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SFCM Student, Grad, Invited to Prestigious Jazz Program

RJAM student Jayla Hernández and Julian Esparza ('22) are two of only 15 fellows from all over the globe invited to this year's Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Jazz.

March 18, 2024 by Mark Taylor

Can we get a drum roll please? 

Roots, Jazz, and American Music (RJAM) student Jayla Hernández and recent graduate Julian Esparza have been invited to the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Jazz this summer. The invite-only summer program is highly competitive, with only 15 available spots in total for jazz players.

"I saw an email from Ravinia and at first thought it was a letter saying 'thank you, but you didn't get in' until I read it a second time and saw the word 'Congratulations' and I jumped out of bed and the rest is history," Hernández said.

"I'm so honored to be a Ravinia fellow this year!" Esparza said. "I'm looking forward to refining my composition and performance skills with like-minded peers. This has been something I've been working hard for and I look forward to what this opportunity will bring for my career!" he added.

Founded in 1988 in honor of Lois M. Steans, the Ravinia Steans Music Institute is an international destination for young professional musicians devoted to uniquely honing and advancing their talents as collaborative artists. RSMI is located on the grounds of the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago, and its Jazz Program is led by Artistic Directors Billy Childs, Rufus Reid, and Steve Wilson. Many of the program’s alumni have cultivated highly visible and successful careers. 

"I'm most excited about meeting other students and receiving feedback from three of the most talented and outrageously awesome musicians in the world," Esparza said. "It's opportunities such as this that continue to motivate me to stay on my current path in the music industry."

The RSMI Program for Jazz is focused on composition and small-group collaboration. Fellows rehearse in different instrumental combos and workshop new music. Within a week, the musicians form three quintets, each coached by a member of the jazz faculty, and prepare to premiere their original works at the end of their residency.

"It feels awesome knowing that only 15 students are selected across the world and somehow a girl from West Oakland made the list," Hernández said. 

Learn more about studying Roots, Jazz, and American Music at SFCM.