Colburn Chamber Music Society

Dynamic soloists, renowned chamber musicians, innovative composers, and principal players of top orchestras take the stage alongside young artists from the Conservatory of Music.

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OCT 3, 2021 · Demarre McGill, Flute

Demarre McGill, FluteA celebrated soloist, recitalist, chamber, and orchestra musician, Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Seattle Symphony, has been praised for his “mellifluous, rounded, and beautiful” sound. He presents a dynamic program of vibrant contemporary works.

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GABRIELA LENA FRANK Rapsodia Andina No. 2
EFRAÍN AMAYA El Sentir de Maria Lionza
YUKO UEBAYASHI Suite for Flute and Cello

OCT 24, 2021 · Geraldine Walther, Viola

Geraldine Walther, ViolaGeraldine Walther has had an illustrious career as a member of the Takács String Quartet and principal violist for the San Francisco Symphony. Now serving as Colburn’s Interim Director of Chamber Music, she performs works by Debussy, Mozart, and Beach.

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DEBUSSY Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp
BEACH Piano Quintet
MOZART String Quintet No. 4 in G Minor

NOV 21, 2021 · Marc Coppey, Cello

Marc Coppey, CelloAward-winning musician Marc Coppey is a master of all genres, from Baroque to Contemporary. Following a successful debut at Colburn in 2017, he returns with a program of Beethoven, Brahms, and more.

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BOULANGER Three Pieces for Cello and Piano
BEETHOVEN Piano Trio in E‐flat Major
RAVEL Introduction and Allegro
BRAHMS String Sextet No. 1 in B‐flat Major

FEB 6, 2022 · Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Viola

Nokuthula NgwenyamaLauded for “providing solidly shaped music of bold mesmerizing character,” Amplify artist Nokuthula Ngwenyama is both a dynamic performer and innovative composer. She takes the Colburn stage for a concert that includes selections of her own work.

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PROKOFIEV Quintet in G Minor
NOKUTHULA NGWENYAMA Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass (World Premiere)
NOKUTHULA NGWENYAMA Primal Message for String Quintet
DVOŘÁK String Quintet No. 3 in E-flat Major

MAR 19, 2022 · Andrew Bain, Horn

Andrew Bain, HornPrincipal Horn for the LA Phil and Colburn faculty member Andrew Bain is an in-demand soloist, versatile chamber musician, and passionate educator. He presents a program filled with bold brass sounds from Williams, Dvořák, and more.

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JOHN WILLIAMS arr. DARROL BARRY Olympic Fanfare and Theme
KAMEN Quintet
DVOŘÁK Serenade for Wind Instruments
DUKAS Fanfare from La Péri

APR 10, 2022 · Pedja Mužijević, Piano

Pianist Pedja MužijevićPedja Mužijević is an adventurous pianist best known for his creative programming and innovative concert experiences. His unusual combinations of old and new music have delighted audiences around the world.

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HAYDN Piano Trio in C Major
REENA ESMAIL Saans for Piano Trio
ANDY AKIHO “The War Below” from Prospects of a Misplaced Year
GUILLAUME CONNESSON Sextet for Oboe, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Bass, and Piano

Colburn School Announces Live Round Competitors for the 2021 Primrose International Viola Competition

(Tuesday, September 20, Los Angeles, CA) – The Colburn School and the American Viola Society today announced the 24 live round competitors for the 2021 Primrose International Viola Competition. The 24 live round competitors were chosen from a pool of 103 applications received during the pre-screening round that closed in July 2021. The 2021 Primrose International Viola Competition takes place at the Colburn School, December 13-18, 2021.

The 24 live round competitors come from all over the world, representing 10 countries. The average age of participants is 23, with the youngest aged 18 and the oldest 29.

“After a prolonged period of closure, it is especially meaningful this year to be able to present, in-person, the Primrose International Viola Competition in collaboration with the American Viola Society,” said Colburn School President and CEO Sel Kardan. “As we prepare for the 16th international competition honoring the legacy of William Primrose, we look forward to hearing the next top soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players, and pedagogues on campus. These talented young musicians are an inspiration and testament to perseverance during the challenging pandemic period, and this will undoubtedly be an uplifting week of music and celebration.”

“The American Viola Society established the Primrose International Viola Competition in 1979 to recognize and encourage extraordinary young violists,” said American Viola Society President Hillary Hillary Herndon. “We are thrilled that Colburn will once again host this prominent event, and are looking forward to hearing these 24 violists live.”

Each of the live round participants will compete in the Quarter-Final Round on December 13 & 14, 2021, and eight competitors will advance to the Semi-Final Round, taking place on December 16, 2021. During the Quarter-Final Round, competitors will perform works that demonstrate the musical and virtuosic strengths of the competitor, including the performance of one piece for solo viola or for viola and piano by a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) composer. During the Semi-Final Round, competitors will perform selected works and also have the freedom to choose their repertoire, including original works.

During the Final Round on December 18, 2021, the final three competitors will perform, in its entirety, either the Bartók/Serly Viola Concerto or Walton Viola Concerto with the Colburn Orchestra, conducted by Salonen Conducting Fellow Kyle Dickson.

The winner will be announced during the awards ceremony held shortly after the Final Round. The first prize winner will receive $15,000; the second prize winner will receive $10,000; the third prize winner will receive $5,000; the transcriptions prize winner will receive $1,000; and the BIPOC prize winner will receive $1,000. The first prize winner will perform at the 2022 American Viola Society Festival & 47th International Viola Congress in June 2022.

The live round competition jury includes Barry Shiffman (Jury Chairman, Canada), Andrés Cárdenes (USA/Cuba), Victoria Chiang (USA), Daniel Heifetz (USA), Mai Motobuchi (Japan), Dimitri Murrath (Belgium), and Chauncey Patterson (USA). For full biographies, please visit

All live rounds will be streamed on The Violin Channel.

As one of the most renowned string instrument competitions in the world, the Primrose International Viola Competition features the world’s best and most promising young violists. The Competition offers southern California one week of exceptional international competition, exquisite music, and an exhilarating finish. All rounds are open to the public, and audiences can expect to hear a broad survey of the viola repertoire.

In conjunction with the Primrose International Viola Competition, the American Viola Society will host a Mini-Fest taking place at the Colburn School, December 17 – 18, 2021. Master classes, recitals, and educational sessions and exhibitions comprise the Mini-Fest. Free access is available for ticket holders attending the Quarter-, Semi-, or Final rounds of the Primrose International Viola Competition as well as any member of the Southern California Viola Society or American Viola Society.

Founded in 1979 by the American Viola Society as the first international competition solely for violists, the Primrose International Viola Competition is proud of the rich history and legacy it promotes. For over 40 years, the Competition has continued to attract distinguished jurors and talented participants worldwide, serving as an inspiration to young artists across the globe. The Competition has an international reputation for identifying the talent of tomorrow and is respected for its artistic and professional integrity. Its laureates occupy principal seats of major symphony orchestras, act as professors in major centers of education, and have achieved critical acclaim as international soloists.

For more information about the Primrose Competition, please visit

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

List of live round competitors:

For more information, please visit

All ages below as of December 2021.

  • Keoni Bolding (USA; 24; Curtis Institute of Music)
  • Danielle Wiebe Burke (Canada; 29; Yale University)
  • Hannah Burnett (USA; 23; Juilliard School)
  • Chih-Ta Chen (Taiwan; 23; Curtis Institute of Music)
  • Soyoung Cho (South Korea; 23; Curtis Institute of Music)
  • Karolina Errera (Russia; 28; Kronberg Academy)
  • Sara Ferrandez (Spain; 26; Kronberg Academy)
  • Yitong Guo (China; 28; Hamburg Philharmonic)
  • Brian Isaacs (USA; 21; Yale University)
  • Jiwon Kim (South Korea; 21; Cleveland Institute of Music)
  • Sengyun Kim (South Korea; 28; Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris)
  • Eunbin Lee (South Korea; 18; Korea National University of Arts)
  • Yizilin Liang (China; 20; Curtis Institute of Music)
  • Natalie Loughran (USA; 24; Juilliard School)
  • Andy Park (USA/South Korea; 20; Yale University)
  • Mathis Rochat (France/Switzerland; 27; Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel)
  • Samuel Rosenthal (USA; 21; Juilliard School)
  • Ursula Steele (USA; 25; Indiana University)
  • Nicholas Swensen (Denmark/USA; 22; Juilliard School)
  • Semin Yim (South Korea; 18; Korea National University of Arts)
  • Mingyue Yu (China; 21; Colburn Conservatory of Music)
  • Emiko Yuasa (Japan; 26; Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich)
  • Sohui Yun (South Korea; 26; San Francisco Conservatory of Music)
  • Chuxuejie Zhang (China; 25; San Francisco Conservatory of Music)

About the Colburn School
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

About the American Viola Society
Founded in 1971, the American Viola Society inspires excellence and builds community through viola study, performance, research, composition, and lutherie. The AVS provides support and resources for a global community of violists and viola enthusiasts with online resources, live events, competitions, scholarships, online series, funding opportunities, and the Journal of the American Viola Society.

PR Contacts
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Lisa Bellamore


Community School Spotlight: Celine Chen

This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.

How long have you been playing the flute and how did you get started?
I started when I was nine, so, that’s eight years. I wanted to play violin at first, but the junior high I was going into didn’t have an orchestra, and I wanted to be part of the music program. It only offered band, so that’s why I chose flute instead of violin.

How did that decision turn out for you? What did you learn about the flute?
I have actually played the piano since I was four, and I think picking up a woodwind instrument was first of all, very different, because I had never really had to think about breathing before. Now that I play a woodwind instrument, I have to think about where exactly I should take a breath. I thought a lot more about the phrasing, because it would matter where I took the breath since it would chop off the music if I took it in the wrong spot. Because of this, I transferred my “music-phrasing analyzing” skills to the piano, and in this way, I was able to grow a lot as a musician.

I also learned a lot about tone because with the piano, if you put your finger on it, it already makes a beautiful sound. But then the flute, the first time I tried playing it, I couldn’t even make a sound. So for the first couple months, all I worked on was my tone; while in my piano lesson, I would already be playing short pieces. Thus, because of the flute, I focused a lot more on my sound and that helped me become more sensitive overall, whether that be playing the flute or the piano.

Do you still play the piano?

What’s it like balancing the two?
It’s really hard. It used to be a lot easier before high school, but now that I’m in high school and I’m a senior, I’m taking a lot of hard classes. So it’s hard to balance the time, but I do try to balance it out as best as I can.

What are some of the differences you’ve noticed?
I’m not able to practice the flute as much as the piano because I physically get tired. After a couple of hours, for example, my embouchure starts getting worse because of fatigue. So compared to piano, the amount of time I practice has changed.

Also, the types of exercises I do to warm up have been very different. They’ve been more focused on tone and vibrato, as I’ve hinted at before.

How are you feeling about being back on campus at Colburn?
I’m excited to come back. I haven’t been able to do chamber and orchestra this past year, so I’m really excited to be back in person.

How were the virtual classes you took last year?
I took private lessons last year, and it was really hard, honestly. I think it’s a lot easier with piano. I also have to take virtual lessons for piano, and with woodwind the sound is a lot different. For example, the vibrato sometimes makes the sound cut out completely or the high notes aren’t even picked up. So, that makes it really hard. But I think my teacher made the best out of the situation, and I was still able to learn a lot and grow a lot.

What kinds of things did you learn during that time that you’ll continue to work on?
I practiced a lot for vibrato, and it was really weird practicing vibrato because I never had to do it for piano. I think it really helped my tone for the flute. And I really liked my sound after I did those exercises over and over again. So I think I’ll definitely be continuing those exercises in the future.

How has your time at Colburn been overall?
Colburn has been really great. Before I joined Colburn, I was just with a small music school and there weren’t a lot of performances. I love connecting with the audience, and I love performing. So Colburn really allowed me to foster my passion for performing even more. It was great with all the Friday Night Recitals, the School Recitals, and the Honors Recitals, too.

What were some of your favorite performances?
I only got to do Colburn [Youth] Orchestra for one year. So I think there was only one concert before the pandemic hit. That one will always be a really vivid memory for me. Also because I had the Honors Recital on the same day, so I had two big concerts in one day. It was really jam packed, but it worked out. We performed the Nielsen Flute Concerto with another flutist as the soloist, and I think Beethoven. And for the Honors Recital, I performed Eldin Burton’s Sonatina for Flute and Piano.

You’re in both chamber and orchestra. Do you prefer one over the other?
I think they both have their own perks. I really love both. I can’t really choose. I think orchestra is a little bit harder because you have to listen to so many other instruments.

With chamber, I’m in a woodwind quintet this year, so it’s just woodwinds. And I know the other instruments better because they’re part of the woodwind family. So I’d say orchestra is a little bit harder, but I do love being a part of both.

What do you hope to do with your music in the future?
I definitely plan on continuing to play flute, continuing to play in orchestra and chamber music. It’s been a big part of my life, and with how much it’s impacted me, I don’t think I’ll be able to just quit and not play anymore. So I think I’ll definitely carry it on as I transition to college.

How has music impacted you?
It definitely gave me a community to be in, because I grew up in Indonesia and then moved here. When I was in the US, I had a little bit of a hard time fitting in because I couldn’t exactly speak English. But then being part of band really helped me to make friends, for example, because I was really shy. But yeah, it gave me a community that I could be a part of and that I could be proud of too.

Kyle Kremer

Kyle Kremer

Dr. Kyle Kremer is an astrophysicist at Caltech and Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, a position he began in Fall 2020.

Kremer’s dual interest in music and science began during his senior year of high school in Kettering, OH, when he published his first scientific article on the physics of baseball pitches and performed his first trumpet concerto with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2012, Kremer completed his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University as a double major in trumpet performance and physics. As an undergraduate student, Kremer was an active member of the astrophysics department, publishing two research papers on the evolution of binary star systems in The Astrophysical Journal. Following a brief stint pursuing post-graduate studies in astrophysics at the University of Cambridge in the UK as a Winston Churchill Scholar, Kremer felt the pull of music and spent the next two years in Los Angeles where he earned a Master of Music degree at Colburn as a student of Jim Wilt.

In 2015, Kremer returned to Northwestern to pursue a PhD in astrophysics. After defending his thesis—titled The Role of Black Holes in Globular Cluster Dynamics—in 2019, Kremer began his current position at Caltech and Carnegie Observatories. His current work spans a variety of topics in astronomy from the detection of black hole mergers through gravitational waves to modeling the N-body dynamics of dense stellar systems like globular clusters to studying the electromagnetic signatures that result when stars are torn apart by black holes.

In addition to his research, Kremer enjoys speaking with public audiences about astronomy. Building upon his experience as a musician/scientist, Kremer developed Cosmos in Concert, an outreach program presenting multimedia shows combining astronomy education and music performance with the goal of making astronomy (and science in general) accessible to a broader audience. Over the past few years, Kremer has presented 16 concerts in six states including performances at Northwestern, Colburn, and with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra in Colorado. Outside of work, Kremer enjoys trying to maintain his trumpet chops, ironing out the flaws in his golf swing, and watching his wife Elyse Lauzon (also a Colburn alum!) perform with the San Diego Symphony.

Kako Miura

Kako Miura playing violin outside, smiling

Originally from Tokyo, Japan and now based in New York, NY, Kako Miura is a violinist who performs on both historical and modern instruments. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including first prize in the Nagano International Music Festival Violin Competition, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition, and Sound Symphony Orchestra’s Solo Competition, as well as a National YoungArts Foundation Award.

Kako has appeared internationally as a soloist, performing concertos alongside orchestras in Asia, Australia, and the United States, and her solo and chamber music performances have taken her to such distinguished venues as Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center, Weill and Zankel Halls at Carnegie Hall, and the Sydney Opera House.

Deeply committed to community engagement and music education, Kako has worked extensively with the Music Advancement Program, a department of The Juilliard School’s Preparatory Division, o1ering instruction on violin as well as courses on historical performance and curricular studies. In 2019, she conceived, directed, and performed an original interactive concert centered around Baroque music for local elementary school students in New York City, titled A Day in the Life of a King, as part of The Juilliard School’s Young People’s Concerts series.

Kako currently studies at The Juilliard School, pursuing a graduate degree in Historical Performance under the guidance of Cynthia Roberts, Elizabeth Blumenstock, and Robert Mealy. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she also attended the Pre-College program, as well as a Master of Music from The Colburn School. Her principal teachers have included Robert Lipsett and Masao Kawasaki.

Kako plays a Vuillaume workshop “St. Cecile des Thernes” violin and Sartory bow, generously on loan from the Nippon Violin Company, as well as a Kloz Baroque violin and several period bows from the Juilliard Instrument Collection. In addition to music, Kako loves food, tea, and naps.

Performances Are Back for the 2021–22 Season

Colburn recently announced the 2021–22 season, and we’re so excited to welcome students, faculty, and esteemed guest artists back to campus and to performances throughout the region. The upcoming season features a wide range of repertoire that we invite you to explore.

Please visit our Season Overview to find your favorites and to introduce you to some new ones! This season we’re also offering a livestream subscription package so that you can enjoy the return of performance from anywhere.

The following are some of the highlights for this exceptional season:

See the Music, Hear the Dance
October 2, 2021

Leading guest dance artists collaborate with Conservatory musicians for a world premiere performance of a new work for Los Angeles Ballet soloist and Colburn faculty member Jasmine Perry, choreographed by Silas Farley, Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.

Yehuda Gilad leads the Colburn Orchestra with Martha Chan, Flute
October 16, 2021

This intimate program includes something for all musical tastes: a lively brass arrangement, Argentinian theme and variations, a masterful concerto for flute, and Mendelssohn’s charming “Italian” Symphony.

Sphinx Virtuosi Residency and Performance
October 28–31, 2021

Colburn School will host musicians from Sphinx Virtuosi, composed of the nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, for a three-day residency and performance of Xavier Foley, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Ginastera and more.

Recovered Voices online mini-series highlights composer Erwin Schulhoff
Premiering November 2, 2021

Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices at Colburn expands into the digital sphere with a six-part online mini-series about composer Erwin Schulhoff; James Conlon, Artistic Director of the Initiative, gives three lecture presentations.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads free concert with the Colburn Orchestra at The Soraya
November 13, 2021

Head of Colburn School’s Negaunee Conducting Program, Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Colburn Orchestra and violinist Hao Zhou in a program of Shostakovich and Bruckner.

This concert is free in celebration of The Soraya’s 10th anniversary.

Academy Virtuosi
December 7, 2021

This elite chamber orchestra comprised of talented young musicians brings to life Mahler’s stunning arrangement of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet and Lyric for Strings by George Walker.

Community School Honors Recitals
December 11, 2021 and May 22, 2022

Top students from the Community School take the stage to perform solo and chamber music.

Community School Honors Chamber Recital
December 12, 2021

Top students from the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute present an afternoon of chamber works.

March 26, 2022

Music Academy and Dance Academy students perform celebrated choreography paired with musical masterworks in a performance that includes the premiere of a new work by Dance Dean Silas Farley.

Celebrate Colburn
April 3, 2022

Pianist and Colburn School Artist-in-Residence Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins students of Colburn’s Music Academy and Conservatory of Music in Zipper Hall for a side-by-side concert and annual gala event, Celebrate Colburn, to kick off the Music Academy’s second decade.

Amplify Series

Colburn’s Amplify concert series celebrates artists of color through week-long residencies that include performances, master classes, and panel discussions. Artists for 2021–22 include violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, bassoonist Andrew Brady, bassist Marlon Martinez, and former New York City Ballet member and incoming Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, Silas Farley.

Geraldine Walther, Demarre McGill, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Andrew Bain, and more perform in the Colburn Chamber Music Society series

In her first concert as Colburn’s Interim Director of Chamber Music, Geraldine Walther performs works by Debussy, Mozart, and more; Seattle Symphony principal flute Demarre McGill performs contemporary works; violist and composer Nokuthula Ngwenyama performs Prokofiev, Dvořák, and her own works; LA Phil Principal Horn and Colburn faculty member Andrew Bain presents a program of Williams, Dvořák, Stravinsky, and more.

Learn More

A Fall Welcome from the President

Dear students, families, audiences, alumni, friends, and supporters of Colburn—welcome to the 2021–22 academic and performance season. This September, we celebrate the return of students and faculty to our campus. For the first time in almost 18 months, our practice rooms, studios, and concert halls are filled with musicians and dancers honing their craft under the guidance and mentorship of our remarkable faculty.

As we carefully resume activity on campus, I want to thank our entire community for their dedication, commitment, and support over the last year and a half. As many families and students have shared with me, Colburn’s robust remote learning program and virtual performance opportunities gave them a focus and sense of community throughout the pandemic. Despite the challenges, our students made remarkable progress and are returning to campus with newly acquired skills, ready to learn and perform.

The Colburn School is an institution with deep local roots and a global reach. Students from across Los Angeles and throughout Southern California participate in our Community School and Youth Dance programs. This year, our Dance Academy welcomes students from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Texas, while our Music Academy students come to Colburn from eleven countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, and Hungary. The young artists in our Conservatory of Music come from 20 countries, including Brazil, Italy, Japan, Venezuela, and Belarus.

This fall, we resume some of our most popular series and performances and introduce new programming that highlights our alumni and celebrates artists of color. The Colburn Orchestra will perform in the intimacy of Zipper Hall and in major venues around Southern California. A wide variety of recitals will feature the incredible artistry of our faculty, students, and guest performers.

This academic year we welcome dancer, educator, and choreographer Silas Farley as dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, showcasing his work throughout the season. In the spring Counterpointe performance, Dance Academy students will perform Jerome Robbin’s rarely performed masterpiece The Goldberg Variations, as the first and only student ensemble ever granted permission to perform the work. And in April, we come together for our annual school-wide Gala to celebrate Colburn and our community of artists and supporters.

In many ways, the pandemic has crystalized what is truly important for Colburn: learning and performing together, in-person; ensuring access to a great performing arts education; developing new audiences; and investing in and supporting the next generation of musicians and dancers. As we gather together to study, rehearse, and perform, the safety of our community continues to be our top priority, and we will be monitoring the latest recommendations and resources from the LA County Department of Public Health, the State of California, the CDC, and others. We appreciate your ongoing patience and participation as we take all necessary safety precautions.

Our year ahead is full of promise and we are thrilled to welcome you back. Thank you for being part of the Colburn community. I look forward to greeting you on our campus in the coming weeks.

Sel Kardan
President and CEO, The Colburn School

The Primrose International Viola Competition Returns to Colburn

The Colburn School and the American Viola Society are proud to co-present the Primrose International Viola Competition, one of the most renowned string instrument competitions in the world. For over 40 years, the Competition has featured the world’s best and most promising young violists and attracted distinguished jurors from around the world.

The Competition has launched the careers of some of today’s most successful violists, including past first prize-winners Geraldine Walther, Interim Director of Chamber Music for the Colburn Conservatory and Nokuthula Ngwenyama (Community School ’93), 2021-22 Amplify Artist.

This December, the Primrose International Viola Competition returns to Colburn for a week of exceptional international competition, exquisite music, and an exhilarating conclusion when finalists perform with the Colburn Orchestra in Zipper Hall, led by Salonen Conducting Fellow Kyle Dickson. All rounds will be open to the public, and tickets go on sale later this fall. The American Viola Society will also present a mini-festival during the Competition.

Hillary Herndon, American Viola Society President; Sel Kardan, Colburn School President; and Barry Shiffman, Primrose Competition Jury Chairman reflect on the history of the competition and how it continues to launch professional careers and inspire young musicians today.

Tell us about the Primrose International Viola Competition. What has been its core mission since it started?
Hillary Herndon: The Primrose International Viola Competition (PIVC), named for the premiere viola soloist of the 20th century, William Primrose, was founded in 1979 by David Dalton and presented in conjunction with International Viola Congress VII in Provo, Utah, which Dr. Dalton also hosted. Primrose initially resisted having the competition named in his honor as he agreed with Bartok’s assertion that “competitions are for horses.” Eventually Primrose agreed to let his name be used for the competition.

Between 1987 and 2008, eleven iterations of the competition were held with the title of the “Primrose Memorial Scholarship Competition.” In 2009 the AVS revived the original name.

Since its inception, the core mission has been to provide a competition dedicated solely to the viola, its performers and its literature, thereby helping advance all three. The PIVC was the first international competition specifically for the viola; the Lionel Tertis Viola Competition was founded in 1980, followed by others such as the Maurice Vieux and Tokyo Viola Competitions. Numerous compositions have been commissioned for the PIVC, including works by Wayne Bohrnstedt, Richard Lane, Scott Slapin, Peter Askim, and Christian Colberg.

Hillary Herndon is indebted to Dr. Dwight Pounds and Dr. David Dalton for generously sharing the historical background on the Primrose Competition found in her responses.

Sel Kardan: The Primrose Competition is one of only a handful of international viola competitions and the most important regular viola competition in North America. From the beginning of the competition, it has attracted violists from around the world aspiring to multifaceted careers as soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players, and pedagogues. Prize winners of the Primrose have gone on to highly distinguished professional lives.

This is the third time the Colburn School has hosted the competition, presenting it in partnership with the American Viola Society. The permanence of location and positive working relationship with the AVS, along with the appointment of experienced and renowned jury members and significantly more robust prizes, have continued to elevate the Primrose in the international competition arena.

How does William Primrose continue to inspire young string players even today?
Sel Kardan: William Primrose almost single-handedly established the viola as a solo instrument, inspiring numerous composers to explore the instrument’s rich sonority and wide range. His extraordinary virtuosity and impeccable technique brought the viola into the spotlight and made evident that the viola and viola repertoire were worthy of the public’s attention. Primrose made numerous recordings as a soloist and chamber musician and collaborated with the greatest artists of his day, including Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky. His brilliant transcriptions became standards of the viola literature, and his teaching legacy was significant. Almost 40 years since his passing, Primrose remains an icon of the viola world and his playing an inspiration to all who play the instrument.

How important do you feel competitions are for launching a young musician’s performance career?
Barry Shiffman: Creating awareness around a young person’s artistry is a constant challenge. With the explosion of promotion and awareness via social media and other modern outlets, one would think it is easier now than in the past to get recognized. My experience suggests that while gaining awareness is indeed possible with new avenues such as social media, the huge proliferation of content, including a great deal that is not at a high artistic standard, creates challenges. Competitions recognize and celebrate excellence with the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced jury, and that recognition can be a very important asset for an early career. Occasionally we see a new career launched with great speed, but more commonly careers are built incrementally, with a long series of successes that build the reputation. A win at a major competition like the Primrose is a very efficient way to move your career forward several paces. Doors are opened and opportunities are presented, and then it is up to the young artist to earn the return engagements.

There are many competitions today and many 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners, what do you feel are the differentiating elements that propel some young musicians to a successful and sustainable performance career?
Barry Shiffman: Sustainable careers require a great number of things. Of course, a given is the consistency of compelling performances, but there is so much more that is needed. Understanding the role of the presenter and developing skills that allow you to work with the presenter to inspire their followers. I remember early on in my own career with the young St. Lawrence Quartet and having the opportunity to tour with the legendary Tokyo Quartet. The concert day required an early morning 8:00 am flight, a 3-hour rehearsal at the venue, a concert that was broadcast live on radio, and a post concert dinner reception. At 11:00PM after this long day, while packing up our belongings from the dressing room, a member of the Tokyo Quartet looked at my quartet and said, “only after the last guest has left is your work done”. The generosity and concern they brought to their music making on stage was a part of all their interactions and that lead to lifelong relationships with organizations around the globe.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s competition?
Sel Kardan: This year’s edition of the Primrose will be celebratory in that it will bring some of the most gifted violists to Los Angeles from around the world – many traveling and seeing each other for the first time in over a year and a half. I’m looking forward to hearing the viola in Zipper Hall and to experiencing some of the new and diverse repertoire that I know competitors will choose to perform. I am also excited that the Colburn Orchestra will perform for the final concerto round with one of our gifted Salonen Conducting Fellows on the podium. I’m also very pleased to be welcoming a very distinguished jury of internationally acclaimed artists to participate in the competition and related events. All in all, it will be a wonderful conclusion to the fall semester.

Condensed from an interview originally posted on The Violin Channel.

Student Accomplishments, September 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Davis

Ryan Davis

Hailed as a “lovely violist” (The WholeNote), and chosen as a “Top 30 Under 30” by CBC Music (upcoming 2021), Ryan Davis is swiftly emerging as a singular creative voice. Ryan graduated from the Colburn Conservatory of Music in 2019 and recent performance highlights include an appearance on NBA Champion and former Toronto Raptors player Serge Ibaka’s Instagram Live show, How Talented Are You?, and a featured performance of Christos Hatzis’s The Mega4 Meta4, as an invited soloist in the 21C Music Festival at The Royal Conservatory of Music. Ryan is an innovative composer-performer under the moniker Radia, combining inspiration of classical, folk, electronic, and hip-hop music with a loop pedal. His compositions have been featured in diverse spaces and communities, including in Toronto’s Koerner Hall, The Violin Channel, in Los Angeles’s Skid Row, and on ABC Channel 7 News LA. In 2019 he was chosen as the first ever violist in the Rebanks Family Fellowship & International Performance Residency Program in Toronto.