Friday, July 9, 2021

Montclair Orchestra Partners with Valissima Institute to Advance Opportunities for Young Female Conductors

The Montclair Orchestra has announced that Valissima Institute has selected it as a partner for its pilot summer program. Designed for aspiring young female conductors, the two-week intensive will feature renowned conductors, including former New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert and Karina Canellakis. The rigorous program provides an opportunity for elite pre-college female instrumentalists performing at the highest levels to experience conducting an orchestra under the mentorship of industry professionals. 

“A fresh and inventive approach to education through lively collaboration is the foundation of both of our organizations, making The Montclair Orchestra the perfect partner for Valissima’s inaugural summer intensive” says Serena Benedetti, Valissima Institute Founder & Executive Director.

Female conductors have historically received fewer opportunities to lead orchestras, though progress has been made in recent years. Andre Weker, President of The Montclair Orchestra, states “the future for orchestras includes a diverse range of musicians on stage, including on the podium. The Montclair Orchestra is proud to be part of an initiative that leads the way for women to take on that role more prevalently, and demonstrating that previous norms will no longer be a barrier for musicians of all ages.”

A final free public concert will take place at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) in South Orange, New Jersey on August 8th.

About The Montclair Orchestra:

The Montclair Orchestra’s mission is to provide educational opportunities for music students to advance their training through collaboration with conservatories, professional orchestras and musicians; to collaborate with art, theater, historical and similar organizations to provide comprehensive cultural offerings; and to provide orchestral music for audiences to enjoy and appreciate. More information at

About Valissima Institute:

Valissima’s mission is to create world-class training opportunities for exceptionally gifted young female musicians, nurturing their ascent to the conductor’s podium. Founded by Soprano soloist Serena Benedetti and with a program designed by Christian Capocaccia, Music Director of Syracuse Opera, Valissima’s vision is to shatter the glass ceiling of the world’s foremost orchestras. Valissima is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported by funding from private donors and grants. Discover more at

Image: Katina Pantazopoulos, a conducting student for Valissima Institute. Photo by Valissima Institute