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Four BIPOC Musicians Announced As Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship's Second Class


The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship is a program designed to increase diversity in American orchestras.

Four BIPOC Musicians Announced As Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship's Second Class

Four top-tier post-graduate BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) musicians have been announced as the second class of The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, a program designed to increase diversity in American orchestras.

Launched in 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. Violist Wilfred Farquharson, violist Jay Julio Laureta, horn player Malik Taylor and Cellist Myles Yeazell will receive a 360-degree view of a career as an orchestral musician with a range of practical, in-the-field experience to elevate musicianship in this rigorous training program, now expanded from two to three years due to the coronavirus pandemic. A key pillar of The Fellowship is the artistic mentoring the Fellows receive from LACO musicians, administrative staff 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. Included are entrepreneurship classes and training to ensure the Fellows develop skills and self-sufficiency to sustain their careers no matter how the music industry changes. 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 Ben Cadwallader and USC Thornton Dean Dr. Robert Cutietta welcomed the new musicians. "A partnership of ICYOLA, LACO and USC Thornton, the Fellowship began two years ago with a number of innovative and unique elements. This Fellowship stands alone in having an institution of color leading the way and in offering pipelines of support in every direction. It is the first to include a youth orchestra, a university, and a professional orchestra, each bringing unparalleled expertise to the program. It is also the first Fellowship designed by a diverse group of thought leaders, among the first fellowship programs on the West Coast, and the first with a multi-directional mentorship approach in which the Fellows receive career development mentorship from professional musicians as well as serve as mentors to a future generation of musicians. Los Angeles, as a robust market for professional musicians, is an ideal location that allows the Fellows to gain access to widely diverse opportunities for career development."

Dickerson adds, "It is a privilege to welcome this new, wonderful crop of musicians into the American orchestra industry through their participation in The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, and to join the cultural diversity that these Fellows bring to the aural diversity of our music. We also affirm our thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its commitment to making the great institutions of our country reflective of America's diversity."

"As we announce an outstanding new group of Fellows, we are especially pleased to continue the work of this important program in partnership with ICYOLA and USC Thornton and to be part of our industry's efforts to diversify American orchestras," says Cadwallader.

According to Robert Cutietta, Dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, "The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship has been such a welcome success for everyone involved. Diversity and equity remain a priority for USC Thornton, and it has been wonderful to watch our first cohort thrive in such a rigorously designed and promising program. We will follow them as they enter the professional music world as our representatives. Now, we turn our focus to welcoming our new cohort to USC."

The Fellowship covers a full-tuition scholarship for USC Thornton School of Music's Graduate Certificate program; housing and utilities; 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, whose generous lead gift over three years totals $775,000. Other Fellowship supporters include AFM Local 47.

Jay Julio Laureta, violist, a first-generation Filipino-American, hails from Uniondale, New York. A prizewinner in national competitions held by the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Music Teachers National Association, and the YoungArts Foundation, as well as a 2019 recipient of the Juilliard Career Grant, Laureta been profiled and featured on Interlochen Public Radio, WKCR and SiriusXM. Laureta has spent recent summers at the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, Manchester Music Festival, Texas Music Festival and Aspen Music Festival as a New Horizons Fellow, the Yellow Barn Young Artists Program, and the Orpheus@Mannes Institute and has received invitations to the Pacific Music Festival, the Spoleto Music Festival, and the Music Academy of the West. Recent orchestral associations include the Symphony of Westchester, Symphony in C, and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra with appearances alongside Joshua Bell at the 25th anniversary gala of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Vijay Iyer in a performance of his own multimedia work Radhe Radhe. As former violist of the Madkoi Quartet, Laureta has collaborated with fashion magazine Uomo Moderno in a performance for the Italian royal family and received mention in a BBC Music article on Groupmuse. With the Madkoi Quartet and as an independent collaborator, Laureta has premiered works by Adam Cuthbért, Josefino Chino Toledo, and Rolf Wallin in North America and beyond. Laureta received a Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School on a full-tuition Susan W. Rose Graduate Fellowship, studying with Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, and Matthew Lipman, and completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the Manhattan School of Music under Karen Ritscher on a full scholarship after graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy at the age of sixteen with its highest musical honor, the Young Artist Award. Laureta studied chamber music with members of the Juilliard, Cavani, and American string quartets, and participated in masterclasses with Jennifer Koh, Kim Kashkashian, and Cynthia Phelps. Laureta began formal musical training at the age of fourteen through the Mannes Preparatory Division and counts among mentors Matthew Lipman, Renee Skerik, and Anne Lanzilotti. Laureta served as a Teaching Fellow at the Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program, substitute viola and chamber music instructor at the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division and as a teaching assistant at Interlochen Arts Camp. For rhythm, Laureta studies poetry.

Wilfred Farquharson, violist, who grew up in Atlanta, GA, always loved hearing the music from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. He loved it so much that when he had the opportunity to join his school orchestra in fifth grade, he leapt at the chance. When the orchestra teacher brought out instruments for Farquharson to choose from, there was one he had never heard of before: the viola. Out of sheer curiosity he chose to play the viola, his first time trying to play anything, and he has been in love with it since. Since beginning the viola, Farquharson has had the opportunity to study with many great artists and influencers. In middle school he studied with Wesley Collins then Lana Avis whom mentored Wilfred until he got into the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Talent Development Program (TDP). Once in TDP, he studied with Jessica Oudin for the following four years through his time in high school. Also while in TDP Farquharson attended the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 2013, Meadowmount School of Music in 2014 and the Bowdoin International Music Festival in 2015 and 2016. At these programs he was mentored by artists such as Carol Rodland, Jeffrey Irvine, Phillip Ying, Amir Eldan, Patricia McCarty, Dr. Kate Lewis, Dr. Daphne Gehrling and Matthew Michelic. After graduating from high school, Farquharson went on to pursue his undergraduate degree at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where he studied privately with Masumi Per Rostad and Stephen Wyrcyzynski. Also while at Jacobs, he had the opportunity to be coached and mentored by the Pacifica Quartet, Ed Gazouleas, Jorja Fleezanis and Anne Epperson. As an incoming fellow in The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, Farquharson will pursue a Graduate Certificate in Music Performance at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. He will be studying with Karen Dreyfus and mentoring the students of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA). In mentoring the students of ICYOLA, he aspires to be a model of excellence for other aspiring musicians of color.

Malik Taylor, horn player, is a young, gifted musician who hails from Los Angeles' Inner City. His music career began at Bret Harte Middle School in South Central Los Angeles, where he was introduced to the horn by his middle school band teacher, Greg Martin. Martin assisted in helping Taylor participate in the UCLA Outreach Program, and at age 13, he was selected for the Los Angeles Unified School District Honor Band and the California All State Honors Band. He received the California State Senate Award, Los Angeles Mayor Award and Maxine Waters Award for music in 2011. After graduating from Bret Harte, Taylor was accepted to attend Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). While there, he performed in the Cal State University of Los Angeles Wind Ensemble and also became a member of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA), where he continues to serve as Principal Horn. Upon completion of LACHSA, Taylor attended Shenandoah University in Winchester, West Virginia for one semester. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he was admitted to the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, from which he graduated in the spring of 2020. While at Bret Harte, Taylor studied with Bob Watt, former Assistant Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first African American French horn hired by a major symphony Orchestra in the United States. Watt became Malik's mentor, and he continues to serve as one of his primary teachers to this day. While at Shenandoah, Taylor studied with Joe Lovinsky, and he is currently in the studio of Steven Becknell, principal horn of the Los Angeles Opera. He has performed with the Pepperdine University Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Opera Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and several prestigious orchestras and ensembles throughout Southern California. According to Taylor, "I'll never forget the first time I blew into a French horn. It sent chills through my body! When I blew into that horn of over twenty-four feet of coiled brass, the sound exploded. It was a, glorious, mellow and beautiful sound and I loved it. I had found a voice to pursue my musical passions. I had no idea how many opportunities mastering this instrument would provide; I just wanted to play the French horn."

Myles Yeazell, cello, recently completed his Bachelor of Music for Cello Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) studying under Alan Rafferty. As he attends the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California as a member of The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, he will earn his Graduate Certificate and will study with LACO Principal Cello Andrew Shulman. Yeazell began cello at the age of 12 and started taking lessons from Alan Rafferty and Sarah Kim in high school with the support of the Ben Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund. As a senior, he placed as a national semifinalist in the 19th Annual Sphinx Competition and was a finalist in the 2015 Cincinnati Young Artists Cello Competition. In his freshman year at CCM he was a finalist in the 2017 Tennessee Collegiate Cello Workshop Competition. Yeazell has played in several masterclasses for cellists such as Melissa Kraut, Merry Peckham, William Grubb, Hans Jensen, Natasha Brofsky and Matt Haimovitz.

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.

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