We had the good fortune of connecting with Skander Ladjimi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Skander, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Initially the French Conservatory was created to bring access to higher music education to students in the Los Angeles area. It quickly expended from Beverly Hills to La Jolla, Pasadena, Los Feliz and Berkeley. Since the implementation of the new online systems, we are no longer limited geographically and now have students from out of state and abroad. It seems there is a real need for for the type of rigor and structure in music education the conservatory is offering.
What should our readers know about your business?
What sets us apart is probably our philosophy. In a world of instant gratification and easy rewards, we took the risk to follow the French tradition in the pursuit of a “no compromise” high performance education with the rigor that it implies. It is definitely not for everybody, but for those who are looking to push themselves and excel, the French Conservatory is the right place for them to grow and reach their potential. What I am the most proud of? The results obtained by our students, Just come to our next public recital, everyone plays well, regardless of their level, students all perform with an incredible level of detail and understanding of their music.
To get to this point was a long journey which started about 11 years ago in the Arab Emirates. I was originally commissioned by the international conservatory of Paris to do research in Arabic musicology with the goal to develop a curriculum for Arabic music and the creation of a conservatory in the Gulf. Fast forward a few years and some health issues forced me to take some time off. It is during that time that I decided to change direction and start the French Conservatory in the Los Angeles area.
Obviously, like any business, it wasn’t easy, it involved a lot of risk taking especially as a foreigner since the immigration process does make everything much more complicated. But with patience and perseverance things started to happen, and now we are here helping hundreds of families with their music education. One very important lesson I have learned, amongst others, is to not listen to people who tell you you can’t do something. When the Conservatory was established in 2013, almost everyone tried to convince me not to do it, that there were already tons of music schools out there, that we would never be able to compete, that our programs are too difficult, that people don’t want to make that kind of efforts etc… Turns out, they were all wrong, people want to grow and they are willing to take the difficult route if it is the best path forward, What do I want people to know about our brand? We have very high expectations, but don’t be afraid, take on the challenge, give your talent the training it deserves, you will come out stronger.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Let’s pretend COVID isn’t a thing anymore, I would definitely recommend the Disney Hall downtown, even you if are not into classical music, the architecture alone is worth checking out, it’s a magical place. While you are there, if you can, try to go to a concert of the LA Philharmonic, you won’t regret it. If you are more into Jazz, the baked potato in Studio city is a really cool place. If you are a pianist and want to try a phenomenal instrument, I would highly recommend checking out Pierre’s Fine Pianos, it is the only Fazioli dealer in the area and those handmade Italian pianos are absolutely exquisite, Pierre is also a really cool and friendly guy. One last one in the neighborhood of the conservatory, the Peninsula Hotel is one of my favorite spots, I love the ambiance and the architecture inside, the service is great and they have a wonderful chef. For the ladies, if you are looking for some fashionable items to wear before going to the Disney hall or for diner at the Peninsula, Lola Studio in Beverly Hills on South Santa Monica Blvd. is a little French boutique that offers unique collections you would normally only be able to find in Paris. Great spot for feminine fashion.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
That is a tough one, there are so many people involved here, I will focus on those few without whom none of it would have been possible starting with Colette Lanssens, Corinne Fischer and the team at the International Conservatory of Paris for their tough training and unconditional support, the Beverly Hills community for very quickly welcoming and integrating us in the community, the parents of students for trusting us with their children’s education and the students for their dedication to the craft and hard work as well as the team of professors who started this adventure with special thanks to Anne-Lise Longuemare, Ambroise Aubrun, Boryana Popova & John Jihanyan.