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LACO Announces 2nd Half Of CLOSE QUARTERS, Free Interdisciplinary Digital Series

LACO's stellar artistry is showcased front and center in seven musically-driven episodes that feature unexpected creative collaborations.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, led by Music Director Jaime Martín, announces the second half of its highly successful all-digital 2020-21 Season, CLOSE QUARTERS, an interdisciplinary series that melds musical and visual arts in "digitally native" programs created specifically for streaming that have garnered nearly 1 million streaming views since the series debuted last fall.

LACO's stellar artistry is showcased front and center in seven musically-driven episodes that feature unexpected creative collaborations with a range of visual and performance artists who create work inspired by LACO's music. Martín, who conducts two of the programs, provides musical curation for the series, with composer Jessie Montgomery - whose work at the vanguard of classical music is "wildly colorful and exploding with life" (The Washington Post) - serving as guest musical curator for two back-to-back episodes. They are collaborating closely with LACO Creative Director of Digital Content James Darrah, who provides visual curation for each episode.

Available on demand at no cost, the season's final seven digital broadcasts premiere biweekly on Fridays, from March 12 through June 4, 2021, at 6:30 pm (PT), at https:www.laco.org/close-quarters, and on LACO's YouTube and Facebook channels, and are subsequently available on-demand. Additionally, LACO launches virtual Pre-Concert Conversations with musical artists and special guests providing insights into CLOSE QUARTERS that air prior to each episode at 5:30 pm (PT).

"With CLOSE QUARTERS, LACO has made a seismic shift in how it presents music," says Martín. "These robust digital programs have proven to be a wonderful and extremely effective vehicle for showcasing the Orchestra and its virtuosic artists, bolstering its growing reputation as one of classical music's most relevant and forward-thinking organizations. Looking ahead, I am actively engaged in charting LACO's artistic trajectory for next season and beyond and will be drawing from all that we've learned during this most remarkable of seasons."

"LACO has fostered artistic collaboration and composer relationships in a way that almost no other organization has," states Darrah. "Collaborating with Jaime Martín and LACO on the visual curation of CLOSE QUARTERS, in conjunction with visual artists from L.A.'s deep pool of talent, to showcase the Orchestra's musical artistry across new digital platforms has been extraordinary and is only possible because of Jaime's fearless leadership and full embrace of digital content. We are excited to push the boundaries of the orchestra's digital content even further with our final seven episodes in this season to yield a tapestry of experimental cinematic experiences centered on LACO's remarkable music."

Among numerous musical highlights, the episodes book-ending the spring programming are both conducted by Martín. On March 12, 2021, he leads Stravinsky's highly theatrical L'Histoire du soldat ("The Soldier's Tale") about a soldier who trades his magical violin with the Devil, who promises to fulfill his wishes, featuring actors from the acclaimed Robey Theater Company and stunning visuals by provocative fine artist HuiMeng Wang. On June 4, 2021, the series concludes with Martín conducting Tchaikovsky's graceful and heartfelt Serenade for Strings, inspired by Mozart.

Other upcoming episodes include special guest Gil Shaham, "one of today's preeminent violinists" (The New York Times), showcased on Boulogne's virtuosic Violin Concerto No. 9 in G major, Op.8; a LACO-commissioned world premiere by LACO Sound Investment Composer Peter S. Shin, noted for creating music that navigates issues of national belonging, and Ellen Reid's Lumee's Aria from her Pulitzer Prize-winning opera p r i s m, featuring soprano Nicole Cabell, hailed for her "spellbinding...liquid gold" voice (The Times, London), who also performs Britten's song cycle Les illuminations.

Additionally, the two programs musically curated by Montgomery spotlight contemporary composers Alvin Singleton, Mazz Swift, Alyssa Weinberg, Marcos Balter and Anna Meredith, applauded for their daring and compelling work. Other repertoire during the second half of the season includes Fratres, composed in 1977 by Arvo Pärt with his distinctive triad-based tintinnabuli technique, and Mahler's orchestration of Beethoven's "Serioso."

In addition to the Robey Theater Company and HuiMeng Wang, the L.A.-based artists closely collaborating with the Orchestra in coming months to create visual content for CLOSE QUARTERS inspired by LACO's music are Siqi Song, an Oscar-nominated stop-animator acclaimed for her labor-intensive and thought-provoking films; director/fine artist George Miller, hailed for discipline-colliding work across dance, opera and film; and Jian Lee, an artist whose mediums include painting, drawing, augmented reality and animation. Also infusing CLOSE QUARTERS with their unique artistry are filmmaker/artist/illustrator Will Kim, whose work has been featured in more than 100 international film/animation festivals as well as in Boston Lyric Opera's cinematic treatment of Phillip Glass' opera The Fall of the House of Usher; and Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who makes her directorial debut with her LACO CLOSE QUARTERS collaboration.

Returning as joint production designers for the second half of the season are Yuki Izumihara, whose scenic design, projection and design production work has been featured at such venues as the Getty Villa, Geffen Playhouse and China's Shanghai Disney Resort, and Yee Eun Nam, a visual artist and award-winning set and video designer who has created digital content for the San Francisco Symphony and Goodman Theatre, among many others.

LACO Executive Director Ben Cadwallader says, "The response to CLOSE QUARTERS has been overwhelming and wonderful, drawing nearly 1 million views and bringing LACO to audiences who have never previously seen nor heard the Orchestra perform, while also building even stronger ties to our long-time loyal supporters. As we begin to shift the conversation to what's next for LACO, it's clear that going back to live performances remains a key priority, but that we will not revert back to 'business as usual' prior to the pandemic. CLOSE QUARTERS has positioned the Orchestra as a digital pioneer, giving LACO a significant leg up in influencing how both the Orchestra and the classical music industry in general will evolve into a hybrid live and digital future."

CLOSE QUARTERS' "digitally native" programs, created specifically for streaming, are each between 30 and 40 minutes in length and are safely filmed at The Colburn School's Olive Rehearsal Hall. Additionally, Darrah has established a creative hub for developing artistic media content with L.A.-based artists and filmmakers at a first-of-its-kind LACO digital studio at Wilhardt & Naud: a film studio and multidisciplinary arts campus located in Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles. The artists, inspired by the Orchestra's musical programming, create new visual works in a variety of mediums that will factor into the broadcasts and endure long after the season concludes.

CLOSE QUARTERS has enjoyed unprecedented audience support and global reach with nearly 1 million streaming views to date since the series was launched in November 2020, far surpassing LACO's reach with traditional live performances and providing the organization a crucible that informs how the renowned Orchestra will continue to evolve in the future as a driving force behind original and digital content when live performances become feasible, once again. CLOSE QUARTERS builds upon the highly successful LACO SummerFest series, the Orchestra's first foray into streaming that concluded in September and featured five digital chamber music concerts that have attracted more than 250,000 views to date.


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