Alumni Corner: Dr. Jonathan V. Llamas, DNP, PMHNP-BC

June 26, 2024

This month we’re catching up with Dr. Jonathan V. Llamas (2005). Jonathan sang with LACC from 1999-2005 and was a member of both Intermediate Choir and Concert Choir (his tenure pre-dates such ensembles as Chorale and Young Men’s Ensemble). Jonathan still lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

Do you have any fond memories of song in your early life?
I have many fond memories when I think back on my time with LACC and I can genuinely say that I truly enjoyed learning the various repertoire and vocal arrangements that were taught to me during my tenure as an LACC chorister. Under the artistic excellence of Anne Tomlinson, Mandy Brigham, Joan Reeve Owens, Twyla Meyer, and all the amazing conductors and musicians that I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with, I have a greater appreciation for the gift of song and how music can be a unifying force for good in this world. 

How did you first get involved with LACC?
I first got involved with LACC through my parents who were initially looking to enroll me in a children’s chorus to help foster my love for music. During my father’s intrepid search, he reached out to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion inquiring if they had any recommendations for possible children’s choruses that were currently accepting applications. Thankfully, they informed him about LACC and the rest was history.

What is a favorite memory, tour, or concert experience with LACC?
I’ve been extremely fortunate and blessed to have had so many wonderful memories throughout my time with LACC but one of the most unforgettable memories was when we traveled to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil during the summer of 2004. I vividly remember after every concert, we would have hundreds of people cheering for us outside our hotel and wanting to take photos with us. It was overwhelming to see the amount of love and support that the country had for us and it was such an amazing opportunity to not only sing for the locals but also experience the unique Brazilian culture and soak in their love for music.

How did LACC help prepare you for your current career as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?
LACC taught me the importance of fostering patience, empathy, and kindness which are all skills that I still value to this day. As a psychiatric clinician, I truly believe in the importance of culturally inclusive care and I feel that LACC helped instill these important values in me early on. The beauty of LACC is that it introduces you to so many different people from all various walks of life and through that introduction, you develop incredible friendships and bonds that can last a lifetime. I’m extremely thankful to LACC for being a musical safe haven not only for me and my siblings (Jonathan’s younger siblings Mariel, Matt, and Kriselle are also LACC alumni) but for many others searching for a community who can cultivate and enrich their love for music.

Are You Still Singing? What Else Are You Up to Now? 
Although I primarily work as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner these days, I still enjoy singing, composing, and writing my own music from time to time. As a singer/songwriter, I go by “Jon Raphael” and I have all my original music and EP currently available on all streaming platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music. My youngest sister Kriselle, is also a frequent collaborator of mine. Make sure to follow us on Instagram (@drjonathanvllamas and @krisellevllamas) for more updates!

Do you have any advice for current LACC choristers?
My biggest piece of advice for current LACC choristers is to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities that LACC has to offer and to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s performing at the LA Opera, Hollywood Bowl, or traveling on tour, your time with LACC will largely be determined by how much you decide to put into it. I cannot thank my parents enough for all the sacrifices that they have made to ensure that my siblings and I were able to experience so many life-changing opportunities and I truly hope that every chorister who takes part in LACC will also be able to make wonderful memories that will truly last a lifetime.

What’s your favorite song?
My favorite song to sing at LACC was “It Don’t Mean a Thing” because of how fun and exciting it was to perform in concert. It gave us the opportunity as children to not only be ourselves but to also have the vocal freedom to incorporate jazz influence while still honoring choral excellence. Songs like this also cultivated my love for jazz and R&B music which continue to be strong influences in the music that I compose today.

How has your experience as a performer prepared you for where you are now? 
My experience as a performer has prepared me in more ways than one because it taught me the importance of discipline and preparation and how crucial it is in determining how successful the overall outcome will be. When you’re younger, you don’t fully grasp just how important rehearsals can be, but as you get older, you understand that the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. I will forever be grateful to everyone in LACC especially Anne Tomlinson, Mandy Brigham, Joan Reeve Owens, and Twyla Meyer for embodying this ideal and for teaching me that spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation. 

What does LACC mean to you?
When I think about what LACC means to me, I simply think about family. LACC has been a home away from home for me and so many others and I’m so happy to be a part of an ever-growing family that continues to be committed to sharing the transformative power of music for upcoming generations to come. Thank you LACC for playing such an instrumental role in my life and I wish you all nothing but continued success for many more years to come.