After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, choral music returns to the Colburn School under the leadership of singer, composer, and conductor Adrian Dunn, who has been appointed Director of Choral Programs, Community School of Performing Arts. Dunn will direct the Community School’s junior and youth choral ensembles, and the Colburn Concert Choir, and work with students ages 5 – 18 in musicianship, vocal technique and ensemble skills.
Colburn School’s Community School of Performing Arts also welcomes LA Phil bassoonist Evan Kuhlmann, who joins Richard Beene on bassoon faculty. Beene will continue his tenure on bassoon faculty in the School’s Music Academy and Conservatory of Music as well.
Dunn will conduct Colburn’s Community School Winter Choral Concert on December 10, 2022 at Zipper Hall, which will feature an Open Sing where the audience can join the Colburn Concert Choir in a sing-along performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. The Open Sing is free and open to singers ages 13 and above.
Dunn will also lead the annual Collaboration Concert, featuring young performers in the school’s orchestra, voice, and dance programs, on April 2, 2023 at Pasadena’s Alex Theatre; and the Community School Spring Choral Concert on May 6, 2023 at Zipper Hall.
“Colburn’s Community School welcomes students at all levels of ability who wish to enrich their musical journey at any stage of development,” said Susan Cook, Dean, Colburn’s Community School of Performing Arts. “It’s often where the spark is lit that leads to lifelong artistic pursuits. Adrian Dunn and Evan Kuhlmann are inspirational educators and artists, and they will both be a guiding presence for our students. We are truly fortunate to welcome them to the Colburn School community.”
“Colburn School’s strong commitment to access and excellence aligns perfectly with my belief that music has the power to change and transform our lived experiences,” said Dunn. “I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to join the Community School school as Choral Director, and encourage students in their artistic and personal development through a learning experience filled with joy and courage.”
“I am honored to join the bassoon faculty at Colburn’s Community of School of Performing Arts, and be a part of the school’s tradition of excellence, preparing the next generation of musicians for the future by encouraging self expression and artistry through music.” said Kuhlmann.
Adrian Dunn is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer who is classically trained with decades of experience in choral music, orchestra, church music, and theater performances across the United States and internationally. Dunn is a skilled teacher and experienced arts administrator who blends social justice, music and the arts to drive social change. Dunn is the founder and conductor of the RIZE Orchestra, an all-Black, Chicago-based 20-person professional orchestra, and the Adrian Dunn Singers, a group of 12 professional singers of diverse musical backgrounds based in Chicago. Dunn previously held the positions of Voice Teacher and Advisor for Minority Student Success at Roosevelt University – Chicago College of Performing Arts; Guest Teaching Artist and Composer at University of Oregon School of Music and Dance – Chamber Singers; Director of Summer Choruses and Faculty Member at the University of Wisconsin Madison – Summer Music Intensive; Guest Composer, Conductor, Teaching Artist at the University of Chicago Department of Music, and more. Dunn is currently writing his first full length opera, The 42 Project, on the life of Black Major League Baseball star Jackie Robinson. In 2021 Mr. Dunn won the American Prize in Composition for “Requiem” from The Mass for the Unarmed Child. Dunn is also a MacArthur grant recipient for his original work Hopera: A Hip Hop Opera. He is the founder of the Black Music Matters advocacy movement organization and the founder of Black Music Experience TV, a streaming service dedicated to the contributions of Black Musicians in America. Please click here for Dunn’s complete bio.
To learn more, please visit the Colburn School website for a Q&A with Dunn.
Dunn’s recent and upcoming album releases include Emancipation: Act 1, a project of jazz and gospel choral work for orchestra and chorus featuring the Adrian Dunn Singers and Rize Orchestra, currently available on all streaming platforms; and Emancipation: Act 2, featuring acappella spirituals and original compositions for chorus and orchestra, to be released on Friday, February 3, 2023. Dunn will also host an album release concert for Emancipation: Act 2 and Black History Month celebration at Colburn School’s Zipper Hall on Saturday, February 4, 2023. Emancipation: Act 2 will be broadcast on WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station, in February 2023 and will be available on all streaming platforms.
Dunn’s teaching philosophy is rooted in his belief that every student deserves to see themselves in the music that they sing or play. He believes that learning music must be informed by the cultural context the music comes from, and takes time to explore the cultural roots of every piece, breaking down the social, emotional, political meaning of a work. Dunn believes that music is always doing something to us, it is never passive, and this frames how and why he teaches music. “Music should make us feel something. Social justice and change can only happen when we endeavor to fully immerse ourselves in an honest musical process,” says Dunn.
Evan Kuhlmann was appointed contrabassoon of the Los Angeles Philharmonic by Gustavo Dudamel in 2018, shortly after completing his twelfth season as Assistant Principal Bassoon and Contrabassoon of the Oregon Symphony. A native Seattleite, he is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and the Juilliard School; where he earned a B.M. in Bassoon Performance with Scholastic Distinction as a student of Frank Morelli, a Graduate Diploma in Music Composition as a student of Robert Beaser, and the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. Kuhlmann also studied bassoon with Francine Peterson, Barrick Stees, and Eric Stomberg; and composition with Samuel Jones, Stanley Wolfe, and Philip Lasser. He has performed with numerous orchestras internationally including the St. Louis, San Diego, and Seattle Symphonies, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, All-Star Orchestra, Grant Park Orchestra, and Orchestra of the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy. He has appeared as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, the Marrowstone Festival Orchestra, and alongside Jethro Tull with the Oregon Symphony. As Principal Bassoon of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, he performed numerous premieres, including works of John Adams, Jennifer Higdon, and George Walker.
A dedicated teacher, Kuhlmann has served on the faculty of Portland State University and the Marrowstone Music Festival. He has also coached the bassoonists of the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia, Portland Youth Philharmonic, and Metropolitan Youth Symphony. Kuhlmann’s primary goal as an educator is to remove barriers to artistic expression. In his words, “to impart from my knowledge and experience so the student should be able to most effectively use the bassoon as a tool to express themselves through music.” His holistic approach to achieving this goal involves introducing the fundamentals of bassoon technique, developing personal artistic expression through exposure to a diverse array of artists and repertoire, and preparing students to become self-sufficient artists by teaching and cultivating mindful practice. He maintains a private teaching studio and is fortunate to also work with students through programs such as Bassoons Without Borders, BRAVO Youth Orchestras, the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia, Marrowstone Music Festival, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Woodwinds @ Wallowa Lake, and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA).