Appointments / Auditions & Appointments / Los Angeles Philharmonic / Music News & Info: Classical

Comings and goings at the LA Phil (Spring 2022 edition, part 1 of 2): five empty chairs filled, including new Tuba and Associate Principal Bass

The Los Angeles Philharmonic has been busy trying to plug multiple holes in its roster throughout this season. The COVID-19 pandemic had prevented it from trying to hire anyone for over a year.

That changed beginning Fall of 2021 when they held auditions for Section 1st and 2nd Violin and Fourth Horn. The orchestra followed that up with more in late April and early May, this time for Associate Principal Bass and Tuba. According to various sources, both official and unofficial, they all yielded positive results.

Bass and Tuba players in their 20s

The most recent news is that Mason Soria won the Tuba audition held this past week, per multiple social media reports (such as the Instagram post below by Sarasota Orchestra Principal Tuba Aaron Tindall) and confirmed by reliable sources. He fills the chair that became vacant upon Norman Pearson’s retirement in September 2020.

The Texas native is wrapping us his Master of Music degree at the University of Miami Frost School of Music this semester, yet already has been Principal Tuba of both Baton Rouge and Richmond Symphonies, earning the latter job just this past January.

Besides his strong musical chops, there’s at least one other reason to think the transition to LA will be an easy one for him: according to an interview published on Facebook last year, when asked for a fun fact, he replied: “I am the biggest Lakers fan you will ever encounter.”

A week before, another relatively young musician appears to have won the position of Associate Principal Bass. The position essentially replaces one of the two Principal Bass chairs which became empty when Dennis Trembly stepped back into the section and took the title Principal Emeritus in 2018; he eventually retired two years later.

The orchestra held open auditions in early 2020 to try to fill the new role, but no candidates received offers, so they tried again in April of this year.  Multiple knowledgeable people have confirmed that a hire was made this time, and one unconfirmed but reliable source has reported that Kaelan Decman won the position.

The Southern California native is no stranger to the LA Phil. He has been a regular substitute in the orchestra and he did his graduate studies at the USC Thornton School of Music with David Allen Moore, Fourth Chair in the bass section.

He is currently a member of the San Diego Symphony, earning an official spot in their bass section a few months ago after having been a long-term substitute since 2018.  He also has been a substitute with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, and Phoenix Symphony.  In addition, he was Principal Bass of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and Terre Haute Symphony Orchestras, positions he held while he was an undergraduate at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Two violinists and a horn player

This past March, the LA Phil officially announced three new players had joined the orchestra:

  • Ashley Park (Section First Violin):  born in New York and raised in New Jersey, she graduated from the Juilliard School where she was Concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra.  She has also performed with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra as the visiting Principal Second Violin, the New York Classical Players, the Verbier Festival Orchestra and as a substitute with the New York Philharmonic. Ashley made her solo debut at age five and has since received numerous accolades and awards, including first prize at the New York Music Competition for four consecutive years. She has performed as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician at Carnegie Hall, throughout Lincoln Center, as well as on stages across Europe, Asia and New Zealand, and in festivals and masterclasses around the world. 
  • Jung Eun Kang (Section Second Violin):  born in South Korea, she began studying the violin at age of 11 and is a graduate of the Seoul National University and also holds a Master’s degree from Yale University School of Music. She has been the recipient of many top prizes at several national competitions, including the Sung-Jung National Music Competition, the 30th Busan Music Competition and the Sejong Arts and Culture Foundation Competition. In 2019, as a winner of the Woolsey Concerto Competition, she appeared as a soloist with the Yale Philharmonia under the direction of Ludovic Morlot. She was a fellow at the New World Symphony from 2019 until she joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  She fills the chair previously held by Guido Lamell, the 42-year LA Phil veteran who in 2021 tragically suffered a heart attack and died suddenly.
  • Elyse Lauzon (Fourth Horn):  the native of Long Island, New York, studied with Erik Ralske, Principal Horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, throughout high school. She attended the Colburn Conservatory of Music for her Bachelor of Music degree and Professional Studies Certificate, studying with LA Phil Principal Horn Andrew Bain and retired San Francisco Principal Horn David Krehbiel; she also with Gail Williams and Jonathan Boen while earning her Master of Music degree at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. She has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and  has attended several music festivals, including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, St. Barts Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood and Music Academy of the West. Prior to joining the LA Phil, she was Second Horn in the San Diego Symphony, Fourth Horn of the Pacific Symphony, and Second Horn of the Sarasota Orchestra.  She replaces Brian Drake, a player who had been with the LA Phil for over four decades after having originally been appointed to the section by former Music Director Carlo Maria Giulini.

What’s left?

The orchestra still needs to find an Associate Principal Horn, vacant since Jacquelyn Rainey left to take the Principal Horn chair in the Atlanta Symphony. There has also been an audition in July announced for Assistant Principal Timpani / Section Percussion.

The biggest empty chair in the Los Angeles Philharmonic is Principal Oboe. That important position has been empty since Ramon Ortega very brief tenure began and ended in the Fall of 2018. The good news is that progress is being made on that front.

More information in Part 2.

One more thing . . .

In case you didn’t know, All is Yar maintains a library of audition repertoire lists from multiple orchestras going back a decade and more. All of the audition rep lists from the five positions mentioned above are included there. You should check it out HERE.

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Photo credits:

  • Mason Soria: courtesy of the Richmond Symphony
  • Kaelan Decman: courtesy of the San Diego Symphony
  • Ashley Park, Jung Eun Kang, and Elyse Lauzon: courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic

One thought on “Comings and goings at the LA Phil (Spring 2022 edition, part 1 of 2): five empty chairs filled, including new Tuba and Associate Principal Bass

  1. Pingback: Comings and goings at the LA Phil (Spring 2022 edition, part 2 of 2): Principal Oboe candidates — and a bold prediction or two | All is Yar

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