The Los Angeles Philharmonic has named the latest class of Dudamel Fellows, joining the orchestra and Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel for their 2023–2024 season. The lucky four get personal mentorship from the great man himself, sit in on rehearsals and assist when needed, serve as cover conductors, and participate in the LA Phil’s community outreach and education programs, such as Youth Orchestra Los Angeles.
The other unspoken but very real benefit is just having a leg up in a highly competitive field by association with a prestigious orchestra and one of classical music’s major stars. Since 2009, when the program started, Dudamel Fellows have regularly hit the big time. Past participants include David Afkham, Joshua Weilerstein, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Ben Gernon, Rafael Payare, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Gemma New, Elim Chan, Jonathon Heyward, and Ruth Reinhardt.
The new recruits are coming to Camp Dudamel with plenty of experience already:
Anna Handler returns to the Salzburg Festival this year for Maurice Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and makes debuts with the BBC Philharmonic, the Munich Radio Orchestra, and the Graz Philharmonic. She’s assisted at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. And she’s founded her own ensemble, Enigma Classica, with whom she produced an award-winning interdisciplinary project on music education, using video animations in real time at the Young Artists Festival Bayreuth in August 2022. She also received the Rising Star Award from the European Cultural Foundation Europamusicale. But, you know, she’s only 26.
Ross Jamie Collins is a student of Esa-Pekka Salonen and part of the inaugural class of Salonen Fellows in the Negaunee Conducting Program at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. He debuted at a San Francisco Symphony SoundBox program this past season and assisted on the orchestra’s European tour. This year he will be conductor-in-residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The British-Finnish conductor has also founded his own orchestra, Symphony Orchestra ROSSO.
Carlos Ágreda has conducted major orchestras in his home country, Colombia, including the youth orchestra Filarmónica Joven de Colombia on tour at the Rheingau Musik Festival in Germany. He was a winner at the first International Conducting Competition Rotterdam in 2022 and received a postbaccalaureate diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he also was mentored by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He has appeared with the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, and Opera Philadelphia. He’s also a composer-arranger.
Michelle Di Russo is currently spending a few weeks at Festival Napa Valley as a Joel Revzen Conducting Fellow. The Argentinian-Italian conductor is currently an associate at the North Carolina Symphony and has been a fellow in several prestigious programs She also received a Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Conducting Scholarship at the Cabrillo Music Festival of Contemporary Music. Di Russo co-founded Girls Who Conduct, an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between women and men in the conducting field and encourage younger generations of women and nonbinary conductors to overcome any obstacles presented due to their gender.
The LA Phil also announced that Rodolfo Barráez, who debuted with the orchestra last season, has been appointed assistant conductor for 2023–2024. He’s also been named conductor-in-residence at the Paris Opera and associate conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. The Venezuelan conductor is another product of El Sistema and is leading the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra on an Asian tour this season. And he’s already founded his own mentorship program for young conductors, the Falcón Conducting Workshop.
As usual, the LA Phil is stocked with talent. The only question is what they’ll do with it.