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A From the Top First: Our 2019 Los Angeles Studio Intensive

This week, From the Top airs Show 367 with guest host Peter Dugan featuring the talents of 6 inspiring young musicians from across the country. Their stories are compelling, from 17-year-old Zachary Potts’ inspiring story about leaving the U.S. for the first time to see his horn teacher perform with the Berlin Philharmonic, to Los Angeles-native Maya Paredes who opens up about the role of showbiz in her development as a classical artist.

While the shows will feel familiar to From the Top fans, the experience of the 13 young musicians who participated in Shows 366 and 367 was a From the Top first. These shows were recorded as part of From the Top’s 2019 Los Angeles Studio Intensive, a comprehensive, four-day program offering unique mentorship experiences to From the Top participants which were offered completely free of charge to them and their families.

Read on for a day-by-day snapshot of the weekend.

Day 1: Friday

The group arrives in Los Angeles from across the country, gathering at world-famous Walt Disney Concert Hall for welcome activities. From the Top’s Executive Director Gretchen Nielsen and Executive Producer Timothy Banker lead the group in icebreakers followed by a discussion around connecting with audiences and exploring artistic vulnerability.

After everyone is acquainted, the group participates in musical rehearsal for several hours with Music Director Erin Nolan and guest host Peter Dugan, both of whom coach participants on their performances. While half of the group rehearses, the other half heads across the street to the Colburn School, one of the country’s most selective conservatories, to take a strengthsfinder assessment with Jazmin Morales, Manager of Community Engagement and Career Development at the Colburn School. Then, it’s off to the hotel with Resident Life Director Stephen Smith-Contreras to get a good night’s rest.

Day 2: Saturday

The group gathers for breakfast and heads to Hollywood Scoring Studios (our home for the weekend) and recording begins for Shows 366 and 367. While Tim Banker and Peter Dugan work on studio performances and interviews with half of the group, the other half works with Jazmin on unpacking the results from Friday’s self-assessments. Jazmin’s group explores the Japanese concept of “ikigai”, which encourages finding one’s true calling by exploring the intersection of what you love to do, what the world needs, and what will sustain you. The group goes deep, exploring the implications of ikigai on their future as artists but, more importantly, as a whole and complete individual giving back to society. After a long day, dinner and a movie in Los Angeles allow for some much needed R&R!

Day 3: Sunday

Another early start and it’s back to Hollywood Scoring Studio where our 13 young musicians spend the day learning about the music industry in Los Angeles. Renowned Hollywood studio orchestra conductor Anthony Parnthur and composer Chad Cannon lead the group in its very first experience playing as a studio orchestra along with the score for a short animated film. Our very first From the Top studio orchestra is born, and, just like studio musicians, our participants get to flex their sight reading skills.

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The group then gets to spend time with Gina Luciani, a classical flutist with a social media following of more than 75,000, who coaches the group on how to create compelling social media content as 21st century artists. Finally, the day ends with a session led by Juilliard-trained horn player and EDM superstar Alex Siever of MAKO who teaches the fundamentals of sampling classical music by infusing yesterday’s recordings with dance beats and electronic elements. After a full day, the group heads back for dinner and to reflect on what it means to be a 21st century musician— hard-working, creative, entrepreneurial, and willing to push artistic boundaries.

Day 4: Monday

The group heads back to downtown Los Angeles, this time to learn about the intersection between social justice and the arts by working with MacArthur Fellow and violinist Vijay Gupta and his Street Symphony program, which creates opportunities for musical engagement and dialogue between world-class musicians and people disenfranchised by homelessness, incarceration, and poverty in Los Angeles County. From his Street Symphony headquarters on Skid Row, Vijay leads the group in a deep discussion about personal identity, power as an artist, and the importance of engaging in one’s community through their art. Stories are shared, tears were shed, and the challenges and pressures around being a classical musician are explored honestly and in a safe space. After sharing and lunch, the group says their goodbyes back at the Colburn School, and heads to LAX.

What a weekend!

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From the Top’s 2019 Los Angeles Intensive is just one of the many ways lives of young musicians are changed by their From the Top experience. When you listen to Shows 366 and 367, listen not only for the incredible talents of these remarkable young people, but for their reflections on what it truly means to be a citizen artist leader in the 21st century. Thank you for your loyal listenership; let’s take it “From the Top!

“Before, I hadn’t really considered community engagement to be a vital part of a musicians career. However, I now realize it is necessary in order to have a career that feeds yourself and others – simply performing music is not enough to leave you with a feeling of satisfaction.”
17-year-old cellist Davis You

The 2019 Los Angeles Intensive was made possible in part by support from the Volgenau Foundation.

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