Music Academy of the West Announces 2019 Keston MAX Fellows with the London Symphony Orchestra


Instrumental Fellows to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2019, while Competition Winners embark on recital tours in New York, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and London

Santa Barbara, CA — Twelve outstanding Music Academy of the West musicians have been selected by audition to travel to London for ten days of intensive training with the London Symphony Orchestra [LSO] and its Music Director Sir Simon Rattle, as part of the inaugural Linda and Michael Keston Music Academy of the West Exchange (Keston MAX) with the LSO.

The Music Academy of the West also announces the winners of its highly competitive, annual Marilyn Horne Song Competition and second annual Solo Piano Competition in partnership with Steinway & Sons. These competition winners will perform on a multicity tour, which as part of the Keston MAX Exchange Program will include a London performance presented at LSO St. Luke’s, a beautifully restored 18th century church, home to LSO Discovery, the London Symphony Orchestra’s music education and community program on Friday, January 11, 2019.

The lead sponsors of the London Symphony Orchestra partnership are Linda and Michael Keston and Mary Lynn and Warren Staley. Additional support has been provided in remembrance of Léni Fé Bland.

About the 2019 Keston MAX Instrumental Fellowship

The first-ever Keston MAX Fellows were selected by audition from 2018 Music Academy Instrumental Fellows, all full-scholarship participants. They are: Agnes Tse, violin; Alan Snow, violin; Stephanie Anne Block, viola; David Bender, cello; Nina Bernat, double bass; Joe Desotelle, percussion; William Cedeño, flute; Taylor Isberg, clarinet; Quinn Delaney, bassoon; William Loveless, horn; Francis Lawrence LaPorte, trumpet; and Lisa Stoneham, bass trombone.

These twelve Music Academy of the West fellows will travel to London in a ten-day intensive program, and will experience a week in the life of an LSO musician, taking part in rehearsals, performances, and mock auditions; receiving lessons; and performing chamber music with players, giving them invaluable insight into the life of an orchestral musician. They will also take part in education projects and learn about the governance of the orchestra, giving them unique experience of an orchestral musician’s experiences beyond music-making. This is part of a brand new partnership between the London Symphony Orchestra and the Music Academy of the West which began this summer with the Academy’s annual Summer School and Festival in Santa Barbara.

About the Winners

Violin fellow Agnes Tse, 21, born in Hong Kong, is a graduate student at The Juilliard School, where she studies with Lewis Kaplan and Joel Smirnoff. Ms. Tse is the recipient of the 2016 Jules C. Reiner Violin Prize awarded by the Tanglewood Music Center. Ms. Tse has appeared as soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra.

Returning violin fellow Alan Snow (’14), 23, born in Chicago, Illinois, was appointed Concertmaster of Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in August 2017. In addition to being the Concertmaster of the Terre Haute Symphony, Mr. Snow is a regular substitute at Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and has served as artist-faculty at the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival.

Returning viola fellow Stephanie Anne Block (’17), 23, born in Barrington, Illinois, holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. Ms. Block was a featured soloist for the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota and has performed as soloist with several Chicago area symphonies. Ms. Block received the Fischoff Competition’s Gold Medal for chamber music.

Returning cello fellow David Bender (’17), 21, from Nashville, Tennessee, is earning his bachelor’s degree at The Juilliard School. Mr. Bender was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, performing as principal cellist under Valery Gergiev and Christoph Eschenbach. David Bender has worked under the tutelage of the American, Jupiter, Penderecki, and Takács String Quartets.

Double bass fellow Nina Bernat, 18, born in Seattle, Washington, is an undergraduate at The Juilliard School, where she studies with Tim Cobb. Ms. Bernat has participated in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, Yellowbarn Young Artists Program, and Bowdoin International Music Festival.

Percussion fellow Joe Desotelle, 22, from Buffalo, New York, is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying with Matthew Strauss. Mr. Desotelle completed a bachelor’s degree at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Daniel Druckman, and was a fellow of both the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra and the Texas Music Festival Orchestra in 2016.

Flute fellow William Cedeño, 26, born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, serves as principal flutist of the South Dakota Symphony. Mr. Cedeño is pursuing his master’s degree at Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying with Leone Buyse. Recently, he won the Berkeley Piano Club Competition and the Miami Summer Music Festival Concerto Competition.

Clarinet fellow Taylor Isberg, 22, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where she studies with Daniel Gilbert and Chad Burrow. Ms. Isberg completed her undergraduate studies as a Stamps Scholar at the University of Michigan, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Clarinet Performance and a minor in Business Administration, graduating with highest honors.

Bassoon fellow Quinn Delaney, 26, born in Seattle, Washington, is a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Rochester Philharmonic. Mr. Delaney holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastman School of Music and a master’s degree from DePaul University School of Music where he studied with John Hunt, William Buchman, and Miles Maner.

Horn fellow William Loveless, 27, born in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a recent graduate from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Eric Reed. Mr. Loveless has performed with The Juilliard Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra as well as with the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra. In 2015, Mr. Loveless was a finalist in the student division of the International Horn Competition of America.

Returning trumpet fellow Francis Lawrence LaPorte (’17), 23, born in Amherst, Massachusetts, earned his bachelor’s degree at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. As a student, Mr. LaPorte performed frequently with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra as a substitute, and was named a finalist in the 2017 International Trumpet Guild Orchestral Excerpts Competition.

Bass trombone fellow Lisa Stoneham, 24, born in Rochester, New York, is currently the bass trombonist of the New World Symphony and has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Western New York Chamber Orchestra, and National Repertory Orchestra. Ms. Stoneham received her master’s degree from Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition

Mezzo-soprano Kelsey Lauritano and pianist Andrew Sun have been selected as the winners of The Music Academy of the West’s 2018 Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Ms. Horne was the Voice Program Director of the Music Academy since 1997, and transitioned to the position of Honorary Voice Program Director this year. The event took place on Thursday, August 9 at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. This fierce competition is one of the most popular events of the summer season at the Music Academy, in which singers and pianists alike compete to win the Regina Roney cash prize of $5,000 each, a national and international recital tour, career consultations with music career experts, 21C Media Group, and an innovation fund to use towards recital programming and commissioning.

The 2018 Marilyn Horne Song Competition participants included 21 Voice Program fellows and six Vocal Piano fellows. All are attending the Music Academy’s Summer Festival on full scholarship. Joining world-renowned concert and opera singer Marilyn Horne as jurors this year were Music Academy alumna and star soprano Susanna Phillips (’02, ’03), Musical Advisor to the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program Ken Noda, and guest composer Ricky Ian Gordon, who will compose a song cycle for the winners to premiere on their tour.

The Song Competition winners’ 2019 recital tour will include appearances at LSO St. Luke’s in London (Friday, January 11) and Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series (Wednesday, April 3, 12:15 pm), as well as other cities to be announced. The Chicago recital will be broadcast live by WFMT 98.7 FM and streamed live at

The Marilyn Horne Song Competition is presented in memory of Gwendolyn Koldofsky. Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky, a distinguished accompanist and long-time member of the Music Academy faculty, had a profound impact on both the art of accompanying and music education. Born in Canada in 1906, she attended Toronto’s Royal Conservatory; she continued her studies in London and Paris. In a long and distinguished career, Koldofsky collaborated with many illustrious vocal artists and instrumentalists. Today she is perhaps best known for her work with soprano Lotte Lehmann and Marilyn Horne, with whom Koldofsky toured for ten years. Ms. Horne recalls, “She was my teacher, mentor, accompanist, and my dear friend. Gwen was living proof that there are those who can both do and teach.” A revolutionary pedagogue, Koldofsky established the Department of Accompanying at the University of Southern California in 1947, the first program of its kind. “The music tells us what to do” was her credo. Koldofsky died in 1998 in Santa Barbara at the age of 92.

Each singer performs three songs of varying styles for the jury and a public audience. One song must be sung in English. The pianists perform with one or multiple singers and award winners may or not have performed together. Past winners include Metropolitan Opera stars Evan Hughes (‘05,’06), Isabel Leonard (‘05), Susanna Phillips (‘02, ’03), and Nadine Sierra (’07), and pianist Spencer Myer (‘98,’00).

About the Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners

Vocal fellow, mezzo-soprano Kesley Lauritano, 23, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, recently completed her master’s degree at The Juilliard School, where she also received her bachelor’s degree and was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. Ms. Lauritano will be joining the Oper Frankfurt studio in September of 2018.

Vocal piano fellow Andrew Sun, 26, born in West Windsor, New Jersey, is a collaborative pianist and vocal coach. Currently on the coaching staff at Manhattan School of Music, Mr. Sun will join the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera this fall. Mr. Sun holds degrees from New York University and Manhattan School of Music, and is an alumnus of the 2017 Merola Opera Program.

About the Solo Piano Competition

Sophiko Simsive has been selected as the winner of the Music Academy’s second annual Solo Piano Competition Winner Recital Tour in partnership with Steinway & Sons. The event took place on Saturday, July 14 at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. The seven 2018 solo piano fellows competed to win The Luria Foundation Prize of $5,000 each, a multicity recital tour, career consultations with music career experts, 21C Media Group, and an innovation fund to use towards recital programming and commissioning. Each pianist performed a recital up to 30 minutes in length of varying styles for the jury and a public audience. One work must be written in or after 1975.

Jurors this year were London Symphony Orchestra Managing Director Kathryn McDowell, Steinway & Sons Manager of Concert-Artist Services Benjamin Salisbury, and composer-in-residence Elizabeth Ogonek, who will compose a work for the winner to perform in its world premiere on the recital tour. The competition and recital tour has been generously supported by the Luria Foundation and Steinway & Sons.

Ms. Simsive’s 2019 recital tour will include appearances at LSO St. Luke’s in London (Friday, January 11), Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series (Wednesday, April 10, 12:15 pm), Santa Barbara at Hahn Hall on the campus of the Music Academy of the West (date TBD), and Los Angeles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of their Sunday’s Live series (Sunday, April 28, 6 pm). The Chicago recital will be broadcast live by WFMT 98.7 FM and streamed live at, and the Los Angeles recital will be broadcast live by Classical KUSC.

The Music Academy of the West is proud to be designated as an All-Steinway School. The Academy has joined the ranks of music schools and conservatories that demonstrate a full commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best instruments possible. That is why the only pianos owned by the Music Academy now and in perpetuity — from the practice room to the recital hall — are designed by Steinway & Sons.

About the Solo Piano Competition Winner

Solo Piano fellow Sophiko Simsive, 26, from Kutaisi, Georgia, is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Yale School of Music under the tutelage of Boris Berman. Ms. Simsive was the winner of the GrachtenfestivalPrijs 2016 of the Netherlands and was Artist in Residence during the Grachtenfestival 2017. In 2015, Ms. Simsive won the first prize as well as the press prize at the Geertruidenberg Klassiek.

About the London Symphony Orchestra

The London Symphony Orchestra was established in 1904 and has a unique ethos. As a musical collective, it is built on artistic ownership and partnership. With an inimitable signature sound, the LSO’s mission is to bring the greatest music to the greatest number of people. The LSO has been the only Resident Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in the City of London since it opened in 1982, giving 70 symphonic concerts there every year. The orchestra works with a family of artists that includes some of the world’s greatest conductors – Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director, Principal Guest Conductors Gianandrea Noseda and François-Xavier Roth, Michael Tilson Thomas as Conductor Laureate, and Conductor Emeritus André Previn. It is a pioneer of music education, offering musical experiences through LSO Discovery to 60,000 people every year at its music education center LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, across East London, and further afield. The orchestra collaborates with London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where it jointly runs the Orchestral Artistry masters course. It also offers side-by-side performance opportunities for Guildhall School musicians, and provides a platform for them at free early evening recitals before LSO Barbican concerts. With the formation of its own record label LSO Live in 1999, the LSO pioneered a revolution in recording live orchestral music. The LSO strives to embrace new digital technologies – having successfully moved into digital film, Blu-Ray Audio, downloads, streaming and virtual reality – and it continues to innovate with platforms such as LSO Play, a web-based video player that allows people to observe the orchestra from different angles. The LSO is a highly successful creative enterprise, with 80% of all funding self-generated. For more information, visit

About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted, young, classically trained musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished teaching artists’ roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Jeremy Denk, and Honorary Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians.

The Academy has now launched a new partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, highlighted by the following:

  • Musicians from the LSO will participate in each Summer Festival.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra will perform in Santa Barbara in 2019 and 2021.
  • Academy fellows will travel to London to perform in concerts with the LSO.
  • Academy competition winners will perform recitals in London.
  • Michael Tilson Thomas will serve as the Signature Festival Conductor of the partnership.
  • Sir Simon Rattle will oversee the fellows’ experience in London.

The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually. These include performances by faculty, guest artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2019 Summer School and Festival will take place June 17-August 10 at the Academy’s Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit

Released: Sep 17, 2018

Photo by Phil Channing



Kate Oberjat

Director of Marketing & Communications

Music Academy of the West

[email protected]


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