Derrick Spiva Jr., appointed Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s first artist educator

Esteemed music educator and composer noted for influences that reflect LA’s multicultural fabric, brings enhanced creative vigor to LACO’s educational and music programs

Three-Year Appointment runs through 2020-21 Season

Derrick Spiva Jr., an esteemed music educator and composer noted for his music influences that reflect Southern California’s multicultural fabric, has been named Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s (LACO) first Artist Educator, it was announced by LACO Executive Director Scott Harrison. Spiva, previously associated with the Orchestra as 2015-16 Composer In Residence, brings enhanced creative vigor to LACO’s educational and music programs. The three-year appointment, beginning in this season, runs through the 2020-21 season.

Spiva will have a major artistic role during each year of his residency. Equally as important, he will enhance the impact of LACO’s education and community outreach programs, which reach thousands of young people annually. Among his responsibilities will be to re-shape and host LACO’s long-running Meet the Music concerts for schoolchildren and help create substantive curriculum materials and activities presented by classroom docents in conjunction with the program. He’ll develop and enrich LACO’s in-school work, unlocking creative potential by guiding students to compose their own musical works regardless of previous musical training. Additionally, Spiva will assist with The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, a partnership between LACO, the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and USC Thornton School of Music that provides mentorship, training and experience to early-career musicians from underrepresented communities.

““Derrick’s exceptional music and composing skills, creative vision, tremendous teaching experience, genuine warmth and passion for his work dovetail perfectly with LACO’s commitment to education programs that not only nurture future generations of musicians and composers but also inspire a love of classical music,” says Harrison. “We are so pleased to work with him in this important new role as he increases community access to LACO and further enriches our concert experiences in meaningful ways.”

“Significantly expanding my relationship with LACO in this capacity as both an artist and an educator is an incredible opportunity,” says Spiva. “I look forward to working closely with LACO’s staff, musicians and guest artists to build upon the Orchestra’s strong education foundation.”

During LACO’s 2018-19 season, Spiva curates an October program for SESSION, an innovative classical music experience designed to explore classical music’s cutting-edge sounds and challenge traditional concert-going expectations, with a program featuring music that bridges global musical traditions, including the world premiere of his work The Body Overcome, with West African, Indian and Eastern European influences. In 2019-20, LACO will premiere the third and final work in Spiva’s chamber music trilogy. The first two parts of the trilogy were also premiered by LACO, drawing tremendous critical and popular acclaim. For 2020-21, his final year as LACO Artist Educator, Spiva is composing a string quartet for The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship.

Spiva, a rising African-American composer with a BA from UCLA and an MFA from CalArts, was awarded a composer residency with LACO through New Music USA’s “Music Alive” program for the Orchestra’s 2015-16 season, during which LACO gave the world premiere of his joyous work Prisms, Cycles, Leaps, the first part of his trilogy for chamber orchestra, influenced by traditional West African drumming and Hindustani rhythmic cycles. In May 2018, LACO premiered the second part, From Here A Path. This season, Sphinx Virtuosi gives the New York premiere of Spiva’s A Vision Unfolding at Carnegie Hall. Spiva is noted for conducting, composing and teaching styles that reflect the multicultural fabric of Los Angeles, where he lives and works. He weaves music across multiple cultures into his musical vocabulary by using integrative composition techniques that seek common ground between different musical traditions, creating works that break down the boundaries between musical genres. He received the prestigious New Music USA award in both 2010 and 2011 and has served as a teaching artist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, instructor for the Community Arts Partnership program at CalArts and conductor for the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra. He studied classical music as a student of Ian Krouse, Paul Chihara, David Rosenboom and Alex Shapiro while also studying West African music and dance with Kobla Ladzepko, Persian music theory with Pirayeh Pourafar and Houman Pourmehdi, Balkan music theory with Tzvetanka Varimezova, and tala in Hindustani classical music with Swapan Chaudhuri and Aashish Khan.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) ranks among the world’s top musical ensembles. Beloved by audiences and praised by critics, the Orchestra is known as a champion of contemporary composers, with eight ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as a preeminent interpreter of historical masterworks. Headquartered in the heart of the country’s cultural capital, LACO has been proclaimed “America’s finest chamber orchestra” (Public Radio International), “LA’s most unintimidating chamber music experience” (Los Angeles magazine), “resplendent” (Los Angeles Times) and “one of the world’s great chamber orchestras”(KUSC Classical FM). Performing throughout greater Los Angeles, the Orchestra presents orchestral, Baroque and chamber concerts, as well as salon evenings in private spaces and unique experiences that explore classical music’s cutting-edge sounds. Jaime Martín, praised as “a visionary conductor, discerning and meticulous” (Platea Magazine), is LACO’s Music Director Designate and takes the podium as Music Director in the 2019-20 season.

For additional information about LACO’s performances and education programs, please visit

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