Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra welcome 12 Music Academy of the West alumni to London

Keston MAX Fellows perform with The LSO January 9 and 10 and in performances at LSO St. Luke’s

London, UK — 12 Keston MAX Fellows, aged 18-27, from California’s Music Academy of the West are performing with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle on 9 & 10 January, part of an intensive ten-day training programme which got underway at the weekend. The initiative is part of a major new partnership between the Academy and the LSO, which began with a Residency of LSO players at the Academy’s Summer Festival in Santa Barbara, California last year. 

The Fellows take part in all 21 hours of rehearsal for the orchestral concerts and will be given further performance opportunities at LSO St Luke’s on London’s Old Street, as well as coaching from LSO players, audition training, ensemble coaching, and a mock recording session, giving them invaluable insight into the life of a professional orchestral musician. 

The Music Academy of the West’s 2018 winners in the Marilyn Horne Song Competition and Solo Piano Competition will also travel to London, giving recitals at LSO St Luke’s, and giving the World Premieres of two specially-commissioned works by Elizabeth Ogonek and Ricky Ian Gordon.

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO said, 

 “I’m delighted to welcome to London these stellar young talents from the Music Academy of the West. They will be given unique insight into the working lives of the LSO’s players something hugely valuable to young musicians on the brink of their careers. With its rich history among the emigré community on America’s West Coast in the 1940s, which included some of the greatest musicians of the last century, the Academy is an ideal partner for this initiative and I look forward to the full Orchestral Residency in Santa Barbara this summer and in the years ahead.” 

Scott Reed, President and CEO of the Music Academy of the West said: 

 “We are grateful to the LSO and Simon Rattle for providing this transformative opportunity for the Keston MAX Fellows. By experiencing the quality and work life of the LSO in person, they will be better prepared for professional careers. No other pre-professional training program in the world is offering this type of opportunity to their alumni.”

The 12 Keston MAX Fellows were selected for this programme by auditions at the Music Academy of the West’s Summer Festival in Santa Barbara last year. Five resident LSO musicians in residence oversaw this process and provided expert musical guidance and training for all 95 of the Academy’s 2018 Fellows. It was the first in a series of annual LSO summer residencies at the Academy which will feature Michael Tilson Thomas as Signature Festival Conductor and, in 2019 and 2021, the full London Symphony Orchestra. The Keston MAX Fellows will each year be selected by audition during the Residency, before travelling to London the following winter for an intensive training programme with the LSO.

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 Keston MAX Fellows

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 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 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.

Performances featuring Keston MAX Fellows and Competition Winners

Wed, Jan 9, 2019 / 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Barbican Hall, London

HANS ABRAHAMSEN Let me tell you

SIBELIUS Symphony No 7

Introduced on stage by the conductor

Sir Simon Rattle conductor

Barbara Hannigan soprano

London Symphony Orchestra


Thu, Jan 10, 2019 / 7:30 pm – 9:40 pm

Barbican Hall, London

SIBELIUS Symphony No 7

HANS ABRAHAMSEN Let me tell you Interval

NIELSEN Symphony No 4, ‘Inextinguishable’

Sir Simon Rattle conductor

Barbara Hannigan soprano

London Symphony Orchestra


Fri, Jan 11, 2019 / 1 pm – 2 pm

Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, London

J S BACH Italian Concerto BWV 971

ELIZABETH OGONEK Orpheus Suite (after Rilke) (world premiere)

CHOPIN Préludes Op 28

Sophiko Simsive piano


Fri, Jan 11, 2019 / 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, London

SCHUBERT Ganymed; Du bist die Ruh; Suleika I

RAVEL Histoires Naturelles

RICKY IAN GORDON Without Music (world premiere)

FALLA Seven Spanish Folksongs

Kelsey Lauritano mezzo-soprano

Andrew Sun piano


Sun, Jan 13, 2019 / 2:30 pm – 5 pm

Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, London

Jonathan Cross speaker

Fellows of the Music Academy of the West

Jonathan Cross, Professor of Musicology at Christ Church, Oxford University, explores the influence of Hungarian folk music on Béla Bartók. The afternoon also includes performances of chamber music (Bartók, Dvořák and Stravinsky) by Fellows of the Music Academy of the West.

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 led by Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director, with Principal Guest Conductors Gianandrea Noseda and François-Xavier Roth, Michael Tilson Thomas as Conductor Laureate and Conductor Emeritus André Previn. Through LSO Discovery, it is a pioneer of music education, ofering musical experiences to 60,000 people every year at its music education centre LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, across East London and further afield. 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 and its music making is enjoyed around the world via digital broadcasts, downloads, streaming, web-based platforms and in virtual reality. The LSO is funded by Arts Council England and the City of London Corporation. Additionally, it is a highly successful creative enterprise, with 80% of all funding self-generated.

About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West advances the development of 21st century classically trained musicians and cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences. Founded in 1947, the Academy operates on a 10-acre, ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, California. Music Academy of the West’s world-renowned eight-week Summer Festival comprises more than 200 events. The Academy began a four-year partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2018 focused on education and performance on both continents. For more information, please visit

Released: Jan 9, 2019

Fellow Photos by Phil Channing
(Andrew Sun, Kelsey Lauritano photos courtesy of artist)

For further press information please contact:

Kenny Morrison at Hatcham Communications
+44 (0)7834 061295
[email protected]

Kate Oberjat
Director of Marketing and Communications
Music Academy of the West
[email protected]


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