Remembering Guido


The Santa Monica Symphony mourns the loss of Music Director Guido Lamell who passed away July 13, 2021 following a heart attack. He shared his passion for music with the Santa Monica Symphony for 9 years and his passing has left a hole in all of our hearts.

He was a longtime Santa Monica resident and violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. He received his Master’s degree in violin performance and conducting from the University of Michigan and began his career with posts as Associate Concertmaster of the Louisville Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Mexico City Philharmonic. Maestro Lamell joined the LA Phil under the baton of Carlo Maria Giulini in 1979.

Lamell made his local conducting debut in 1988 with the Topanga Philharmonic Orchestra and became music director in 1990. He furthered his conducting studies with Charles Bruch at the Pierre Monteux Conducting School, Leonard Bernstein at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute and with Jorge Mester in his master class in Pasadena.

Mr. Lamell conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s In-School Youth Concerts, the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Orchestra, the Los Angeles Doctors’ Symphony and the La Sierra College Orchestra. On the LA Phil’s 2012 tour to Venezuela, he coached two of the youth orchestras of El Sistema and gave a conducting master class (in Spanish). He provided coaching and conducting support to local schools and youth orchestras through the LA Phil’s School Partnership Program.

In 2000, Mr. Lamell traveled to Kiev to conduct recordings with the National Symphony of Ukraine. The extensive recordings include six concertos with celebrated American violinist, Eugene Fodor, flute concertos with American Flautist Judith von Hopf, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies number 5 and 6.

In June 2011, Mr. Lamell produced and conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in a benefit concert aiding the victims of Japan’s 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Over 250 of LA’s finest musicians volunteered their time and talents to the effort. Keeping with Mr. Lamell’s passion for promoting Los Angeles’ own fine composers and presenting quality new works, the program featured two movements from the Misa Azteca Oratorio by Los Angeles composer Joseph Julian Gonzalez. The concert received enthusiastic critical praise and was awarded second place in the coveted 2012 “The American Prize”.

Lamell took the helm of the Santa Monica Symphony in the fall of 2012 and brought a new and exciting energy to the historic orchestra. Maestro Lamell broadened the repertoire of the Symphony, and presented works both well-known and unsung, classical and popular. His programming for the Symphony included the 2018 American premiere of YouTube sensation Roman Kim’s Violin Concerto and the 2016 Southern California premiere of Waterless MusicA Drought Symphony by American composer Benjamin Boone. Maestro Lamell was embraced by audiences both young and old and will be sorely missed.

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Guido Lamell, his family has requested that donations be made to the Santa Monica Symphony, an organization to which he gave his life and talents for nine years. To donate, please click HERE.

You may also wish to support the following organizations in Guido’s memory: the Santa Monica Arts Parents Association, in support of SMMUSD Music Programs and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


“The last time I saw Guido in person perfectly sums him up as a human being. It was our last symphony rehearsal before the Covid quarantine hit and we were playing Dvorak 7. My mom was in town visiting and since she’s a professional violinist, I asked Guido if she could come play with us during the rehearsal. Not only did he enthusiastically welcome her but he also brought several of his fanciest violins and bows so she could play on them. He welcomed my mom with open arms, generosity, warmth and kindness – that’s the kind of guy Guido was.

I will never forget this. Playing with my mom in that rehearsal – the first time we had played together in a large ensemble since I was in high school – is one of my happiest musical memories. Had I only known this was my last time with Guido in person… A forever bittersweet memory.”

—Daniel Persitz, Santa Monica Symphony Concertmaster and member of the Santa Monica Symphony Board of Directors


“Guido Lamell was one of the first people I got to know when I moved to LA – he allowed me and many others to play some of the most beautiful symphonic repertoire there is, perform with world-class soloists and on stages that are beyond reach for most non-professionals, and most of all, to spend time in his presence to learn, laugh and celebrate life.

He left unexpectedly at a young age but has managed to accomplish a lot. I will always cherish the many moments where his generosity and joyful spirit were so effortless, such as his invitations to play chamber music with him and his LA Phil colleagues, the time he invited me and my mom to a Hollywood Bowl concert as a VIP, or the many times he shared fun stories from his performances all around the world.

He has touched many lives and will be terribly missed.”

—Jakub Hlavka, Santa Monica Symphony violinist and member of the Santa Monica Symphony Board of Directors


“It’s been difficult to find words for everything I’m feeling after having heard of Guido’s passing. He was so full of life and glee…how can someone with such a vibrant spirit be gone? The SMS will not be the same without him. I’ve been playing with Guido for 8 years or so. He had a unique ability to find musicians to fill out each section within the orchestra and help everyone feel welcome and valued. This was something I never took for granted about Guido. I’ve worked with many conductors…not everyone is so warm and delightful!”

—Sara Canning, Santa Monica Symphony’s principal clarinet


“Guido Lamell was such a treasure. I loved the stories he told about each piece. He educated us with his special insights. I will miss him greatly. He was a warm, generous & talented conductor. He infused the music with his love of it & so made it special to his audience.”

—Maiu Bird


“Guido will always be a light in my life: An energy force on stage conducting, with an infectious smile. I wish his wife & family a long life. I’m totally heart-broken.”

—Lynda Jackson


“I adored Guido’s use of words in rehearsals to inspire us to convey a certain ambiance or emotion in our sound. He would shout words like “prayerful”, “nasty”, or my favorite of his most specific and indicative words, “pale”. He made it his joyful mission to get us to achieve what he called “a true pianissimo,” beckoning us to play more softly, then even more softly but still warmly, often quoting one of his favorite maestros saying that “piano” meant “beautiful”, and “pianissimo” meant “even more beautiful”.

He never took the music for granted, always approaching it with the same unbridled curiosity as if it were his first time experiencing it. He never was elitist enough to keep his joyful treasure of the music concealed, breaking the stigma that classical music is for snobs.

His enthusiasm made it challenging for me after late rehearsals when I would have to rush home and get to bed as early as possible for my day job. My brain would be firing and my heart elevated to the point that I never got enough sleep on rehearsal nights. It was worth it.”

—Erica Piccininni Brettler, Santa Monica Symphony violinist


“To all, we can’t take everything for granted, as our last year has given difficulty life and lost. To look across the orchestra and recognize so many musicians that have been in contact for decades, is just so memorable. Thankfully we all were able make music [together].”

—Sam Blood, Santa Monica Symphony violist


“Sitting in the back of the second violin section, sometimes, on a long rest, I would just let myself feel surrounded by all the beautiful sounds coming from all the different orchestra sections.  Making music with Guido was a delight and I learned so much musically from him.”

—Michael Chwe, Santa Monica Symphony violinist


“We didn’t know Guido well but his energy, love of music and musical community was palpable, deeply appreciated and so loved. From his seat in the LA Phil to his house concerts, we loved and welcomed his enthusiasm and joy. We will miss him and grieve with his loved ones. May his memory be for a blessing!”

—Ellen and Stephen Mark


“Although I now live on the East Coast and haven’t been able to hear the Symphony or see Maestro Lamell conduct live in a number of years, I have many treasured memories. Maestro Lamell was a wonderful conductor and, even more importantly, always struck me as a highly sympathetic human being. What a terrible loss.”

—Michael Weiss


“I met Guido about eight or so years ago when he and three other musicians were playing at my friend’s house.

Guido was so down to earth, natural, relational, and so excited to answer my questions which made me more excited to ask him more.  Such a lovely man!

After that, I saw him in the capacity of conductor several times, including one lovely late afternoon at Reed Park.”

—Rose Bostick


“My earliest memories of Guido go back to the Topanga Philharmonic.  Along with many of my SMS friends, we all looked forward to that happy day each summer, full of JOYOUS music making, food and fellowship.  Guido was an inspiration to so many.  I went on to play chamber music with Guido at his home and others’, as well as in SMS and his 2011 Beethoven 9th Benefit concert at Disney Hall.  I feel privileged to have called Guido my friend.  We will all miss you Maestro.”

—Ken Klein, Santa Monica Symphony cellist


“I’m so sorry to hear about Maestro Lamell’s passing. He was always brimming with life.

I would like to share a memory of his inimitable sense of humor.

At one concert at Barnum Hall, he dressed up using props, such as a big red Superman cape, because the orchestra was playing a selection of movie theme songs.

May he be enjoying fabulous music with angels above and make them laugh as well.

My deepest condolences.”

—Rose Kacaoglu


“I was so honored to be a part of Guido’s life and so very sad to learn yesterday, that he left us. More than any person I have ever known, his expression of vitality and goodness, coupled with his vibrantly shining light, were inspiration beyond measure to me.

Years ago when I first spoke with him, he said “yes” to going to Kiev with me to record flute concerti! I was shocked and amazed that he could answer immediately….but that was Guido! He knew his course, stuck to it and accomplished his goals with great kindness.

Guido’s marvelous upward thinking makes me smile again at the memory of his supreme goodness. How wonderful it was for him to have you all supporting him here and “there”.

—Judy Hopf