USC Thornton welcomes the second cohort of the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship

Man stands in downtown LA holding french horn

New Los Angeles Orchestra Fellow Malik Taylor in Downtown LA. (Photo: USC/Vance Jacobs)

The post-graduate program designed to increase diversity in American orchestras has announced its second cohort of exceptional musicians.


The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, a program designed to increase diversity in American orchestras, has announced its second cohort. Violist Wilfred Farquharson, violist Jay Julio Laureta, horn player Malik Taylor and cellist Myles Yeazell will receive a 360-degree view of a career as an orchestral musician with a range of practical, in-the-field experience to elevate musicianship in this rigorous training program, now expanded from two to three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Violist Wilfred Farquharson

Launched in 2018, the groundbreaking program was conceived by a partnership between the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA), the country’s largest African-American-majority youth orchestra; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras; and USC Thornton, one of the country’s top music programs.

The Fellowship was developed to address the fact that less than 5% of America’s orchestra workforce is African American, Hispanic or Native American, according to a 2016 report on diversity issued by the League of American Orchestras.

Violist Wilfred Farquharson is from Atlanta, Georgia. He earned his undergraduate degree at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Violist Jay Julio Laureta is a first-generation Filipino-American from Uniondale, New York. They earned a Bachelor’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music and a Master’s at the Juilliard. A native of Los Angeles, horn player Malik Taylor was a member of ICYOLA where he continues to serve as Principal Horn. He is an alum of USC Thornton, earning his Bachelor’s degree last Spring. Cellist Myles Yeazell is from Cincinnati, Ohio and recently completed his Bachelor’s at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Cellist Myles Yeazell

A key pillar of the Fellowship is the artistic mentoring the Fellows receive from LACO musicians, administrative staff and USC Thornton faculty. In turn, Fellows will actively mentor, teach, and guide young ICYOLA musicians. Among the other opportunities provided are extensive performance and rehearsal experience; compensation, benefits, housing; and unprecedented support to prepare participants to win auditions in professional American orchestras. Included are entrepreneurship classes and training to ensure the Fellows develop skills and self-sufficiency to sustain their careers no matter how the music industry changes.

In a joint statement, ICYOLA Founder/Executive Director/Conductor Charles Dickerson, LACO Executive Director Ben Cadwallader and USC Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta welcomed the new musicians.

“A partnership of ICYOLA, LACO and USC Thornton, the Fellowship began two years ago with a number of innovative and unique elements. This Fellowship stands alone in having an institution of color leading the way and in offering pipelines of support in every direction. It is the first to include a youth orchestra, a university, and a professional orchestra, each bringing unparalleled expertise to the program. It is also the first Fellowship designed by a diverse group of thought leaders, among the first fellowship programs on the West Coast, and the first with a multi-directional mentorship approach in which the Fellows receive career development mentorship from professional musicians as well as serve as mentors to a future generation of musicians. Los Angeles, as a robust market for professional musicians, is an ideal location that allows the Fellows to gain access to widely diverse opportunities for career development.”

Violist Jay Julio Laureta

Dickerson adds, “It is a privilege to welcome this new, wonderful crop of musicians into the American orchestra industry through their participation in The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, and to join the cultural diversity that these Fellows bring to the aural diversity of our music. We also affirm our thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its commitment to making the great institutions of our country reflective of America’s diversity.”

“As we announce an outstanding new group of Fellows, we are especially pleased to continue the work of this important program in partnership with ICYOLA and USC Thornton and to be part of our industry’s efforts to diversify American orchestras,” says Cadwallader.

Horn player Malik Taylor (Photo: USC/Vance Jacobs)

According to Robert Cutietta, Dean of USC Thornton, “The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship has been such a welcome success for everyone involved. Diversity and equity remain a priority for USC Thornton, and it has been wonderful to watch our first cohort thrive in such a rigorously designed and promising program. We will follow them as they enter the professional music world as our representatives. Now, we turn our focus to welcoming our new cohort to USC.”

The Fellowship covers a full-tuition scholarship for USC Thornton’s Graduate Certificate program; housing and utilities; compensation, including performance fees; fully paid AFM Local 47 union dues; and eligibility for funds to be used for audition travel during and after the program.

The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, whose generous lead gift over three years totals $775,000. Other Fellowship supporters include AFM Local 47.


Coming up next week: Get to know the newest cohort of Los Angeles Orchestra Fellows.