Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra blog

in the minds of the musicians

August 10, 2012

in memorium: Ruggiero Ricci

in memorium: Ruggiero Ricci

LACO violin, Jacqueline Brand remembers the tremendous violinist, and her teacher, Ruggiero Ricci, who passed away on Sunday:

four toy pianos and rhythmically gifted farm animals
March 25, 2011

Family concert 2, Ragtime Xylophonia is this Sunday, and is shaping up to be a really fun day of music and activities! LACO principal timpani Wade Culbreath has been hard at work making the program great. He wanted us to share some really interesting things about percussion being used, the history of the xylophone and George Hamilton Green, the composer of a lot of the music that will be played on Sunday.

the adams schnellar timpani
November 01, 2010

For the LACO performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 7, I will be using the new Adams Schnellar timpani.

timpani: from an instrument of war to beethoven's stage
October 27, 2010

The development of timpani since the time of their introduction into the orchestra has resulted in the gradual alteration of their sound and tonal character. The forces that have changed timpani include where and how they were used, their mechanics, the size of the orchestra, and the music written for them.

instruments have history: unleashing the beast
July 30, 2010

“It was like wrestling a wild animal – I remember of the first time I attempted to play this historic violin. It took months – in the end, I did not master the instrument. Instead, it taught me to play better…”

saying farewell to susan ranney
May 24, 2010

Iʼm sorry that I could not speak these words last month in the presence of Sue and all of you. My voice was too choked with emotion. With the following lines I would like to share with you just how important Susan Ranney is to me, and the impact she has had on my playing, on my career and on my life.

instruments have history: the story of a violin and a flute
April 01, 2010

Recently, I have been talking with musicians backstage, and learning more and more about the history of their instruments and their bows. It struck me that many of these instruments have great stories – some historical and amazing, some just fun and friendly. I wanted to share some of these stories with you, our readers. Here you go:

beginning of a great season
October 17, 2009

This week is opening week for LACO. The office has been super busy, the phones have been ringing nonstop and the Orchestra is back in rehearsals. I wanted to share some images with you of the first week back in rehearsal as well as the first weekend pair of performances.

"rhapsody and scherzo" premiere this weekend
January 24, 2009

I’m so excited about the upcoming premiere of my Rhapsody and Scherzo with LACO this weekend. Not only is it an honor to be in my 4th season with LACO, but a privilege to write for such an amazing group of musicians. I love having a dual career as composer and performer, and this commission from LACO presented me with a unique opportunity to play in my own work. Normally in my composer role, I’m out in the hall listening, hearing the ensemble as a whole, following along with the full score. For this piece, I thought I’d write myself a contra part, sit in the orchestra, and see it come together from that perspective. It was very different, seeing the inner-workings that you wouldn’t see or hear sitting from a distance in the hall. For the very first run-through on Monday, I had my usual first-time jitters. It was awesome hearing it come together, but I found myself torn between focusing on the composer side of things (listening, answering questions with parts, offering performance suggestions), and the performer side of things (playing, counting measures, reeds..). Tuesday I was more relaxed and doing better with my multi-tasking. I also had a chance to hear the run-through in the hall (minus the contra part!), and it was really nice to be able to hear from the audience.

continuing the discussion on john adams and
January 09, 2008

Continuing discussion & comments from a climate of fear

I confess to being a bit perplexed by the comment that “the new music community tucks itself away like church mice!” I certainly don’t mean to discount the problems that new music and those who create and perform it face in our consumer culture, but for a counter-view, have a look at the 2008 season calendar of Carnegie Hall America’s “flagship” concert hall – and an institution that until not so long ago was more or less a bastion of musical conservatism.

life changing epiphany
January 04, 2008

Continued from: on audience perceptions of modern and contemporary music

Like Kevin, I had an Adams epiphany that changed my life. Nearly thirty years ago, I heard the San Francisco Symphony give the first performance of Adams’ “Harmonium,” a setting for chorus and orchestra of poems of John Donne and Emily Dickinson. I consider this piece to be not only one of Adams’ greatest works, but one of the seminal masterpieces of the last half-century. It was especially moving to me because I remember playing some of the early sketches for “Harmonium” on a little battered upright in John’s tiny cottage by the beach in San Francisco: I had no idea that I was witnessing the birth of a major contemporary masterpiece.

on audience perceptions of "modern and contemporary" music
January 03, 2008

Continued from re: a climate of fear – a response from Jeffrey Kahane

A few years ago, when I was still music director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, I gave a talk on programming at our large local retirement community, the source of one of the orchestra’s largest, most loyal and (with notable exceptions) musically conservative constituencies. I had decided to do an experiment in the form of playing a little trick on the audience. (I had, incidentally, absolutely no doubt about the outcome of the experiment, but nonetheless could not contain my glee when the outcome was made known to the astonished “victims” of my well-intended prank, many of whom literally gasped when the results were announced.)

re: a climate of fear - a response from jeffrey kahane
January 02, 2008

Part One a response to the post and many wonderful comments on a climate of fear:

glad & sad
March 15, 2007

This is my first official blog ANYWHERE! I just got home from performing what might be the Western Hemispheric Premiere of the J.S. Bach Viola Concerto at LACO’s chamber music home, Zipper Hall in the Colburn School. It’s always great to play new works but this opportunity was unique in that I had a chance to expose an audience to a premiere of a long-known “lost” concerto that was recently reconstructed from remnants of other arrangements of the same music by Bach. There is some controversy whether the piece was intended for the viola, but who cares? It’s great music and I’m grateful that I was in the right place at the right time!
For any of you viola nurds, my notes on the viola concerto are posted below, if you’re interested.
Wishing you good music,


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