Rigorous two-year training program, a unique partnership of inner city youth orchestra of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and USC Thornton School of Music, provides unprecedented support to prepare participants to win auditions in professional american orchestras.
Four top-tier post-graduate string musicians from underrepresented communities have been announced as the first class of The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, a program designed to increase diversity in American orchestras. Launched in August 2018, the groundbreaking program was conceived by a partnership of Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA), the country’s largest African-American-majority youth orchestra; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras; and USC Thornton School of Music, one of the country’s top music programs. Violinist Sydney Adedamola, violinist Ayrton Pisco, violist Bradley Parrimore and cellist Juan-Salvador Carrasco will receive a 360-degree view of a career as an orchestral musician in this rigorous two-year training program. A key pillar of The Fellowship is artistic mentoring the Fellows receive from LACO musicians and USC Thornton faculty. In turn, Fellows will actively mentor, teach, and guide young ICYOLA musicians. Among the other opportunities provided are extensive performance and rehearsal experience; compensation, benefits, housing; and unprecedented support to prepare participants to win auditions in professional American orchestras. The Fellowship was developed to address the fact that less than 5% of America’s orchestra workforce is African American, Hispanic or Native American, according to a 2016 report on diversity issued by the League of American Orchestras.
In a joint statement, ICYOLA Founder/Executive Director/Conductor Charles Dickerson, LACO Executive Director Scott Harrison and USC Thornton Dean Dr. Robert Cutietta welcomed the inaugural class. “A partnership of ICYOLA, LACO and USC Thornton, this Fellowship stands alone in having an institution of color leading the way and in offering pipelines of support in every direction. The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship serves as an innovative bridge to promising professional careers for these four exceptional, accomplished and dedicated early-career artists, providing a rigorous educational component, substantial audition support, and connections to LACO musician-mentors, peers at USC, and a future generation of musicians the Fellows will themselves mentor at ICYOLA. We look forward to guiding them through the next two years.”
“The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles is especially pleased to partner with LACO and USC Thornton in this project that we hope will be a game-changer in our industry’s efforts to diversify American orchestras,” adds Dickerson. “We believe our Fellows will impact the orchestra world in huge ways, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to take part in their development.”
Adedamola, Pisco, Parrimore and Carrasco will receive a range of practical, in-the-field experience. As participants in intensive mock auditions run by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, they will learn essential prep tips and best practices. They will perform and rehearse as part of ICYOLA, USC Thornton Symphony and in LACO’s strings sections. Fellows will also perform as a string quartet throughout Los Angeles, especially in underserved communities.
The Fellows experience regular artistic mentoring and coaching from LACO strings principals, including Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, and section musicians, as well as weekly lessons with USC Thornton faculty, including Batjer, violinist Bing Wang, violist Karen Dreyfus and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.
According to Kirshbaum, Thornton’s Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello, “As Chair of the Strings Department at the USC Thornton School of Music and the teacher of Juan-Salvador Carrasco, my colleagues and I at Thornton are pleased to salute and support this exciting new initiative. Through intensive and comprehensive mentoring and diverse performance opportunities, this program will offer a significant boost to the professional prospects of numerous talented and deserving young musicians from underrepresented communities with the laudable and achievable aim of redressing an imbalance that has persisted for far too long within the ranks of our musical institutions.”
The Fellows’ work with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra includes performing chamber music alongside New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill, one of the classical music world’s finest solo, chamber and orchestral musicians, during his week with LACO as the Shaheen and Anil Nanji Guest Artist-in-Residence, which includes community engagement activities and free public performances. They’ll perform as part of LACO’s strings section at two orchestral concerts, one led by violin soloist and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian, with works to include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and the other by LACO’s Music Director Designate Jaime Martín, featuring a West Coast premiere by Bryce Dessner and Mozart’s Requiem with the USC Thornton Chamber Singers.
“From the moment this program began to take flight, I have viewed it as an extraordinary opportunity that serves not only as a unique experience for the Fellows but also for LACO musicians who will mentor young talent with a goal to help expand diversity in American orchestras,” says LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer. “And personally, I am enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring violinists Ayrton and Sydney during the coming two years.”
One of their high-profile, free, public performances as a string quartet takes place at Grand Ave Arts: All Access, during a collaborative, “community partners” performance co-hosted by Grand Performances and LACO, which will also include a performance of ICYOLA musicians during the day.
Fellows will rehearse and perform with ICYOLA throughout the year, helping guide the orchestra’s young musicians, including its season opener at Holy Names Catholic Church and a program of hymns at Holman United Methodist Church, both located in South Los Angeles’s Jefferson Park area, and a holiday concert at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church. Their work with ICYOLA members will include section coaching, individual mentoring and orchestral performance.
Among their appearances at USC Thornton, the fellows will perform in October with Thornton faculty in a recital followed by a panel discussion about diversity & inclusion in today’s orchestras. In 2019, they will perform with the USC Thornton Symphony as part of the annual New Music for Orchestra concert featuring works by Thornton student composers, and at Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring works by Thornton faculty Morten Lauridsen and Frank Ticheli as well as Beethoven and many others.
The Fellows will attend arts administration and professional development training with ICYOLA’s Dickerson, LACO senior management and USC Arts Leadership faculty as well as learn entrepreneurial skills including social media and brand engagement.
Valued at approximately $140,000 per fellow, The Fellowship covers a full-tuition scholarship for USC Thornton School of Music’s Graduate Certificate program; housing and utilities; approximately $25,000 in compensation, including performance fees; fully paid AFM Local 47 union dues; and eligibility for funds to be used for audition travel during and after the program.
The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and AFM Local 47.
Boston native Sydney Adedamola, who began playing the violin at a very young age, progressed through the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra organization while participating in its Intensive Community Program, playing in concerts and mentoring younger students. She attended Milton Academy and New England Conservatory’s preparatory school where she was a member of the premier Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and toured Ireland as a soloist and concertmaster of the Milton Academy Chamber Orchestra. She graduated from USC Thornton School of Music, where she studied with Dr. Lina Bahn. She has been a member of the Young Musician Foundation’s Debut Chamber Orchestra since 2017, has performed in masterclasses taught by such distinguished musicians as Midori Goto, Paul Watkins, Lawrence Dutton, Ian Swensen and Michael Tree, and is an avid believer that classical music is for everyone.
Under the guidance of his musical family in Brasilia, Brazil, Ayrton Pisco began performing professionally at age five and played extensively as a soloist with orchestras of the Brasilia School of Music. At 18, he made his professional solo debut with the Brasilia National Orchestra then became the youngest person to win a chair in the violin section. Pisco attended San Diego State University where he served as concertmaster of the university’s symphony, opera and chamber orchestras as well as a featured soloist with the symphony and chamber orchestras, and he currently studies with San Diego Symphony’s Pei-Chun Tsai. Pisco earned first prize in La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Young Artists Competition and San Diego State University’s Concerto Competition, among others; participated as a fellow in New York String Orchestra Seminar, Sarasota Music Festival, Youth Orchestra of the Americas and Festival Junger Künstler Bayreuth (Germany); and has performed in masterclasses for such renowned artists as Gil Shaham, Ani Kavafian, Miriam Fried, Sidney Harth and others.
Bradley Parrimore, who graduated from Manhattan School of Music, has already received international acclaim as a chamber musician and soloist. The Houston native won top prizes in such competitions as Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition and National YoungArts Foundation, and has been featured on WQXR and HBO broadcasts. He performed on the 2015 recording Bloch, Glinka, Bowen: Viola Works, released by Soundset Recordings and collaborated with esteemed musicians from the Tokyo, Medici, and St. Lawrence string quartets as well as Jon Kimura-Parker and Joshua Bell. He has studied with Ivo-Jan van der Werff, Paul Coletti and Patinka Kopec and performed in masterclasses for Cyrus Forough, Kim Kashkashian, and the Fauré and Jerusalem quartets among others. Parrimore attended Heifetz International Music Institute, Le Domaine Forget Académie Internationale de Musique et Danse, National Arts Centre’s Young Artists Program and was invited to the Bowdoin International Music Festival as the youngest of nine Kaplan Fellows.
Juan-Salvador Carrasco, son of film director Salvador Carrasco and violinist Andrea Sanderson, was born in Mexico City and raised in Los Angeles. He has been playing the cello since he was six years old and studied with Hans Jorgen Jensen, Ronald Leonard and Eleonore Schoenfeld and at USC with Ralph Kirshbaum. A semi-finalist in the national Sphinx Competition, he received Grand Prizes at the Brentwood/Westwood and Pacific Palisades Young Artists Competitions, First Place prizes in the ASTA California State and Los Angeles Violoncello Society Competitions, and the Herbert Zipper award. He has performed the Dvorak, Elgar, Haydn C Major, Saint-Saëns, and Vivaldi Double Cello Concertos with various orchestras in the U.S. and Mexico and played under Placido Domingo, Gustavo Dudamel and Yo-Yo Ma. Carrasco has also participated in the Heifetz International Music Institute Ashkenasi/Kirshbaum Seminar, London Master Classes (England), PyeongChang Music Festival (Korea), Young Artists Program (Canada), Meadowmount School of Music, and Perlman Music Program.
The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) transforms the lives and minds of young people in Inner City Los Angeles through high quality music education and preparing its members for advanced study and success in music and academics. It provides opportunities for Inner City youth to learn and perform music in the some of the world’s leading concert halls. The orchestra is open to talented young people ages 10-35 who play or wish to play an orchestral instrument. The celebrated 131-member ICYOLA Orchestra presents a regular concert season each year that features both the standard orchestral repertoire and contemporary music that resounds within the community that ICYOLA serves.
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), ranks among the world’s top musical ensembles. Beloved by audiences and praised by critics, the Orchestra is known as a champion of contemporary composers, with eight ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as a preeminent interpreter of historical masterworks. Headquartered in the heart of the country’s cultural capital, LACO has been proclaimed “America’s finest chamber orchestra” (Public Radio International), “LA’s most unintimidating chamber music experience” (Los Angeles magazine), “resplendent” (Los Angeles Times), and “one of the world’s great chamber orchestras”(KUSC Classical FM). Performing throughout greater Los Angeles, the Orchestra presents orchestral, Baroque and chamber concerts as well as salon evenings in private spaces and unique experiences that explore classical music’s cutting-edge sounds. Jaime Martín, praised as “a visionary conductor, discerning and meticulous” (Platea Magazine), is LACO’s Music Director Designate and takes the podium as Music Director in the 2019-20 season.
For more than 130 years, the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music has prepared students to excel as performers, composers, industry leaders and educators on stages and in studios around the world. Founded in 1884 and today the oldest continually operating cultural institution in Los Angeles, USC Thornton is internationally recognized as one of the finest conservatories and music schools in the U.S. By blending the rigors of a traditional conservatory-style education with the benefits of a leading research university, USC Thornton offers a curriculum designed to prepare students for successful careers in the 21st century.
Additional information about The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, including how to apply for the 2020-2022 class, is available at http://laorchestrafellowship.org