Hit play below to listen to our Arts Alive feature with the Colburn School’s President, Sel Kardan.

It’s one of the most beautiful intersections in Los Angeles—where 2nd Street meets Grand Avenue—an incredible hub of architecture, music, and art. Before the Broad got there and even before Walt Disney Concert Hall arrived, the Colburn School took up residence at 2nd and Grand. All of that creativity in one place is a real boon to the students of the Colburn School, according to Colburn’s President, Sel Kardan.

“Our location in Downtown LA really emphasizes to our students that they really are in the heart of what’s happening culturally,” Kardan told me recently in an interview at the KUSC studios.

But it’s not just physical proximity for the students of Colburn. Kardan says actual collaborative relationships with great artists are an important part of the curriculum. Every year, Kardan and his staff put together a series of chamber music and orchestral concerts for the public. They pair Colburn students with faculty members and visiting artists, like Lynn Harrell, Emanuel Ax, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, to name just a few from this season.

“That’s really a hallmark of our concert series,” Kardan says, “A prominent guest artist in collaboration with our students. Usually, the artist is on campus for four or five days in rehearsals and master classes, culminating with these performances.”

In addition to these classical celeb appearances, the Colburn School faculty is full of shining stars of the performing world—former members of the Tokyo and Guarneri String Quartets, one of the foremost violin professors in the world, a leading figure among clarinet professors. In fact, a recent Colburn grad, Afendi Yusuf, was just named principal clarinet of the venerable Cleveland Orchestra. He’s 28 years old.

“A job like that is really like becoming the starting center for the Cleveland Cavaliers—it’s just an extraordinary position for him,” Kardan said.

Sel Kardan tells me he has big plans for the future of the school.

“More collaborations with singers. It’s important for all of our instrumentalists and that’s a big part of our future. More interaction with living composers. I think that’s really key to a young artist’s development. And how do we engage our communities even more? How do we interface? How can we be a resource in Los Angeles to help perhaps fill some of that gap?”

Sel Kardan is the President of the Colburn School, which, in addition to training the next generation of music professionals, also presents chamber and orchestral performances all season long.

Leave a Comment