Colburn School Announces New Fortissima Fellows

The Fortissima fellowship supports artistic leadership and development for promising young women of color in classical music

Morales with the first cohort of Fortissima fellows (Photo credit:

Los Angeles' Colburn School, announced its newest cohort of Fortissima fellows this week — 10 high school-age women of color from across the United States.

The fellowship aims to provide opportunities for underrepresented women in classical music to equip them for a future in classical music through performance, conservatory preparation, and career development. Provided at no cost to participants, the program consists of a six-month period of one-on-one mentorship, a virtual leadership curriculum, and a weeklong residential intensive at Colburn from October 30 to November 6. 

Fortissima was first established by Colburn’s Coordinator of Community Engagement and Career Development Jasmín Morales, who now directs the program. 

“I think as a field we’re slowly moving away from the conformist, rigid path to becoming a classical musician, where if you want a job in a professional orchestra you have to fit a certain mold,” Morales wrote on the Colburn School’s website in 2017, after first launching the fellowship.

“The presence of women of color in those spaces will radically change how those organizations look, feel, and function. The goal is just to get our girls there and empower them to be change agents and leaders in the field so that they can make classical music more for them and everyone around them.”

This year’s Fortissima fellows: 

  • Gabriela Salvador Riera (violin; Wilmington, Delaware)
  • Suubi Laurent (cello; Attleboro, Massachusetts)
  • Anagha Kapsi (violin; Exton, Pennsylvania)
  • Leena Hocutt Duarte (violin; Cary, North Carolina)
  • Genesis Garay (trumpet; Los Angeles, California)
  • Valeria Serrano (viola; Arlington, Virginia)
  • Leah Marcelle (piano; Los Angeles, California)
  • Bianca Quddus (clarinet; Richmond Hill, New York)
  • Lauren Edwards (violin; Owings Mills, Maryland)
  • Esme Arias Kim (violin; Hoffman Estates, Illinois)

Applications for the program typically open in February. More details can be found on the Colburn School's website.