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  • Pamela Froman

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra


Music is one of the most beautiful expressions of the human spirit. And there is no better place to experience it locally than the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Known to Angelenos as LACO, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is a group of musicians who have passion and love for artistic musical creations. They are the preeminent interpreter of historical masterworks as well as a champion of contemporary composers.

LACO was founded in 1968 as an artistic outlet for the recording industry’s most gifted musicians. Founder, cellist James Arkatov, envisioned an ensemble that would allow these conservatory-trained players to balance studio work and teaching with pure artistic collaboration at the highest level. He wanted a space to play the classics.

LACO is a chamber orchestra, and as such the performances are often how the original composer envisioned. A lot of the repertoire LACO plays are intended for chamber orchestra size. “Bach, Mozart even Beethoven were largely composing for groups of our size and so when you listen to a chamber orchestra you get a clearer sense of what the composer originally intended – as well as a cleaner sound,” says Justus Zimmerman, Director of Marketing for LACO. “You can typically hear the makeup of the music better because you are up closer to the musicians, and it's more intimate. You can really see whats happening.”

Recently announced as Music Director Designate of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jaime Martín begins his tenure in September 2019. He was originally a flute player for the London Philharmonic and attended Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. What is truly interesting, is the personal connection the Academy has with LACO. It was founded by Sir Neville Marriner, a famous conductor who was the first music director of LACO. With the addition of Jaime, LACO has come full circle, as it was actually Sir Neville Marriner who encouraged him to pick up the baton. “Jaime makes a lot of sense for us,” says Justus. “He started as a musician and as a chamber orchestra we are musician led. He is well placed to understand the needs of the musicians and the artistic flavor of this orchestra.”

LACO is touring in and around Los Angeles, as well as performances in the Valley. You can see them perform Beethoven’s “Pastoral” November 16 at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts in Northridge. Or you can listen to to full LACO concerts from the past years on radio broadcast, Sunday nights on KUSC.

The vibrant and engaging Orchestral Series showcases the ensemble’s remarkable artistry and trademark mix of classics and contemporary music. The Orchestral Series offers eight concerts a year. It features many guest conductors and artists, such as three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn. It starts in September and runs through May.

LACO also features the Baroque Conversations Series – specifically focused on baroque music. This year, you can check out mandolin player Avi Avital, Monica Huggett who will lead a baroque brass music program with principal trumpet David Washburn, and Mathew Halls, a well-known Bach specialist.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is renowned as the most passionate orchestra of its kind and invites everyone – musical newbies and devoted listeners alike – to revel in its joyful and transformative music. Come an hour before curtain for a pre-concert lecture, where you can get up close and personal with the evening’s conductor, soloist or musicians. “They typically explain what to listen to in the program, what their process was in selecting the program, and what excites them about working with LACO or about that particular music,” says Justus. “It's a great way to get some insight into the program you are about to hear.”

Exciting concerts coming up are the ever popular Beethoven's 5th in January, as well as Mozart's Requiem and a piece by composer Bryce Dessner in April. It's a really interesting mix of old and new – and that's what LACO is all about.

Get tickets for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performances at (213) 622-7001 or at www.laco.org

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