Why another orchestra?

Let me start backwards:

I founded a chamber orchestra in Los Angeles in 2016,  called the Vicente Chamber Orchestra. So far, we have performed two concerts – one in November 2016 and the last one in October 2017. Both went amazingly well. But, why start another orchestra in Los Angeles when there are so many great performing arts groups in this city? Who cares about yet another classical music ensemble?

I do.

Music has always been important to me, and who I really am as a person. I am a musician. That’s what I studied back in college and with my beloved mentor, Mehli Mehta. Everything I do is colored by my love of music. This goes for my business activities as well (running a business is much like conducting an orchestra – which I will get into later in another blog post).

Ed and me
LA County Supervisor, Ed Edelman (1930-2016) and the members of the Temple Emanuel Chamber Orchestra, Beverly Hills. Circa 1990. Ed loved music and, come rain or shine, he played his cello every week. He appreciated the beauty of music.

So, I woke up one day and decided to pursue my life long passion of conducting my very own ensemble. I didn’t want to wait any longer. After all, there may be no tomorrow – NOW is the time to do what you really love to do. I went ahead and founded my own orchestra, naming it the “Vicente Chamber Orchestra” – after San Vicente Blvd, a street close to my home in Los Angeles. It’s all I could come up with at the time and the name of the group was just a side issue for me. It was more urgent that I get going and make music.

My Mission

The mission of the Vicente Chamber Orchestra is simple: to make “music for music’s sake.” We don’t have a subscription season, offer music education in our public schools, have red carpet galas with Hollywood celebrities, pander to an audience who crave Hollywood movie music, have lavish fundraisers for the rich of Los Angeles, or even have a Board (at least, as of current).

And, I really don’t care. Because, all I (really) want to do is make music. Music is not a means to an end. It’s all that really matters to me. All the other stuff is a distraction from my core mission.

I want to share my love of music with those who perform with me and those who come to hear us. And, THIS is the core of what the Vicente Chamber Orchestra is all about; it’s not a stepping stone to something else for me, and I don’t have any illusions of conducting any other group, other than the Vicente Chamber Orchestra. I am perfectly happy making music on my own terms with other musicians who have the same vision as I.

Most of the musicians in the Vicente Chamber Orchestra are volunteers – they play for free, because they love music like me. Some of the musicians are paid. But, they are just as passionate about making music as everyone else. It so happens that these few musicians make a living in music, so I honor and respect this requirement.

The Vicente Chamber Orchestra only performs when we are inspired. Otherwise, why perform? Why play a concert for concert’s sake? You need to be inspired, excited and want to share this with everyone who attends. If not, don’t bother performing. Forget it. The Vicente Chamber Orchestra is about expressing our love of music and not about anything else.

I admit, I am idealistic. But, I can afford to be. Music is not a career for me (it was many years ago). However, it’s a life. Music is my life and not my career. It’s what I love and what I want to share with everyone who wants to listen.

In the past, when I was younger, music was a means to an end, a path to somewhere else. But, now I realize that music is the end point. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world, a language all its own.

Mehli and Zain (1)
Mehli Mehta and a few of the American Youth Symphony orchestra members at a fundraiser circa 1991-2. Mehli’s greatest talent was teaching his students to LOVE music and to really feel the spirit of the music we performed.


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