Los Angeles Youth Orchestra News    April 2015

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Conductor Jed Gaylin leading the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra in Cosmic Dust, March 7 at Shriver Hall.

 
Cosmic Dust Performance
 
Dear Music Friends,
 
It was a thrill last month connecting with people who are changing our understanding of the universe--specifically, the scientist working with the Hubble Space Telescope. Conductor Jed Gaylin gave a powerful interpretation of my Cosmic Dust with a highly enthusiastic Hopkins Symphony Orchestra.  I discovered that last month's East Coast premiere was one of the first official events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.  Read more...

 

Busking

by William Ellzey, Chamber Orchestra Cellist

Good news:  LAYO is going to Vienna and Prague summer of 2015.
Bad news: My parents have decided that I will be paying for half of the required funds.

You can imagine the stress at hearing this. What will a poor junior in high school do to raise $2,500 in 6 months? Taking the phrase “Sing for your supper” to heart, and considering what many other musicians do in LA, I took my music to the street. 
Read more...

 

Taking Music to the Community

by Jade Yen, Chamber Orchestra Clarinetist

On Friday, March 27, our community service music ensemble, “Music from the Heart,” was offered a wonderful opportunity to play at the Los Angeles City Hall’s celebration of Pioneer Women. The event, put on by Mayor Garcetti's office,  honored different women across the city and their many achievements in approaching gender equality throughout Los Angeles. It was truly inspiring to even be in the same room as these women, let alone play in the celebration honoring themRead more...

 
 

LAYO Goes to the LA Philharmonic

by Ryan Zaid, Concert Orchestra, 1st Violin Section

What an evening it was! LAYO musicians were treated to a night at Disney Concert Hall, listening to the  LA Philharmonic playing Mozart and Haydn, followed by a fantastic backstage tour of the concert hall, given by Mr. Mitch Newman, LAYO Board President and member of the LA Philharmonic first violin section.
Cosmic Dust Performance (continued)
Senior Astrophysicist Dr. Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute graciously introduced my work and presented a brilliant preconcert talk on some of the Hubble Telescope's discoveries. Then we were all a little in awe hearing remarks from the man who on three separate space missions serviced the telescope— NASA Associate Administrator, astronaut, and physicist Dr. John Grunsfeld. As most of you know, my music was inspired by the Hubble images, but I never imagined it reaching to the Hubble scientists themselves!

We seem to read each week about a new major discovery made possible by Hubble. (In the last few weeks, it was the discovery of an ocean on Jupiter's moon Ganymede) This is the stuff that matters! If you haven't already checked it out, go to the excellent Hubble Space Telescope website and look for exoplanets or journey to a black hole.

Visit the Hubble Space Telescope website here.

Cosmic Dust received two more performances March 21 and 22 in New Jersey with the Bay Atlantic Symphony also conducted by Jed Gaylin.

--Russell


Read Hopkins Gazette Article: Star-Struck— Hubble Telescope Inspires Symphony

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Busking (continued)
My brother Bradford, a violist with the same charge as I from our parents, began our busking quest on a cold December night on the corner of Wilshire and 3rd. We could not play on the promenade yet simply because we had not acquired a Santa Monica player’s permit. We began playing holiday music, quickly discovering that two lonely strings cannot compete with one trumpeter flashing Lionel Richie. The next day we successfully received our player’s permits plus a “Cube” brand amplification system, and a sign advertising a trip to Vienna. We were now officially ready for business.

Since then we have played a corporate party, offered community service by entertaining at a senior center home and Children’s hospital, and have gone out to perform on Third Street Promenade over 15 times. Along with playing with my brother, there have been many other opportunities to either busk by myself, or with other LAYO colleagues.

We have found that the people who donate to us tend to fall into three distinct categories:

1) You have the travelled explorer who at the sight of our sign, seems to go back in time reminiscing on their times in Vienna, and is eager to send us there also.

2) Then you have the elderly folks who are drawn to our station by comparing Haydn and Bach to the synthesizers and Sam Smith coming from the other end of the block.

3) Finally you get the younger, middle/high school kids who enjoy giving anything from words of encouragement, to a bag of Chipotle chips.

We’ve had so many amazing experiences out on the concrete: learning how to perform outdoors, in large crowds, and responding to hundreds of different personalities; finding the most effective way of transporting instruments and gear from the car to the performance site (still in progress); and continually revamping our repertoire, while trying to stay positive about that occasional gust of wind that can easily snatch your music right off the stand.

In the end, what seemed like a burden, has become a benefit to my playing, taught me volumes on dealing with other human beings, and has encouraged me to know that it is possible for me to earn money playing music on my cello. 
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Taking Music to the Community (continued)
I was offered this opportunity because of my internship with the City of Los Angeles' Human Relations Commission and their Youth Ambassador Program. Our quartet, including Jade Yen, Bradford Ellzey, Vivian Yang, and William Ellzey, was effective in successfully spreading LAYO's good musical reputation to some of the city’s movers and shakers. It was an extraordinary opportunity to combine my passions of ambassadorship, civic engagement, and music and translate those into inspirational opportunities like this one.   Back
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JK Simmons to MC Vienna/Prague Concerts

by Georgia McClain, Concert Orchestra Cellist
 
We are happy to announce that actor and LAYO father, JK Simmons, will be the Master of Ceremonies for LAYO's Vienna/Prague concerts.

This year, JK Simmons won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie Whiplash.  In the film, he portrayed an abusive conductor of a jazz band.  Simmons was a music major in school so conducting for the film was easy and believable. 
Read more...


 

LAYO Member Spotlight

by Kate Perry, Chamber Orchestra Violinist

Name: Jaya Nataraj
Instrument: Violin
Age: 18
School: Cal State LA

 
Jaya entered Cal State LA's early entrance program six years ago, as a 12-year-old, and is currently working on her masters in Computer Science.  This is her tenth year in LAYO, and her fourth year as concertmaster.  She is fascinated by robotics and biomedical technology, and plans to get a PhD in Robotics.  In her free time, she interns at JPL and plays first violin in LAYO's resident string quartet.  She loves LAYO because through it she can meet other people who like to discuss classical music ("and maybe occasionally fangirl over it").

 

Alumni Bio


Niv Ashkenazi
Classical violinist Niv Ashkenazi is an active performer and soloist, based primarily in Los Angeles and the New York area. He has made several Carnegie Hall appearances, and has performed in Europe, the Middle East, and across the United States. Mr. Ashkenazi has also been asked to play on many occasions in Washington D.C., including at the Kennedy Center as part of the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Inauguration, and for the 2011 International Day of Persons with Disability.   Read more...

JK Simmons to MC Concerts (continued)
His character plays a complicated piano piece in the film, which Simmons had to learn to play for the role.

JK has been so generous with his time and support because his own son, Joe Simmons, is a LAYO percussionist. Many thanks to JK for donating his time and energy for LAYOs exciting trip. Back

 
Niv Ashkenazi Bio (continued)
He is the winner of numerous competitions, including the 2010 American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition and the 2007 VSA International Young Soloist Award. He has performed at summer festivals such as the iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates and the Keshet Eilon Summer Mastercourse.

Performing to audiences in both concert halls and in the community. Recent chamber music collaborations include concerts with Martin Chalifour, Nathan Cole, Roger Tapping, and Merry Peckham. Mr. Ashkenazi has been an active member in the Perlman Music Program’s Chamber Music Workshop and Fall Residency in Stowe, VT as well as featured in chamber recitals at the Music Academy of the West. He has organized concerts for recent head trauma patients at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and was a founding member of the trio, Ensemble Eclectico, which performed contemporary repertoire for audiences with limited or no access to live music. He has an ongoing collaboration with the dance company TranscenDance as part of a multimedia performance telling the true story of a family’s struggle to stay hidden during the Holocaust and their life after the war.

Mr. Ashkenazi holds both a B.M. and M.M. from The Juilliard School, where he was a student of Itzhak Perlman and Glenn Dicterow. He serves on the board of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra (LAYO) and works as a coach with several other local youth ensembles. In addition to his career as a performer, he keeps a small teaching studio in the Los Angeles area.
  Back

 
LAYO Goes to the LA Phil (continued)
The evening started with a before concert gathering, where an educational program was given by the LA Philharmonic Student Insiders Program. This is a new program that has been started to increase interest amongst young musicians in classical music and the LA Phil. It was held in an amphitheatre outside of the concert hall, and introduced some of the music that was going to be played that night. They talked about rhythm patterns in the music. Then the concert started.

The concert hall is amazing!  It was explained to us that the hall was specially designed by architect Frank Gehry, and Yasuhisa Toyota, an expert acoustician. The result was a world renowned concert hall that attracts many of the world's best musicians and conductors. The acoustics were designed to amplify and direct sound waves in certain ways so that a beautiful and strong sound is created for the audience. Even quiet noises in the audience are amplified and can be heard all throughout the hall, including the stage.

The orchestra was conducted that night by Andrew Manze, a guest conductor. They played Mozart's Haffner Symphony, Haydn's Trumpet Concerto, Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4, and finished with Haydn's London Symphony. The soloists were amazing! The whole program was fantastic!
 
The best part was yet to come, though. Mr. Newman met the LAYO students and families after the concert in the "Green Room" for a special back stage tour! He started out by talking a bit about the concert and introduced us to the actual horn soloist for the evening, Andrew Bain, who happened to walk by the group tour. Then he took the group to the backstage area. The whole backstage is specially insulated by thick walls, separating it from the concert hall so that it is sound proof. No matter how much noise is being made by people in the back, that noise doesn't get transmitted into the performance area so that the concert is not disturbed. There are huge instrument storage containers on wheels that can be moved around easily so that instruments can travel with the musicians. LA Phil even has to get special permission for certain instruments to travel into and out of the country because they have endangered species materials in them like horn and ebony.  
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