James Arkatov, the Russian-born cellist who founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1968 to fill what he saw as a void in the city’s cultural music scene, has died two months shy of his 99th birthday, the orchestra announced Wednesday.
According to LACO, Arkatov died Saturday. No other details were released. Orchestra officials said they are planning a public celebration of his life in the fall.
“It will be a strange feeling to look across the audience at Royce Hall and no longer see Jim Arkatov basking in the music,” LACO Executive Director Scott Harrison said in a statement. “From his original seats at dining room tables drawing up plans for LACO and on stage in the principal cello chair, to his current subscription seat in row P, Jim has always been an integral part of LACO, never wavering in his belief in the unique value the orchestra brings to the Los Angeles musical community and the classical music world.”
Born in Russia, Arkatov’s family moved to San Francisco when he was 5 years old. He took up the cello at age 9 and formed a string quartet with fellow Russian immigrant violinist Isaac Stern.
He later moved to Los Angeles and became the principal cellist with the NBC Orchestra, performing on film scores and working with composers including Bernard Herrmann and Elmer Bernstein. According to LACO, his work can be heard on works by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Prince.
Arkatov said LACO was born out of a desire to create a musical company to perform a wider range of orchestral and chamber music, saying there was no such organization in Los Angeles at the time.
Arkatov is survived by his wife Salome, children Janice and Alan and grandchildren Daniel, Jacob and Michael. His family requested that well-wishers contribute to LACO’s Arkatov Memorial Fund to support the orchestra’s musicians.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: