L.A. Chamber Orchestra’s Digital ‘Close Quarters’ Episode 5

Presented by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra continues 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.org/laco-at-home, 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. 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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Program Items

Jimmy Lopez Ccantu
Jessie Montgomery Voodoo Dolls
Juan Pablo Contreras Pueblos Magicos


Juan Pablo Contreras Curator
Margaret Batjer violin
Carrie Kennedy violin
Erik Rynearson viola
Trevor Handy cello
Ben Smolen flute