March 28, 2012
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Rachelle Schlosser, Director of Media Relations
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From a Shared Country of Birth to Identical First Names, Agnieszka (Eska) Laskus and Agnieszka Rakhmatullaev Claim Striking Similarities, Inspirational Personal Stories

New York, NY (March 27, 2012) – The League of American Orchestras today announced the 2012 Orchestra Management Fellows.  Agnieszka (Eska) Laskus  (  Bio) and Agnieszka Rakhmatullaev (  Bio), this year’s Fellows, will spend one full year in the League’s intensive management training program, designed to launch executive careers in orchestra management.  Since its inception in 1980, the highly competitive Orchestra Management Fellowship Program has graduated approximately 175 fellows, many of whom hold leadership positions in America’s leading orchestras.  The program was redesigned in 2011 to train administrators who have direct managerial experience and demonstrated potential to lead a professional orchestra within five to ten years.

The two 2012 Fellows share remarkable similarities in addition to the same first name.  Both women were born in Poland, immigrated to the United States, and met for the first time at a summer festival in Colorado in 2006.  Both began their career paths as violinists and then discovered an affinity for arts administration.  

The Fellowship year, which extends from mid-June 2012 to mid-June 2013, will include a two-month residency at the Aspen Music Festival and School; a seven to eight month placement with a major American orchestra (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Laskus and the San Francisco Symphony for Rakhmatullaev) and mentoring from the orchestra’s executive director; and a two to three month placement with Pacific Symphony for Laskus and the North Carolina Symphony for Rakhmatullaev. In addition, Fellows will participate in other learning opportunities, attend the League’s 2013 National Conference in St. Louis, and receive a $40,000 annual stipend; medical benefits; and professional development funds to extend their own executive education.

"There is an ongoing need for orchestra leaders who are skilled in managing the complex challenges of today’s environment," commented League of American Orchestras president and CEO Jesse Rosen.  "The number of former Fellows now leading major American orchestras testifies to the role of this program in meeting that need. Eska Laskus and Agnieszka Rakhmatullaev, our two Orchestra Management Fellows for 2012, have the talent and promise to succeed and we welcome them to the ranks of the Fellows."

Eska Laskus is the Director of Admissions and Recruitment for the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, where she is responsible for formulating and implementing recruitment strategies for prospective students and building new partnerships with local arts organizations, schools and music teachers. She has worked as an arts administrator with numerous arts organizations including Colburn School Conservatory in Los Angeles, Arizona Commission on the Arts, LA Musical Salon, Classics Alive, and the  Polish Music Council.  Born in Poland, Laskus started playing the violin at the age of seven and moved to the United States with her family three years later in 1992. After attending the Interlochen Arts Academy, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in music and economics at the University of Miami. In 2007, she completed her Master's degree in Violin Performance at the Arizona State University. Laskus has performed with numerous symphony orchestras including Miami Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Opera and Eugene Symphony, where she is currently the orchestra representative on the board.

Agnieszka Rakhmatullaev is the Artistic Operations Manager of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, the nation’s only free summer-long outdoor classical music series.  Her arts management experience also includes a wide variety of positions at the First International Chopin Competition in Turkey, Moores Opera House in Houston, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Erato Chamber Orchestra, and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago.  Born in Poland, Rakhmatullaev was raised in Turkey and came to the United States in the fall of 2000.  She received her former training as a violinist and holds two Master’s degrees, in Violin Performance from University of Houston and Orchestral Studies from Chicago’s Roosevelt University.  She has performed around the globe in countries including the U.S., Poland, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Armenia and Germany.  Additionally, she has been a devoted educator and private instructor and has organized numerous outreach programs throughout the United States and abroad.  

The Orchestra Management Fellowship Program is made possible by support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, alumni of the Fellowship Program, and by host orchestras.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of approximately 850 orchestras across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement for managers, musicians, volunteers, and boards.  Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform music lovers around the world about orchestral activity and developments.  Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners.  Visit americanorchestras.org to learn more.


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