33rd Season Marks Beginning of new era for organization with launch of its first-ever mixed Chamber Choir and long-range plans to develop new artistic partnerships and collaborations, expand community outreach and diversify chorus.
Performance highlights include debut with vocal icon Meredith Monk, two Los Angeles Philharmonic engagements and appearance in LA Opera’s Hansel and Gretel at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus’ (LACC) new Artistic Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, who began his tenure on August 1, ushers in a new chapter for the acclaimed choral organization with the announcement of plans for his inaugural season in 2018-19. The visionary conductor and educator, only the third artistic director to lead the Pasadena-based chorus since its inception in 1986, will further hone the chorus’ sound and repertoire and build upon its stellar foundation as one of the most exceptional and innovative arts institutions in Los Angeles and the country. Working closely with LACC’s artistic and administrative staff to ensure that the organization continues to provide outstanding choral music education to its choristers, Malvar-Ruiz has announced a range of long- and short-term goals, including expanding the chorus’ artistic and physical reach and significantly increasing its presence in the community. He envisions bringing the chorus to new and broader audiences, increasing the diversity of its membership, providing new singing opportunities for the choristers, fostering current artistic partnerships while developing new ones, re-imagining its concert presentations and enriching the overall experience of its 400 young singers, ages 6 to 18 from 50 communities across Southern California. Since taking leadership of LACC just a few weeks ago, Malvar-Ruiz has already launched a new ensemble, the Mixed Chamber Choir, which is the first SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) group in the chorus’ history, bringing the total number of LACC choirs to seven. The others include Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Young Men’s Ensemble, Intermediate Choir, Apprentice Choir and Preparatory Choir. LACC also offers a First Experiences in Singing introductory program and First Experiences in Choral Singing Ensemble for 6-8-year-olds.
LACC performance highlights this season include its debut with vocal icon Meredith Monk in the West Coast premiere of her work Cellular Songs on March 2, 2019, at Royce Hall, an appearance in LA Opera’s production of Hansel and Gretel led by James Conlon Nov. 17 through December 5, 2018, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and two Los Angeles Philharmonic engagements at Walt Disney Concert Hall – Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on May 30, 31 and June 2, 2019, and Stravinsky’s setting of Perséphone staged by Peter Sellars and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen on April 18, 19 and 20, 2019. LACC also presents its Winter Concert on December 9 and 16, 2018, and Spring Concert on May 5 and 12, 2019, both at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.
“Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, celebrated for its singular bel canto sound, is a world-class organization that serves a unique role in the cultural community,” says Malvar-Ruiz, who hails from Spain and relocated to Pasadena from the East Coast. “It’s exhilarating to embark on this exciting new era with these exceptional singers and my esteemed LACC colleagues. And it’s a thrilling time to be in Los Angeles, which has truly become the cultural capital of the world.”
Focusing his attention on expanding LACC’s vocal color palette, Malvar-Ruiz is introducing new repertoire requiring different singing techniques to complement its existing bel canto repertoire. “I am absolutely committed to preserving LACC’s tradition of bel canto singing, and, because the human voice is capable of such an amazing range of colors, I also want to help choristers discover different aspects of their voice, which is crucial to their artistic growth, by introducing them to a range of other vocal styles and techniques,” states Malvar-Ruiz. Additionally, he intends to diversity LACC’s repertoire to better reflect the Southern California community at large, and, eventually, expand the number of children and communities the chorus serves, creating greater inclusivity and reaching even more children with LACC’s highly successful music education model.
Explaining the impetus behind the new SATB choir he formed, Malvar-Ruiz says, “The Mixed Chamber Choir, comprised of young women and men whose voices have changed or are undergoing change, enables LACC to present even broader repertoire and provides an enhanced artistic opportunity for our choristers.” He notes that the singers in the new choir are also part of one or more of LACC’s other choirs.
While recognizing that the vocal skills choristers develop at LACC are important, he points out that the life skills they forge during their time in the chorus are equally important. “Singing is all about community, collaboration, communication, team-building, fostering self-esteem, developing empathy and expanding horizons. These invaluable life lessons, implicitly or explicitly, are at the core of everything LACC does.”
Specific long-term plans for LACC’s further diversification and expansion, and development of new artistic collaborations and partnerships, will evolve in the coming months as Malvar-Ruiz and his team evaluate the chorus’ human, economic and cultural resources.
2018-19 Season Performance Details
In addition to assessing and developing over-arching plans for the chorus, this season Malvar-Ruizprepares LACC for a busy slate of performances with a number of leading artists, including the chorus’ debut with vocal icon Meredith Monk for the West Coast premiere of her contemplative Cellular Songs, a music theatre piece that draws inspiration from such cellular activity as replication, division, layering and mutation to conjure cycles of birth and death, presented by UCLA Center for the Art of Performance at Royce Hall (March 2, 2019). LACC also appears in LA Opera’s production of Humperdinck’s enchanting Hansel and Gretel conducted by James Conlon and starring Susan Graham at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (November 17 – December 15, 2018).
LACC is featured in two Los Angeles Philharmonic productions at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as well, including three performances of Mahler’s monumental and explosive Symphony No. 8 conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, who leads the first-ever performance of the aptly nicknamed “Symphony of a Thousand” inside Disney Hall, which also includes an all-star cast of soloists, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Pacific Chorale (May 30, 31, and June 2, 2019). In addition, Malvar-Ruiz prepares LACC for four performances of Stravinsky’s sumptuous setting ofPerséphone conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and brilliantly staged for the Los Angeles Philharmonic by famed director Peter Sellars (April 18, 19 and 20, 2019).
Other performances include LACC’s Winter Concert (December 9 and 16, 2018) and Spring Concert (May 5 and 12, 2019), both held at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. The Chorus is featured in and matinee and evening performances of the Pasadena Symphony and POPS’ popular Holiday Candlelight conducted by David Lockington at Pasadena’s All Saints Church (December 15, 2018) and “Bach to Broadway,” a fundraising event for St. Andrew Church in Pasadena (October 5, 2019). LACC also appears in a number of community concerts throughout the season and hosts Germany’s Hamburg Girls’ Choir, which has enthralled audiences from Switzerland to Swaziland with its nuanced sound and polished performances, at Pasadena Presbyterian Church (March 10, 2019).
National and international tours conclude LACC’s 2018-19 season with Young Men’s Ensemble touring to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in the summer of 2019. (Concert Choir tour details to be announced.)
For more information on Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, visit www.lachildrenschorus.org or call 626.793.4231.
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC), widely recognized for its agile bel canto sound and artistic excellence, has been lauded as “hauntingly beautiful” (Los Angeles Times), “astonishingly polished” (Performances Magazine) and “one of the world’s foremost children’s choirs” (Pasadena Star News). Founded in 1986 and led by Artistic Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, who began his tenure in August 2018, LACC presents its own concerts and regularly performs with such organizations as LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale and Jacaranda, among others. The Chorus serves 400 children ages 6 to 18 from in seven choirs – Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Mixed Chamber Choir, Young Men’s Ensemble, Intermediate Choir, Apprentice Choir and Preparatory Choir – and a First Experiences in Singing program and First Experiences in Choral Singing Ensemble for 6-8-year-olds. LACC, recipient ofChorus America’s 2014 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, tours internationally, is the subject of three documentaries and has appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” PBS’s “Great Performances,” BBC Radio, Public Radio International’s “From the Top” and is featured on John Williams’ latest recording, John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection. www.lachildrenschorus.org.
Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, internationally regarded choral conductor, clinician and educator, is the Artistic Director of Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. He has worked with children’s and youth choirs his entire career. From 2004 to July 2017, Malvar-Ruiz was the Music Director of The American Boychoir, leading some 150 performances and up to five national and international tours annually. He prepared the choir for appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, among others, working with such conductors as Marin Alsop, Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Michael Tilson Thomas and Valery Gergiev and artists ranging from cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and pop legends Beyoncé Knowles, Sir Paul McCartney and Josh Groban to opera singers Kathleeen Battle and Jessye Norman. He also conducted the choir on six recordings, led its performances on the Academy Awards and a 9/11 Memorial Service, broadcast globally on CNN and was the music director on the film “Boychoir.” Malvar-Ruiz previously served as The American Boychoir’s Associate Music Director from 2000-2004 under James Litton. An expert in the adolescent male evolving voice, Malvar-Ruiz has guest conducted children’s and youth choirs around the globe. He has a master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Ohio State University and completed the coursework toward a doctoral degree in from the University of Illinois