to the Colburn campus by featuring a guest chef-- LA native Jet Tila and his Bistronomics team.

Chef Jet grew up in his family’s restaurant kitchens and markets in Los Angeles, home to the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. He built on his Thai culinary upbringing with an education at Le Cordon Bleu, establishing a framework of classical French technique to match his extensive knowledge of Asian cooking.

May 20, 2012

Albacore Crudo

pickled onions, cucumber, lemon yogurt

Grilled Delta Asparagus

with asparagus puree, charred coconut, and herb vinaigrette

Wild Mushroom Risotto

sauteed wild mushrooms and creamy risotto

Confit of Lamb

braised red chard

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

strawberry jam, celery, and black pepper

Limited seating is available at 6:00 pm at $59.95. Contact the café for more information at 213.621.4515

Learn more about Jet:
"5 Questions" from the Los Angeles Times  
Jet's website


Posted by in Colburn News on Monday April 30, 2012 at 02:48PM
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Congrats to Board Member Alice Coulombe, a Pasadena Jewel

Colburn Board Member Alice Coulombe with Suzanna Guzman (soprano and host of KCET's Open Call) at the 2012 Celebrate Colburn Gala.

Colburn Board member Alice Coulombe won the Arts and Culture Category in the 3rd Annual Jewels of Pasadena Women of Distinction Gala on April 19, 2012. More than 200 people gathered at gala hosted by Pasadena Star-News and The Rose Magazine. The evening included a performance by Colburn Academy violinist Simone Porter.

Mrs. Coulombe was honored for more than 40 years of dedication to cultural institutions in the greater Los Angeles area. Around Colburn, we've known for years that Mrs. Coulombe is a jewel! Mrs. Coulombe is a tireless advocate for arts education as a member of our Board of Directors and as co-chair of Pasadena Friends of Colburn.

A Rose Magazine article profiled Mrs. Coulombe, who said, “The Colburn School is just such an exciting place. I learn so much there. Everyone works really hard to make sure anyone walking through the door will become the best possible person and the best possible musician they can be.”


Posted by in Colburn News on Monday April 30, 2012 at 11:52AM
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Championship Table Tennis Spring 2012

Congratulations to Christopher Zack, our former Grand Champion for his return to the top with his stunning 4 set sweep over Timmy Yu, the player who knocked Zack out of the tournament last semester. For a play-by-play account of all the tournament action visit the official blog of Championship Table Tennis at the Colburn School at

Posted by in Conservatory of Music on Wednesday April 25, 2012 at 02:22PM
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Play Me, I'm Yours Los Angeles Launch

Music-making is placed in the hands of all Angelenos with the opening of Play Me, I'm Yours, a community-wide art and music installation featuring 30 pianos in public spaces across Los Angeles County. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra brought UK artist Luke Jerram's installation to Los Angeles for three weeks starting with a lunch launch on April 12th.

For the launch, Colburn Conservatory junior JungYeon Yim  journeyed on the Colburn bus to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, a historic plaza that includes Olvera Street, the oldest street in downtown Los Angeles. Tour buses lined the avenue and a variety of people were taking advantage of the beautiful weather;  tourists milled about with cameras and maps, families with strollers explored the colorful shops and older gentlemen quietly people-watched from sunlit benches.

The far-off strains of "Twinkle, Twinkle" led us to the piano, located in a sun-dappled corner of the plaza. "We get a steady stream of people who cut through this corner of the plaza as they exit Union Station and walk to their downtown destinations." said John Kopczynski, public relations representative for El Pueblo de Los Angeles. "Hopefully they'll take advantage and spontaneously make some music." And, indeed, passersby were already doing just that! Although it had only arrived 12 hours earlier, Los Angeles residents Janet, Joanne and their four young charges had discovered the instrument. "We came to the area to keep the kids busy and I happened to spot a man playing the piano. I thought he was a street performer, but as we got closer we saw that the piano was for everyone." Young Zander, Trinity and Julian seemed thrilled to test out their piano skills, but weren't sure exactly sure what to think about the installation. "A piano, outdoors?" said Trinity. Emie, the youngest, offered a more decisive opinion, "I like it!"

JungYeon was poised at the piano to begin directly at noon. Her performance of Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier was joined by 29 pianists simultaneously playing the piece on the other installations throughout the city. "Although it is very famous, I had never actually played the piece before, so it was fun to learn it for this event." said JungYeon, who began her piano lessons at age four in Korea. Her partners in sound that afternoon were the rhythmic 'thwapp' of a helicopter overhead and the oceanic white noise of the nearby freeway. A mischievous breeze provided an extra challenge by catching the pages of her music.

The pianos were designed and decorated by local artists and community organizations and each one represents an unique aspect of the community. Chicano arts movement leader Frank Romero reflected the Olvera Street piano's surroundings with bold colors and drawings including a sombrero, cactus and guitar.

Los Angeles joins more than 20 cities around the world from London to Grand Rapids, which have hosted Play Me, I’m Yours. If you are in The Colburn School area, you would be hard pressed NOT to bump into a piano-- our downtown neighbors at California Plaza, Wells Fargo, LA City Hall Complex and the Music Center are all hosting a piano for the installation.




Posted by in Conservatory of Music on Monday April 16, 2012 at 05:39PM
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