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Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Continues 2020-21 Digital Season With Episodes Curated by Juan Pablo Contreras

The episodes premiere Fridays, January 1 and January 15, 2021, 6:30 pm (PT).

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Continues 2020-21 Digital Season With Episodes Curated by Juan Pablo Contreras

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will continue its all-digital 2020-21 Season, CLOSE QUARTERS, with two varied visual episodes curated musically by Latin GRAMMY®-nominated composer Juan Pablo Contreras, premiering Fridays, January 1 and January 15, 2021, 6:30 pm (PT). The broadcasts, celebrating the diversity of composers from around the Americas, feature the World Premiere of Contreras' 2020 Mariachitlán for Piano Four-Hands, works by Jimmy López, Jessie Montgomery, Miguel Del Águila and J.P. Jofre, and visual elements directed by James Darrah. Thanks to the generosity of individual donors, both programs are available to the public at no cost and can be streamed on demand following their premieres at, LACO's YouTube channel and LACO's Facebook live.

Contreras received a 2019 Latin GRAMMY® nomination in Best Arrangement for Mariachitlán, the title track of his debut orchestral album. Although it was originally written for and performed by a full orchestra, Contreras was influenced by guidelines necessitated by 2020's pandemic to rewrite it for two pianists.

LACO's world premiere of Mariachitlán for Piano Four-Hands was commissioned by nine piano duos, including the cutting-edge, Los Angeles-based HOCKET (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff) piano duo, who perform it on the January 15 episode. Additional commissioning piano duos are Duo Sandi-Cullell (Costa Rica and Spain), 20 Digitus Duo (Portland), Chiu-Villafranca Duo (Boston), Duo Salmerón Cortés (Mexico City), Maria Sumareva and Andrew Rosenblum (Chicago), Kaitlin and Emily Webster Zuber (Los Angeles), Duo Powers-de la Torre (Washington) and Split Second (New York).

EPISODE 5: "López, Montgomery + Contreras"

Each of the three pieces on the "López, Montgomery + Contreras" program, which launches on New Year's Day, Friday, January 1, 2021, 6:30 pm (PT), represent seeds of possibility. LACO has used this theme to commission a first-of-its-kind screenplay based entirely on the orchestral works that embraces the bold musical and visual vision of CLOSE QUARTERS and the future of LACO entering 2021. Jimmy López's Ccantu pays homage to the fleeting beauty of the Cantuta, the national flower of Peru, where López was born. Voodoo Dolls, by New York-based composer Jessie Montgomery, was influenced by West African drumming patterns and lyrical chant motives. Mexican-born Contreras' own Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Villages) portrays a day in the life of a Mexican pueblo, a metaphor for the circle of life, where all things live, die, and live again. Performers are LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, violin; Carrie Kennedy, violin; LACO Principal Viola Erik Rynearson, viola; Trevor Handy, cello; Ben Smolen, flute; Chris Stoutenborough, clarinet; and Alin Melik-Adamyan, piano.

CLOSE QUARTERS Episode Five is being presented as a musically driven short film that celebrates the musical and cultural diversity of Los Angeles through an original screenplay by prolific television and stage writer christopher oscar peña [cq] (HBO's Insecure, CW's Jane the Virgin). Featuring a performance from actress Olivia Cristina Delgado (Latino Theater Company's Destiny of Desire), the film uses Contreras' curation to weave the musical pieces themselves with new text in an enigmatic merger of music and cinema that heralds the beginning of a new year. With direction by James Darrah and a special guest appearance by Alin Melik-Adamyan, piano, the film's creative team also includes costume designer Molly Irelan, wunderkind cinematographer Michael Elias Thomas, and lighting design by CTG's Sherwood Award-winning Pablo Santiago.

EPISODE 6: "Contreras, del Águila + Jofre"

Darrah's direction for the sixth episode then pivots to place intimate focus on the orchestra. The world premiere of Juan Pablo Contreras' Mariachitlán for Piano Four-Hands is featured on "Contreras, del Águila + Jofre," set for Friday, January 15, 2021, 6:30 pm (PT). The program also includes Brazilian composer Miguel del Águila's Seducción for flute, clarinet, and piano, and Argentinean composer J.P. Jofre's Tangódromo. All three pieces take their inspiration from the composers' musical influences and the flavors that originate in their native countries. Mariachitlán for Piano Four-Hands, performed by piano duo HOCKET (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff), pays homage to Mariachi music from Jalisco, where Contreras was born. Seducción was inspired by Choro and Samba, the Brazilian folk music of del Águila's native Brazil. Jofre's Tangódromo is a modern take on the Argentinian tango inspired by the country's bandoneon accordion played by the legendary Astor Piazzolla. In addition to HOCKET, the program's performers are LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, violin; Carrie Kennedy, violin; LACO Principal Viola Erik Rynearson, viola; Trevor Handy, cello; Ben Smolen, flute; Chris Stoutenborough, clarinet; and Alin Melik-Adamyan, piano.

Juan Pablo Contreras (b. 1987, Guadalajara, Mexico) is a Latin GRAMMY®-nominated composer and Universal Music recording artist who combines Western classical and Mexican folk music in a single soundscape. His works have been performed by major orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the Mexico City and UNAM Philharmonics, and the orchestras of Boca del Río, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Sinaloa, Oaxaca, State of Mexico, and Jalisco in Mexico; the Salta and Córdoba Symphonies in Argentina; the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela; and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra, and the Waco Symphony Orchestra in the United States. Contreras has received commissions from the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, The Riverside Choir, Carlos Prieto, and the Onix Ensamble. He has won awards including the BMI William Schuman Prize, the Presser Music Award, the Jalisco Orchestral Composition Prize, the Brian Israel Prize, the Arturo Márquez Composition Contest, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the Dutch Harp Composition Contest, the Nicolas Flagello Award, and the Young Artist Fellowship of Mexico's National Fund for Culture and the Arts. Contreras has also served as Composer-in-Residence at the soundON Festival of Modern Music in San Diego, the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, and at the Turtle Bay Music School and Concerts on the Slope in New York. He holds degrees in composition from the California Institute of the Arts (BFA), the Manhattan School of Music (MM), and is currently pursuing his DMA degree at the University of Southern California. His most influential teachers include Richard Danielpour, Daniel Catán, Nils Vigeland, Andrew Norman, and Donald Crockett. Contreras' music has been recorded on Universal Music Mexico, Albany Records, Epsa Music, and Urtext Digital Classics.

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, will create new visual works in a variety of mediums that will factor into the broadcasts and endure long after the season concludes. LACO: 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 nearly 140,000 views to date.

Subsequent CLOSE QUARTERS episodes premiere on Fridays, January 29, February 12 and 26, March 12 and 26, April 9 and 23, May 7 and 21, and June 4, 2021, at 6:30 pm (PT).

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