CHROMATIC is a new Los Angeles-based production company, led creatively by James Darrah and Peabody Southwell and managed by Michelle Magaldi, comprised of interdisciplinary artists who collaborate to create aesthetic theatrical and visual experiences across mediums in an increasingly wide range of formats. The company is exploring and redefining processes for creative teams to combine prismatic skills for original projects within theater, film, opera, visual art, photography, dance, and new work/project development.
Four women washing blood out of rags in a bathroom; Stravinsky in an abandoned warehouse; a violinist cutting himself out of duct tape with a razor; a lost John Adams suite at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Conductor and composer Christopher Rountree stands at the intersection of classical music, new music, performance art, and pop. Mr. Rountree is the founder, conductor, and creative director of the path breaking Los Angeles chamber orchestra wild Up. The group started in 2010, driven only by Mr. Rountree’s vision of a world-class orchestra that creates visceral, provocative experiences that are unmoored from classical traditions.
“For most people, programming and conducting are about restraint, intellect. I want to get rid of restraint: I want to tear the thing’s guts out. I want to go all the way there,” Mr. Rountree says. “I want to empower musicians. I want to energize an audience. It’s not that I’m a ‘conduit for the score’; everyone in the hall is a part of a circuit that connects the conductor, the musicians, the score and the listeners. A concert shouldn’t leave people when people leave the concert hall.”
This year, Mr. Rountree makes his Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Opera, and Atlanta Opera debuts, returns to the Music Academy of the West, conducts the Interlochen World Youth Orchestra on the New York Philharmonic’s 2016 Biennial, joins Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner with wild Up at the Laguna Beach Music Festival, and conducts Diavolo’s new show “L’Espace du Temps: Glass, Adams, and Salonen.” As a composer, his recent premieres and commissions include a new piece for The Crossing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a re-orchestration of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Foreign Bodies, a choral work for Björk’s choir Graduale Nobili in Reykjavik, Iceland, and a piece for Jennifer Koh on the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial.
Last year, Mr. Rountree founded an education intensive with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, continued an education partnership at the Colburn School, and taught at Bard College’s Longy School. He joined the production company Chromatic, conducted Opera Omaha performing John Adams’s A Flowering Tree, and started a three-year stint as guest conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in SoundBox in April 2015. He has also been tapped to curate and create events for contemporary art institutions including the Getty Museum, MCA Denver, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and UCLA’s Hammer Museum, where wild Up was in residence.
Raushan Akhmedyarova, who joined the San Francisco Symphony 2006, is a native of Kazakhstan and comes from a family of musicians. She won first prize at the National Violin Competition of Kazakhstan, the International Competition of Asia in Tashkent, the UNISA International Competition in Pretoria, and the Geneva International Competition. She graduated from the Kazakh State Conservatory and studied privately at the Moscow Conservatory, and in 1994 she received a full scholarship to study at Southern Methodist University. Ms. Akhmedyarova was previously associate concertmaster of the New Century Chamber Orchestra and on the faculty of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra. She has also served as a mentor for the SFS Community of Music Makers program.
Florin Parvulescu, a native of Romania, joined the SFS in 1998. He holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard Preparatory Division. He was previously a member of the Saint Louis Symphony and Baltimore Symphony, won the 1993 Marbury Competition at the Peabody Conservatory, and was a prizewinner in the 1994 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition. Mr. Parvulescu has appeared in festivals such as Aspen, Victoria International Festival, and the École d’Arts Américaines in Fontainebleau, France. He also attended the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. He has also served as a mentor for the SFS Community of Music Makers program.
Victor Romasevich was born in Minsk, Belarus, and studied with Rostislav Dubinsky of the Borodin Quartet. He trained at the Moscow Conservatory and, following his emigration to the United States in 1977, continued his studies at Juilliard with Ivan Galamian. In 1979 he became a violin and viola pupil of the composer and philosopher Iosif Andriasov. Winner of the Gina Bachauer Prize at the 1985 J.S. Bach International Competition, Mr. Romasevich joined the Orchestra as Associate Principal Viola in 1990 and in 1992 moved to the violin section.
Polina Sedukh, a native of Saint Petersburg, Russia, is a graduate of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where she studied with Savely Shalman, Lev Ivaschenko, and Vladimir Ovtcharek. Ms. Sedukh also holds an artist diploma from the Longy School of Music in Boston. Before joining the SFS, Ms. Sedukh was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She made her solo debut with the Chamber Orchestra of Liepaya in Latvia at age of seven, followed by recital tours in US, Germany, and Austria; she has also appeared as soloist with Saint Petersburg State Symphony, Boston Virtuosi Orchestra, Newton Symphony, and Saint Petersburg Cappella Orchestra. She has been a prizewinner at numerous competitions, including the Ludwig Spohr International Violin Competition.
Mariko Smiley began violin studies at age six with her father, David Smiley, who was a violist with the San Francisco Symphony from 1962 to 1973. Raised in the Bay Area, she trained with former SFS musicians Leonard Austria and Stuart Canin before attending Juilliard, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and studied with Dorothy DeLay, Robert Mann, and Joel Krosnick. Ms. Smiley joined the SFS in 1982 and was for many years a member of the Aurora String Quartet. She occupies the Paula and John Gambs Second Century Chair. Devoted to chamber music, she also performs in Chamber Music Sundaes concerts with her SFS colleagues.
Chen Zhao joined the SFS in 2000. He was born in Shanghai and moved to the US at age twelve to study with Heiichiro Ohyama at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica. He later studied with Felix Galimir at the Curtis Institute of Music and with Camilla Wicks at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 1999 he joined the New World Symphony in Miami. Currently a violin coach for the SFS Youth Orchestra, Chen Zhao is on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and regularly coaches with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.
San Francisco native Nathaniel Stookey graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and was the first recipient of the Hallé Orchestra Composition Fellowship, where he spent three years as composer-in-residence. Upon returning to the United States, he served as composer-in-residence at the North Carolina Symphony and the Ciompi Quartet, during which time he also completed his doctorate at Duke University. In 2006, the San Francisco Symphony commissioned and premiered his work The Composer is Dead, a collaboration with the San Francisco author Lemony Snicket. Other collaborative pieces by Stookey include Into the Bright Lights (with mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade) and Zipperz, for two pop singers and orchestra, created for the Oakland East Bay Symphony; Zipperz was recently recorded by the Magik*Magik Orchestra. Other works includes Mahlerwerk, which was commissioned and premiered by NDR Symphony for the final concert of its Mahler cycle; the String Quartet No. 3, “The Mezzanine”, commissioned and premiered by the Kronos Quartet in 2013; and Ivonne, commissioned and premiered by Opera Memphis.
Soprano Marnie Breckenridge is a champion of contemporary music, regularly performing new music by modern composers in concert and recital. Recent opera roles include Mother in Dog Days by David T. Little with Montclair Peak Performances, Sierva Maria in Peter Eötvös’s Love and Other Demons at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, La Princesse in Philip Glass’s Orphée and Margarita Xirgu in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar with Opera Parallèle, her Berkeley Symphony debut in Unsuk Chin’s Cantantrix Sopranica with Kent Nagano, and her Ravinia Festival debut in Jake Heggie’s To Hell and Back with Philharmonia Baroque. She recently composed the vocal lines for and sang the lead in Wake, an original production with director Mei Ann Teo and composer Jon Bernstein at the Connelly in New York. For her debut with the Sacramento Philharmonic she sang Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras and Chicago Songs, written for her by Kurt Erickson. Other recent concert work includes Carmina burana with the San Francisco Choral Society, Berg in Vienna concerts at Bard Festival, and Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Napa Symphony and Pacific Symphony. She performed under the baton of Lorin Maazel as Lucia in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia at his Castleton Foundation and on tour. Ms. Breckenridge is featured on a 2012 New World Records album of Victor Herbert songs and recently made her European and Asian debuts as Cunegonde in Candide with the English National Opera and Prague State Opera, on tour in Japan.
Peabody Southwell has worked in recent seasons as an actor and singer, visual and costume designer, curator, and writer. Current season engagements as a performer include her return to Los Angeles Opera as La Ciesca in Woody Allen’s production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and a reprisal of her role as the Third Lady in Barrie Kosky’s production of The Magic Flute. She sings the principal role in the world premiere of David Lang’s Anatomy Theater at Los Angeles Opera with Beth Morrison Projects, makes a return to the dual roles of Juno and Ino in James Darrah’s production of Semele with Opera Omaha, and performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and John Adams in Liederabend 21c. As a designer, she creates costumes for the US staged premiere of Jonathan Dove’s L’Altra Euridice for the Bay Chamber Festival in Maine and for the dance company WIFE in the first iteration of the three-year Pelleas Project with Cincinnati Symphony. She also recently completed filming for a role in the new feature film The Disappointments Room. A Los Angeles native, Ms. Southwell completed her master’s degree at UCLA. She is one of the founding members of the new Los Angeles-based production collective Chromatic, where she works as co-creative director with James Darrah to develop work across multiple mediums. She trained at NYC’s Herbert Berghof Studios, and her work as a voiceover actor can also be heard on PBS.
Chris Kallmyer is an artist who works with sound, places, and people. His work explores a participatory approach to making music through touch, taste, and process using everyday objects that point to who we are and where we live. Chris has created projects with amplified sheep, spontaneous fanfares, music for cheese, sonic lawn care, installations in igloos, country music renditions of Devo’s hits, a guide to acoustical gardening, and a formula for new songs by Hall and Oates. Chris works as a frequent collaborator with Machine Project and the modern music collective wild Up. He has presented work in a wide variety of contexts, including the Walker Art Center, Hammer Museum, Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Foundation d’Entreprise Ricard, Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Biennial of the Americas, and other spaces in America and Europe. In 2016-17 he will be an Artist Fellow at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Christopher Bordenave is a dancer, choreographer, and curator from Los Angeles. He studied at the Ailey School and the LINES Ballet School/Dominican University acquiring his BFA in Dance. He has performed the works of Nacho Duato, Stijn Celis, Alonzo King, Idan Sharabi, and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano with numerous companies throughout the US and abroad. In 2014, Mr. Bordenave co-founded No)one. Art House, a movement-based arts collective in Los Angeles. Additionally, he is an active repetiteur for the works of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano.
Nicholas Korkos, a native of San Francisco, began his formal training at the Alonzo King LINES Ballet School, first performing with the company at age fifteen in The Rite of Spring. He came full circle in 2015, appearing as a guest artist with LINES Ballet for their spring and summer tours. Mr. Korkos has also been a member of Robert Moses' KIN, project agora, tinypistol, Zhukov Dance Theatre, Hubbard Street 2, Aszure Barton & Artists, and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, where he performed works by Andonis Foniadakis and Barak Marshall. Most recently he worked under director James Darrah and choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano in Opera Omaha's production of Handel’s Semele.
Sam Shapiro began his ballet training at Wake Forest University under the direction of his mother, Brantly. At age eleven, he entered the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied with Nina Danilova, Duncan Noble, and Gyula Pandi. At age seventeen he joined the Royal Ballet's Upper School where he danced for three years, graduating with commendation. He later danced for two years in Boston Ballet II, performing with Boston Ballet, before spending two years with the North Carolina Dance Theater performing classical and contemporary repertory. Mr. Shapiro then moved to New Zealand to join the Royal New Zealand Ballet under the direction of Ethan Stiefel. He currently freelances in the US and abroad.
Director and designer James Darrah leads the Los Angeles-based production and design company Chromatic. Current projects include Chromatic's annual residency with Opera Omaha, a new production of Handel’s Semele in a co-production with Opera Philadelphia, and his European debut with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, Portugal directing Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride. With the San Francisco Symphony he directs Bernstein’s On the Town in May 2016 and he returns in 2016-17 to direct a semi-staged production of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, led by Michael Tilson Thomas. Other upcoming projects include a debut at Bard Summerscape with a new production of Mascagni’s Iris, designs for Peter Brook’s adaptation of Carmen at Maine’s Bay Chamber Festival, and the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves for Opera Philadelphia. Mr. Darrah also recently completed the first installment of his three year Pelleas Project with the Cincinnati Symphony and directed Così fan tutte with the Milwaukee Symphony and Edo de Waart. Past projects include Peter Grimes with the San Francisco Symphony, the world premiere production of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Handel’s Semele with Pacific Musicworks in Seattle, and his Lincoln Center directing debut with Handel's Radamisto for the Juilliard School. James Darrah holds a MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. He was awarded the national Princess Grace Award in Theater, was a nominee for newcomer in the 2015 International Opera Awards, and was named Musical America’s New Artist of the Month for December 2015.
Adam Larsen is a filmmaker and projection designer. His work has been seen in Hal Prince’s LoveMusik on Broadway; The Gospel at Colonus at the Athens, Edinburgh, and Spoleto festivals; The Wind Up Bird Chronicle at the Singapore and Edinburgh festivals; Brief Encounters and My Fair Lady at the Shaw Festival; The Women of Brewster Place at Alliance Theatre and Arena Stage; Ghost Brothers of Darkland County and Native Guard at Alliance Theatre; big at Atlanta Ballet; Love Lies Bleeding, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and Balletlujah at Alberta Ballet; Janáček’s From the House of the Dead at Canadian Opera; Lily Plants a Garden at Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; Saariaho’s Maa with Atlanta Symphony and GloAtl; Adams’s A Flowering Tree and Handel’s Agrippina at Opera Omaha; Handel’s Semele with Pacific Musicworks; Quartet at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet; Seed at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet; Cage’s Second Hand and Foss’s Phorion with New World Symphony; Black Whole at Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center and Moog Music; and Peter Grimes, Peer Gynt, and Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, as well as several SoundBox performances with the San Francisco Symphony. Mr. Larsen holds a BFA in cinematography from North Carolina School of the Arts. His documentary about autism entitled Neurotypical aired on the PBS series POV.
Seth Reiser is a New York-based designer who works in theater, opera, dance, and music. Most recently in the Bay Area he designed the set and lighting for the Saint Louis Symphony’s performance of Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles… at Zellerbach Hall with Cal Performances. Other recent work includes the Berlin Philharmonic’s performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion at the Park Avenue Armory/Lincoln Center directed by Peter Sellars; Round-Up at BAM with Sufjan Stevens and yarn/wire; Vietgone at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Between Riverside and Crazy at A.C.T in San Francisco; The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs by Mike Daisey; Reggie Watts and Tommy Smith’s Radio Play; and Taylor Mac’s Obie award-winning production of The Lily’s Revenge. Mr. Reiser lives in Rochester, NY where he teaches lighting at the University of Rochester. He received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and MFA from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.
Chris Kallmyer, artist
Andrew McIntosh, baroque violin
Flowers in collaboration with Rito-Ito, a design studio based in Mill Valley.