Alejandro Lombo, Eder Rivera, Nicolas Valencia, and Matthew Peralta
Alejandro Lombo, Eder Rivera, Nicolas Valencia, and Matthew Peralta are the 2023–2025 Los Angeles Orchestra Fellows

Diversifying America’s orchestras is a widely shared goal but not an easy one to achieve. Emerging musicians of color may be at the same skill level as their white counterparts, but they often don’t have access to the sort of formal and informal connections that smooth one’s entry into the professional world.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has been addressing this issue since 2017, when it established the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship. The two-year training program includes several weeks of work with LACO, including rehearsals and performances, as well as a recital, mock auditions, and teaching opportunities provided in conjunction with the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.

Four young players have been chosen for the 2023–2025 cohort of fellows: flutist Alejandro Lombo, a Florida native who has earned degrees from The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music; oboist Eder Rivera, a native of Honduras who earned his master’s degree at the Colburn Conservatory; Columbian American violist Nicolas Valencia, who is pursuing his master’s degree at the USC Thornton School of Music; and double bassist Matthew Peralta, a New York native who earned his master’s degree from the Yale School of Music. Peralta is a second-year fellow with Florida’s New World Symphony.

Ben Cadwallader
Ben Cadwallader | Credit: Lily Mellor

Ben Cadwallader, executive director of LACO, called the four “top-notch musicians at the beginning of promising careers.

“We want to help ensure they have the tools needed to be successful in their endeavors,” he said. “Having quality real-world experience with a professional orchestra can make a critical difference in a musician’s career path.”

This is the second big step for Lombo this year. This summer, while attending the Music Academy in Santa Barbara, he was one of the winners of the Keston Music Academy Exchange auditions. As a result, he has been spending the end of November and the first days of December in London, working alongside musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra.

He said the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship “provides me the perfect balance between mentorship and professional experience. More often than not it is so difficult to continue studies while pursuing professional work, and I am grateful that LACO gives me that flexibility while working with world-class musicians.”

The other incoming fellows expressed similar sentiments.

 “It has been almost 10 years since I moved from Honduras to the United States of America as an international student in the pursuit of excellence,” said Rivera. “Becoming a fellow member of such a prestigious orchestra marks a milestone of hard work, countless sleepless nights, patience, and consistent perseverance.

“I am extremely grateful to be welcomed with open arms and to be part of the change for something great.”

“Being part of the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship is an absolute honor, and I am beyond excited to begin my duties as a performer and teacher,” said Peralta. “The opportunities afforded to me by the LACO fellowship are crucial to my growth as a musician.”

“The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship means a tremendous amount to me,” added Valencia. “It represents a crucial step in my artistic journey, providing a platform to learn from experienced musicians and contribute to the vibrant musical community in Los Angeles.”

Aside from their professional opportunities, the fellows will receive a minimum of $5,500 in compensation during each of their two years.