Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

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The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) is a 40-member American chamber orchestra based in Los Angeles, California, considered by music critic Jim Svejda as "America's finest chamber orchestra".[1] Jeffrey Kahane is the Music Director.


LACO was founded in 1968 as an artistic outlet for the local film and record studios' most gifted musicians to perform the classical music repertoire for a chamber orchestra of about 40-45 members. The orchestra’s artistic founder, cellist James Arkatov, envisioned an ensemble which would allow conservatory-trained players to balance studio work and teaching with artistic collaboration. With the financial backing of philanthropist Richard Colburn and management from attorney Joseph Troy (the orchestra’s first president), LACO presented its first performance in the fall of 1969. The LACO's first music director was Neville Marriner, and Marriner used the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields as a guiding model for the ensemble.[2] As David Mermelstein wrote, "The idea was to create a group that would play works written expressly for chamber orchestra, many of them from the baroque era--music that the [Los Angeles] Philharmonic either wasn't interested in or suited to. The ensemble was never meant to compete with the Philharmonic; there was even a time when LACO's supporters hoped to see it take up permanent residence at the Music Center." [3]

LACO's repertoire ranges from the Baroque to newly commissioned works (the latter presented through its patron-commissioning club, Sound Investment). The Orchestra is recognized for championing young artists at the beginning of their careers and working with leading artists. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth (27 January 2006), the orchestra performed all 23 of Mozart's piano concerti over a 15-month period, which no other U.S. orchestra had attempted. All 23 were conducted by Jeffrey Kahane from the keyboard, as was the practice during Mozart's life. In April 2002 the orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut, and in June 2005 LACO received the First Place Award for Programming of Contemporary Music from American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Symphony Orchestra League. The orchestra has been honored with the Award for Adventurous Programming from ASCAP and the League of American Orchestras.

LACO has performed by invitation in Carnegie Hall’s Chamber Music series under the Kahane's direction, and also in South America, Europe and Japan. On its most recent tour of European music capitals (including Paris, Vienna, Berlin and San Sebastián), LACO was praised for its “orchestral athleticism and dynamism” and the “tremendous precision of [its] ensemble playing”.[4] The 2008-09 season marked LACO's 40th anniversary. The season featured a world premiere by American composer Christopher Theofanidis (the eighth commission of Sound Investment); two world premieres of works composed by members of the orchestra; two U.S. premieres and the West Coast premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Azul with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.[5] LACO also performs for local elementary-school students in its "Meet the Music" program. Through its "Neighborhood Concerts" program, the Orchestra provides opportunities for new and underserved audiences to experience live orchestral music.


Neville Marriner was LACO's first music director followed by Gerard Schwarz, who expanded the orchestra's repertoire to include more American works. Iona Brown was named LACO's music advisor for the 1986–1987 season and became music director the next season, serving through 1992. Christof Perick followed from 1992 to 1995. The orchestra's current music director is conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, who has led the ensemble since 1997. In April 2014, Kahane announced that he would step down after the 2016-17 season, after which will officially assume the title of Music Director Laureate; no successor has yet been announced.[6]

Performance Venues[edit]

LACO currently performs its primary Orchestral Series concerts at two venues: the Alex Theatre in Glendale and UCLA's Royce Hall. It also presents a Baroque music series at Zipper Hall at The Colburn School in Downtown Los Angeles, and "Westside Connections" (a chamber music and discussion series) in Santa Monica at the Moss Theatre in Santa Monica. In addition, it presents an annual silent-film screening with live orchestra at Royce Hall and an educational concert at Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena which features an in-depth analysis of a single symphony, concerto, or other major work.

Earlier in its existence, it performed its regular subscription concerts at the Mark Taper Forum, Occidental College (Thorne Hall), the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, and the Beckman Auditorium at Caltech.[2]


  1. ^ LACO website Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  2. ^ a b Rosen, Ronald S. (1996). "Stranger in Paradise: The Life and Adventures of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra". The Musical Quarterly. 80 (2): 220–233. doi:10.1093/mq/80.2.220. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  3. ^ Mermelstein, David (2006-05-01). "The Lightning Conductor: Why the L.A. Chamber Orchestra Is Again Turning Heads". Los Angeles Magazine. 
  4. ^ Die Welt.
  5. ^ http://www.laco.org/performance/95
  6. ^ CK Dexter Haven (2014-04-23). "Jeffrey Kahane leaving LA Chamber Orchestra after 2016-2017 season". All is Yar. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 

External links[edit]