LACO returns to the GP stage next week, this time with a string quartet rather than the full orchestra. We spoke briefly with executive director Scott Harrison about the upcoming program on Aug. 12 with Supernova.
LACO has a history with Grand Performances. How did you first get involved with us?
We hit it off pretty quickly and found we have a lot of shared values and love working together. Michael Alexander was a LACO attendee and subscriber for a number of years. When I moved downtown I met Michael and we said we’d like to collaborate, offer more performances and free programming and we know GP is always open to a wider palette of musical experience. We had a concert at the end of GP’s season and the beginning of our 50th anniversary season, and for that to be free, offered to all of LA and for all different people and communities, was really special for us. We had a great time, the audience was so enthusiastic, and so we picked up the conversation with Mari and we’ve got a lot of great ideas coming down the pipe about the whole orchestra. But what’s great about LACO and GP is that LACO can scale up and down for smaller, more intimate settings with chamber music, and that GP does both big things and smaller things on the Marina Pavilion. So we thought we’d partner with Supernova, who we’re already working with. There will be some new music and it’ll be a good scope of music for a fun evening. We’re excited for our relationship with GP to become a long-lasting relationship.
Who will be performing on Aug. 12? Can you tell me a little about their backgrounds?
This quartet is kind of a representation of LACO and family and friends. Connie Kupka is a member of the violin section in LACO for 29 years now. Besides being a fabulous musician, she is a dynamic speaker and educator, and is fantastic at weaving a beautiful story and connecting with audience between works. Her husband David Speltz is a cellist who was in LACO many years ago and eventually moved into other parts of his career; he’s very active in the studio scene, lots of performing and teaching with musicians and groups. Brendan Speltz is their son, and he’s a really dynamic young violinist, based in NY. He does all sorts of interesting things, from chamber music to genre collaborations with eclectic artists. Finally, we have Florence Titmus, and what’s great about LACO is that we have musicians that aren’t core members of the tenured roster, but they can sit in with us. She’s close with Connie and David and they brought her on to compliment the group. This sort of family element is common at LACO: we have two other married couples in the orchestra, and a few other members whose spouses perform with us as substitutes every once in a while. Music is in the blood, I guess.
Can you give us a little preview of the program, and why you chose it?
Our musicians are fantastic curators as well. They have a lot of experience putting together programs, so this is a program that Connie developed with a few core classics (Mozart and Schubert) to show what LACO does really well, making works from the past vibrant and visceral. Then we have a little Gershwin, something lazy to add that we felt would be appropriate for an August evening. We knew Supernova was doing a new work so we wanted to balance them a little bit for a complete evening.
What did you ultimately want to convey through this program?
We just want to convey how accessible and immediate this music is. That LACO is an ensemble that creates a concert environment that is intimate and welcomes everyone, breaks down the barrier between music and audience. We want to give a little taste of what we do, and hope that people will check out more of what we and the other classical organizations do in LA. There’s so much variety.
Anything else you’d like to add?
GP is wonderful to work with! We love this idea that the arts have a figuratively and literally central place in our city. At the water court, in the heart of downtown, accessible by car, metro, foot. Through the scope and platform and relationship to building communities—I wish that every arts experience was as welcoming and as open as GP. It’s all about meeting people and sharing and learning, communicating through the musical format.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
By Celine Kiner