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Jennifer Biggs Walton and LA Curbside Entertainment – “La Femme Nikita” as a Classical Concert Musician

During this time of lockdown and while we are so isolated from each other and missing regular opportunities to see live theatre and performances, a heroine of the arts has thankfully created a respite and a refuge….LA Curbside Entertainment.

Jennifer Biggs Walton, owner of the renowned, Instrumental casting agnecy, the entertainment industry’s first stop for the very best of instrumental and classical performers, invented this wonderful new genre while glumly sitting at her kitchen table one morning during the lockdown….yearning to perform.  Jennifer and a select few of her best and bravest performers, set up in front yards and driveways across the city and perform for the neighborhood.  They play classical, rock, pop and just about anything you can think of to grateful and socially distanced LAists, their children, their pets and whoever is lucky enough to pass by.  Jennifer has been performing all her life. She began playing the violin and piano at age three, touring extensively throughout Europe, South America and Asia with her family, the John Biggs Consort, from ages 9-15. This ensemble performed music from the Renaissance, Baroque, classical and contemporary eras. It was comprised of her mother, Grammy Award-winning vocalist and arranger, Salli Terri, as well her father, the composer John Biggs, and her younger sister, Adrienne Biggs. She has continued the musical tradition as both of her sons play instruments, her eldest, Nicholas Walton, is an Army officer and plays the violin for enjoyment, and youngest son, Oliver Walton, is a successful musician and artist whose work has appeared in film and television.  Jennifer has managed to take her talent and skill as a musician and blend it successfully as a recording artist in numerous film, television, commercials and, of course, live concert performances in several symphonies as well as a talent agent for musicians.

We caught up with this “La Femme Nikita,” Jennifer, to find out the future of music in this time of the pandemic.

YR

What an amazing childhood that must have been! And that I have the honor of speaking with you, begs the question: who is Jennifer Biggs Walton and what conversation would we have on the playground?

JW

I’m an entrepreneur, philanthropist, …I like to play music, be outdoors and be with people, I play violin and piano. I grew up in a very natural setting.

YR

You grew up in a very, natural setting, what does that mean?

JW

We always had music playing, we always sang together and played instruments together in our spare time. So, we would sit around the table actually be singing four-part Madrigals. I thought that was normal, you know, I thought every kid went home and practiced, laughs.

YR

You toured with the John Biggs Family consort, you had your sister with you, you were about 13 when you stopped, what was that like?

JW

Here’s my joke about that, we’d come back after summer vacations to school and  when the teachers would go around the classroom and ask what you did over the summer. I would say I was on 16 different planes touring Brazil, Bolivia Argentina and Chile. I was glad I had my sister, my confidante, someone in my age group that I could share that experience with because otherwise it would just be weird.  It was extraordinary. As I go through life I’m realizing that how, how unique that really was! Like I almost never met anybody that had that kind of training, or worldly experience like that at such an early age and I am truly grateful for that.

YR

What is it explicitly that makes you successful at that (being a working musician)?

JW

I would say it’s all about timing, because when people reach out to me to book musicians, at www.instrumentalcasting.com (a talent agency Jennifer created to contract musicians for film, television, commercials and live concerts), I literally become La Femme Nikita because I drop what I’m doing and assemble my rifle and then I sharpshoot. I’m always taking the shot, I literally would be like gardening and a casting director calls and I become that ‘person’ or the talent manager for that casting director. I give 100% focus to that one job. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from completing a task.

YR

Tell me what you missed about not performing due to the pandemic.

JW

I was sitting in the kitchen, just staring at the wall, on May 14th,  this is two months into COVID…after the first few weeks of initial shock and a terrible depression that all entertainers faced and a myriad of other professions. I was stating to think ok, this is not going away anytime soon, like even years… I started to think what if I wanted to order some live entertainment? To show up on my front porch and sing me a little Christmas carol? And then I thought why can’t I?  So, I went through the steps bought the domain www.LACurbsideEntertainment.com where we will be performing live outdoors under a tent and all performances are Contactless, COVID-Compliant and Captivating! I sure am glad we did because we’ve had eight jobs every month since.

YR

Isn’t this what you do anyway? it’s just a different venue: it’s outside. It’s how its delivered You’re changing the cultural landscape of music.

JW

Thank you, we’re making it more accessible to people. Once people realized how much they miss live entertainment, until they cannot go to a bar to hear a band, or down to the beach to see live musicians, so that’s what I’m going for basically.

YR

Do you think this this the future landscape of (live) music?

JW

I do, I do think for the next year and year and a half. People have asked if you’re going to continue doing this? I said yes.

YR

You recently played Microsoft Theater Live, with Shahkar Bineshpajooh, Superstar Persian musician, poet, composer and singer an amazing event. How was that?

JW

Contracting a 100-piece orchestra and 70-member choir for Shahkar Bineshpajooh was the highlight of my career!

YR

Such diversity and you’ve played and recorded many television shows and movies, is there a particular experience that you’d like to share?

JW

The hardest score I ever played on was Mark Shaiman’s (composer) on “South Park: Thicker, Longer and Uncut, the Movie.” (laughs)

YR

Wow! Really?!

JW

(laughs)  And that was the hardest score I ever played in my life (gestures and sings the complex violin part) Duh-da-duh, te-duh, dah, teh, da-da-duh…(laughs) when your’e recording they call out cues and they have names for each cue between takes, so we all start snickering and we named one of them, “Finding the G Spot.” (laughs)

YR

When I asked you about the most fun you’ve had, you said recording, tell me about that?

JW

Recording, is my number one something to do as far as work because first of all the caliber of musicians is so high and you’re sitting in a room with people who just pretty much ‘kick a— on their instruments and have, you know, a really good work ethic…. You don’t even have to worry about who you’re working with or who your’e performing with because you know that’s not going to be an issue and usually in the recording studio sound and equipment is so good at such a high level so you don’t even really need to struggle, certainly not like playing outdoors where you have to worry if the bow is going to fly off the violin! (laughs)

YR

Jennifer, you’re at the top of your game!

You can find out more about Jennifer Biggs Walton at www.instrumentalcasting.com  and to arrange for one of Jennifer’s fabulous live concerts during this pandemic, you can go to www.LACurbsideEntertainment.com

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceroshttps://www.imdb.com/name/nm4303729/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.