Dancer/Choreographer Shauna Davis is among several LA-based artists who was invited to join The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) which just announced its all-digital 2021 season, LACO Close Quarters opening with two back-to-back programs curated and led by Principle Keyboard Patricia Mabee on Harpsichord.  LACO is led by Music Director Jaime Martín, and these concerts, which are filmed at The Colburn School’s Olive Rehearsal Hall will feature visual elements directed by Los Angeles based designer/artist James Darrah, LACO 2020-21 Creative Director of Digital Content. Collaborators during the 2021 season will also include video artists Yuki Izumihara and Yee Eun Nam. All concerts will be streamed free of charge.

Running through June 2021, LACO Close Quarters, will build on LACO’s successful SummerFest series, and features a total of 16 original digital programs. Concluding this past September, the SummerFest was the Orchestra’s inaugural adventure into streaming. It featured five digital chamber music concerts that to date have had over 140,000 viewings.

LACO Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee - Photo by Michael Miller

LACO Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee – Photo by Michael Miller

“Conceptually, we are adding visual artists to LACO’s musician’s roster so they are part of the orchestra for the 2020-21 season,” says Darrah. “While each episode of LACO Close Quarters contains certain content-driven elements, the visual elements are intentionally designed to evolve over the course of the season and feature overarching themes. The first two programs, for example, introduce the notion of a blank slate that will be built upon in coming episodes. None of the artists we’re featuring have previously worked with an orchestra in a collaborative capacity.”

Created explicitly for streaming, the ”digitally native” programs are each 30 to 40 minutes in length, plus Darrah has established a creative hub for developing artistic media content with all of the Los Angeles-based artists and filmmakers. This hub will be a first-of-its-kind LACO digital studio at the film studio and multidisciplinary arts campus Wilhardt & Naud located in LA’s Chinatown. Davis, Izumihara and Nam will use a variety of artistic mediums and LACO predicts that their work will endure long past the 2020-21 season.

Davis, Izumihara, and Nam will occasionally respond to works whose content will be chosen in real time, so “rather than assign or pre-determine each episode’s out come,” explained Darrah “the artists who are joining each, are invited to choose pieces to “respond” to”.  He went on to explain that each episode is an experimental art film, “composed of both ways to highlight the musicians and orchestra but also give the guest artists the ability to make new work in dialogue with the curated season. All artists will have access to Wilhardt as a digital studio which is where their work will be recorded, but they will also have access to the space to “explore their medium in tandem with the orchestral programming”.

When asked if Davis would be choreographing a specific work, Darrah said “Yes – she would be exploring the LACO commissioned world premiere of Mother of Bravery by Derrick Spiva, Jr, (episode 7; concert info below), and that is starting to take shape and she makes a debut appearance in the first episode. She will likely choreograph and/or dance another piece in the season if not more, but true to the spirit of Close Quarters, those conversations, decisions and ideas are all happening now in real time.”

LACO Close Quarters Episode 7
“’The Soldier’s Tale Part I + Spiva”’

Premieres Friday, January 29, 2021, 6:30 pm (PT)
DERRICK SPIVA JR. Mother of Bravery (LACO-commissioned world premiere)
STRAVINSKY L’Histoire du Soldat (part 1)

Jaime Martín, conductor
Robey Theatre Company
Margaret Batjer, violin
David Grossman, bass
Joshua Ranz, clarinet
Kenneth Munday, bassoon
David Washburn, trumpet
Steve Suminski, trombone
Wade Culbreath, percussion

Patricia Mabee has been featured as a soloist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, where she has been principal keyboardist since 1976, and has appeared in more than 20 works from the concerto repertoire under the batons of Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Hogwood, Helmuth Rilling, Nicholas McGegan and Iona Brown. Tisha is also principal keyboard with the New West Symphony Orchestra. She has performed on four continents appearing regularly at many well-known music festivals.

James Darrah is a director and designer whose productions of opera, theater, music videos, film, and installations are well known for their cinematography, staging, and the blurring of the lines between film, visual art and opera. His accomplishments are vast. This season he devises and directs two projects with Boston Lyric Opera: a new animated adaptation of Philip Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher and the world premiere of desert in, a new episodic operatic television series with Darrah as director and co-creator in collaboration with composer Ellen Reid and writer christopher oscar peña.

Shauna Davis - Photo © 2017 Matthew Brush

Shauna Davis – Photo © 2017 Matthew Brush

Shauna Davis is a freelance dancer and choreographer who relocated to L.A. in 2017, She has worked with ATE9 Dance Company, No) One, Art House, Ezralow Dance and with such artists as Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Shawn Mendes, Walk the Moon and Jarina De Marco, among others, performing in works by Robert Battle, Ohad Naharin, Danielle Agami, Bill T. Jones and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. Most recently, Davis performed in the Kanye West Opera’s Nebuchadnezzar & Mary. Davis has set work at Avanta Chamber Ballet and Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore! She is currently developing new work as a resident artist with La Mama Experimental Theatre Company.

Yuki Izumihara is a Los Angeles based freelance scenic, projection designer for theater and opera, and a production designer for film. Her Scenic and Projection Design include the operas The Tragedy of Carmen, The Tales of Hoffmann, The Magic Flute, The Two Figaros, Don Giovanni and many more.

Yee Eun Nam is an award winning set and video designer for opera, theater and any forms for live performances currently based in LA. She was born and raised in Seoul, Korea where she studied sculpture and metal craft. Her theater, opera and Musical theater credits are numerous, but a few include Recent regional theater design works include Legacy Land (Kansas City Rep), Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (South Coast Rep), Augergine (South Coast Rep),  Found Musical (IAMA Theatre Company), Then I Stood Up : A Civil Rights Cycle (LA Opera Connects), Notorious RBG in song (Skirball Cultural Center), Venus and Adonis/Savitri (New Camerata Opera, NYC). Nam has multiple nominations for LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award and is a winner of LADCC Theatrical Excellence for CGI/Video in 2020.

Episode 1 is titled “Border Crossings Part I” and will be showcasing Baroque works and Baroque-inspired composers from Bolivia, Mexico and Spain, opens the season, premiering on Friday, November 6, 2020, 6:30 pm (PT).

Episode 2 is “Border Crossings Continued,” premiering on Friday, November 20, 2020, at 6:30 pm (PT). This concert will explore works by Spanish Baroque composers Josep Pla and Santiago de Murcia, and 20th Century Brazilian composer Hieto Villa-Lobos.

Shauna Davis - Photo by Chris Emile

Shauna Davis – Photo by Chris Emile

Thanks to the generosity of individual donors, these programs are available to the public at no cost. Broadcasts can be streamed at, and on LACO’s YouTube channel and Facebook live.

Subsequent LACO Close Quarters episodes premiere on Fridays, December 4 and 18, 2020, January 1, 15 and 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).

“It is a tremendous and exciting undertaking to present LACO’s entire 2020-21 season digitally, giving us an opportunity to creatively evolve how we present music, interface with new and current audiences, and integrate with L.A.’s creative community,” states LACO Executive Director Ben Cadwallader. “LACO Close Quarters is designed to showcase LACO’s exceptional musicians with programs that look and feel digitally native. The all-digital format lends itself beautifully to James Darrah’s deft visual and artistic touch, which will add rich texture to these  programs, enhancing and complementing the music. And since he will direct all 16 episodes, it enables us to develop a distinctive and cohesive identity for LACO’s streaming platform which we see continuing into future seasons.”

Beloved by audiences and praised by critics, LACO is a preeminent interpreter of historical masterworks and, with eight ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, a champion of contemporary composers. Headquartered in the heart of the country’s cultural capital, LACO has been proclaimed “America’s finest chamber orchestra” (Public Radio International), “LA’s most unintimidating chamber music experience” (Los Angeles magazine), “resplendent” (Los Angeles Times), and “one of the world’s great chamber orchestras”(KUSC Classical FM). Martín, who builds upon LACO’s rich legacy, made his first appearance as LACO’s Music Director Designate in early 2019 in a concert described by the Los Angeles Times, as “a thrilling performance, and the orchestra played like it was having the time of its life,” adding, “he will make fans very quickly.” Overseas, he has been praised as “a visionary conductor, discerning and meticulous” (Platea Magazine), and London’s The Telegraph said, “his infectious enjoyment of the music communicated to the orchestra and audience alike.” Performing throughout greater Los Angeles, the Orchestra presents orchestral, Baroque and chamber concerts as well as salon evenings in private spaces and unique experiences that explore classical music’s cutting-edge sounds. The Orchestra has made 32 recordings, including, most recently, a 2019 BIS Records release of works for violin and chamber orchestra that features Concertmaster Margaret Batjer and the world premiere recording of Pierre Jalbert’s Violin Concerto (a LACO co-commission). LACO, with offices located in downtown Los Angeles, has toured Europe, South America and Japan, and performed across North America. – Press Release, October 27, 2020.

Here are the details

LACO Close Quarters Episode 1
“Border Crossings Part I”
Premieres Friday, November 6, 2020, 6:30 pm (PT)

ANÓNIMO – MARTÍN Y COLL Diferencias sobre la gayta
ANONYMOUS Sonata Chiquitana IV
SANZ Jácaras

Patricia Mabee, leader & harpsichord
Josefina Vergara, violin
Susan Rishik, violin
Armen Ksajikian, cello
Ben Smolen, flute
Jason Yoshida, theorbo/baroque guitar
Petri Korpela, percussion


LACO Close Quarters Episode 2
“Border Crossings Continued”
Premieres Friday, November 20, 2020, 6:30 pm (PT)

PLA Sonata III in F major
VILLA-LOBOS Assobio a Jato (The Jet Whistle)
DE MURCIA Gallardas
ANONYMOUS Pastoreta Ychepe Flauta  

Patricia Mabee, leader & harpsichord
Josefina Vergara, violin
Susan Rishik, violin
Armen Ksajikian, cello
Ben Smolen, flute
Jason Yoshida, theorbo/baroque guitar
Petri Korpela, percussion

COST: There is no cost to stream the programs (donations requested)

LACO’s YouTube channel
Facebook live


By Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Dancer/Choreographer Shauna Davis – Photo courtesy of the artist