June 15, 2017

Meet the 2017 Project Inclusion Fellows

The Festival's Project Inclusion is a professional development program that guides young musicians from diverse backgrounds, traditionally underrepresented in the music industry, towards careers in music. New this year, the Festival will launch the Project Inclusion Vocal Fellowship initiative. The Project Inclusion String Fellowship program is now in its fifth year.

You can see these brilliant young artists perform with the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus at Jay Pritzker Pavilion throughout the season, or in chamber and choral concerts in neighborhoods around the city, as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Night Out in the Parks program.

Learn about each of the 2017 fellows below. (Picture top to bottom, left to right: Teddy Wiggins, Robert Switala, Danielle Taylor, Denielle Wilson; Tiana Sorenson, Elena Snow, Jared Esguerra, Dorian McCall)


Teddy Wiggins, violin

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, violinist Teddy Wiggins appears regularly in some of the world’s finest stages. Principal teachers and mentors have included Paul Kantor, Felicia Moye, Winifred Crock and Barry Shiffman. Teddy performs regularly with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and is also a former member of the prestigious Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland. During his time in Toronto, he was a founding member of the Annex Quartet which led to an invitation to work with the Kronos Quartet in New York and perform in Carnegie Hall as well as numerous venues around Canada. Currently, Teddy is a co-concertmaster of Civic Orchestra of Chicago and preparing to begin a fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami fall 2017.

Robert Switala, violin

Twenty-four year-old Robert Alvarado Switala began his musical studies at age 6 on violin and began playing viola at 14. In 2006, he appeared on the NPR radio show “From the Top”, as well as the PBS television show, “From the Top: Live at Carnegie Hall.” Robert was awarded 1st prize at the 2007 National SPHINX Competition and has soloed with the SMU, TCU, Florida, New World, Hartford, Colorado, Nashville and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. He is a recipient of the 2008 Texas Young Masters Grant and the 2009 Bayard H. Friedman Scholarship. He has studied with Itzhak Perlman, Paul Kantor, and Jan Sloman. He is a member of the SPHINX Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and has attended numerous chamber festivals. Robert is currently on sabbatical as a member of the El Paso and Las Cruces symphony orchestras while studying under Almita and Roland Vamos at Roosevelt University.

Danielle Taylor, viola

Danielle Taylor is a violinist and violist from Oakland, CA. She began formal music study through a public school music program in fourth grade, with informal music training from a young age through singing in church. Danielle graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory with a BM in Violin Performance and a BA in African American Studies. She is currently working towards her MM in Violin Performance at Northwestern University. Danielle is currently the violist for the Chicago Sinfonietta's Project Inclusion Ensemble. After completing her MM, Danielle plans to pursue her PhD in Music Education. Her many research interests include Classical music performers and composers from the African Diaspora as well as investigating issues of race, place, and power in Classical music performance and education in the US. Danielle is currently a content researcher and writer for the Music By Black Composers project.

Denielle Wilson, cello

Denielle Wilson (age 21) is from Lithonia, Georgia. She is currently a senior at Northwestern University, studying instrumental music education and cello performance with Hans Jørgen Jensen. She began playing the cello at age 9, taking lessons with Nan Kimberling at the Georgia Academy of Music. In 2008, she was accepted into the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and studied with Joel Dallow. Since then, she has attended summer music programs including the Interlochen Arts Camp, Bowdoin International Music Festival, and more. She plays in the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and Northwestern University Cello Ensemble, as well as participates in chamber music groups coached by the Dover Quartet. She and her two siblings have played in a piano trio called the Wilson Trio, and they present free and open concerts throughout the year. Ms. Wilson’s interest in music education has kept her active in music ministries at the 1st Evanston SDA Church and the Winnetka Congregational Church.

Tiana Sorenson, soprano

Tiana Sorenson, a native of Racine, Wisconsin, recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (UVM) with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Voice Performance. She has been seen in Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Zie Magic Flute and 1776, and University of Wisconsin--Parkside’s Gloria by Poulenc. Previous performances include UWM’s Dido and Aeneas, Suor Angelica, and Die Zauberflöte. In 2016, Tiana placed third in the Advanced College division of the Wisconsin National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition. Tiana has also been a featured soloist with UWM’s community orchestra and Fond du Lac Symphonic Band.

Elena Snow, alto

Chicago native Elena Snow is a recent graduate of the New England Conservatory in Boston. She received her Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and has performed as a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Opera Theatre, Boston Lyric Opera Chorus, and as an Apprentice Artist for Sarasota Opera and Caramoor Opera. Elena has been the recipient of several awards in the past years, including placing in both the 2013 and 2015 Bel Canto Competitions, and in the finals of the 2016 Handel Aria Competition.

Jared Esguerra, tenor

Jared Esguerra is a former member of the Grant Park Music Festival’s Apprentice Chorale and has been a supplemental member of the Grant Park Chorus since 2013. He earned his Bachelor’s degree at DePaul University and has sung in the Lyric Opera Chorus. In January, he was the guest tenor soloist in Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Dorian McCall, bass

Dorian McCall comes to the Festival from Oklahoma where he is completing a Master’s degree in Operatic Performance from the University of Oklahoma. A native of Texas, he recently took first place in the Graduate Men’s Division of the Greater Houston National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, and third place in the professional division at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music's Vocal Competition. Dorian has performed with the NAPA Music Festival’s Young Artists Program and the Cimarron Opera Theatre.