On Friday, January 29, 2021, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra continues its All-Digital 2020-2021 Season CLOSE QUARTERS with an episode that includes two world premieres featuring the exceptional artistry of LACO Artistic Advisor, Composer and Musician Derrick Spiva Jr. LACO is led by Music Director Jaime Martín and ranks among the world’s top musical ensembles.  Here, Martin will conduct the world premiere of Spiva’s Mother of Bravery, for Septet and Narrator, with Spiva as narrator. Also premiering is Mind The Rhythm, a two-part work performed by Assistant Concertmaster Tereza Stanislav on amplified solo violin with pre-recorded electro-acoustic percussion and electronics by Spiva, the episode’s musical curator. The work of well-known Dancer/Choreographer Shauna Davis is featured in Mind The Rhythm, and Spiva and Davis worked together as Co-Directors while all the artists collaborated closely with LACO Creative Director of Digital Content James Darrah on the visual curation.

CLOSE QUARTERS’ “digitally native” programs were created specifically for streaming and run between 30 and 40 minutes each. In accordance with state and city health ordinances, the performances are safely filmed at The Colburn School’s Olive Rehearsal Hall.

LACO Artistic Advisor Derrick Jr. - Photo courtesy of Derrick Spiva, Jr.

LACO Artistic Advisor Derrick Jr. – Photo courtesy of Derrick Spiva, Jr.

Based in Los Angeles, Derrick Spiva Jr. is an American with his ancestry mixed with Ghanaian, Nigerian, British, Irish, and Native American. This ancestry has most likely influenced him to infuse his work with elements from diverse cultural traditions from around the world. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and at California Institute of the Arts. His musical training is extensive, studying classical music with many composers that include Ian Krouse, Alex Shapiro, and Paul Chihara,  West African music and dance with Kobla Ladzekpo; Persian music theory with Pirayeh Pourafar and Houman Pourmehdi.  He has also studied Balkan music theory and tala (rhythmic cycles) in Hindustani classical music with very esteemed teachers.

Originally from Weston, Florida, Shauna Davis is a freelance dancer and choreographer based in Los Angeles since 2017. She has worked with ATE9 Dance Company, No) One, Art House, Ezralow Dance and a host of artists that include Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Shawn Mendes, Walk the Moon and Jarina De Marco, and others. She is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts High School and Southern Methodist University and received additional training from the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Summer Lee Rhatigan. Davis’ work has been performed on numerous festivals and commissioned by Avanta Chamber Ballet and Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore! and is a featured dancer in Vans Shoe Stores nationwide as part of the Off the Wall campaign. She is currently developing new work as a resident artist with La Mama Experimental Theatre Company.

Dancer/Choreographer Shauna Davis - Photo © 2017 Matthew Brush

Dancer/Choreographer Shauna Davis – Photo © 2017 Matthew Brush

“This program engages every aspect of my creativity, enabling me to be featured as a holistic artist, not just a composer, which is really wonderful and quite rare,” says Spiva. “Collaborating with Jaime Martín, James Darrah and LACO on this multi-faceted project enables us to create an equal and balanced representation of the visual and musical arts, with neither art form taking precedence over the other. It’s a model that has long been embraced by the pop music world, and now, with LACO’s CLOSE QUARTERS series, is being amplified in the classical music community in a meaningful and impactful way. The Orchestra has responded to the challenges of the pandemic in an extraordinary and innovative fashion, helping to forge a new path in the industry with programs like this.”

According to Spiva, Mother of Bravery explores the emotional transformations that are possible with the sensation of fear. Inspired by the 4,096 ancestors that each person is directly descended from over 12 generations, the work considers how humans have depended on the knowledge and survival of each of these ancestors in order to be alive today. The work includes rhythmic elements from Ghanaian drumming as well as melodic elements found in West and North Africa, Persian classical music, Bulgarian folk music, and American blues, gospel and bluegrass music; as well as harmonic and rhythmic progressions of Bach chorales and the work of Giacinto Scels.

Says Spiva, “Our awareness of our ancestors can encourage us to have the will and strength to move forward. From fear comes bravery.” Advice that we all can definitely follow during these extraordinary times.

LACO Assistant Concertmaster Tereza Stanislav - Photo by Jason Stang

LACO Assistant Concertmaster Tereza Stanislav – Photo by Jason Stang

Mind The Rhythm, Spiva explains, “weaves together the dynamic range and tempo fluctuations of melodies found in the classical music of many different cultures with the intimacy of folk music, and the driving, endlessly contrasting elements of electronic music.” He describes Part 1 as “a slow introduction to the sonic environment between the electronics and the violin,” and Part 2 as “a frenetic expansion of how the violin and electronics engage in call-and-response and compete for the foreground.”


Derrick Spiva, Jr. Mind The Rhythm – Part 1: Prelude (World Premiere)
Derrick Spiva, Jr.  Mother of Bravery (LACO Commission/World Premiere)
Derrick Spiva, Jr. Mind The Rhythm – Part 2: Mind The Rhythm (World Premiere)

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s CLOSE QUARTERS Episode 7 “Mother of Bravery” Premieres Friday, January 29, 2021, 6:30 pm (PT) – Subsequently available on demand


ARTISTS: Derrick Spiva Jr., co-director/musical curator, Shauna Davis, co-director/dancer/choreographer.

Mother of Bravery: Jaime Martín, conductor; Derrick Spiva Jr., narrator/actor; Margaret Batjer, violin; David Grossman, bass; Joshua Ranz, clarinet; Kenneth Munday, bassoon; David Washburn, trumpet; Steve Suminski, trombone; Alex Frederick, percussion.

Mind The Rhythm: Tereza Stanislav, violin soloist; Derrick Spiva Jr., pre-recorded electro-acoustic percussion and electronics.

COST: There is no cost to stream the programs. Donations requested: laco.org/donate.


  1. LACO Close Quarters  2. YouTube  and 3. Facebook live

Subsequent CLOSE QUARTERS episodes premiere on Fridays, 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).

Programs and artists subject to change.

If you wish to support LACO, its stellar artists and digital programming, please visit LACO.org/donate or call (213) 622-7001, EXT. 4

To visit the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra website, click HERE.

Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Dancer/Choreographer Shauna Davis – Photo by Bia Jurema