Solti Foundation U.S. Awards Largest Number Of Career Assistance Awards In Its History

Nine of the 22 award recipients have been recognized with one or more CAAs in the past few seasons, and six awardees have already secured management.

By: May. 31, 2023
Solti Foundation U.S. Awards Largest Number Of Career Assistance Awards In Its History

Providing assistance to young conductors in the early stages of their careers and thereby helping to continue the art form, The Solti Foundation U.S. has selected a record 22 young conductors to receive a 2023 Career Assistance Award (CAA).

Announced today by Board Chair Penny Van Horn and Artistic and Awards Committee Chair Elizabeth Buccheri, the recipients vary in age from 24 to 37, with 13 new awardees. Nine of the 22 award recipients have been recognized with one or more CAAs in the past few seasons, and six awardees have already secured management.

In addition to the concert and operatic repertoire that is the basis of the musical cornerstones that are expected of applicants, there continues to be an expanding focus on community, education, and even technology by the award recipients.

Ms. Van Horn stated, “It is a joy to receive applications from so many young conductors who are so passionate about classical music, who seek to connect audiences to classical music and who continue to do so through creative programming, varied education approaches, masterclasses, lectures, social media, and other projects.

I am pleased to announce and congratulate our 2023 Career Assistance Award recipients: Elias Brown, Austin Chanu, John Gennaro Devlin, Nathaniel Efthimiou, Kevin Fitzgerald, Stefano Flavoni, Taichi Fukumura, Gerald Karni, Nicholas Koo, Geoffrey Loff, William Long, Francoise López-Ferrer, Benjamin Manis, Jacob Niemann, Nico Olarte-Hayes, Tristan Rais-Sherman, Michael Repper, Jacob Schnitzer, Euan Shields, Matthew Straw, William Walker, and Alyssa Wang.

Ms. Buccheri added, “This is an incredible group of awardees! From guesting, to cover conductor roles, to serving in full-time positions, these dynamic young musicians are an exciting part of classical music's future! We look forward to following each and every one of your careers. Congratulations!”

Elias Brown
2022-23 Assistant Conductor for the Korean National Symphony Orchestra, Brown returns to the US after six years abroad as a Salonen Fellow for 2023/24. Brown will serve as Assistant Conductor at the San Francisco Symphony while also working as Assistant Conductor with the Colburn Conservatory Orchestra in the Nagaunee Conducting Program. Brown makes his professional US debut with members of the LA Philharmonic in a performance of Stravinsky's A Soldier 's Tale this fall.
Austin Chanu
Assistant Conductor of the Eastman Philharmonia and Eastman School Symphony Orchestra as he pursues his DMA in orchestral conducting, Chanu was named a Conducting Fellow with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2022. He made his subscription debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in April 2023. Previously Music Director for the Los Angeles Music and Art School, Chanu has appeared as a guest conductor with the Omaha Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
John Gennaro Devlin
Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Devlin has guested with such orchestras as National Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and the American Repertory Ballet. He has been named a finalist for the Music Director position with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
Nathaniel Efthimiou
Currently Assistant Conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, and Assistant Professor of Music at Berklee College of Music, Efthimiou's guest engagements include Southwest Florida Symphony, Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln-Sudbury Civic Orchestra, and BU Opera Institute. He has served as Assistant Conductor with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and cover conductor with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and Portland Symphony Orchestra to name a few.
Kevin Fitzgerald
Associate Conductor of Jacksonville Symphony, and Founder and Music Director, ÆPEX Contemporary Performance, Fitzgerald recently made his debut with the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh and had two return guest conducting appearances with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 2023-24 season, Fitzgerald will make his subscription debut with the Jacksonville Symphony, and will lead a recording of composer Sean Shepherd’s Concerto for Ensemble (2015) with the Grossman Ensemble at the University of Chicago. He previously served as Assistant Conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
Stefano Flavoni
Assistant Conductor for the San Francisco Symphony and the Lakes Area Music Festival, Flavoni also serves as a cover conductor for the New York Philharmonic. He was a conducting fellow with the Miami Music Festival Orchestra and Meitar Ensemble, and served as a cover conductor for Baltimore Symphony and Berkeley Symphony.
Taichi Fukumura
Assistant Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Fukumura is a Music Director Finalist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming engagements include guest conducting the Illinois Symphony Orchestra in October and December 2023, and Fort Worth Symphony in over 60 concerts during the 2023-24 season. He will participate in the Mahler Competition with the Bamberg Symphony in July 2023.
Gerald Karni
A 2023 Verbier Festival Conducting Fellow, Karni also served as Assistant Conductor in to Karina Canellakis for Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and for the New York Philharmonic, all in 2023. Karni was engaged by Alan Gilbert as an Assistant Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2021, he was awarded the silver medal and special mention at the Third International Antál Dorati Conducting Competition in Budapest. He was one of 20 conductors selected to participate in the Eighth International Jorma Panula Conducting Competition in Vaasa, Finland.
Nicholas Koo
Koo has made appearances conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in their regular season and is active in the Chicago area, having guested with the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Southloop Symphony of Chicago. He has served as cover conductor for the Colorado Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. Off the podium, Koo works in collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in artistic media, using his experience as a conductor to coordinate score calls for a number of recording projects. This summer, he will serve as Assistant Conductor at the Peninsula Music Festival.
Geoffrey Loff
Currently a full-time music staff member at the renowned Staatsoper Berlin, Loff previously served as an Assistant Conductor at Houston Grand Opera, as Music Director of HGOco, and was a conducting fellow at the Aspen Conducting Academy. He has served as a cover conductor at the Virginia Arts Festival, as an Assistant Music Director and chorus master at Teatro Nuovo and as Associate Conductor at Des Moines Metro Opera. Guesting engagements include Opera San Jose, Sarasota Opera and Houston Grand Opera.
William Long
William Long serves as Assistant Conductor to the San Francisco Opera beginning this fall 2023, with upcoming engagements including the Opera Ball, Opera in the Park, and Wagner's Lohengrin. Recent highlights include his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican, conducting Washington National Opera’s production of Carmen and the world premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones with Opera Theater Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He recently served as cover conductor with the Metropolitan Opera, London Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera.
Francois López-Ferrer
Resident Conductor of the Académie of the Opéra de Paris and a 2021-22 Los Angeles Dudamel Fellow, López-Ferrer has served as Principal Conductor of Ballet Nacional Chileno and as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile. Upcoming engagements include Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Tucson Symphony, and Pasadena Symphony. Amongst the orchestras with whom he has guested are the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta de Valencia, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Benjamin Manis
Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony for the 2022-23 season, Manis has served as Resident Conductor of Houston Grand Opera, and as Assistant Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Music School Festival and School, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Amongst his upcoming engagements are performances with the San Francisco Opera.
Jacob Niemann
Most recently a Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, Niemann has served as cover conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Nico Orlate-Hayes
Assistant Conductor and Dean of Students of the Perlman Music Program, and a member of the Conducting Faculty at Valissima Institute and Juilliard Pre-College Division, Orlate-Hayes has also served as Music Director of New York’s IconoClassic Opera and Harvard’s Dunster House Opera. He is a winner of the 2015 Vincent C. LaGuardia Conducting Competition. Orlate-Hayes has led the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Sofia Festival Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Antonio Soler, and Salzburg Chamber Soloists as a conductor in numerous international workshops, including the Tanglewood Festival Conducting Seminar.
Tristan Rais-Sherman
A conducting fellow of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Rais-Sherman has guested with Philadelphia Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Interlochen, and New England Conservatory. He has served as cover conductor for National Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Opera, and St. Louis Symphony.
Michael Repper
Music Director of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and the Northern Neck Orchestra of Virginia, Repper's prior posts include Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall and Principal Conductor of Sinfonía por el Perú. Guesting engagements include the orchestras of Baltimore, Lancaster, Colorado Symphony, Sao Paulo, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Jacob Schnitzer
Artistic Director of Density512, a chamber orchestra and new music collective, and Assistant Conductor for The Missouri Symphony, Schnitzer previously served as Assistant Conductor to the late Bramwell Tovey and the Boston University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. He also was Assistant Conductor of the UMKC Conservatory Orchestra and Opera, Artistic Advisor of Silent Films Out Loud, and Music Director of the Engineering Chamber Orchestra. He has collaborated on performances at the SXSW Music Festival, Blanton Museum of Art, Liminal Sound Series, Boston University Messiaen Project, Fast Forward Austin, for Ragnar Kjartanson’s S.S. Hangover at The Contemporary Austin, and Fusebox Festival.
Euan Shields
Winner of the 2023 Siemens Halle International Conducting Competition, Shields will serve as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, and Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra, beginning this fall 2023 for two years. Among the orchestras Shields has conducted are the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, the Hallé Orchestra, and South Denmark Philharmonic. Recently he has worked as the Assistant Conductor and cover conductor for John Adams, Xian Zhang, Roderick Cox, Giancarlo Guerrero, Jeffrey Milarsky, and Jonathon Heyward.
Matthew Straw
2023-24 Assistant Conductor for the Utah Symphony, Straw has served as Associate Conductor for the Des Moines Metro Orchestra, and Assistant Conductor for Missouri Symphony Orchestra and Northern Ohio Youth Orchestras. He guested with the Rochester Philharmonic and has served as cover conductor for Brussels Philharmonic and ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Salzburg Festival).
William Walker
Chief Conductor and Founder, Nova Orchester Wien (NOW!), Walker served as Principal Conductor of the Royal College of Music Oratorio Society, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s Premier Orchestral Institute Master Camerata, and was Assistant Conductor with the English Touring Opera's Oliver Award-winning production of Don Giovanni. He has held conducting fellowships with the Salzburg Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. He is a recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Conducting Scholarship.
Alyssa Wang
Wang is Co-Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor of the Boston Festival Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Boston Ballet, and Music Director of Boston Ballet School's Next Generation Project. She is a recipient of the 2022 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award. Wang enjoys exploring diverse creative paths across several areas, with a focus on audience inclusivity and engagement. Upcoming engagements include serving as a speaker at the 2023 Dallas Women in Classical Music Symposium in November.
About The Solti Foundation U.S
In its third decade of assisting outstanding young U.S. conductors to further develop their talent and careers, The Solti Foundation U.S. is the foremost organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to helping young conductors.
Established in 2000 to honor the memory of the legendary conductor Sir Georg Solti by lending significant support to career-ready young American musicians, in 2004, the Foundation concentrated the focus of its award program to solely assist talented young American conductors early in their professional careers (its original mission was of a more general arts nature). Since then, it has awarded over one million dollars through grants and residencies to American conductors.
The Foundation endeavors to seek out those musicians who have chosen to follow a path similar to that followed by Sir Georg himself. In keeping with the spirit of Sir Georg's active approach to his career, young conductors must apply to be considered for the awards.
While dedicated to identifying and assisting young conductors early on, the Foundation is also concerned with the long-term development of its award recipients, continuing to offer support and maintaining a constant interest in their growth and achievements.
The Foundation currently awards the following grants annually:
The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award.
The largest grant currently given to American conductors in the formative years of their careers, the prestigious $30,000 grant is given annually to a single promising American conductor 38 years of age or younger. The Award, also known as The Solti Fellow, includes door-opening introductions, ongoing professional mentoring, and introductions to two of Chicago's most prestigious performing organizations: Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Recipients include Keitaro Harada, Earl Lee, Gemma New, Aram Demirjian, Yaniv Dinur, Roderick Cox, Christopher Allen, Karina Canellakis, Vladimir Kulenovic, Cristian Macelaru, James Feddeck, Case Scaglione, Eric Nielsen, and Anthony Barrese.
The Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.
The amounts given for the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards vary, but the intent behind them does not.
The Elizabeth Buccheri Opera Residency.
Introduced in the 2014-15 season, the program places former award recipients with a distinguished opera house for one-on-one mentoring and coaching of an opera during the company's professional season. Recipients have worked with numerous stellar opera companies renowned for their artistic excellence across the country, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Florentine Opera Company in Milwaukee, North Carolina Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Opera Delaware.The latest distinguished opera companies to come on board are Opera Southwest and Washington National Opera (in 2023). Conductors cannot apply but are instead selected by the Artistic and Awards Committee.
The Foundation is currently the only American Foundation to grant these kinds of awards each year to young American conductors. Citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are career-ready artists in the field of conducting are eligible to apply.
Applicants for all Solti Foundation U.S. awards must be able to demonstrate that he/she is developing a career as a symphonic / operatic conductor. All applications from The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award are considered for a Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award. Applications are reviewed by an awards committee comprised of a panel of professionals with broad musical and conducting experience. The Foundation reserves the right to withhold a grant in any given year if the Awards Committee does not find suitable applicants in one or more of the various award categories.

For further details on The Solti Foundation U.S., its past awardees, their biographical information, the Foundation's newsletter, as well as guidelines for the 2024 Awards, and a Slideroom application, please visit the Foundation's website at:

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