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Up Close and Personal with Salastina

Published on Mar 16, 2023


Violinists Maia Jasper and Kevin Kumar established nonprofit organization and classical ensemble Salastina in 2010, with the goal of inspiring audiences through music.

“Kevin and I were inspired to create the organization because we had all these big ideas about how we wanted to contribute to the field of Classical Music,” White told Pasadena Now in an interview.

“Our mission is to invite listeners to join with composers, musicians, and artists to celebrate the beauty of the past and present, and to carry it into the future with a spirit of inclusiveness. In plainer English: we exist to let audiences into our creative space.”

White said Salastina’s work carries the spirit and tradition of chamber music –  typically written for a small group of musicians playing in a modest and intimate setting, such as a home into the 21st Century.

Unlike other classical ensembles, Salastina does chamber music for fun. The group is “artist-driven,” and has control on what they play, when they play, where they play and how they play.

“We replace the pretense and grandiosity one typically associates with classical music, with fun, frankness, and warmth.”

“We design our concerts to be emotionally and intellectually enriching, which is a subtle and important distinction from being ‘educational,’” White remarked.

Since its founding, the dynamic group has grown to become a significant contribution to the chamber music scene in Los Angeles (LA).

Salastina, which typically performs in intimate, comfortable venues including the Pasadena Conservatory of Music’s (PCM) Barrett Hall and small locations on the Westside, is a member of Chamber Music Los Angeles, (LA) a collective of eight local chamber music organizations dedicated to making LA the chamber music capital of the world.

Currently, Salastina is composed of musicians, artists, and composers who have been featured on a range of iconic films and television scores.

Its resident artists include Meredith Crawford, principal viola of the Pacific Symphony;  cellist Yoshika Masuda, who is the chair of Strings at Chapman University’s Hall-Musco School of Music; and pianist HyeJin Kim, who teaches at the Colburn School.

Principal Flute of the Pacific Symphony Benjamin Smolen, composer Derrick Skye and host Brian Lauritzen are also among the Resident Artists of the group.

Aside from presenting 5 to 8 pairs of concerts, plus additional special events annually, Salastina also holds musical Happy Hours. Each Happy Hour features musical performances, a peek behind the creative curtain, and personal interaction with musicians and fellow music lovers.

During the early stages of the pandemic — when doors of theaters, symphony halls, and opera houses were locked — the program was held virtually. Currently, Happy Hour now takes place in-person with a live, online broadcast viewable for 3 days from ticket purchase. The events take place at 11 a.m. on weekends.

Aside from Happy Hours, Salastina also provides one-on-one virtual bedside hospital performances for patients, their families, and their medical caregivers at UCLA Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit. It also partners with chefs for music and food pairings.

Salastina has various events lined up for 2023.

This coming March 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. resident artists Meredith and Yoshi will perform in Barrett Hall at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.

On April 8 at 11 a.m Salastina will hold its 112th Happy Hour featuring Leela Dance, a Hindustani Classical Dance troupe. The event will take place at the Pompeian Room at the Doheny Mansion.

On April 28 and 29 at 8:00 p.m., Salastina’s Resident Artists will perform “a stunning musical playlist specifically designed to bring on a healing ugly cry” in “Salastina.calm,” which will also be held at the Barrett Hall.

White urged residents to see their shows so they can enjoy “culture, beauty, socializing, geeking out with others, connecting personally with musicians and artists, and complimentary wine and munchie receptions in beautiful settings.”

Purchase tickets online here. For more information on Salastina, visit:

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