Colburn School Presents the World Premiere of the Film The Way Forward

Online on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 12 p.m. PST

Tickets are Free

Registration required at

Filmed remotely in Australia, Canada, Finland, England, Spain, and on the Colburn campus in Los Angeles and featuring:

Fabio Bidini
Kris Bowers
Danielle de Niese
Clive Greensmith
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Calidore String Quartet
Viano String Quartet
Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently
Principal Brass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and LA Opera
Gifted young artists of the Colburn School

Plus a special appearance by Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz

Friday, April 30 and Saturday May 1, 2021
5 p.m. at Thayer Hall and 8 p.m. at Zipper Hall

Visit to purchase tickets

(Thursday, April 8, 2021, Los Angeles) – The Colburn School presents the online and in-person world premieres of The Way Forward, a 54-minute film which reimagines the concert-going experience for the digital age on Thursday, April 29, 2021 a 12 p.m. PDT.

Tickets for the online premiere are free and registration is required at The screening will be followed by a Q&A at 1 p.m. PDT with director Hamid Shams and artists featured in the film, hosted by Chris Lee, Senior Reporter, Vulture/New York Magazine.

Limited capacity in-person screenings will be held on Friday, April 30, 2021 and Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. at Thayer Hall, and 8 p.m. at Zipper Hall. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Following guidelines from the LA County Department of Health, screenings will be at 25% capacity and temperature checks, face coverings, and physical distancing are required for all visitors, in addition to other safety protocols.

In the early days of the pandemic, the Colburn School reimagined the traditional concert-going routine as a new cinematic experience that would connect the School’s resilient artistic community with a global audience. Filmed remotely in Australia, Canada, Finland, England, Spain, and on the Colburn campus in Los Angeles, The Way Forward is a visually stunning narrative featuring ballet, classical music, jazz, opera, and Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6, with 17,572 singers from 129 countries. Previewed to a donor audience in 2020, the film is now publicly available for free online.

Please visit to watch the trailer.

When director Hamid Shams began work on The Way Forward in 2020, he knew he wanted to showcase the talent, energy, and passion of the Colburn School community like never before and without sacrificing production quality. Challenged with the task of directing a film remotely, with the participants filming on mobile devices in many cases, Hamid utilized various apps, technologies, and equipment to create cinema-quality visuals. The result is an imaginative, ingenious film that weaves together individually filmed performances into a seamless experience.

“We conceived of The Way Forward as a tribute to the power of the performing arts and technology to keep us connected during challenging times,” said Colburn President Sel Kardan. “The arts landscape has faced extraordinary challenges throughout the pandemic, but the Colburn community continued to create despite the obstacles. Now, as we look to the future with cautious optimism, we take this moment to celebrate the remarkable creativity, flexibility, and resilience of our faculty, students, and alumni artists.”

Highlights of The Way Forward include:

  • Composer, conductor, and Colburn faculty member Esa-Pekka Salonen leading an ensemble of 14 Colburn School faculty, students, and alumni in a performance of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man
  • Soprano Danielle de Niese performing George Frideric Handel’s “Già nel seno,” based on a fragment from Handel’s Lucrezia
  • A performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (IV. Presto) by the Calidore String Quartet and Viano String Quartet
  • A dance and music performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Après un rêve, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Colburn School’s Artist-in-Residence
  • Composer and pianist Kris Bowers joining students from Colburn School’s Community School of Performing Arts for a performance of Thelonius Monk’s Evidence
  • Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently made in collaboration with the Colburn School and the NAMM Foundation

Hamid Shams has been a filmmaker for over 35 years, traveling the world and working on commercials, short and feature films, both narratives and documentaries, working with both large and small crews, as well as on solo projects. He was director of photography, producer, and editor on The Cellist, a documentary on Gregor Piatigorsky released in 2018, and he has collaborated with Scottish director, Murray Grigor, on six other feature documentaries, including Infinite Space, and The Architect of John Lautner.

In 2021, Hamid completed Land & Sky, his second film created remotely, focused on the Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, Montana. The documentary features dramatic footage of the Tippet Rise landscape, interviews with Tippet Rise artists, and performances by Colburn alumni ensemble the Calidore String Quartet, and will premiere publicly on May 20, 2021.

In addition to featuring renowned faculty and alumni, The Way Forward represents all four academic units of the school – the Conservatory of Music, the Music Academy, the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, and the Community School of Performing Arts.


AARON COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor, Colburn Faculty, filmed in Finland

All other performers on this work filmed in Los Angeles at the Colburn School
Andrew Bain, Colburn Faculty, LA Phil Principal Horn
Elizabeth Upton, Colburn Conservatory alumna and Colburn faculty
Kaylet Torrez, Colburn Conservatory alumna, Pacific Symphony Assistant Principal
Elyse Lauzon, Colburn Conservatory alumna, Pacific Symphony section member

Jim Wilt, Colburn Faculty and LA Phil Associate Principal Trumpet
Ryan Darke, LA Opera Principal Trumpet, Colburn Conservatory alumnus, and Colburn faculty
Jonah Levy, Colburn Conservatory alumnus

David Rejano Cantero, Colburn faculty and LA Phil Principal Trombone
Liam Wilt, Colburn Conservatory student
Callan Milani, Colburn Conservatory alumnus

Ferran Martinez Miquel, Colburn Conservatory student

Ted Atkatz, Colburn faculty

Bass Drum
Pat Chapman, Colburn Conservatory student

Arthur Lin, Colburn Conservatory student

JOHANNES BRAHMS Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114 (IV. Allegro)
Cristina Mateo Sáez, clarinet, Colburn Conservatory student, filmed in Spain
Clive Greensmith, cello, Colburn faculty, filmed in Los Angeles at Colburn School
Fabio Bidini, piano, Colburn faculty, filmed in Los Angeles at Colburn School

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL “Già nel seno,” based on a fragment from Lucrezia
Danielle de Niese, soprano, Colburn Community School of Performing Arts alumnus, filmed in the United Kingdom
Minhye Choi, piano, Colburn Conservatory student, filmed in Los Angeles

FELIX MENDELSSOHN Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (IV. Presto)
The Calidore String Quartet, Colburn alumni
Viano String Quartet, Colburn Ensemble-in-Residence
filmed in New York, Arizona, Ohio, California, and Canada

Kris Bowers, piano, Colburn Community School of Performing Arts alumnus
Jasper Talwani, bass, Colburn Community School of Performing Arts student
David Lee, drums, Colburn Community School of Performing Arts student
all filmed in Los Angeles at Colburn School

GABRIEL FAURÉ Après un rêve
Benett Tsai, cello, Colburn Music Academy alumnus and Colburn Conservatory student, filmed in Australia
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano, Colburn Artist-in-Residence, filmed in Los Angeles

Performers from the Colburn Dance Academy, filmed in Los Angeles at the Colburn School:
Enrique Anya
Isabella Bergatini
Jeremiah Bernal
Annette Cherkasov
Olivia Jacobus
Ellie Nicks
Niamh Perrins
Quincey Smith
Sircey Smith
Kylie Spina
Sydney Williams

Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, choreographers, Colburn faculty

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently
Featuring 17,572 singers from 129 countries, ages 5 to 88
Eric Whitacre, conductor and composer
Music Productions, producers
Floating Earth, audio engineers
59 Productions, filmmakers

A performing arts institution located in the heart of Los Angeles, the Colburn School trains students from beginners to those about to embark on professional careers. The academic units of the School provide a complete spectrum of music and dance education united by a single philosophy: that all who desire to study music or dance should have access to top-level instruction.

  • The Community School of Performing Arts welcomes students of all ages, from seven months old to adults. It offers over 120 classes each year in orchestral instruments, piano, guitar, voice, jazz, music theory, drama, and ensembles including orchestra, choir, and chamber music.
  • The diploma- and degree-granting Conservatory of Music is distinguished by a unique all-scholarship model, renowned faculty, and outstanding performance opportunities. It prepares the very highest level of collegiate musicians for professional careers.
  • The Trudl Zipper Dance Institute develops performers of all levels, from aspiring professionals in the Dance Academy to beginners starting in Youth Dance. Students of all levels receive training in ballet, tap, musical theater, and modern genres as part of a comprehensive dance education.
  • The Music Academy is a highly selective training program for gifted young pre-collegiate musicians, designed to prepare students for conservatory study and performing careers at the highest levels of achievement. This residential program balances performance, musical instruction, and academics.
  • Created to serve all units of the School, the Center for Innovation and Community Impact empowers the musical and dance leaders of tomorrow by nurturing students’ passion and ability to serve their communities, preparing them for sustainable careers, and embracing the development of new ideas. The Center embodies Colburn’s commitment to developing young artists with the curiosity, skills, and commitment to make a difference in their field.

Each year, more than 2,000 students from around the world come to Colburn to benefit from the renowned faculty, exceptional facilities, and focus on excellence that unites the community. Learn more at
Instagram and Twitter: @ColburnSchool

Jennifer Kallend

Lisa Bellamore