Composer and Artist-Educator Derrick Spiva Jr. shifts LACO educational initiatives to better serve the evolving communities of Los Angeles County and beyond.

Derrick Spiva Jr.
Artist-Educator and Composer Derrick Spiva Jr.

For the last two decades, LACO’s Meet the Music program has presented classroom visits followed by an interactive, discussion-based concert featuring LACO musicians and artists. The format of the series has now been augmented to increase the amount of in-classroom instruction and interaction at the concert experience.

A specially curated program of classical and new music lies at the center of the program. A wider swathe of genres and composers ⁠— including new works by Derrick Spiva Jr. and Composer Teaching Artist Fellows Nicholas Bentz, Gabrielle Rosse Owens and Gillian Rae Perry⁠ — are now featured at the educational concert.

“This approach … allows us to focus on specific pieces in a more interactive and innovative way. [The students] will be able to explore, ask questions and stimulate ideas, enhancing the impact of their experience with music,” says composer and LACO Artist-educator Derrick Spiva Jr.

“[The students] will be able to explore, ask questions and stimulate ideas, enhancing the impact of their experience with music”
— Derrick Spiva Jr.

Meet The Music is also expanding with a uniquely immersive and creative initiative: The Classroom Composers Project. This new part of the curriculum teaches the foundations of composition and encourages students to work with their peers to unlock creativity. The project involves an hour-long, in-classroom visit by a Composition Teaching Artist Fellows, where students are guided through exercises and games that culminate in the creation of their own mini-composition.

These final mini-compositions, written by the classrooms, are performed at Meet the Music concerts, and played by LACO musicians.

“[Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra] gave us a great, great gift with that process. The students loved playing around with Nick [Bentz] and the music,” wrote Hoover Street Elementary School Music Teacher Paula Van Houten after the first Meet The Music concert of the season. “Hearing it transformed into Nick’s beautiful music for the LACO musicians in concert was very moving. I was pretty tear-eyed myself.”

Through this redesigned educational outlook, LACO aims to further augment our educational initiatives to better meet the ever-evolving needs of students. This season Meet the Music will serve over 1800 students across 40 schools.

To find out how you can support LACO’s educational initiatives, please visit