ROBERT ANDERSON (violin) has been teaching, performing, recording, and composing in the Los Angeles area since 2000. As co-founder and music director of String Project Los Angeles, established in 2006, Robert enjoys teaching the art of improvisation and encouraging musical creativity in young string players. A Yamaha artist and clinician, Robert has traveled throughout the country to educate teachers and students, and has served on the faculty at Christian Howes’s Creative String Workshop in Columbus, OH.
In addition to a busy private studio, Robert currently brings his unique teaching style, creativity, and contemporary repertoire as director of the middle school string ensembles at SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House), and high school string ensemble at New Roads School (Santa Monica, CA). 2012-13 is his 5th year as coach for the Elemental Strings youth orchestra program. Robert has been a faculty member of the Popular Music department of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California since the department’s inception in the fall of 2008.
Robert performs and records regularly as a founding member of rock band “Uncle Daddy.” Other notable performances include stage and television appearances with Katie Melua, Ray LaMontagne, Paul Oakenfold, Rhianna, and Pink. He can be heard on the soundtrack for TV programs “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “Caprica,” “Human Target,” “The Cape,” “Eureka,” and “The Walking Dead.”
His chamber and orchestral arrangements and compositions have been performed by youth orchestras in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina, at the National Cello Institute, the Idyllwild Summer Music Festival, and at Violafest Los Angeles. In 2012 Robert became composer in residence for Elemental Strings.
JACOB SZEKELY(cello) Born in Brooklyn New York in 1979, Jacob grew up in a musical family where his talent was recognized early on. Jacob discovered Jazz when he was accepted to study classical cello performance at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, and thereafter began leading a musical double life with traditional classical performance and developing a completely new language on his instrument. By the time Jacob arrived in Los Angeles for his masters degree at USC, he had already launched headlong into his professional career.
In 2004, Jacob formed the indie jazz string quartet Supernova with fellow creative string wizard Miguel Attwood-Ferguson on viola. With the addition of Robert Anderson and Ludvig Girdland on violin the group emerged as a dynamic force on the LA music scene and in the creative string world in general. The group which was hailed by Turtle Island string quartet member Danny Seidenberg as “The evolution of the string quartet” disbanded when violinist Ludvig Girdland was permanently injured in a car accident.
In 2006, Jacob formed the electric fusion based Eartha Austria Trio as well as teaming up with percussion master Chris Garcia (Grande Mothers of Invention, Michael Manring Trio) in the world/Jazz/chamber group Quarteto Nuevo which was hailed by the LA times for its “highly motivated performances and exceptional virtuosity.”
Currently, Jacob is working with his new trio; a flexible, electric, groove based ensemble featuring pianist Josh Nelson on keyboards and drummer Christopher Allis. The group will be recording their debut album in November.
In addition to his busy schedule as a studio musician, Jacob performs regularly as a sideman with numerous bands and singer songwriters in LA including the acoustic rock band Uncle Daddy. Szekely is also active as a composer and arranger and has collaborated with a wide range of artists and ensembles from string quartets and world music groups to commissions for chamber orchestra and children’s choir.
In 2007, Jacob expanded his role as musical ambassador through the co founding and artistic directorship of String Project Los Angeles, a music school and resource for the alternative string playing community throughout the world located in Venice California. With its innovative curriculum and workshops featuring a veritable who’s who of the alternative string world, String Project LA was named “One of the top reasons to study music in Los Angeles” by Strings Magazine. In addition to String Project Los Angeles, Jacob has also conducted residencies and master classes across the united states at UCLA, Cal Arts, The Berklee School of Music, Oklahoma State University, Ithaca College and The American String Teachers Association’s national conference to name a few. Jacob has also served on the summer faculty of numerous summer festivals including The New Directions In Cello Festival and Christian Howes’ Creative Strings Workshop with whom he co authored an article in the July 2012 issue of The Strad advising string teachers on how to approach improvisation.
In 2012, Jacob launched The Improvisor’s Guide to the cello… The first ever comprehensive video learning series designed to address the unique challenges classically trained cellists face when approaching creative string playing.
Jacob is a Steinberger and Danish Professional Audio artist, a Yamaha Clinician, and performs on his five string Steinberger Electric Cello as well as several 4 and 5 string acoustic cellos.
ANDREA WHITT (Viola), raised in Ohio, began her musical training at age 9 in school orchestras and private study. She also spent eight years performing in the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras often serving principal viola and performing solo performances. During her high school summers, Andrea attended Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan.
Andrea completed both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in viola performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) under the instruction of Masao Kawasaki and Catharine Carroll. While in school she also performed with several city orchestras around Cincinnati and Columbus. During the summers she studied at the Aspen Music Festival, the Chamber Music Festival of Lucca in Italy, and the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles where she sat principal viola.
Jazz was added to her repertoire while an undergraduate, studying under Christian Howes, Brad Goode, Phil Degreg, and Kim Pensyl. She specialized in Brazilian jazz while playing in CCM’s Brazilian jazz combo and she performed alongside Patrick Williams, Joshua Bell, Hillary Hahn, Chris Brubeck, and Johnny Mendel. Her interest in jazz was sparked by many years attending jazz festivals in Michigan with her family.
Having moved to Los Angeles in 2007, Andrea performs both classical, jazz and rock, in combos and orchestras alike, including the Los Angeles Master Chorale and her band Jayar. She has appeared in a national commercial for Cricket Wireless and performed alongside Katie Melua on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. In addition to her private students, she also teaches beginning violin students in the LA public schools both during and after school.
Besides a musician, Andrea is an accomplished fine arts artist and ceramist, and practices yoga regularly. Recently Andrea launched her own greeting card line titled “Alto Designs.”Â She combines her artistic talents as she explores new musical languages and pathways to inspire passion and curiosity in her students.
LUIS- Mascaro (violin) is part of a new generation of creative string players, Brazilian violinist Luis Alberto is not afraid of using his solid classical background to explore new musical ideas, techniques, and sounds. Luis was one of the few selected musicians to perform live at the 50th Grammy Awards with the Foo Fighters and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) in the YouTube contest “My Grammy Moment” in 2008, among thousands of video submissions.
Being one of the few classical trained violinists in his native country to explore alternative styles and techniques on the violin, Luis begun his studies at the age of 9, becoming the concertmaster of his city’s conservatory youth orchestra at 11. Luis holds a double bachelor degree in violin performance and popular music from Campinas State University (UNICAMP) in Brazil. First string player to graduate from the Popular Music degree at that University, he started more and more to venture in different styles such as jazz and Brazilian music. At that time, his activities included founding the only Brazilian Mahavishnu Orchestra cover band, touring with the Comboio Big Band and playing frequently with Chôro musicians.
In 2005 Luis was awarded full scholarship to study at The University of Southern Mississippi, where he had the opportunity to study jazz and improvisation with saxophonist and educator Larry Panella. Luis worked as a Teaching Assistant for the jazz program, teaching improvisation I and II, and coaching the jazz combos as well. After that, he went to study at the University of New Mexico, where he got his MM in violin performance, under the guidance of Dr. Carmelo de los Santos, also on a full assistantship and scholarship award.
As a classical musician, Luis has worked and played recitals, solos, and performed with innumerous orchestras in different stages in South America, USA, and Italy with orchestras such as Campinas Symphony, São José dos Campos Symphony, Gulfcoast Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Meridian Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Santa Fé Pro-‐ Musica, Baton Rouge Symphony, Las Cruces Symphony, among others. Luis has performed under the direction of great conductors such as Stefano Miceli, Roberto Minczuk, Karl Martin, and world renowned Kurt Masur. Under Masur’s baton, Luis recorded Mahler’s symphony no.1 and Barber’s adagio, in 2005.
This solid traditional education combined with his passion for Brazilian Music and Jazz are making Luis Alberto one of the most engaged and original violinists to develop a creative and unique language that combines popular music and violin playing. He is comfortable playing from Brazilian Choro melodies to intricate bebop tunes, going through fusion, progressive rock and many other styles. Luis researches and explores the use of pick-‐ ups and electric violins, and has a thorough understanding of amplification and the use of effects for string instruments.
His recent ventures as a jazz violinist include attending to the 2010 Christian Howes Creative Strings Workshop as a scholarship recipient, performing at BIA, Brazil (Brasil Instrumental Andradas), and being Improvisation faculty at the FIMP, Brazil (Festival Internacional de Musica nos Pampas), and at the Festival Musica nas Montanhas (Brazil). In April, Luis taught a 3-‐day improvisation-‐for-‐strings workshop series at the University of North Dakota. In the Albuquerque and Santa Fé area he has performed with musicians such as Rahim Alhaj, Dave Grusin, and Marcos Cavalcante.
Luis is currently living in Los Angeles, CA, and has been recording, performing and teaching workshops in the US and Brazil.
JOHN CROOKS is a bassist, composer, and computer music programmer. His compositions expand the range of forms available to improvisers through use of novel computer-based frameworks. Recent works have used the mathematics of harmony to build real-time periodic forms and projected imagery from free improvisation, related simple harmonic progressions and improvisation to plant growth, and used Afro-Cuban rhythms as a basis for algorithmic accompaniment for improvisers.
As a bandleader, he has composed for and recorded with New Power Trio – which toured nationally (performing at top jazz clubs, universities, and concert series) and recorded three albums – and Crooks Band, a quartet that performed Crooks’ music at The Knitting Factory for which he also recorded two albums.
Freelancing as a studio, orchestra, and jazz musician since 1995, Crooks has performed at Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, in the studio with David Foster and at Warner Brothers Studios, and at many prominent performance spaces, concert series, and clubs across the US.
A 2009 UC Irvine ICIT MFA, Crooks is conducting research on long-term patterns in rhythmic microtiming and improvisational processes in music.
As an educator, John has given master classes at Emory University, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California, and other schools. His online course at UC Irvine OpenCourseWare has been nominated for a 2011 OCW ACE award. Every summer he teaches Psychoacoustics, Math, and Creative Computing – an intensive full-time course offered through COSMOS-UC Irvine. In the Music Department, Crooks teaches Musicianship; the department’s required aural and rhythm skills course.
Mr. Lea has been a member and performed with such orchestras as the New World Symphony, Dakah Hiphop Orchestra, and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. He has also performed with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Mann, Donna Summer, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Terrence Howard and many more. Thomas works extensively as a Viola/Violin Teacher for the Harmony Project working with both classical and HipHop/Popular Music Youth Orchestras. Mr. Lea has also worked many summers as a Chamber music coach for the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. Currently, Mr. Lea’s busy professional career includes session work, arranging, production, and extensive work as a freelance violist.
Of course, String Project | Los Angeles would not be possible without the efforts of numerous administrative staff members, volunteers, guest artists, and support vendors who tirelessly give of their time and talent to ensure the success of our organization and its mission.
Special recognition goes to faculty and staff members Carly Brydon, Diana Szekely, and all our special guests artists that help make SPLA an exciting creative string experience.
Thank you. You’re the best!