Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra / Music News & Info: Classical

Things are looking up: LA Chamber Orchestra to re-open Walt Disney Concert Hall with free concert, extend Jaime Martin’s contract, and more

Big news from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra:

First, the orchestra, led by Music Director Jaime Martin, will begin playing again this summer

  • The initial concert on Saturday, June 26, will be at Walt Disney Concert Hall  
      • It will be the first performance for a live audience at WDCH since the venue closed for the Covid-19 pandemic on March 12.
      • A limited number of free seats will be made available to fully vaccinated members of the general public.  Information on how to obtain those tickets is available at http://www.laco/SummerFest  

    • The remaining seats will be reserved for LACO-invited friends and family, vital community partners and others who have helped the Orchestra weather the pandemic, all of whom will also need to be fully vaccinated.
    • The program will include Variaciones concertantes by Ginastera, Juan Pablo Contreras’ Mariachitlán (the title track on the composer’s Latin Grammy-nominated album), and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, “Italian.”
    • Terri and Jerry Kohl generously provided a leadership gift which allowed this concert to happen.
  • They follow that with a concert on Thursday, July 1, at Rothenburg Hall at The Huntington
    • On the program:  the original 1915 version of de Falla’s El amor brujo conducted by Martín and featuring mezzo soprano Suzanna Guzmán; Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Debussy; and the world premiere of Kimani Bridges’ The Flower.
    • Seats for this concert will be invitation only.
  • Both programs will be recorded for the second season of “SummerFest,” LACO’s  digital chamber music series, which will stream weekly beginning in July at no cost on LACO’s YouTube channel.

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Speaking of Mr. Martin, LACO also announced that it would extend his contract for an additional five years. He will now be Music Director until at least the end of the 2026/2027 season

“I am deeply honored to be a part of this iconic orchestra and grateful to LACO’s exceptional artists and dedicated Board of Directors for their confidence in my leadership,” he said. “It has been exhilarating to be a part of L.A.’s vibrant cultural scene and engage with LACO’s devoted audiences and community partners. I look forward to further exploring new musical frontiers with the Orchestra and sharing our artistry.”

His original three-year contract was due to expire in 2022.  

The extension is a big vote of confidence, especially given that about half of his time to date as Music Director has been marred by coronavirus-related shutdowns and cancellations.

“During his short tenure with LACO, Jaime Martín has helped enhance the Orchestra’s artistic profile in Los Angeles, as well as nationally and internationally,” said Board Chair Leslie Lassiter. “His joyous music making, remarkable artistry, inclusive and bold programming and collegial leadership inspire both LACO audiences and musicians. We are delighted the Orchestra’s musical trajectory will continue under his baton.”

Despite there being limited experience between conductor and orchestra, the move is not surprising.  The chemistry between them was palpable from the outset, leading the orchestra to move quickly to hire Mr. Martin after his LACO debut in 2017.  

As Wade Culbreath, Principal Percussion, described to me not long after Mr. Martin’s initial appointment, “I spoke to a lot of people in the orchestra who had been playing that week. And everyone seemed to have a feeling that it was one of the most enjoyable weeks they’d ever had at LACO.“

“There aren’t a lot of barriers to just getting to know him,” Mr. Culbreath later added. “He was extremely easy to talk to and very approachable. Super friendly, nice person, and he also was very interested in Los Angeles, just connecting locally with the people here.”

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BTW:  if you haven’t watched LACO’s Close Quarters series available on YouTube, you should.  It goes beyond showing typical concert footage to create a true multi-media landscape; yet if you want more straight-forward coverage of a performance, that’s available separately too. 

The latest installment is a winner: Grant Gershon conducts the world premiere of Hyo by Peter S. Shin, along with Britten’s Les Illuminations, and “Lumee’s Dream” from the opera p r i s m by Ellen Reid, LACO’s Creative Advisor and Composer-in-Residence. Nicole Cabell is the excellent soprano soloist

The full Close Quarters video of that concert is below. 

The instrumental footage for the individual works is available here:  Shin, Britten, Reid

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Finally, I’m happy to say that my interview with Ben Cadwallader, LACO’s Executive Director, has been rescheduled.  I look forward to discussing all of the above — and more — with him and sharing the best parts with all of you very soon.

RELATED POSTS:

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Photo credits:

  • Jaime Martin seated:  CK Dexter Haven
  • Jaime Martin portrait:  Ben Gibbs

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