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Derrick Spiva Jr. Named Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Artistic Advisor

Derrick Spiva Jr. is a composer and musician based in the Los Angeles area.

Derrick Spiva Jr. Named Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Artistic Advisor

Jaime Martín, Music Director of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), has promoted LACO's Artist-Educator/Composer Derrick Spiva Jr. to Artistic Advisor, announces LACO's Executive Director Ben Cadwallader. Spiva, who joins Martín and Creative Advisor & Composer-In-Residence Ellen Reid on the organization's artistic leadership team, will work with Martín and Reid to program concerts, guest artists and new projects while continuing his education work on LACO's education and community outreach programs, which reach thousands of young people annually. A composer and musician noted for influences that reflect Los Angeles' multicultural fabric, Spiva has served since August 2018 as the first Artist-Educator for LACO, ranked among the world's top musical ensembles.

"LACO's longstanding relationship with Derrick, his remarkable gifts as a composer and educator, his expansive and inclusive creative vision and the deep knowledge of diverse repertoire make this a perfect fit," says Cadwallader.

"It's an honor to work with LACO as Artistic Advisor to continue to shape classical music for the future," says Spiva. "Together we can work to reimagine a genre that is not only eager to create without limits but is also equally committed to celebrating a society with a plurality of voices and cultures."

Spiva began working with LACO during the 2015-16 season when was awarded a composer residency through New Music USA's "Music Alive" program. His most recent work performed by LACO was a livestreamed excerpt in May 2020 from a LACO-commissioned world premiere of Prisms, Cycles, Leaps Part III: "To Be a Horizon." The excerpt is from the third in a series of works of a similar theme: building bridges between different communities through sound. As in the previous two parts, both previously performed by LACO, the work integrates musical practices from numerous cultures into a Western classical setting. The piece includes rhythmic elements from Ghanaian drumming; Persian classical music; and Indian classical tala as well as melodic elements found in West and North Africa, Bulgarian folk music and blues, gospel, and bluegrass music of the United States.

Derrick Spiva Jr. is a composer and musician based in the Los Angeles area who often integrates music practices from different cultural traditions around the world into his work with classical music communities. The Los Angeles Times has described his music as "something to savor" and "enormous fun to listen to." During his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and the California Institute of the Arts, music across many cultures became an integral part of his musical vocabulary. Spiva studied classical music with Ian Krouse, Alex Shapiro, Paul Chihara, Randy Gloss, and David Rosenboom while also studying West African music and dance with Kobla Ladzekpo; Persian music theory with Pirayeh Pourafar and Houman Pourmehdi; Balkan music theory with Tzvetanka Varimezova; and tala (rhythmic cycles) in Hindustani classical music with Swapan Chaudhuri and Aashish Khan. Spiva's works have been premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Sphinx Virtuoso, Dayton Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, Los Angeles Electric 8, the Salastina Music Society, Lyris Quartet, Super Devoiche (Bulgarian Women's Choir), and Lian Ensemble (Persian Ensemble). Highlights of the 2019-2020 Season include new works for Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Berkeley Symphony. Spiva has given pre-concert talks and workshops about the use of non-Western music in his compositions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Skirball Cultural Center. He received the New Music USA Award in 2010 and 2011 and was awarded a composer residency with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) through New Music USA's "Music Alive" program with LACO for the 2015-2016 season. He served as a panelist for the 2019 League of Orchestras Conference, and previously spoke at the 2016 League of Orchestras Conference on the topic of how classical music orchestras can forge stronger relationships with their diverse communities. Spiva serves as Artistic Director of the new music collective and arts organization Bridge to Everywhere. Spiva is an American who has Ghanaian, Nigerian, British, Irish, and Native American ancestry. His ancestry and identity have led him to claim and develop an "American" aesthetic that incorporates many cultural influences into his work, reflecting the diverse communities he is part of. Spiva passionately believes in music as a doorway into understanding other cultures and different ways of living. Through learning the music of other cultures, the opportunity for dialogue rather than conflict between strangers is opened, and our society can become one with less conflict due to cultural misunderstanding. He is deeply invested in fostering creative and effective collaboration between artists of different disciplines and traditions.


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