2월 28, 2024


We invite you to take a moment to get to know LACC’s new Executive Director Susan Miller Kotses. Susan brings decades of experience in arts programming and community engagement  to the role—and she also has a rich background in voice and vocal instruction. Keep reading to learn more about LACC’s exciting new Executive Director!


What were you doing before you joined LACC?

I was the Vice President of education and community engagement at Pacific Symphony in Orange County, based in Irvine and Costa Mesa. In that role I oversaw all of the education and community engagement programs with a staff of up to 15 people and hundreds of volunteers and a large number of teaching artists. The Symphony’s programs serve community members from babies to senior citizens with a strong emphasis on K-12 education and programming for families.


During my time at the Symphony my team and I evolved the way we worked to focus on engaging our community and educational partners in a two-process of that led to exciting and enriching opportunities for co-creation. This led to projects as diverse as multi-cultural festivals and concerts, concerts with a therapeutic focus for children on the spectrum and seniors with dementia, and new ways to teach music and music appreciation to children and teenagers. All of this through the power of partnership!


One of my favorite projects was a family concert series for kids ages 4-11. It features the orchestra but also all kinds of other artistic areas: a ballet for kids  and an opera for kids, as well as introducing children to different art forms including puppetry, visual art, theatre, and dance styles from around the world.  Cross-curricular learning provides so many entry points for children to engage with the arts.


Tell us about your background in music?

I have a bachelors and masters degree in music from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, specifically in vocal performance. I also have a masters in arts management from Carnegie Mellon University.

I started my career as a professional singer—mainly opera—and still teach voice privately, which I’ve been doing now for more than 25 years. I love it! When I was singing professionally I spent seven years living, singing, and teaching at a conservatory in France. In 2007, I decided I wanted to shift my career to more of the arts management side of things and I’ve been doing that ever since!


What led you to accept the position with LACC?

Throughout my career I have focused on creating equitable, accessible, and transformative musical experiences. That’s been my focus. And I believe strongly that’s what LACC is all about—and doing that through vocal music is especially compelling. As a singer, vocal educator, arts leader I believe we all have a voice, and that we all have the ability to sing. We may not yet have the technique needed to sing the way we might like, but we can all learn!  I want to empower people to use their voices. LACC provides rigorous but joyful education so our singers can use their voice to express themselves and rejoice in creating music.

Everyone working at LACC is working towards the same goal and mission: creating amazing experiences for children through vocal music. I’m really excited to join a team that has this unified focus.


What are some of your approaches to music education?

I firmly believe that we all learn in different ways. I believe strongly in an environment that is joyful, supportive, and adapts to each learners’ specific needs. And it’s quite honestly very similar to managing people. Every person is different and needs different things to survive. Learners are exactly the same. Honoring everyone’s individuality and humanity is the key to creating thriving music education programs.


What are some of your goals for the organization?

I think the strategic planning process [taking place this Spring] is a great opportunity for all of LACC’s key stakeholders (board, staff, families, the community we serve) to be aligned around our vision for the future. And I think that vision is still evolving but I think it will include an ever-more inclusive and accessible organization for our community, which includes leveraging the power of our partners and learning from them and our community.


Tell us more about you?

I’m absolutely thrilled to be in this role and to get to know our students and families. I want to be a positive part of their musical and vocal journey.


Do you have a favorite song?

I can’t pick just one! But my favorite opera composers are Mozart and Richard Strauss. As a choral composer, I love Morten Lauridsen.


Anything else you’d like us to know?

I started singing in a children’s chorus when I was five-and-a-half years old. It was a critical part of my musical development and I haven’t stopped singing since!  Mystage debut was in a first grade class production of Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin. I played the title role of Squirrel Nutkin. Both of these early experiences have led to my love of music and the performing arts, and my deep belief in the power of music to shape and transform lives.

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