Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal



Roland Kato

principal viola

Described by the Los Angeles Times as “a brilliant virtuoso, playing with the perfect combination of energy and eloquence,” internationally acclaimed viola recitalist and soloist Roland Kato has been a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra since 1978 with Sir Neville Marriner. He was appointed principal viola by lona Brown in 1987. He has also held the principal position in many orchestras including the LA Opera orchestra, the Pasadena Symphony, the California Chamber Symphony and the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra.

A sought-after chamber musician, Roland participates in many chamber series in Los Angeles. He plays with the Santa Clarita Chamber Players and performed with Pacific Serenades in the ensemble’s Carnegie Hall debut. He was invited to appear as a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has also performed with the New York New Music Ensemble. He was honored to join Yo-Yo Ma in a chamber music concert benefiting cancer research.

Roland has appeared as soloist/recitalist on both viola and viola d’amore throughout the United States and abroad for LACO. In November 2002, Roland and LACO concertmaster Margaret Batjer performed the West Coast premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Double Concerto in B minor for Violin and Viola. Internationally, he has appeared at the Festival Casals in Puerto Rico; Festival Internacional de Música in Costa Rica and the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in Bonefro, Italy. His festival appearances in the US include the Grand Canyon Chamber Music, Sitka (Alaska) Summer Music, Oregon Bach and Carmel Bach festivals; the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego; Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon; Strings in the Mountains Festival in Colorado and the Garth Newel Festival in Hot Springs, Virginia.

Roland produced the first-ever recording of Telemann’s Quatrième livre de quatuors, a collection of six chamber pieces performed by the period instrument ensemble American Baroque, on the Koch Classics International label. This Grammy®-nominated recording has been re-released on the Music and Arts label. His discography includes recordings alongside Ransom Wilson and Marni Nixon, and recordings of music by Tania French and Mark Carlson. The Carlson recording, Hall of Mirrors, was awarded the Chamber Music America/WQXR Record Award for 2001.

Roland’s arrangements and transcriptions have been performed worldwide. His transcription of Prokofiev’s Music For Children was recently given its New York premiere, and his arrangement of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite was premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC by the New Hampshire-based Apple Hill Chamber Players. The Washington Post wrote, “[Kato] surprisingly caught the subtleties of the composer’s sparely tinted orchestral brush strokes and poetic watercolor depictions of the five fairy tales.” This arrangement received its European premiere in Ireland and has subsequently been performed worldwide and was recorded by the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival in 2011.

As a musical ambassador of the United States, Roland has twice joined with principals of the world’s great orchestras to play symphonic music in European capitals under the sponsorship of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Most recently, the musicians donated their services for the performances of the Verdi Requiem in Paris and Berlin to benefit orphans of the war in Bosnia.

In June 2006, Roland indulged his love of fine dining with a trip to Spain. Roland explains, “Being an avid foodie, how could I turn down an opportunity to eat at one of the world’s most desirable restaurants – a year-long wait for a reservation that some might kill for! El Bulli, the Spanish restaurant of the 21st century, has been on the food vanguard for the past few years primarily because of its Catalan chef, Feran Adrià, who is one of the most copied in the world. The restaurant reviews thousands of reservation requests choosing just 55 diners per night for the four months during the year that they open. For the remaining eight months, they create wonderful new dishes in their lab-kitchen in Barcelona.”

Roland Kato

photo Michael Miller