Daphne becoming
a laurel tree



LE reunites for CD recording session

November 19, 2010-

Five of us--Sarah, Ann, Christina, Jenny & Kris--got together to record James Cohn's Grecian Festival.  It was like a family reunion!  Mr. Cohn wrote the work for us, and it will be on a CD of serveral of his chamber pieces that should be released next year.  We'll let you know when it's available.

L to R:  Sarah Holzman, Christina Mok, Jenny Douglass, Krisanthy Desby, Ann Lavin                                                                                      


LE gives US premiere of Alrich's Disturbed Ground in San Jose

February 8, 2010-

We presented Disturbed Ground in an educational program for 4th-6th graders for the City of San Jose's Arts Express program in the beautiful Petit Trianon Theater.  We called our program "Traveling to China" through music, and we taught the children about the process of chamber music, about our instruments, and about how composers can transport us to another place by describing people and places in their music.


The Laurels Take Hong Kong!

November, 2009-

The six of us visited the incredible city of Hong Kong to perform at the Musicarama Festival produced by the Hong Kong Composer's Guild.   The lights, the food, the shopping, the hustle and bustle, and the sheer verticality of it all were simply astounding! 

During our 5-day visit to Hong Kong, we performed 7 pieces, 4 of which were world-premieres and were written expressly for us.  We also performed the Chinese premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Smash.  We met and worked with each of the Hong Kong-based composers prior to the culminating performance to a large and appreciative audience in the superb City Hall Theatre.  We are deeply indebted to composer Alexis Alrich for connecting us with the Musicarama Festival and for writing the exciting and beautiful Disturbed Ground for our group.

L to R:  Ann Lavin, Jenny Douglass, Lori Lack, Alexis Alrich, Krisanthy Desby, Sarah Holzman, Lan-Chee Lam, Sheung-Ping Lai, Pui-Kwan Lam, Aenon Loo, Christina Mok, Victor Chan



LE performs in Los Angeles to promote our November 2009 trip to Hong Kong

January 26, 2009 -

The Laurel Ensemble was the featured performing group at an event celebrating the Chinese New Year at the Los Angeles Music Center.  In attendance was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Honorable Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  We were honored to perform a concert for them and the other 250 guests at the event organized by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. 




LE featured in SF Examiner feature on Music at Meyer

January 12, 2009 -

Artistic director Roslyn Barak is " especially thrilled to be singing with the Laurel Ensemble on April 27..."


LE is invited to perform at Musicarama in Hong Kong next season

January 2009 -

We have accepted an invitation to perform at a prestigious contemporary music festival called 'Musicarama'.   In November 2009, we will travel to Hong Kong and perform three world premieres; one written by San Francisco composer Alexis Alrich, and two other works to be chosen by the Hong Kong Composers Composer's Guild. 


LE produces first CD, Laurel Ensemble Live, a compilation of live concert performances from 2006-2008

December 2008-

We are very proud to release our first recording, featuring movements of works by Stravinsky, Schubert, Brahms, Imbrie, Cohn, Larsen, Martinu, Torke, and Beethoven.

Our CD is available for $10 at all Laurel Ensemble concerts or you may order copies by mail for $15 each, by sending an email to daphne@laurelensemble.com.  Please include your name, address, and the number of copies desired in your email.


Review in San Francisco Classical Voice

November 23, 2008-

"...The four Laurel Ensemble musicians played it (Brahms's Piano Quartet Op. 25) lovingly and knowingly. I suspect this is music they’ve played often, since it seemed so clearly a part of their psyche. They grabbed the audience’s attention by the throat with the opening bars and never let go..."


Laurel Ensemble "Ready for Anything" in San Francisco Classical Voice

September 23, 2008-

Listening Ahead


LE featured in Sigma Alpha Iota Tribute to James Cohn

March 2008 -

The April edition of Sigma Alpha Iota's magazine Pan Pipes featured a celebration of composer James Cohn's 80th birthday.  The Laurel Ensemble was asked to submit a tribute to Mr. Cohn and introduce "A Grecian Festival", a piece that Mr. Cohn has written for us.  We will premiere the piece on our Masterpieces series in April and May 2008. 

The five-movement work is inspired by the myth of Daphne becoming a laurel tree (see our logo).  James Cohn ran with the idea and each movement celebrates an aspect of Grecian history and culture, culminating in Daphne's Flight and Metamorphosis.  We are deeply honored to be the first to perform such a thoughtful, charming piece of music.

            Laurel Ensemble with James Cohn, February 2007


LE Article in the Marin Independent Journal

February 2008 -

Our ensemble was featured in a great article by Jane Lott as a preview to our Serenades concert at Mill Valley's 142 Throckmorton Theatre.

Laurel Ensemble Offers Romantic Serenades for Lovebirds


LE Concert Review in San Francisco Classical Voice

December 2007 -

Michael McDonagh called us "crackerjack and quite glam."

Igor, We Hardly Knew Ye


Our musical vision

The Laurel Ensemble was founded in 2005 to specialize in the rich and varied repertoire written for mixed strings, winds and keyboard during the past four centuries.  Flexibility is a key component of our ensemble; we change our shape to fit the requirements of the music we perform. 

Expanding and contracting our size within a concert -and a season- makes it possible for us to play a very wide range of music.  A lot of wonderful music is rarely heard simply because most chamber groups have a fixed set of instruments.  We are continuing to expand our ensemble to explore diverse repertoire.

We have performed together as friends and colleagues in both chamber music and orchestral settings for many years and it was our shared sense of musical adventure that inspired us to form the Laurel Ensemble.


About "Daphne"  

One of the earliest literary references to a laurel tree is in Greek mythology.  Ovid later set the myth to verse in his Metamorphosis.  In this story, the god Apollo taunts Eros (Cupid), saying bows and arrows are for grown-ups and not for young cherubs.  Offended, Eros plays a trick on Apollo: he shoots arrows at Apollo and the nymph Daphne.  Apollo is struck by an arrow with a golden tip, causing him to fall hopelessly in love with Daphne--but Daphne is pierced with a lead-tipped arrow, which makes Apollo repellant to her.

Daphne runs from Apollo, but he soon catches up.  Just as he reaches out to enfold her in his arms, she cries out to the gods for help in escaping his embrace.  Instantly, she transforms into a laurel tree: her skin turns to bark, her legs and feet become the trunk and roots, and her head and hair turn into the top and leaves.  Apollo touches the tree and feels Daphne's heart beating under the bark.  Not to be denied, he tears a branch from his beloved tree, forms it into a crown and places it on his head, proclaiming that the Laurel will henceforth adorn him, his lyre, and his arrow, and that the laurel crown will be used to represent victory and triumph.

Logo design by Christina Mok & Shu-Yun Lai




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