Announcing a partnership between the Colburn School and Street Symphony

I am thrilled to announce a partnership between the Colburn School and Street Symphony, an organization run by my good friend and violinist, Vijay Gupta. This partnership will solidify and bring into focus work that has been happening on an ad hoc basis for the past several years.

Last week, there were two events, led by Vijay, which officially launched the partnership. First, Colburn faculty members Clive Greensmith, Richard Beene, and Fabio Bidini along with students Aubree Oliverson, Bree Fotheringham, Emma Wernig performed at Pitchess Detention Center, located in northern LA County. Second, on Thursday, students Madeleine Vaillancourt (performing in photo above), Madi Vest, and Ryan Davis performed for an audience of residents at the Weingart Center on Skid Row, which was the first of several performances scheduled. 

In addition to having Vijay speak about Street Symphony with Colburn students and faculty at various times of the year, there are three major touch points that mark this partnership:

  1. Ensemble in residence: Street Symphony 16831181_1276968322392586_559920875461412694_nwill select one ensemble from the Colburn School to be in residence each year. Designed as an experiential learning program, students within the ensemble will perform for normal Street Symphony functions and design their own socially relevant programming. This year’s ensemble in residence, the Sunrise Quartet (pictured on the right), has already performed for People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) and at the Pitchess Detention Center. 
  2. Performance opportunities: During the course of each year, Street Symphony will provide opportunities for members of the Colburn Community to perform at LA County jails and homeless shelters on Skid Row. Most notably, students and faculty will play a role in the annual Messiah Project put on by Street Symphony each year.  
  3. Internship opportunity: Each year, one Colburn student or Alumni will have the opportunity to work deeply with the Street Symphony team to learn about how the organization functions and to strengthen the partnership between the two organizations. The first person to take advantage of this opportunity was Emily Lair, an alum of the Conservatory who worked deeply with Street Symphony for the year, learning about arts administration, non-profit management, and engaging musicians in socially relevant causes.



Partnerships can add an incredible vibrancy to your organization. Here are some things for you to consider as you think about partnering with another organization.

  1. Take your time: It took Vijay and I five years to get to today. What started as a cup of coffee turned into regular discussions about the arts, the state of the field, and ways to engage deeply with a community. Without taking the time to develop trust and, ultimately, friendship, a partnership may have difficulty down the road. Tip: 
  2. Set careful rules of engagement: Make sure you have a list of things you would like to do as a result of any partnership. Tip: Before you solidify any partnership, make certain you write down your hopes for what will come out of the work done together. Follow that up with a sit-down discussion to set guidelines for the partnership. I would also suggest setting a time limit on the partnership of 1 to 3 years with the option of extending if things are going well. 
  3. Start small:  
  4. Find partnerships that engage students in your community: 

Published by Nate Zeisler

Nathaniel Zeisler is passionate about supporting and developing the careers of artists and artistically minded entrepreneurs. Serving as the Director of Community Engagement and Adult Studies at the Colburn School, Zeisler is working to build a program that offers a menu of services and training to world-class artists who seek sustainable careers, through engagement activities in Southern California. In 2004, Nathaniel founded the Envision Chamber Consort; an organization dedicated to presenting music as a form of contemporary communication. Continuing to pursue connections between the business and arts communities, Zeisler co-founded and led Arts Enterprise, an organization that helps students find sustainable careers in their chosen field. Additionally, Dr. Zeisler served as the assistant professor of bassoon and professor of entrepreneurship at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. As a musician, Nate served as the principal bassoonist of the Ann Arbor Symphony and performed as second bassoonist with the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit. Nathaniel earned his doctorate of musical arts and master’s degree in bassoon performance from the University of Michigan and bachelor’s degree in choral and instrumental education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

One thought on “Announcing a partnership between the Colburn School and Street Symphony

  1. At Scottsdale Neighborhood Arts Place (SNAP) in Arizona, we currently have three “incubator partnerships” – we are providing free space for startup entities in south Scottsdale so they can build participant numbers and become permanent SNAP Contracted Renters. Body Rock 9 HipHop group, Community Drum Circle and Piano Fusion (Adult Piano Class). 3 months to 1 year in length, So far, so good!

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