Founded by Composers Missy Mazzoli and Pulitzer Prize Winner Ellen Reid, Luna Lab Addresses Gender Imbalance in Classical Music by Providing Aspiring Female-Identifying, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming Composers Ages 12-18 with Mentorship, Performance Opportunities and High-Quality Recordings of Their Works
Available On Demand at No Cost, the Program Premieres on Thursday, February 11, 2021, 4:00 pm (PT)

(Los Angeles, CA, January 27, 2021) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) teams up with New York City’s Kaufman Music Center (KMC) to present a special digital performance featuring the world premieres of eight works by the 2019-20 Fellows in the KMC’s Luna Composition Lab program, including three participants in Luna Lab Meets LACO initiated last season. The virtual program, filmed in Zipper Hall at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, includes LACO artists performing new works by teen composers Olivia Bennett (age 18), KiMani Bridges (age 18), Madeline Clara Cheng (age 16), Ebunoluwa Oguntola (age 15), Anya Lagman (age 18), Sage Shurman (age 15), Chloe Villamayor (age 17) and Emily Webster-Zuber (age 16). Thanks to the generosity of Santa Monica/Westside Legacy Fund for Women and Girls, the program was recorded last fall and has now been made available to the public at no cost and can be streamed on demand following its premiere on Thursday, February 11, 2021, at 4:00 pm (PT), at https://www.laco.org/events/luna-lab-meets-laco/, LACO’s YouTube and Facebook live channels.

Luna Lab, founded in 2016 by 2018 GRAMMY Award-nominee Missy Mazzoli and 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid with Kaufman Music Center, addresses the gender imbalance in the field of classical music by providing aspiring female-identifying, non-binary and gender non-conforming composers ages 12 -18 with a year of one-on-one mentorship, performance opportunities and high-quality recordings of their works.

The digital program, conducted by LACO Artistic Advisor Derrick Spiva Jr., features LACO musicians Tereza Stanislav, violin; Jason Issokson, violin; Robert Brophy, viola; Trevor Handy, cello; Ben Smolen, flute; and Wade Culbreath, timpani; plus special guest Vicki Ray, piano.

“LACO is proud to partner with Kaufman Music Center on Luna Composition Lab,” says Executive Director Ben Cadwallader. “This vital program provides a significant avenue for expanding representation within the classical music community with Luna Lab Fellows receiving crucial mentorship opportunities and substantive musical opportunities designed to foster their considerable talent and help them advance in the classical music field.”

Each year, Luna Lab Fellows are selected from across the country and paired with acclaimed female-identifying, non-binary and gender non-conforming composers who act as individual mentors. Fellows work with mentors via biweekly lessons on online platforms to create a new work. In the fall, Mentors guide the Fellows through the early stages of exploring a new sonic landscape that will develop into a piece, including sketches, conversations, directed listening and score study. Over the winter, lessons shift to prioritize the Fellow’s new composition. During this time, Fellows hear the sketches of their work realized through a series of workshops with NYC’s finest young musicians, who hail from Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music teen new music program and Special Music School High School, along with Juilliard Pre-College, Mannes Prep at The New Schools’ Open Campus and the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College. Following their mentorship year, Fellows enter an ever-expanding network of alumni across the country.

Luna Composition Lab joined forces with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 2019-20 to develop Luna Lab Meets LACO, which provided mentorship and performance opportunities to young female-identifying, non-binary and gender non-conforming composers from Southern California throughout Spring 2020. The three Luna Lab Meets LACO participants were selected by a panel comprised of noted composers Ellen Reid, Missy Mazzoli and Derrick Spiva Jr. As part of the partnership, Luna Composition Lab Fellows and Luna Lab Meets LACO participants not only worked closely with mentors but they also attended interactive panel discussions on film composition with Jeff Beal and Kathryn Bostic, and leadership in the arts with Jean Davidson, Los Angeles Master Chorale President & CEO; Meghan Martineau, Los Angeles Philharmonic Vice President of Artistic Planning;  LACO Artistic Advisor Derrick Spiva Jr., and Los Angeles Master Chorale Associate Artistic Director Jenny Wong. Luna Lab Meets LACO was extended into the current season with the LACO recording project and its subsequent digital broadcast airing on February 11.

Steinway is the official piano of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

This stand-alone virtual Luna Lab Meets LACO program is not affiliated with LACO’s CLOSE QUARTERS digital series, which is on pause for the month of February.

LACO receives public funding via grants from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. James Darrah at LACO is generously underwritten by Ruth Eliel and Bill Cooney. To support LACO, its stellar artists and digital programming, please visit LACO.org/donate or call (213) 622-7001, EXT. 4.

LOS ANGELES CHAMBER ORCHESTRA (LACO), led by Music Director Jaime Martín, ranks among the world’s top musical ensembles. Beloved by audiences and praised by critics, LACO is a preeminent interpreter of historical masterworks and, with eight ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, a champion of contemporary composers. 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). Martín, who builds upon LACO’s rich legacy, made his first appearance as LACO’s Music Director Designate in early 2019 in a concert described by the Los Angeles Times, as “a thrilling performance, and the orchestra played like it was having the time of its life,” adding, “he will make fans very quickly.” Overseas, he has been praised as “a visionary conductor, discerning and meticulous” (Platea Magazine), and London’s The Telegraph said, “his infectious enjoyment of the music communicated to the orchestra and audience alike.” 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. The Orchestra has made 32 recordings, including, most recently, a 2019 BIS Records release of works for violin and chamber orchestra that features Concertmaster Margaret Batjer and the world premiere recording of Pierre Jalbert’s Violin Concerto (a LACO co-commission). LACO, with offices located in downtown Los Angeles, has toured Europe, South America and Japan, and performed across North America.

OLIVA BENNETT (age 18) is an award-winning composer and performer from Springfield, Missouri. Her music has been performed in many festivals and events including the Tanglewood Institute, Mizzou’s Creating Original Music Program, Interlochen Arts Camp, and American Composers Forum’s NextNotes. She was invited to compose for the National Youth Orchestra (as an apprentice composer) and the YoungArts Program (LA). Olivia has studied with Missy Mazzoli, Ellen Reid, Nico Muhly, Kristin Kuster, Jennifer Jolley, Stefan Freund, and her current teacher, Carlyle Sharpe. Her works have been performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra, Tanglewood Young Artists Orchestra, Interlochen Philharmonic, Springfield Youth Symphony, and more. Olivia is currently a first-year student studying composition at Rice University.   

KIMANI BRIDGES (age 18) is a flutist and composer from Louisville, Kentucky. She has been playing the flute since she was 11 and started composing in 11th grade. She attended the duPont Manual Magnet High School where she took composition and performed in the Symphonic Band and Chamber Ensemble. Her pieces have been performed at the University of Louisville and duPont Manual Magnet High School’s New Works Festival. KiMani was a participant in the Loretto Project’s Pathways Initiative Program, and she was named a NextNotes High School Creator Award Winner of 2020. KiMani is currently in her first year of college, studying composition, at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. KiMani was awarded the G. Schirmer Prize for her work “The Flower” in 2020. 

MADELINE CLARA CHENG (age 16) is a Bay Area–based composer, saxophonist, and pianist studying under Dr. Vivian Fung. Her pieces have received top awards and honors from the National Federation of Music Clubs, the American Beethoven Society, the Golden Key Music Festival, Webster University, the Frost School of Music, the University of Illinois, Tribeca New Music, American Composers Forum, the U.S. Open Music Competition, the ASCAP Foundation, and the Music Teachers’ Association of California. She was awarded a merit scholarship from the Interlochen Arts Camp, and is an alumna of the Berklee High School Composition Intensive and the Young Women Composers Camp.

ANYA LAGMAN (age 18) is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles. Originally from Manila, Philippines, she is currently a freshman composition student at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. She has studied with Andrew Norman and Veronika Krausas and is interested in discovering her voice in Los Angeles’ eclectic environment. She is currently interested in symbolism and how its influence is integrated in visual arts, literature and music.

EBUNOLUWA OGUNTOLA (age 15) is a composer, violinist, and pianist from Fayetteville, New York. She started music at the age of 3, but it wasn’t until she was 11 when she first started composing, taking independent composition lessons through Syracuse University. In the summer of 2020, Ebun attended the internationally acclaimed Eastman Classical Studies program for composition. She also hosted a virtual concert online in which she musically composed and narrated the unfortunate events of 2020, where she featured Grammy-award winning violinist, Johnny Gandelsman as a soloist of her new work. Ebun enjoys writing different types of pieces, sharing her music and playing with others, and challenging herself within different aspects of music.  

SAGE SHURMAN (age 15) lives in Pasadena, California and is a sophomore at Flintridge Preparatory School. Sage loves telling stories through her compositions and is often inspired from her alternate life as a nationally ranked soccer player. At age three, Sage began her musical studies on the piano and has won numerous accolades including the honor of playing as a soloist with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic performing Schroeder, Mozart, and Poulenc piano concertos. In 2019, she placed in the American Protege competition and performed at Carnegie Hall. In summer 2020, Sage was scheduled to perform Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto at Walt Disney Hall with the LA Youth Philharmonic, but due to COVID-19, she performed virtually.

CHLOE ELISE VILLAMAYOR (age 17) is a composer, violinist, songwriter, and vocalist from Santa Clarita, California whose works are centered around the belief that music is not only a reflection of the world but also a tool to heal those in it. A classically trained violinist, she has performed with the California All-State Junior High School and High School Orchestras and attended the Luzerne Music Center Senior Session. She began writing music at the age of 13, through the California Institute of the Arts Community Arts Partnership Saturday Music Program, where she studied composition and improvisation, and discovered her love for music beyond the classical genre. Chloe studies composition, violin and voice at The Buckley School. In addition to composing, Chloe currently sings and writes in her math-rock band, Alive.Multicolored, and is a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra’s Novae Sinfonia.

EMILY WEBSTER-ZUBER (age 16), a Los Angeles native, is a pianist and composer. She began classical piano at the Colburn School in 2009 and has studied privately outside of Colburn since 2018. Emily has taken composition with Ian Krouse since 2017. As a participant in Salastina Music Society’s composition and performance program – Sounds Promising – several of her chamber works were premiered in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. She is also a 2019-20 fellow in the  LA Phil Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program, where her works will be played by the Lyris Quartet, the American Youth Symphon, and LAPhil musicians. Emily is co-founder of Musical Traces, an organization dedicated to the development of musicians (musicaltraces.com).

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Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Luna Lab

Premieres Thursday, February 11, 2021, 4:00 pm (PT)

subsequently available on demand


EBUNOLUWA OGUNTOLA The Dimensions (World Premiere)
KIMANI BRIDGES The Flower (World Premiere)
MADELINE CLARA CHENG Ceiling Stars (World Premiere)
OLIVA BENNETT Mass (World Premiere)
SAGE SHURMAN Enchanted (World Premiere)
ANYA LAGMAN Unravel (World Premiere)
CHLOE Elise VILLAMAYOR Fragments of [anything] to breathe to (World Premiere)
EMILY WEBSTER-ZUBER The Sun Shines Fair (World Premiere)


Derrick Spiva Jr., conductor
Tereza Stanislav, violin
Jason Issokson, violin
Robert Brophy, viola
Trevor Handy, cello
Ben Smolen, flute
Vicki Ray, piano
Wade Culbreath, timpani


There is no cost to stream the programs

Donations requested: laco.org/donate


YouTube: youtube.com/user/lacorchestra
Facebook live: facebook.com/LAChamberOrchestra