February 1, 2016, 12:36 PM · World-renowned pianist John Perry, considered “the dean of American piano teachers,” will be among the featured artists at a February 21 benefit at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center, to help raise money for the Los Angeles Children’s Music Foundation youth projects. This gala will help the Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra (LACO) perform at an invitation-only festival at Carnegie Hall in Spring of 2017; it will also help fund the new Pascale Camerata Orchestra (PCO).

PCO Is a professional-level children’s chamber orchestra conducted by Anton Smirnoff. Players are advanced middle and high school students. Qualified high school students receive a scholarship, plus a stipend for rehearsals and performances. The orchestra has a busy schedule for 2016, including a benefit concert in Three Rivers, California, and outreach performances.

All 10 members of the Camerata started studying at the Pascale Music Institute (PMI) in South Pasadena when they were 4 and 5 years old. “These kids have been together for over a dozen years, performing in numerous concerts and festivals” notes PMI director Susan Pascale. “Their close friendship comes through in their playing. It’s thrilling to hear.”
“PCO offers our advanced students the highest level musical instruction; and it is invaluable in preparing them for college and the real world,” Pascale adds. “They experience first hand what it’s like to be a professional musician.”
Looking toward college, Pascale says, some PCO students aspire to make music their career; some plan to enter college with a double major in music and an academic subject. One student, for example, plans to apply to The Juilliard School/Columbia University joint program.

The sixty LACO children, ages 7-13, are coming off an exciting 2015 season, during which they performed on the nationally-televised ‘America’s Got Talent’ program. They were flown to New York twice for filming. “Even though we didn’t win the million dollar prize, we showed the world that young children can perform music at a very high level. They also danced while they played, which is almost unprecedented for an orchestra!” notes Pascale.
The February 21 gala in Arcadia will provide an opportunity to see the orchestra live. John Perry will perform solos, as will his pianist wife, Mina Perry. The two are artistic directors of the John Perry Academy of Music in Northridge, California.
The evening lineup also includes Anton Smirnoff, chair of the Pascale Music Institute’s piano and chamber music departments. Smirnoff, a highly-regarded young concert pianist, holds advanced degrees from the Colburn School of Music and Yale University.
“Anton is bringing together two departments, strings and piano,” says Pascale. “Piano students normally study and perform alone, but not in our program. PMI piano students are encouraged to join our chamber music classes and perform with the string players in trios and quartets,” Pascale explains. PMI has brought in a South Pasadena composer, George N. Gianopoulos  to help build a library of arrangements suitable for young piano and strings players.
PMI faculty Marcus Rose, viola; Azat Fishyan, violin; Vardan Gasparyan, cello, will perform, as will jazz saxophonist Zak Solotoff playing “Lightly Latin,” with LACO. 
PMI offers instruction in a variety of instruments, including strings, piano, guitar, and wind. The school recently opened a new studio at 1401 Fremont Street, Suite 104, in the Mission Commons Building.
To buy tickets for the gala on February 21 at 4:30 pm, at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center at 188 Campus Drive in Arcadia, go to, or call 626-404-4611. Donations to the Foundation are also welcomed.


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