Utah Symphony Appoints Jessica Rivero Altarriba As Assistant Conductor

Altarriba was selected by an audition and interview panel comprised of Utah Symphony musicians and staff members.

By: May. 22, 2024
Utah Symphony Appoints Jessica Rivero Altarriba As Assistant Conductor
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Following a nationwide search, Jessica Rivero Altarriba has been appointed as Assistant Conductor of the Utah Symphony beginning in the 2024-25 season. Altarriba was selected by an audition and interview panel comprised of Utah Symphony musicians and staff members, who recognized her impressive technical expertise, musicianship, and magnetism on the podium, as well as her ability to communicate and connect with audiences. Altarriba was recently announced as a Taki Alsop Fellowship Award Recipient 2024-2026 and is a Freeman Conducting Fellow with Chicago Sinfonietta. She is concluding her 2023-24 season as the New Jersey Symphony's first-ever Colton Conducting Fellow. Born in Cuba, Altarriba's prior experience includes positions in her home country, including serving as guest conductor of the Esteban Salas Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the University of the Arts Band, and the Eastern Symphony Orchestra in Santiago de Cuba. 

Altarriba succeeds Matthew Straw, who will complete a successful year-long tenure as Utah Symphony Associate Conductor at the end of the 2023-24 season and will begin a new position as Assistant Conductor at Opéra national du Rhin located in Strasbourg, France.  

In her role as Assistant Conductor, Altarriba will lead the symphony's education performances for elementary and secondary school students, and will conduct Utah Symphony's Halloween Spooktacular, 64th Annual Salute to Youth concert, select works on a Masterworks program that also includes Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and all of Utah Symphony's Family Concert Series including Here Comes Santa Claus!, Gold Rush: An American Musical Adventure, and Wild Symphony, along with other programs throughout the state of Utah. She will serve as the cover conductor for the orchestra's Masterworks Series, among other artistic responsibilities.  

"Auditions are always a challenge, but from the first notes with the Utah Symphony, I was amazed by the sound the orchestra created, the high level of music making, and the spirit of collaboration,” says Altarriba, who begins her new position in September 2024. “This is an orchestra that makes music together in such a natural way and I couldn't be more thrilled to be part of the fabric of such an extraordinary ensemble and arts-loving community.” 

Altarriba is eager to engage Utahns on and off the stage. She will participate in the Utah Symphony's in-school program “Conductors in the Classroom” (previously known as Adopt-A-School), developing an ongoing and immersive relationship with Cottonwood High School music students during the 2024-25 season and school year. She will visit Cottonwood High School several times during the school year and will be heavily involved with both the band and the orchestra, providing several workshop sessions that include side-by-side instruction, as well as conducting the student musicians during select rehearsals and a final performance. Altarriba's residency with Cottonwood High School will build upon the many other extensive music education programs offered by Utah Symphony | Utah Opera—altogether serving 100,000 students and teachers each year.  

About Jessica Rivera Altarriba 

Latin American conductor JESSICA RIVERO ALTARRIBA is known for her charismatic stage presence, dynamic energy, and communicative skills. Recently announced as a Taki Alsop Fellowship Award Recipient 2024-2026 and named the New Jersey Symphony's first-ever Colton Conducting Fellow for the 2023–24 season, she is also a Freeman Conducting Fellow with Chicago Sinfonietta. Altarriba is concurrently pursuing her Masters in Conducting at the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University. 

Upcoming engagements this season include performances with the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, New Jersey Symphony, Peabody Symphony, NOI Festival Orchestra (Maryland), Ravinia Festival and Colorado Summer Festival. During the 2022-2023 season she worked with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Symphony Orchestra and Lüneburg Symphoniker in Germany as a guest conductor. 

Altarriba's guest engagements include Spain's Malaga Camerata, Virtuous Mediterrani Orchestra, Lüneburg Symphoniker in Germany and professional Symphony Orchestras in Cuba such as Holguín Symphony Orchestra, Camagüey Symphony Orchestra, Youth Symphony E.Salas, Philharmonic of the University of Arts, Chamber Orchestra National School of Art, Eastern Symphony Orchestra, Amadeo Roldán Orchestra, Lyceum Mozartiano Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of University of Arts. She also conducted incidental music with Havana-Martin Camerata for the national premiere of Phantom of the Opera. 

Festival credits include Cuba's Festival a Tempo con Caturla, JazzPlaza, Contemporary Music Festival, Mozart Habana Festival, and the Arts Festival, where she was awarded 1st prize for Young Conductors. 

Born in Cuba, Altarriba is equally vested in both established and well-known repertoire and contemporary compositions. Her devotion to her craft is evident in her prior posts, which include serving as guest conductor of the Esteban Salas Symphony Orchestra in Cuba and Music Director of the University of Arts Band, and the Eastern Symphony Orchestra in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. She received her bachelor's degree in Conducting from the Arts University in Havana in 2018. During her time at the University of Arts, Altarriba gave world premieres of contemporary pieces including 'Calabi'' by Nathalie Hidalgo Reyes, and “The Creation'' by Dania Suarez Piorno—in collaboration with the University 's Composition faculty. Altarriba is the recipient of an Excellence in Music Leadership Fellowship at The Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University, where she is currently pursuing her Masters in Orchestral Conducting under Maestra Marin Alsop

About Utah Symphony | Utah Opera

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera connects Utah communities through great live music and is the flagship arts organization of the Intermountain West. USUO's 87 full-time symphony musicians and five opera Resident Artists perform for more than 400,000 citizens in Utah and the Intermountain region each year, presenting more than 175 symphonic and chamber music performances; week-long runs of four fully produced operas; and music education programs for students and adult learners. The organization's statewide service includes tours featuring outdoor performances against the backdrop of Utah's natural beauty as well as education offerings—most recently, the six-stop Music Elevated Tour in August 2023.

Founded in 1940 and one of just 17 year-round professional orchestras in the U.S., the Utah Symphony performs at downtown Salt Lake City's Maurice Abravanel Hall, at its Deer Valley Music Festival in Park City, in Utah Opera productions, and at venues throughout the state of Utah. The symphony has embarked on seven international tours and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016 in honor of its 75th anniversary season. The orchestra's celebrated recording legacy includes more than 100 recordings; in April 2023, its latest album featuring Messiaen's Des canyons aux étoiles—a work inspired by three scenic Utah locations—was released to great international acclaim. Thierry Fischer, who led the Utah Symphony as Music Director from 2014 to 2023, was named Music Director Emeritus beginning in the 2023-24 season.   

Since 1978, Utah Opera has provided citizens with distinguished and entertaining productions at Salt Lake City's historic Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre—showcasing emerging and established artists, celebrating traditional works, and championing new works and the American operatic tradition. Utah Opera is one of just six opera companies in the U.S. with full production capabilities, including in-house costume design, set building, and props studios; the company currently has costumes for 50 productions and 19 full sets in its inventory. Utah Opera's Resident Artist program is nationally recognized for providing invaluable career-training opportunities for professional singers and collaborative pianists. 

USUO leads in music education, with interactive and immersive education programs that engage and inspire tomorrow's musicians and music-lovers. In the community and in classrooms, these programs serve 130,000 students annually and reach every school district in Utah on a three-year rotation.  

Utah Opera and its Deer Valley Music Festival, visit usuo.org, utahsymphony.org, utahopera.org, and deervalleymusicfestival.org.


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